21st - 25th SEPTEMBER 2017
We stayed at the Grand Hotel which was basic but clean and comfortable. The staff were friendly, helpful and spoke English. The city imposes a tax on tourists of €1 a night so be aware of this and keep enough money back to pay your hotel on your last day as you check out.
The average price of a pint of beer in Lille was €8 to €10 and with the Euro currently close in value to the Pound, that’s a lot! Food was also quite expensive even though there seemed to be a lack of high-end restaurants with most places being a more relaxed cafe style. This suited our needs but I would have liked to have tried something a bit different. Most days we tended to buy things from the supermarket for lunch and sit in the park and eat since the weather was so nice.
The first night we tried out Le Privilege Bar and Fifi’s Wine Bar. Both were nice, gay-friendly and close to our Hotel. In fact, getting around anywhere in Lille can be done on foot quite comfortably. Everything is quite compact.
You’re not required to tip in Lille but I felt if a waiter was bringing us food or drinks it felt appropriate to just leave whatever change I had in my wallet on top of the bill. This was always appreciated. In fact, I found it a very friendly city overall and whilst I don’t speak French fluently my feeble efforts were always welcomed with a smile.
A quick Google Search revealed that around the corner from our Hotel was a rock bar called Le BlackNight Rock Cafe
By far, our favourite place to drink and rock out. They had Karaoke on Friday and I belted out Marilyn Manson whilst drinking a local ale. Later, we mingled outside and got chatting to some locals who were absolutely lovely. I revealed my embarrassment at the whole Brexit thing and I was told the French generally don’t think badly of the UK for it, that we are still close friends and allies. That was nice.
The Saturday we returned to this bar but it was a lot quieter. I think Friday must be the main night in Lille for shenanigans. 🙂
Most things are closed on a Sunday in France. Whilst being very vibrant, the country has also managed to maintain an element of traditionalism. I think if I return I will time it so that I come back home on a Sunday since it seemed a bit of a wasted day in retrospect.
In conclusion, I think Lille is fantastic. The Eurostar train was both cheap and quick. It took about an hour and 20 minutes from London direct to Lille. Our Hotel was a 5 minute walk from the station which was a relief. The train itself is comfortable and spacious with 2 bars/buffet carts. Check-In was so simple. We just turned up 45 minutes before departure, threw our bags into the scanner, walked through a metal detector, showed our passports, then waited in the bar until our train arrived. The whole Check-In process probably only took 10 minutes.
I would really love to go back though I would like to learn some more French first. Not only to make things easier but because it is such a nice language to speak too.
FYI: I never managed to find the Bone Apple Tea. I thought they served that with every meal. :/