Whatever your interest – art, architecture, gastronomy or shopping – Lille, France’s fifth-largest city and the capital of French Flanders, has something for everyone, including some of the best restaurants and art galleries you will find in northern France outside Paris. There is certainly plenty to discover if you wish to break your journey in this stylish city.
Arrival in Lille
When you alight from the Eurostar, walk along the platform into the main part of the station. We recommend taking a taxi for the short ride to the Grand Hotel Bellevue, so follow the signs for the taxi rank.
Grand Hotel Bellevue
With one façade forming part of the great Flemish square, the Bellevue could not be more central for all the main delights of Lille, both in the Old Town and the newer districts. Behind the classic 18th-century frontage lie a grand, marble-floored reception area and 61 smart bedrooms offering 4-star accommodation decorated in soft colours and equipped with marble bathrooms, satellite television, internet access and a minibar.
The hotel is within walking distance of one of the best restaurants in Lille, À l’Huitrière, which, as its name suggests, specialises in seafood. There are plenty of other good restaurants nearby, including a number of traditional bistros in the alleyways and small squares of the Old Town, and we provide further recommendations in your information pack.
One of Lille’s many charms is that you can reach all the main sights on foot, including the superbly preserved, star-shaped citadel and the Palais des Beaux Arts, second only to the Louvre. The focal point is the Grand’Place. The square’s east side is dominated by one of Lille’s greatest landmarks, the lavishly ornate Vieille Bourse (old Stock Exchange), a blend of Flemish and French influences whose arcaded central courtyard now houses flower and book stalls. In the adjacent square, the Place du Théâtre, are examples of Flemish Renaissance architecture with Baroque flourishes as well as another landmark, the Opéra, boasting a beautifully sculpted façade. North of these two great squares stretches Vieux Lille, an atmospheric maze of old cobbled streets and alleys lined with red-brick terraced buildings. Within this labyrinth are the cathedral, and the house in which Charles de Gaulle was born, which is now a museum dedicated to his life.