Back in March of this year, while Europe was slowly re-opening and relaxing covid rules, I was starting to dream about traveling again! Lille in Northern France was the perfect weekend get-away to get me enthusiastic about exploring again. Architecturally a mix between Belgium and France, this cozy city is the perfect size for a short trip filled with quirky museums, lots of good food, and shopping. Read on for the Fiery Explorer’s guide to Lille!
A foodie’s guide to Lille
- Bierbuik – Bloemeke: Found through’s Topjaw’s video about Lille (as many places in this Lille guide), Bierbuik is a cozy and striking beerpub in Lille’s center. The menu consists of mostly vegetarian and vegan comfort food dishes, all made with local ingredients. The fries with local cheese are a must-try, I loved it! As it’s also a brewpub, they have an ever-changing list of its own brewed beers. Reserve for lunch or go early for dinner as it’s a popular weekend destination!
- BABE: Once you see BABE’s logo, you’ll know that the star of their menu is meat. However, BABE does put a lot of passion and love to source from local farmers, carefully selecting their products based on the season. Every few weeks their menu changes to accommodate availability and adapt to the mood of the season. We had a delicious steak & frites, and a local pasta for lunch, accompanied by locally brewed beers and pinot noir 😍.
- Comptoir 44: By FAR my favorite meal in Lille! A modern French bistro with a quaint and cozy atmosphere (as they very accurately describe themselves), this restaurant was perfect for the pre-Valentine dinner my partner had planned. The crowd is mixed; from couples, families with older children, to larger groups of friends and people with younger kids. The food is exquisite without being overbearing or stuffy. Their service was quick, super friendly, and gave us great wine recommendations! We went for three courses, and they hit the right balance between innovative and comforting french dishes. Their wine menu is mostly French, tasted and selected by the staff themselves. Lots of natural wines, without the funk 😉. One last note: if you enjoy wine, pay attention to all the funny wine-themed art hanging around!
- Classic Northern French food: If you’re in Lille and want to try traditional northern French food, both Estaminet Au Vieux de la Vieille and Estaminet Chez La Vieille were recommended to us. For a modern French restaurant, I’ve heard good stories about Bloempot. We, unfortunately, didn’t get to try any of these, but will do so next time in Lille!
- La Friche Gourmand: Also found through TopJaw, this place hosts a number of food trucks, locally brewed beer, and cool music! Unfortunately, we arrived between opening hours on Sunday (12-14 / 19 – 22), but still got the chance to enjoy a beer (cider in my case), some sausage, and the atmosphere. Next time I’m in Lille, I’m putting this place at the top of my to-visit list.
Something to keep in mind: most restaurants are open for lunch between 12:00 – 14:00, and re-open at 19:00 for dinner. If you prefer a later lunch, plan ahead! In addition, I’d recommend reserving for dinner on the weekend, they filled up very quickly, even on a cold weekend in February.
Fiery Lille guide to beer bars and wine cellars
- Joker: A fun and slightly quirky cocktail bar, Joker serves a number of unique cocktails + all the classics. We went late on a Saturday evening, the bar staff was super friendly and happy to make recommendations.
- Les Freres Pinard: Created by two aperitif lovers, Les Freres Pinard has everything needed for a perfect aperitif at the end of the afternoon. They sell wine, cheese and charcuterie, and use these speciality items to create delicious ‘planches’ (=boards), with local organic vegetables.
- Célestin: Lille is a true beer city, and Célestin aims to meet any needs when it comes to beer! The have a micro brewery in the city center, which you can visit to do a beer tasting. Additionally, they have a store with an extensive collection of different types of beers. We unfortunately didn’t get to visit, but have a peek at the tasting here.
- La Capsule Lille: La Capsule is a craft beers pub, with an easy going vibe and a wide variety of customers. We spent a good 1.5 hours at the bar, my partner trying different beers (and me drinking cider). I’d highly recommend to include it in a beer tour while in Lille!
- Le Braz: This bar is across from La Capsule, and it was full on a saturday evening. Braz concentrates more on wine and cocktails, and has three stories of very cozy looking spaces. We went to the Joker after La Capsule, but this place is saved on my list for the next time!
- La Cave á Vinds de Jacques Dumas: A cozy wine bar in Lille Old Town, we ended up here on Friday evening. Ready for another ‘planche’ and to try more French wine, we ordered the smoked fish platter and a glass of white wine. It was exactly what we wanted that evening, cozy, a bit romantic and we ended up being almost the last customers to leave. Recommended if you want to try (or buy) French wines and have a small bite.
The artsy guide to Lille
When I visited Lille with my partner we didn’t go to see a lot of tourist attractions, choosing instead to walk around the city and enjoy the sunshine. We visited two museums, plus I have included some other recommendations.
- La Piscine museum: Located in Roubaix, this museum is 100% worth the 20 minute train ride outside of Lille. Set in the exquisite Art Déco building that used to be a swimming pool (design by A.Baert’s, 1932) it now showcases fine-arts (19th and 20th centuries paintings and sculptures) and a variety of drawings, textiles and ceramics. In my opinion, the building is the star, and I highly recommend going on later on a sunny day, when the stained glass in the pool room comes to life.
- Palais de Beaux Arts: This massive building is one of France’s largest museums (22,000m2!), and houses a large collection of European paintings (Rubens, Van Dyck, Goya, Delacroix…), sculptures, drawings and ceramics. For the 7 EUR entrance fee, it’s worth to walk through and take in the building and the collection. One point to consider: audio guides were not available due to COVID and all the signs were only in French…
- LaM – Contemporary Art Museum Lille: Located 20 minutes outside of Lille, this museum houses an impressively long list of international contemporary artists such as Georges Braque, Henri Laurens, Joan Miró, Amedeo Modigliani, Pablo Picasso and Kees Van Dongen. It also has one of the largest sculpture parks in Europe. Top of my list the next time I visit!
- Le Tripostal: A former mail sorting office, now transformed to showcase contemporary art exhibitions. See the linked site of Lille Tourism to find out the current exhibition.
- Locally recommended museums: The Charles de Gaulle museum, the Pasteur Institute museum and the Hospice Comtesse museum are all three museums that showcase French and local history. Find the full list of museums in Lille here.
Where to get your next croissant in Lille?
One thing I heard consistently about Lille before visiting was that it has excellent pastry. And it definitely did not disappoint! Below are the four places we visited and can highly recommend, but there are many more to explore!
- L’Ogre de Carrouselberg: A tiny but oppulent pâtisserie that makes beautiful and delicate pastries. We got a coffee and the most perfect croissant ever here, and it was 100% worth the short wait.
- Aux Merveilleux de Fred: Known for their airy meringue center cakes, Aux Merveilleux de Fred is a must-visit when in Lille! The style of pastry is typical for Flanders (the Northern, Flemish-speaking part of Belgium), and they offer it in six different flavors including coffee, vanilla, and cherry.
- Pâtisserie Méert: If you’re going to visit only one pastry shop in Lille, make it Pâtisserie Meert. It’s been open since 1677, and during its long history has served kings, viceroys, and generals. It’s famous for its waffles filled with Madagascar vanilla. We didn’t have the time to wait for a table in their salon de thé, but it will be worth it just to admire the building alone. We bought a few pastries to have at home, and each of them was delicate and absolutely delicious.
- Saved for next time: The Delambre Bakery and Pâtisserie Croquet both looked so good! Didn’t have time to try it, but on the list for next time!
I hope you enjoyed this Fiery guide to Lille! If you choose to visit yourself, I’d love to hear if you visit any Fiery Favorites in Lille! If you would like to read more Travel posts, make sure to visit the Fiery Exploring part of this site.