For a festive and magical Christmas shopping experience it would be hard to beat a trip to Lille in the north of France.
There are very nearly 4000 shops in Lille, already making it a top destination for shoppers from all over France and from the UK – especially since London to Lille on Eurostar makes this a quick and easy to reach destination.
At Christmas hundreds of twinkling festive lights, shop windows vying to outdo each other with fabulous displays, the wooden chalets of the Christmas market and the scent of Christmas aromas bring charm and a fairy-tale feeling that adults and children will find irresistible.
In the Grand Place, the central square the sound of Christmas carols fill the air and the famous Big Wheel of Lille looks over a city blanketed in goodwill. An artificial snow-covered (as required!) village fills the square in which an 18 metre high Christmas trees towers over visitors.
In the beautiful old town (Vieux Lille) the festive decorations draw the eye down the cobblestone streets. Furet du Nord on Grand Place is one of the biggest bookshops in Europe and well worth a stop for book lovers. Browse the antique shops for that special and unique gift, discover great French design and stop for a steaming hot coffee in one of the lovely cafés.
There are excellent department stores in the centre including Galeries Lafayette and Printemps, a shopping centre (Euralille) with restaurants and a hypermarket. Bargain hunters can head to the Wazemmes district with its bazaars and discount shops (Gambetta district).
Lille Sud is filled with fashion houses (Maison de Modes whose patron is the famous designer Agnes b) and you’ll find workshops of young designers selling their collections on site.
Lille Christmas Market 2012
In Place Rihour you’ll find the traditional wooden chalets of the famous Lille Christmas market. The first Christmas market to open in France each year it will be held in 2012 from 24 November until 25 December (closed 25 December). Here you can browse the stalls with their gourmet products, local artisan produced gifts and international offerings and you can taste the mulled wine and roasted chestnuts and you can indulge in buying some of the regional specialities – cheese, chocolate and other gourmet delicacies and traditional decorations.
As if all this were not enough – depending on what days you are in Lille there are also some fabulous markets.
In Vieux Lille there’s a lively market at the Place du Concert on Sunday mornings.
In the Place de la Nouvelle Aventure, you’ll find flavours from all over the world at the great bustling Sunday morning market, which attracts a cheerful, diverse crowd.
Lille has excellent transport facilities so you don’t need a car to get around – though you might need some help carrying your purchases!
Shops are generally open in Lille from 10 am to 7 pm, Monday to Saturday though note that some shops are closed on Monday morning.
All shops are also open on the three Sundays preceding Christmas: the 9, 16 and 23 December.
Pop into the Tourist Office in Place Rihour and pick up a map of the town and if you’re intending to add some culture to your Christmas visit check out the Lille City Pass. This enables you to entry to museums and galleries in the city and unlimited use on Lille’s transport systems for 24 hours for just €20.00.
For more details of Christmas in Lille see the Lille Tourist Office Website.
More information on Lille here.