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Weekent trip to Lille France from London in September

My husband and I are planing to take the Eurostar from London to Lille in a couple of weeks. Any suggestions or tips on traveling there? What should we plan to do while we are there?

Posted by
5460 posts

I went to Lille for the Palais de Beaux Arts, or modern and ancient art museum. But it's a pretty city, nicknamed "Little Paris". I think it's an ususual outing from London. The NY Times reviewed some "Belgian" restaurants there, a few years ago. Most people would continue on Eurostar to Brussels or Paris, rather than getting off in Lille. (Just want to make sure they SELL tickets London-Lille, too??) Others would take the additional trek (not next door ... ) to Bruges. I would not say that Lille is a "must see."

If you post again, say whether you're spending the night.

EDIT: Note this related thread, still on the first page:
https://community.ricksteves.com/travel-forum/england/eurostar-hint-allow-plenty-of-time-at-st-pancras

Posted by
16 posts

Thank you for your reply. We are planning to spend the night. We are using London as a home base for 10 days and wanted to go to Bruges for the weekend but decided that the travel time was too long for a day and a half. I thought Lille sounded interesting and not as touristy as Bruges plus the Eurostar goes there. The trip is 1 1/2 hours. We have been to England a few times and would like to try a new destination. Any additional thoughts woukd be appreciated.

Posted by
631 posts

they've always old tickets to Lille, it's an important interchange for passengers with onward connections who want to avoid Paris.

The biggest event of the year is the Braderie but by my reckoning that's next weekend
http://www.northernfrance-tourism.com/Major-Events/The-Lille-braderie-Europe-s-biggest-flea-market

not just a flea market, there's also the moules+frites...

(and why is this listed as a trip report, it might get more attention under queries for France)

Posted by
5460 posts

Brussels in my least favorite city in northern Belgium. But, as you know, it's the next stop on the Eurostar. And there is certainly more than you can do in two days in Brussels! It's less effort, but more time, to get to Brugge from Brussels, I think. There have been some discussions of doing it from Lille, but I can't put my finger on them.

This is not the place to discuss the comparative attractions of cities in Belgium, but if you aren't paying a lot to NOT sleep in London, it's really easy to move between Brugge-Gent-Antwerp-Brussels-Leuven-Lier on unreserved trains. You can sleep in one place, say, two nights, and see multiple cities if you have the energy.

Edit: DO NOT plan to visit the major cities of Belgium or Flanders FROM Lille. Lille is, other than Eurostar, POORLY connected to the transit hubs of Brussels and Antwerp. It took me three hours and three trains once, to get from Antwerp to Lille, 2 1/2 hours and two trains for the return. I do remember a discussion here about busses or French trains to get from Lille to Brugge. Maybe you can find it with the search box.

Don't overlook Monday closures. However, many places are so attractive (like Brugge and Gent) that they can be a nice day with fewer or no museums open.

Posted by
12882 posts

Hi,

If I had the time, I would do this day trip. The two times I visited Lille I did as day trips from Arras.

Posted by
27713 posts

I don't see a lot unique in Lille, although whenever I stop for the night in Lille I am always in the suburbs (usually Englos) and don't go into the centre. I've been into the centre and wasn't impressed. The original location of the bakery chain is there though. Also Charles de Gaulle was from there.

I'd go the extra distance to Brugge though. Even with the tourist throngs it is quite different from many other places, and good fun. Planning ahead and staying at one of the large handful of good B&Bs can be quite reasonable and fun.

Or go a bit closer to Brussels and stay in Gent - where the best chocolates I have yet discovered are made. And they have a neat lamb.

Posted by
16 posts

Thank you for the input. Maybe it would be best to take two nights and go into Belgium. Any ideas on where to stay in Lille?

Posted by
27713 posts

I stay in the suburbs which won't suit you. In the immediate area of the two main railway stations - Lille Europe and Lille Flandre, just a very short covered walkway away from each other - are both an Accor property and a Holiday Inn property. I have stayed in both over the years when using Eurostar and both are very convenient and I would stay at both again but unless staying on points the Accor one is usually quite expensive. It used to be an Accor SuiteHotel and I think its current grouping is Novotel Suites; I think that the Holiday Inn one is currently a Holiday Inn Express.

Both are fairly generic, high rise with lots of glass and the HIE breakfast is fairly good. I've never eaten at the Accor property. You will be hard pressed to find more convenient hotels for the Eurostar at Lille-Europe.

But to sound like a broken record, both will cost you more than going into a B&B in Brugge. My three favourite hotels in Gent are now out of my price range since two of the three wound up in Rick's blue book.

Posted by
27713 posts

Oh yes,

I got hauled over the coals last week for spelling places like the locals spell them.

For avoidance of confusion, and to please my critics,

Brugge is called Bruges by many English speakers even though the local people speak Flemish, a variation on Dutch and don't speak French which where the Bruges spelling comes from.

Gent is called Ghent by many English speakers.

Lille is the same in French, which is the local language, and English, but Rijsel by the Flemish and Dutch speakers - Lille's immediate neighbors to the north. Both Lille and Rijsel have the same meaning in the respective languages, but most English speakers only use the French version.