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Student Living in Lille for 3 months-Security help

Hi all,

I will be studying abroad in Lille. I've been to Europe twice before (Italy and Switzerland). My oblivious father fell victim to two pickpocketers on the Rome Metro.

I will be carrying my iPhone and wallet. I personally hate money belts. I've thought about carrying in my sock or backpack. Does anyone have any recommendations as how to safely carry these valuables without money belts?

Also, if anyone has any good recommendations for restaurants/pubs in Lille, all help/tips are welcome!


Posted by
9363 posts

When I go around in my home city, or even a larger city like Chicago, I carry my phone and wallet in my purse. I am aware of my surroundings at all times, and if I use the train or bus I move my bag to the front of me if someone gets too close. I don't obsess about it, just stay aware and take reasonable (not paranoid) precautions. Likewise, when I travel in Europe, I carry my phone and wallet in my purse (a cross-body bag like the locals wear). Again, just awareness, not paranoia, is all you need. A backpack is particularly vulnerable since it is behind you, and likely to be set down at times. Have you actually tried putting a phone and a wallet in your sock? How well did it work? Lille will be your "home city" and you will soon be comfortable with it. Just do what you do here, stay aware, and you will be fine.

Posted by
32241 posts


I normally carry my iPhone on my belt when travelling in Europe, mounted in an Otterbox "holster" and so far haven't haven't had any problems. However, it's normally hidden behind items of clothing, so not readily visible to pickpockets. If I'm going to be in a "high risk" area such as the Metro in Rome or Paris, I often move it to an inner pocket in my clothing or a velcro pocket on my trusty Tilley Travel Vest.

Posted by
8293 posts

You may "personally hate money belts" but would you not hate losing your phone and wallet even more?

Posted by
4060 posts

Toss the backpack, or at least don't use it to carry valuables. I'm assuming you mean one of those awkward daypacks. It's vulnerable and also a nuisance when you turn around in crowded spots. Look at a courier-style bag with a strap to wear from one shoulder across your chest to your hip. Snuggle the strap up tight so the bag is under your armpit and your arm covers the opening flap. Do not let the bag dangle behind you like an open invitation to a thief.

Posted by
16894 posts

The more money and credit cards you have in the wallet, the more care you'll want to take. Presumably you won't have to carry a lot when you leave for class each day. Lille is a city with city issues (and it only takes one bad guy to spoil your day) but I don't believe that Lille is famous for crowds of tourists or the pickpockets who usually follow them.

Posted by
219 posts

My daughter recently moved to Lille from Lyon for a Masters program. She carries her stuff around as she usually does, in her purse, backpack or pocket. She's been living/studying/working in Lyon, France for 2 years now, plus 2 semesters(Grenoble and Paris) during college, traveling in England, Italy, Norway, Morocco, Spain, Portugal, along with all over France. She doesn't own a money belt. She just says walk with a purpose not like a tourist:)
I'll ask her and get back to you on restaurants and pubs. There are plenty.

Posted by
2210 posts

You are going to have such a great time! My daughter lived there for a year in 2005 teaching middle school students and she is still in touch with friends she made there. It's a university town - so there are lots of bars, places to eat and great shopping. It's easy to navigate and only has 2 tube lines. There is an old section of the city and then a more modern part. It's the first stop for the Eurostar coming from London, but they're not used to seeing many Americans because it's not really a tourist destination. It was easy to fly all over Europe from Brussels. Because it's not really a tourist mecca, pick pocketing isn't the problem it is in other popular places. Clearly, you want to watch your stuff, but you shouldn't stress about it.

Posted by
15 posts

Thanks everyone for the replies!

It sounds as if Lille has its bad neighborhoods like any city, but for the most part it is safe city. I don't think Lille will be the issue in terms of security because it is not so much a tourist destination, but there is no such thing as being too careful.

Are there any notable small towns or cities near Lille that worth visiting? I want the cultural experience, not the tourist experience.

Thanks again. You all have been so helpful!

Posted by
219 posts

We were only there for 3 days in Sept visiting our daughter so we didn't see much of the surrounding area. We did take the train to Bruges, which was a neat town. We had intended to go up to the Opal Coast, Brussels, Amiens, and to Arras but decided to cut our time short in Lille. All are within an hour or so train ride, plenty to keep you busy.
There is a whole area in Vieux Lille with bars and restaurants. Very lively with college kids. Believe me, we heard them until the wee hours of the morning on a Wednesday from our hotel.

Posted by
6605 posts

I don't like moneybelts either so I use a neck wallet under my shirt for passport, credit/debit cards, and major cash. I carry minor cash in a front pants pocket, often with my hand caressing it. Haven't been to Lille but so far this has worked in Paris, Mexico City and other tourist-ridden cities where the pickpocket risk is presumably higher. Knock wood.

As stated above, backpack may be the worst place for valuables. You can't see or feel what someone is doing with the pockets.

I don't have an iPhone, I have a cheap unlocked cell phone with SIM card purchased on the trip. Usually in the front pants pocket being caressed by the other hand. I wouldn't want it stolen but the loss would be limited and the thief probably disappointed.

Posted by
339 posts

A cross body messenger type bag with your hand on it works well for me and also my husband. He had only used daypacks in the past but on our most recent trip, he used the messenger bag and really liked it.

Posted by
2004 posts

Lille is indeed not directly a tourist destination, but you have to remain nevertheless carefull about your belongings and personal safety. How, discuss that preferable with the locals you will certainly meet. Susan´s remark ‘Walk with a purpose’ is a good one (that´s what locals do) and that´s the best way to avoid those you don´t want to deal with to my opinion. During your stay there will be anyway enough time to enjoy the sites.

In Lille you can visit the birthplace of Charles de Gaulle and Palais des Beaux-Arts. There is also a recently opened branch of the Louvre museum in nearby Lens. Some 30 km east of Lille in Belgium Tournai is a nice historical place to visit and totally not touristic. It has a small but nice Beaux-Arts museum and a lovely town square and cathedral, however the interior is under restoration.

More east of Tournai there is Chateau de Beloeil and theme park Pairi Daiza. As Le Cateau-Cambrésis is the birthplace of Henri Matisse, you can visit Musée Matisse.

Visit the lovely town squares of Arras and there is if it´s of interest enough to see in the area about WWI and II.