If you take your Christmas shopping seriously, you’ll find it hard to find a more inspiring city in Europe than Lille. Not only are there almost 4000 shops in this historic city in northern France but there is also the super festive Lille Christmas market and cultural attractions galore…
Festive fun at Lille Christmas market northern France
Lille’s Christmas market is based in Place Rihour, where a palace once stood, the remains now from the tourist office’s headquarters. You’ll find lots of stalls selling local arts and crafts. There are also plenty of regional food specialities such as stinky but delicious Maroilles cheese, macarons, biscuits, and local sweets like babeluttes (soft caramels). And, there are lots of great gift ideas, especially if you’re looking for something different. Next door at the enormous square known as the Grand Place take a ride on the 164ft high Ferris Wheel. You’ll get a bird’s eye view over the square. There’s also an artificial snow village.
The Old town of Lille
The old city with its beautiful Flemish architecture looks stunning with its twinkling light display. Shop windows compete to be the most original with wonderful displays. And, with this many shops you can guarantee you’ll find something to suit every taste and every budget.
With its narrow cobblestone streets lined with lovely old Flemish houses, Vieux Lille (old town) is the ideal place to discover the great names in fashion and design. You can also find numerous antique shops and art galleries here.
It’s a great place for foodies. There are fabulous cheese shops like Philippe Olivier and don’t miss a nibble on a waffle from Meert. This lovely old cake and sweet shop has been making the people of Lille happy for three centuries. Microbreweries, specialist jam shops, confectioners, bakers, chacuteries. If you love food – you’ll love Lille!
In the centre and pedestrian streets, you’ll find well known French department stores like Printemps. There are also international chain stores and unique boutiques. On the Grand Place, the Furet du Nord is one of the biggest bookshops in Europe. Close by in the Vielle Bourse (the old Stock Exchange) is one of the prettiest second hand book markets in France.
In the station district, near the Eurostar station, you’ll find the Euralille shopping centre. It was designed by Jean Nouvel and houses a hundred shops, restaurants and a hypermarket beneath its futuristic lines.
The Wazemmes district is the place to come bargain hunting in the bazaars and discount shops of the rue Gambetta district. In the Place de la Nouvelle Aventure, you’ll find flavours from all over the world at the great bustling Sunday morning market. You’ll find a cheerful, diverse crowd here. It’s noisy, vibrant, lined with fabulous cafés and places to enjoy a chocolat chaud while you watch the world go by.
Indulge your passion for fashion in Lille
In Lille Sud, the rue du Faubourg des Postes is home to the Maisons de Modes (fashion houses). They were opened in 2007 in the presence of their patron, Agnès b. This district has undergone a vibrant revival and several workshops welcome young designers who design and sell their own collections on site. They also have workshops in nearby Roubaix, next to the stunning Musée La Piscine, a short tram or metro hop away.
Shops are generally open in Lille from 10 am to 7 pm, Monday to Saturday. Some shops are closed on Monday morning.
All shops are also open on the three Sundays preceding Christmas.
Lille Christmas Market 2023
The Lille Christmas Market 22 November – 31 December 2023 Details www.lilletourism.com
More on Lille
It might not surprise you to know that mostly – Christmas in France is all about food… so buckle up, or maybe unbuckle your belt, for a fun, festive and foodie podcast: The A to Z of Christmas in France