Since spending my 30th birthday (mainly drunk) in Budapest with a wonderful set of friends I vowed I would spend future birthday’s abroad. Since, I’ve been lucky enough to spend my birthday in Singapore, Brisbane, London, Pisa/Florence, Naples and this year I spent it in Lille.
Lille is only 1hr 20 mins from St Pancras on the Eurostar. That’s quicker than getting to most major cities in the UK! The plan for our weekend – red wine, cheese, a nice dinner on my birthday, shop, stop for beer, wander. Lille is perfect for that. There aren’t too many major sights but enough for a nice weekend away.
This is a newly built hostel in the old town. About 20 minutes walk from the train station or a 5 minute taxi journey. It cost us 20 EUROs but I’m sure our driver took us the long way! The hostel has a bar attached which from reviews we read sounded popular with the locals and had plenty of local and imported beer to choose from. We under estimated just how popular it was with the locals! We arrived at 8pm, check in was at the end of the bar. The place was full to the brim, barely room to move, a little intimidating on first arrival! Despite the amount of people in the bar the security to the rooms worked well. Security cards take you through to the hostel rooms.
The rooms look really swish on the website but ours was basic. A double bed bunk bed (which to be fair is very rare), linen was very comfortable and there’s a plug and light above each bed and a lockable crate under the beds – all the essentials! We were on the first floor and right above the small garden outside of the bar. Luckily we hadn’t planned on early nights, the bar shuts at 1am Friday and 2am on Saturday.
Management knew it was my birthday and the token glass of red was a nice touch.
As with all cities there are plenty of places to try. We struck gold with our choices of restaurants on both nights.
O’ Ch’ti B. – 98 rue de Saint-Andre
Ok, so having pizza whilst in France seems a bit wrong but it was 10pm on arrival day, it was two blocks from our hostel and to be perfectly honest it looked very inviting! Instead of menus you are given a tick sheet – create your own pizza! Our waitress was very helpful and translated most of the options that my basic french couldn’t. The wine menu was also a mine field but to be honest, ordering any bottle of french red wine – you can’t go wrong!
The pizza was delicious, so much so we wanted to eat there again the next night, but didn’t.
L’Assiette du Marche – 61 rue de la Monnaie
After a little research on tripadvisor for restaurants for our second night, we found that we were staying on a road where there were alot of recommended restaurants. Rue de Saint-Andre runs into Rue de la Monnaie which also has several ones. We decided to check out L’Assiette du Marche. The entrance is across a courtyard which has seating outside in the summer. There was a little bit of a wait to be seated (highly recommend booking) but it was definitely worth it. There were several dining rooms and a cloakroom but we weren’t invited to “check” our coats…. we had a little joke that we were shown to the “cheap seats”. I was about to write that I had the most delicious salmon I’ve ever tasted, but then remembered I had that in Iceland earlier in the year, so this had to be the second most delicious salmon I’ve ever had 🙂 The bottle of Sancerre was a wonderful treat and the bill surprisingly came in around £25 per person!
Grand’ Place – the main square which leads off to all streets, restaurants, shops.
Cathedrale Notre Dame de la Treille – not quite the Notre Dame you conjur up in the mind when you think of the famous Notre Dame in Paris. It is stunning inside, just situated amongst the warren of streets in the old town. Well worth a visit.
Parc Zoologique de Lille! – It’s FREE! and there’s a red panda!
SHOPS – Top brands, high end shops, antiquties, boutique shops.
This bakery seems to be somewhat busy any time of the day!
Until next time Lille……