To be honest it was probably down to where hadn’t we been to that you can get to on the eurostar, wanting to avoid the sky-high costs of flying in the summer break.
Oh and the chance to eat a lot of cheese, of course.
Accommodation: We stayed at Grand Hotel Bellevue, attracted by the fact it was in the main square “Grand Place,” and had good reviews on tripadvisor. It was perfect for what we needed. Clean, comfortable and in the perfect location. Getting three single beds when we asked for a double was a bit interesting but nothing a spot of feng shui couldn’t sort. We were a bit disappointed that we got a room at the back of the hotel rather than over looking the square but to be honest we’d come to Lille to explore it, not to watch it from a window.
Highlights: We were amazed by The Citadel Park and Zoo for two reasons – one, we weren’t allowed in the Citadel as it is now a military base. And two, it is no ordinary zoo. It is just in the park, it’s free and we were expecting the usual cages of birds. Which to be fair is how it started. There were even ducks in one cage (oooh exotic).
But then there were meercats, monkeys, zebras and two rhinos! My boyfriend happily exclaimed he could have stayed there all day and I agree, it was a really nice surprise. Plus the crepes served by the stall outside we SO good. I also loved The Garden of Giants (pictured) for a nice wander with a difference.
We stayed for 4ish days, arriving early on the Wednesday and leaving late on the Saturday, and for the whole time didn’t go in one museum or gallery. We were both more than happy just wandering the streets captivated by the stunning array of architecture. No two buildings were the same, all lined up in different sizes, shapes and colours they looked more like an assortment of books on a shelf.
Food: Our favourite was a little place called Le Square d’Aramis (on Rue de Basse on the edge of Vieux Lille.) Just typing that has taken me back to the mismatched tables, quirky chairs and open-sliding glass front. We were attracted by the friendly staff who were more than happy to put up with my poor French and explain the list of ingredients in English.
But it was the food that saw us visit again just two days later. My partner had a baked (very smelly local) cheese, bacon and potato dish while I had a salmon pasta dish with lots of parmigiana. In fact they were so good we had exactly the same the next visit. Only the second time we loosened our belts and went for dessert too. He had chocolate soufflé and I had a ginger and choc tart – all unfaultable!