Staff Review

A Day in Lille


15 Mar 2017

by The Kirker Team

Kirker Holidays

When I was offered the opportunity to take a day trip to Lille I thought it would be a bit of a rush, but being only 1hr 20 minutes from St. Pancras it is quite achievable. Of course I only sampled a taste of the things that Lille has to offer and I would highly recommend staying for a couple of days. I would suggest the Kirker hotel L’Hermitage Gantois which is a converted hospice dating back to the 15th century. Exposed walls and original timbered ceilings give a feel of authenticity mixed with all the mod-cons you would expect of a 4* superior hotel. Not only is it a stand-alone short break, but Lille makes an excellent stop to break up a journey further into France.

I will never tire of travelling on the Eurostar: the ease and civilised nature of Standard Premier with a tasty continental breakfast served at my table, was the perfect way to start the day.

Lille’s attractive centre surprised me: three main squares make up the heart of the town where you will find some of the city's finest buildings – reminders of its past as a centre of the Flemish wool trade. The courtyard of the Grand Place often hosts second hand bookstalls and chess games; Place du Théâtre is the home of the belfry and the grand Louis XVI-style opera house (speak to our Kirker Concierge for more information) – definitely not to be missed!

The old town of “Vieux Lille” is a collection of narrow streets, lined with beautifully decorated 17th- and 18th- Century buildings, flamboyant with carved stonework, their ground floors now chic shops. You must not miss the Palais des Beaux-Arts – a museum which houses France’s second-most important art collection after the Louvre. I found the city’s half-finished cathedral Notre-Dame-de-la-Treille, fascinating – the first half, started in 1854, is what you might expect of the era but the final section, due to financial problems, is made up of stark slabs of marble supported by steel wires. Our guide took us from the traditional side to the modern side and it really is quite unexpected, yet oddly captivating when you circumnavigate the building!

For a sunny day in Lille the green hub of the city, the Parc de Loisirs de la Citadelle, is definitely worth a visit. The fortress was built in 1667 by Louis XIV and you can still stroll (or perhaps take a leisurely bicycle ride) along the ramparts and moats, a favourite hangout for locals on a Sunday, there is even a tiny zoo!

Having spent the day in Lille, wandering around the charming city centre and soaking up the French atmosphere, we had just enough time to stop at Euralille (the shopping centre adjacent to the Eurostar terminal) to stock up on French cheese and wine (there are, of course, no carry-on restrictions on Eurostar!) before our leisurely trip back to reality.

I was pleasantly surprised with all that Lille had to offer, and considering that the journey is quicker, and sometimes even better value, than travelling to cities in England, I could not recommend it more!

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Our expert reservations team regularly travel to a wide range of destinations to explore new cities, visit hotels and to research museums, galleries and restaurants so that we can offer the most up-to-date advice and recommendations.


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