Bon Apetit

The French know about their food, and in Lille you’ll find excellent fare with a Flemish twist.

Try carbonade à la flamande, which is slices of charcoal-grilled beef cooked with onions in strong, locally brewed beer.

For local cuisine, head to the restaurant Estaminet Au Vieux de la Vieille on Rue des Vieux Murs in the old part of the city.

Here you can enjoy a delicious three-course meal for about €20.

However, if you fancy getting creative, L’Atelier des Chefs offers cookery lessons in northern French cuisine.

Cook your own tasty lunch in half an hour for €15. Book before you leave at

After a Fashion

From its merchant past, metropolitan Lille has kept a commercial tradition, and the variety of the 3900 shops is enough to satisfy every budget and desire.

The euro might have strengthened in recent times but there are still plenty of bargains to be found.

Each of the city’s districts has its own special features. Vieux (Old) Lille is the ideal place to find the great names in luxury goods, fashion and design, while a market takes place on the Place du Concert every Sunday morning.

In the train station district, the Euralille centre houses shops, restaurants and a hypermarket.

The multi-ethnic Wazemmes offers good bargain hunting in the bazaars and discount shops in the Rue Gambetta district.

And on Place de la Nouvelle Aventure, you’ll find international flavours at the bustling Sunday morning market.

Party on

There are plenty of bars in Lille: quiet, exotic, jazz, rock – even Australian.

The main area the local students go to party is the Halles district, around Place des Halles Centrales, where Masséna and Solferino streets are crammed with pubs and bars.

Check out Sapo, La Scala, Seven Heaven and Au Fut et à Mesure (where you can pour your own beer).

In the old town, La Capsule is great for a night out, while in the city centre live electro club At Home Café is decorated like a house, with a kitchen, dining room, living room, bedroom and bathroom.

Le Tri Postal, on Avenue Willy Brandt, is a bar and a club in an old post office.

The Network Café (15 Rue du Faisan) is one of the busiest dance clubs in Lille, often attracting big name DJs, and in the Wazemmes district check out Le Supermarket and Le Kiosk. 

Culture vultures

The Palais des Beaux-Arts in the town centre is said to be France’s most important art museum after the Louvre, with a heavyweight collection including works by Monet and Rodin.

For something a little bit different, head to La Piscine in nearby Roubaix.

A former municipal swimming pool now transformed into an art gallery, it has a well laid-out and interesting permanent collection.

» Jahn Vannisselroy travelled with P&O Ferries (0871 664 6464; Ferry prices start from £25 return (car and passengers) for a day trip