When the sun pokes through the clouds in July and hangs around for a little while, you’ll notice that the masses flock to Jardin Vauban. People will go to play music, chuck around a frisbee and practice slacklining and all sorts! There’s a young crowd (since most adults are working during the day…) and it’s a great place for a picnic or to just chill with a book.
The Lille Zoo is located on the same island is the city’s famous Citadel, and while quite a small attraction, it’s well worth the minimal entrance fee. There are all sorts of interesting animals (over 65 different species) and the whole area is enclosed by the Deule river. Gorgeous, especially in the sun!
How does an artificial sand beach and a couple of heated swimming pools which last all summer sound? They’re an absolute delight, but unfortunately you will have to leave your bathing shorts at home - proper swimwear only, and swimming caps are mandatory. Despite these limitations to your sexiness, it’s a quality way to spend time from July 5th onwards.
Despite its horrendously misleading name, you should definitely not bring your swimming trunks to La Piscine in Roubaix. It’s official name is La Piscine-Musée d'Art et d'Industrie André Diligent - aka, it’s an art museum. Its collections include textiles, ceramics and fashion items related to the fine arts.
If textiles aren’t your thing, how about the enormous Palace of Fine Arts in the city centre? The collection was first formed through theft: works seized from occupied churches and territory were simply moved here, as well as a number of other French locations. After six years of renovations at the turn of the millennium, the old palace was shining. Today it is a formidable collection of some of history’s great artists.
Though the 2016 event was cancelled over justified security fears, we can hope that the Braderie of Lille will run again. It is the largest flea market/street fair in Europe, taking place over the first weekend of September every year and accommodating millions of visitors at over 10,000 stalls. It’s quite unlike any other market you can ever visit, and dates back to the 12th century.
The Christmas Market in Lille, which takes place every winter at the Place Rihour, is a lovely affair, despite being smaller than some other markets around the country. Mountain chalets are used as a location for workers to display their hand-crafted work, which is a superb touch. There’s a great feeling Christmas joy around the city. The market also lasts from mid-November until the new year, so there’s ongoing fun.
Genuinely the biggest event of the year in our opinion, this festival is all about one thing: damn good tasting soup! Chefs flock here from all over the world, from amateurs to seasoned professionals, all plying their trade and trying to make the best soup possible. Some recipes are downright bizarre, while others are traditional but perfected. There’s also beer, if you need to convince someone to tag along with you!
If you like clubbing but aren’t too into the electro scene, then Golden Wave could be the place for you. Anything from true metal to new wave and edgy rock could come blasting through the sound system, and every night is that bit different. Try the blood vodka (an in-house special cocktail) and have a great night!
Looking for somewhere with a bit more class, but within a student budget? The Baron runs super smooth evening sessions, with live piano and an affordable drinks menu right up until about midnight, when the DJ takes over and runs a hot dancefloor until the early hours of the morning.
Au Fut is for people who love beer and hate fuss. Pour your own beers from the tap at your table and simply pay up when you’re done - it’s all about chatting with your mates and enjoying the beer, nothing fancy. It’s a cool concept, and there are still staff there to help you with other drinks if you need them!
Located in the Old Town (Vieux Lille), La Capsule always has a dozen draught beers on tap plus a bunch of other options in bottles. There’s a slightly taller price tag since it’s in the old town, but it’s set in a gorgeous, calm scene and you’ve got to treat yourself now and then...
Didn’t think we were gonna write this whole list without a cocktail bar, did you?? Le Dandy is one of the trendiest bars in the city, and sells unreal cocktails for just €8 each. There are all the classics, plus a few original inventions from the staff. You might have to wait for a seat, but it’ll be worth it.
Raptor Shock is one of those burger joints that makes you wonder how McDonald's and Burger King are still making money. Get a massive, loaded beef (or veggie) burger with your choice of toppings, fries and a drink for €8.50. Sounds like a lot, but it’s proper barbecued, organic meat on homemade bread and better than any other burger in the city. PS - they’re on Deliveroo!
Bagel shops haven’t been around in France too long, but this number in Lille is worthy of your attention. Choose between a huge range of bagels (sweet and savoury) or even go naked with some tasty filling if you are counting carbs.
This is a slightly cheeky entry as you’d have to be mad to go here for dinner, but Kokoa is probably the best ice cream and gelato place in the city. It’s packed during the day, but a wee wait in the queue will be worth it. It’s a connoisseurs ice cream shop, as the scoops aren’t massive, the cost is €2.50 each. Can’t argue with the taste though - it’s exquisite!
Got a date, or having your parents round for a nice (but inexpensive) dinner? Try l’Assiette du Marché. It’s set in a cobbled courtyard, with warming fires on the cold nights and superb service. The menu is very traditional French, and changes every week depending on what the kitchen buys in.
Ironically, one of the most popular student restaurants in Lille in an Italian! Il Piccolino is an extremely efficient, inexpensive and tasty Italian in the middle of the city. It doesn’t look like much from outside, but once you get in you’ll stop worrying about the decor and focus on the good food and exceptionally friendly service!