Lille is in the north of France and just 1h30 from London on the Eurostar so it's easy for Londoners to get there for just a day or a week end. It is easy to reach from London but also from Paris, Brussels, Rotterdam and Amsterdam.
I invited my husband for a surprise birthday trip there and I got him to discover some local specialities like the local vanilla waffles from the best pastry shops (meert.fr) visit some beautiful museums like the newly refurbished 'Musée des Beaux Arts', the Citadelle park, the old city centre.
And then on the Sunday, we decided to visit the Market in this less affluent area of the city called Wazemmes.
As soon as we arrived, we could hear the market sellers shout to attract customers, see the colours of the flowers sold there and we could sense the vibrancy of the area. There were the traditional stands of fruits and vegetables, cheese, meat and general food but also so many unexpected things like cheap jewellery, underwear, burqas, batteries, north African food stands...
We did not buy much but were really impressed by the multicultural, vibrant and positive atmosphere of the market. There were a lot of terrasses on the side for people to enjoy a drink or some snacks. The permanent covered market was standing in the middle of it but it wasn't so interesting as it was maybe too conventional. We walked a bit further and the streets, full of little restaurants and shops from around the world, were also full of roadworks and therefore just for pedestrians.
Poorer areas are sometimes depicted in the media as more dangerous but they are sometimes as well full of life, movement and surprising things so, in my opinion, they might also be a bit more interesting.
Of course, it is good to see the usual tourist attractions and see what we usually like but 'sortir des sentiers battus'* is good too, when we take new paths and see different things.
*To get off the beaten track