Lille: a gentle introduction to France

So I have packed my bag, loaded up with three months worth of possessions, and set on my way to France. For some unknown reason I decided to head to Lille.

I gave you a quick overview of Lille in my Welcome to Europe post, so I won’t bore you again with the travel details however Lille had so much more to offer after that post. I ended up extending my stay at Gastama Hostel to four nights instead of the originally planned one.

There were a few reasons for this:

1. I couldn’t deal with paying for transport anywhere else and was too lazy to properly look for other accommodation.

2. The hostel staff and people I met in the hostel were fantastic and was easily convinced to stay a few more nights (which is the beauty of not having any plans).

3. Finally, Lille is a really cool city, the more I explored it the more I had to see!

It is funny, because most people I met in Lille asked me why I came here… I didn’t really have an answer (save for it was the cheapest place to get to). People seemed shocked as to why I would be starting my tour of Europe here…. Well, it was the best decision.

Why start here?

It is a lot quieter than Paris, the 14th biggest city in France, and also known for being a cultural capital. The people are very relaxed and very nice (in fact it is also known for its friendliness). For someone who has no language skills whatsoever, it was a great way to ease into France.

I spent four days brushing up on essential French words by chatting to the convenience store owner, hostel staff (who are mainly locals) and other people in the hostel.

It also is the gateway to Belgium and surrounding northern areas of France, Amien and Reims where a 7 euro bus ride away. So if I so desired… I could have taken an overnight trip to some pretty cool places (because the Euro final was on I opted to stay and soak up the atmosphere in Lille).

Finally, Lille is known for its nightlife… Enough said.

What is there to see?

I spent a day exploring the typical sites of Lille, namely: the zoo, Eglise Saint-Maurice, Place du General de Gualle (aka Grand Place), and Palais des Beux-Arts (Museum of fine arts…which might I add was closing because myself and ChiFu were too stupid to look at the time).

Definitely the best way to get around Lille, is on bicycles that you hire from the city… just don’t make the mistake I made and insert your credit card 4 times because they do take a 200 euro deposit… and its not pretty when you lose 800 euros for the whole weekend.

Also, probably look up when the museums open and close, they have some pretty weird times that they operate.

My second day was taken up by literally just strolling around the city, following the roads in whichever direction interested me. I wanted to find La Gare Saint-Sauveur because I read about it having a good terrace and it was a beautiful sunny day. I wandered all the way there in the hopes of having lunch and it seemed deserted… so I turned around and walked back to a good-looking coffee shop that I had passed.

I have worked out the key to coffee over here, you just have to get an espresso shot. otherwise the milk is way too frothy if you order anything else.

In my aimless wandering, I stumbled upon a cool archway thing, which I later looked up and it is apparently one of the three gates to the city: La Porte de Paris.

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La Porte de Paris, Place Simon Vollant, Lille
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La Porte de Paris, Place Simon Vollant, Lille

 

 

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