A short trip to the quaint village of Lille in Northern France.
After spending 2 days in Brussels, Belgium, I was excited to get on the train and explore more of Europe. I am so glad that we made a stop in Lille on the way back to Paris. I love Paris, but Lille has been my favorite city so far.
Here’s a list of what we did in Lille, France:
1. Aimlessly Wandered the Streets
We arrived late in the afternoon on Saturday and started wandering around looking at shops. The small cobblestone streets with lights and banners hanging above created an intimate atmosphere. The lack of tourists made me feel like I was really experiencing Lille like the locals do.
2. Tasted Flemish Cuisine
We ate at a Flemish Tavern called Estaminet Le Vieux de la Vielle. It is a traditional tavern with a wooden interior and folklore covering the walls. This was the best meal I’ve had since I’ve been in France. For comparison’s sake, it tasted like an au gratin potato casserole with onions and pieces of ham.
3. Stayed at a Hostel
This was my first experience staying at a hostel and it was much better than I expected it to be. Our hostel, called Gastama, had a full bar in the lobby and a cool courtyard where people could hang out. We had a private room with three people so it felt more like a hotel (Well, minus the random sink in our room). Each floor shared one shower and one toilet. I never ran into any problems with that, thankfully. After the last two nights in Brussels, we were old grandmas and went to bed early.
On Sunday we had until 8:50 to explore Lille before our train would leave for Paris. What do you do in a new city with no zero plans? Geocache of course! The other four girls I was with (Marissa, Emma, Caroline, and Kiara) had either never geocached before or had not done it in a very long time. Perfect! We walked all over Lille looking for geocaches, exploring amazing places along the way. Who needs a tour guide when you have geocaching? Here’s a video of our geocaching adventures:
5. Palais de Beaux Arts de Lille
The Palais de Beaux Arts de Lille has the second largest collection of fine art in France. We definitely couldn’t miss that! My favorite part was the sculptures and Monet pieces.
6. Zoo de Lille
The map the hostel gave us had tons of useful information about what to do in Lille. It turns out Lille has a zoo and it’s FREE! My favorite word! (I thought of you, Grandma). We felt like little kids looking at all the animals, full of unbridled joy.
It felt very similar to the zoos back in the United States. The only difference was that all the kids were squealing with excitement in a different language. I love doing things on a whim like that. After a failed attempt to rent bikes, we rushed back to our hostel.
7. Rushed to Catch the Train
We grabbed our stuff from the luggage room at our hostel, charged our phones up for a little bit, briskly walked to the train station (30 min away from our hostel), bought our overpriced train station food, and boarded the train just in time. Back to Paris, we went.
They say that, “you cry twice when you go in the North: once when you arrive, and when you leave.” There might not have been physical tears, but I felt a connection with this city. I have a feeling I will be back.