Next in our weekend getaways from Paris we decided to go north and explore the beautiful city of Lille. As we were returning to the States after spending a few weeks in Europe we found a good flight routing through Charles de Gaulle (CDG). Rather than heading into the Paris for a couple nights I wanted to continue our French explorations and try something new. Lille was a quick winner for ease of access from CDG and the unique charm the city has to offer. This post takes you through transportation, dining, where to stay and what to do - all the essentials to plan the perfect weekend getaway in Lille.
Transportation: Step one of course was getting to Lille. As I mentioned, we were connecting through CDG after a work week in Dublin and instead of heading straight back to the States on Friday I decided to fly us into Charles du Gaulle to spend the weekend in France. Getting to Lille couldn’t be easier. Terminal 2 of CDG runs high speed train service from the airport straight to Lille. (If you are in Paris you can also access these train routes from the train stations in the city of course.) Our 49-minute train ride was on Ouigo, but you can also take the Direct TGV. The trick to make it easy is to download the “OUI.sncf” app (https://apps.apple.com/us/app/oui-sncf-train-travel/id343889987) on your smart phone and book your tickets right from your phone while you are traveling. You can of course do this online, but I found the app to be easier, and in less than an hour and for 10 euros we were in the heart of the city. You can Uber or taxi as needed from there.
Lodging: Tracking down the best accommodations in the city was easy, following one of our golden rules - (https://www.relaischateaux.com/). I won’t belabor the point as I know I have mentioned it in past posts but staying with Relais and Chateaux properties has never let us down, and of course, the Clarance Hotel (https://www.clarancehotel.com/en/) was no exception. Originally built in the 18th century as townhomes, the Clarance Hotel is certainly rich with history and classic architectural touches; most importantly, the location of the hotel makes for easy access to all of the city, which is critical for a quick weekend escape
In more recent years the new owners started a modernization project which has resulted in the amazing property it is today, right in the heart of the city. The Hotel is a mix of contemporary and classic French in both art and design, a truly unique property amongst any we have stayed with in terms of style. We happened to book the getaway at the last minute and ended up switching rooms from one night to the next due to availability. We ended up enjoying the switch as it was fun to have the opportunity to see multiple rooms, every one of the 19 different rooms on the property is different. We stayed in room 12 in the main house and room 3 in the annex on the second day and couldn’t decide which was our favorite.
Dining: Let me start where we left off with accommodations and mention that the Clarance Hotel has a wonderful dining option on site – La Table (https://www.clarancehotel.com/en/page/hotel-gastronomic-restaurant-lille.3.html). La Table has been awarded a Michelin star in the recent year and their new chef does an incredible job with the menu and presentation.
For a more casual evening Restaurant Pancook (https://pancook.fr/) is an absolute must. It is ten minutes or so by car from the Hotel but absolutely worth the drive. The menu is written on a chalk board and carried to your table-side while the waiter goes over the details with you, such a fun concept. The food was phenomenal, making this place the perfect spot for a casual yet charming night out. The Pancook Flamand and Carbonade were our favorites, don’t miss them! Another great dinner option is Au Gout du Jour (https://www.augoutdujour.eu/en/). Located right in town this spot doesn’t have a menu at all. The dishes are set and your multi course dinner is a “surprise”, but all their food was fabulous and of course locally inspired. Another fun and unique dinner that shouldn’t be missed.
Au Gout du Jour
Au Gout du Jour
What to do: Finally, what do you do to fill in the gaps between all the amazing dining? With its unique combination of French and Danish architecture and culture, Lille is a wonderful city to simply walk, explore and enjoy. For a great afternoon stroll, set your destination as the Lille Cathedral and enjoy the shopping streets along the way. Rue Basse/Rue des Chats Bossus is the street surrounding the Cathedral and home to some of the architectural gems that we enjoyed the most.
It’s fun to wander and get lost in the little streets surrounding the area. Once you’re ready for a snack and a glass of wine, head over to Crémerie (https://www.fromage-delassic.fr/). This place is magical. It is a full-service cheese shop downstairs with a cheese, wine tasting and dining area upstairs. We let the owner pick out his favorites, all of which were out of this world, and washed it down with a great selection of red wine by the glass. This place is not to be missed.
Another fun afternoon or evening stop is grabbing cocktails at Le Dandy (https://www.facebook.com/ledandylille/) – this quickly became our favorite bar in town. On Sunday we finished our weekend with a nice long stroll around the Parc de la Citadelle (https://parcdelacitadelle.lille.fr/). If you have time you can rent boats, go to the Citadel of Lille (https://www.lilletourism.com/site-et-monument-historiques-lille/citadelle-de-lille.html), or just stroll the gardens with the locals and enjoy the weather.
Lille was an absolutely perfect weekend getaway and an exciting way to continue our explorations in France. Food, drinks, hotel Clarance, and the unique architecture of the of this enchanting city were the prefect weekend recipe. If you follow the general outline of our itinerary you are sure to fall in love with Lille as we did. If you haven’t already, check out our last French getaway as we explored Limoges and the beautiful La Chapelle Saint Martin.
The only question now is where to next as we are excited to keep exploring what France has to offer! Stick with us for more posts as the exploring continues! Cheers!