Destination Guide: Lille
A charming old quarter and France's best beers
Amble around the cobbled squares and narrow lanes of Vieux Lille, then join people-watching locals on the busy Grand' Place. Savour Flemish flavours in the hearty local food and cockle-warming beers.
Flemish cuisine and indulgent cakes. Pungent maroilles cheese tart, steaming mussels and waterzoi fish stew are staples at cosy traditional estaminets around Vieux Lille. For a special occasion, try designer dining at the area's stylish contemporary restaurants. Enjoy an afternoon sugar fix at the palatial belle époque tea rooms of Pâtisserie Meert, known for their handmade vanilla cream-filled waffles.
Exploring the cobbled old quarter. On the bustling Place Général de Gaulle(or Grand' Place) admire the Baroque façade of the Vieille Bourse. Nestled among the old quarter's shops is the Hospice Comtesse, a 15th-century poorhouse hospital and home to collections of tapestries and Flemish paintings. See masterpieces by Goya and Rubens in the Palais des Beaux-Arts.
Chic boutiques and market rummaging. Splurge on big-name labels in Old Lille's upmarket stores or on high-street brands in the Euralille shopping centre. Bargain hunters gather at the Wazemmes flea market on Sundays and at the second-hand book stalls of the Vieille Bourse. During the first weekend in September, famous sprawling flea market Grande Braderie takes over the city centre.
Beer is king in Flanders; try the local nectar. At central Lille's trendy micro-breweries, sample draughts served straight from the barrel, from tangy Belgian bière blanche to dark malty types. The tasting palettes at Les Trois Brasseurs opposite the station are a good introduction to the local brews. Audiences dress up for highbrow performances at Lille's wedding cake opera house.