Visit the city of Leeuwarden, the Netherlands. Discover Friesland by bike. Including pictures!
August 5, 2019
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Lille, explore a modern medieval city in the north of France 🥖🍷

Lille: ancient buildings and a modern vibe

Lille is located in the very north of France, it is about as close to Paris as it is to the Netherlands. For us Dutchies a perfect weekend get-away destination. The city has a lot of history to it and beautiful medieval buildings in the city centre. Lille is extremely easy to reach by bus, train or car. The international trains to London, Amsterdam and Paris stop in Lille and every European bus company will take you there for a good price. You will encounter a big city with an old hearth combined with a fancy mega mall! Lille is worthwhile exploring for a weekend or so!

As most of you know, the French people do very (very) much like their own language. And although I do think that it has improved with time, a lot of French people are not willing or are unable to speak English. But, with Lille being such an international city, visited by many foreigners and being so close to the Belgium border: we hadn’t had any troubles with speaking English in Lille. You will really be fine with English in Lille, France! Yay! 🎉

Exploring the city

Lille, also referred to as Rijsel or Rysel, has for sure a lot of character. This character of old buildings and small cobble streets is combined with more modern elements such as a new train station (next to an old one) and a fancy mega mall (next to the old city centre). The city of Lille gives you the luxury of going back and forth in time. I will give you tips on how to explore Lille to the fullest!

How to explore Lille: Vieux Lille (Old Lille), Euralille (shopping mall), Parc de la Citadelle

It always comes in handy to have a tourist map of the city when you go out exploring. You can get one at the reception of your hotel in Lille, France, in a coffee shop or online, here for example. Visiting the city for one weekend is fine, you will have enough time to walk around and explore. You don’t need (public) transport within the city, everything is in walking distance. If you use Google Maps or it’s good to orientate on the following landmarks:

  • Vieux Lille (Old Lille, Google Maps link), wander around in the little cobblestone alleys
  • City centre:
    • for shopping head to the Rue de Béthune and the Rue Nationale, around there you will find the most shops
    • main squares: Pl. du Théâtre and Place Charles de Gaulle
    • for coffee: espresso is the standard here, so order a ‘long coffee’ (espresso lungo) if you want a regular cup of black coffee. Notting Hill Coffee (several locations) or the M&S at the Gare de Lille Flandres have good priced coffee. If you don’t pay attention, in the cafes they charge you 4,50 euro for a long black coffee 😑
  • Euralille (shopping mall in Lille), close to both train stations is thé shopping mall of Lille. It is a very big and beautiful mall with a lot of shops and places to eat. For many country’s these kind of malls are very normal but for France / Europe this one is kind of special as there aren’t that many.
  • Parc de la Citadelle, if you like to stretch your legs and have a couple of hours to explore óutside the city: go here! I’ll tell you more about my favourite place in the upcoming paragraph. When you are in Lille make sure to visit the Citadel.
  • Zoo Lille: the Zoo of Lille is located next to the Parc de la Citadelle in Lille. Make sure to visit this Zoo, it’s not too big, very cheap, and great animals here such as rhino’s! And an alpaca too 😁 Make sure to head for the Citadel and include the Zoo.

A good way to explore the city is with a guide. Personally I’m a big fan of the concept of free walking tours where a guide shows you around the city – tip-based. As their income is based on their performance there guys and girls usually provide a great tour, and if not, it at least is an economical way to have seen the city 😁


We really liked a spot called ‘We are ARA‘, it’s in the old city centre of Lille. Nice vibe, good English, but not touristy per se. Great food, good coffee, wifi… Well… all you need.

In the mood for French crêpes? Always, right! Visit this cosy place called Au Pays d’Armor (21 Rue du Plat).

In the mood for real French food? I’m not talking crêpes but oysters here! Visit Brasserie de la Paix. Make sure to have a reservation when visiting this restaurant in Lille.

In the mood for fast food: head to Factory & Co. Best burger, fries, cake. Don’t go here every day, it’s too good (and well, not very healthy). 🍔

My favourite place: Parc de la Citadelle including Zoo Lille!

The Parc de la Citadelle is thé place for walking, running, or walking your dog. It’s a great big park in Lille where there even is a small theme park (great to visit with children). Our friend Wikipedia tells us that the citadel was built around 1670 and is shaped pentagonal. It’s surrounded by water and trees and a very impressive big citadel to walk around. The nature is pretty, and though in the weekend you won’t be here alone, it is a good get away from the busier city centre. Take a look at Google Maps to see the shape and the location, it’s about 2 kilometres walking (1.25 miles) from Euralille (centre of Lille close to the train stations).

Zoo Lille!

And when you’re there, make sure to visit Lille Zoo! Lille Zoo is located at the south side of the citadel and a must visit. I really enjoyed myself here. It really is not too big that you need to spent a whole day here. But it will be the best couple of hours for the best money that you will spent in Lille. The tickets to the Zoo are only 4 euro’s per adult! Well, I’m not sure about where you come from, but here that’s a bargain. And for that you get so much value.

At the website of the Zoo Lille you can prepare your trip! From December until the mid of February the Zoo is closed. Other than that, the Zoo opens every day at 10 am and is open (depending of the season) until 17h, 18h or 19h.

The Zoo isn’t too big that you will get lost and the map you get is very convenient. You start at the ‘around the world’ part with beautiful – amazing! – birds, little foxes and the cutest wallaby. In the ‘Exotic trip’ area the temperature gets up and big turtles and snakes are your buddies here! In the ‘Island to island’ part you will see monkeys. Then there is the ‘African plain’ with the highlight: the beautiful rhino’s. The last too parts of the zoo are called ‘South American excursion’ and ‘In the tropics’. Your day will be filled with seeing the most beautiful birds, the cutest mammals and impressive amphibians.

Palais des Beaux-Arts

I’m not a typical museum person, but well, when it’s a rainy day it is a good way to spent your day. I can really recommend the Palais des Beaux-Arts in Lille, the museum of the fine arts in Lille. You can get there by metro if you like (Stop: République Beaux-Arts) or just walk, that’s very convenient if you are able to.

The museum is a very impressive building in itself. In the museum there is a lot of pottery / China, beautiful ancient sculptures, paintings, amazing (old!) 3D-maps of various cities that were used before to plan wars. Please go see it for yourself, the museum is very big and has cool features like some paintings that have been scanned to the highest pixel and where you are able to zoom in and look into the minor details.

How to travel to Lille

Easiest way to travel to Lille is by train or bus!

The railway system in Europe is very convenient, timely, frequent and easy. The train station is in the middle of the city centre. There actually are two, very close to each other. You can travel here by train from the Netherlands and also from London. For example, taking the train from Amsterdam (Netherlands) to Lille (France) will take you 2,5 hours and between 50 and 100 euro one-way fare (booking a few months ahead is cheaper!). 🚂

Also by bus Lille is very easy reachable. Bus companies like Flixbus or Ouibus take you to Lille for a very economic tariff. Check their websites in the provided links for prices and times. For example, the bus from Amsterdam (Netherlands) to Lille (France) will take you 5 hours and between 10 and 20 euro one-way fare. 🚌

Want to book your hotel room? Please click here to go to We always use and when you become a Genius member you also get a better price. Also look for the great offers they have to make your hotel stay in Lille comfortable.

The bus is definitely the cheapest option to travel to Lille!

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