Get into the festive spirit in Lille this Christmas at the traditional markets where you can indulge in the local delicacies and pick up unique Christmas gifts.
If you're the kind of person who puts up the Christmas tree as soon as they've seen the first play of the John Lewis Christmas advert, then you're going to love what Lille in northern France has in store for you.
The Lille Christmas Markets will give you everything you’d expect from a large Christmas market but in a smaller, more intimate setting. With 80 wooden chalets setting up shop in Place Rihour, you’ll have a great deal of choice when it comes to Christmas decorations, gifts and food. Running from mid-November to late December every year, the markets are the perfect destination if you’re looking to get in the festive spirit. What’s more, lucky UK residents can reach Lille from London's St. Pancras International Station in under two hours, so a Euro-star day trip is a possibility if you don’t wish to stay overnight.
Take a stroll through the square and you’ll be tempted by the aromatic smell of cinnamon, roasted chestnuts, gingerbread and mulled wine. You’ll be able to feast on waffles, macarons and biscuits as well as local delicacies such as babeluttes (soft caramels). For those who prefer a savoury treat, there is a plentiful amount of cheese on offer. The Maroilles cheese is a local delicacy in the north of France so make sure you try this when sampling new flavours.
Once you’ve had your fill of smelly cheese and sweet treats, explore the arts and craft stalls, some of which come from Russia, Poland and Canada. You’ll be able to pick up unusual gifts, cute Christmas decorations and traditional nativity figurines.
The market also hosts a funfair with a magnificent Ferris wheel and other traditional rides that will entertain all ages. Get a snap beside the giant Christmas tree at Place du Général de Gaulle then explore the surrounding areas to see how nearby shops join in with the Christmas fun. Retailers like to compete with one another with their shop window displays so be sure to look closely at each to find your favourite.
Don’t leave without venturing out into Vieux Lille (Old Town) to see the old Flemish houses and ogle at the clothes in the many designer stores. The narrow cobbled streets and red brick buildings add to the charming feel of the city, especially at Christmas. Each street is decorated differently with the rue de la Grande Chaussée and the rue de la Monnaie adorned in beautiful garlands and the cool rue Esquermoise lit up with huge disco balls.
If you're planning on staying in Lille, we recommend the Grand Hotel Bellevue for its traditional French charm and elegance. You'll be in the centre of town, close to the markets and can enjoy cocktails in Le Windsor bar inside the hotel once you've finished your shopping.
Say Joyeux Noël this Christmas and add Lille to your list of Christmas market must-dos. It'll fit right in there between decorating the house and deciding on your favourite Christmas advert.
*We do our very best to verify the dates of our events but please check with the official event provider before booking your flights. We would hate for you to be disappointed!