The city of Lille in northern France takes its food seriously and there are so many restaurants and such a vibrant café lifestyle here that this gastronomically fabulous place to go is rapidly becoming a favourite French foodie destination…
With the wonderful architecture in Old Lille, outstanding shopping facilities (we’re talking 4000 shops), rich culture and heritage and a great artistic vibe, Lille makes for a perfect gourmet break with style. There is an immense choice of restaurants, tea rooms, cafés, patisseries, brasseries and bars – literally thousands. From local Flemish fare, haute cuisine, international cooking, Michelin starred eateries, quaint and quirky locations, you are absolutely spoiled for choice.
10 brilliant places to eat and drink in Lille:
Divine Champagne Bar in a 17th Century convent
The Alliance Couvent des Minimes, a 4* hotel in a stunning location on the waterside Quai du Wault in the heart of historic old Lille, is home to the only Champagne bar in Lille. There is no need for another champagne bar as this one is so absolutely amazing. Set in a glass covered courtyard, on a raised platform, surrounded by the cloisters of this gorgeous 17th Century convent, it is romantic and stylish, whatever the weather. There is also a great restaurant, bar and afternoon tea and cake is divine.
Where? Quai du Wault Website: www.alliance-lille.com
Cook it yourself with a top chef
At the brilliant Atelier des Chefs school in Lille (Chef school for everyone) you can enjoy a 30 minute cookery lesson in a professional kitchen with a chef. You’ll cook your own lunch (with chef’s help), then enjoy it with a complimentary pudding and a glass of wine. At just €17 Euros this is a steal. Longer lessons are available and the school’s shop is stocked with all manner of fabulous produce that I’ve never seen anywhere else – their reduced balsamic vinegar is the best.
Visit and book via their website: www.atelierdeschefs.fr
Cooked by a French Master Chef at Bloempot
Bloempot is Flemish for “The Flowerpot” and this is one of the newest, trendiest restaurants in Lille and THE hotspot for foodies. Opened by French Top Chef finalist (a very popular French TV cooking show) Florent Ladeyn, it is housed in a former carpentry workshop in picturesque rue des Bouchers. It’s adorned with recycled, re-loved items, a seat from an old train carriage looks at home, an old coal scuttle serves as a champagne bucket with style, its an eclectic mix but the real star is the food. Book online to avoid the queues and enjoy the daily set menu which uses the freshest of ingredients with a huge amount of imagination and style.
Best coffee in Lille
The Coffee Makers is small and funky and known to the locals of Lille as THE place to go for the best coffee in town. Coffee aficionados will love the espresso prepared exactly as it should be and those with a sweet tooth won’t be able to resist the Malteser coffee. There’s a great choice of light lunches and scrummy cakes, a great atmosphere and you’re likely to meet expats from as far afield as the US and Australia as its reputation is spreading far and wide!
151 rue de Paris, Lille
Au Moulin d’Or
Au Molin d’Or opposite the Opera House (31-33, place du théâtre). Good choice, no, great choice. The service is fab, the food is great, proper old fashioned brasserie style with a modern twist, not expensive and the renovated restaurant is gorgeous.
Funky burgers at the Urban Basilic Café
A great atmosphere, cool interior and lovely outdoor terrace garden area PLUS an art gallery, and the burgers here are anything but standard. Gourmet burgers with panache and fabulous deserts have won this restaurant a legion of fans.
24bis rue Esquermoise Website: www.basilic-cafe.com
Quirky Riverside brasserie
La Guinguette de la Marine is quirky, quaint and a brilliant place to go for lunch or dinner. Instead of bar seats, there are bar swings; a larger than life screen plays old film of famous French songsters and there’s an eclectic mix of quirky artefacts. The servers deftly weave their way in and out of packed tables carrying trays of delicious food, try the Maroilles tart for a real taste of Flemish fare made with the local (very strong and extremely smelly ) cheese. 8 avenue Léon Jouhaux
Mussels and Chips
You can’t go to Lille and not have mussels and chips, it’s the most popular meal in town. There are loads of choices and in September at the time of the Braderie de Lille, the biggest flea market in Europe, you’ll find the streets will be filled with mussel shell mountains as restaurants compete for best mussel and chips title.
A taste of the past at the Le Barbue d’Anvers
Well, we’re not quite sure what the beard (barbue) has to do with food but, this lovely estaminet (Flemish style eaterie) is perfect to soak up the atmosphere of old Lille. It’s a bit off the beaten track, located in a small courtyard in a gorgeous 16th Century building but perfect for those who want to experience the soul of Lille in its food. A great menu of local dishes made with creative flair and a superb beer list.
Wazemmes Sunday market – a must see and eat place
If you’re in Lille on a Sunday, don’t miss the excellent market at Wazemmes. This colourful and vibrant area is multi-cultural and very lively and although the covered market is open 3 days a week, it’s Sunday when the whole place comes alive with the huge market selling just about everything. It’s a great place for people watching and there’s a great choice of places to eat (though beware it gets packed at lunchtimes). Try Les Tilleuls, opposite the church for its great terrace seating and excellent view over the market square.
Check out the Lille Tourist Office website for loads more info: www.lilletourism.com and pop into their office in the centre of Lille for a money saving City Pass.
Getting there: Let the train take the strain and carry your goodies home for you! Eurostar from London takes just 1 hour 20 minutes to reach Lille and return fares start from £69.