After a week of Christmas festivities and indulgence with family and friends, we really wanted to make the most of a family day with just the three of us before heading back to work! We had been toying with a day by the English coast but then rather abruptly decided on a change of course with a day trip to France!
What were we thinking?!
With just over an hour’s drive to the Eurotunnel, a 35 minute crossing and then a further hour’s drive to Lille we thought this destination would make for a good choice. We were able to get a good price even with booking at 9pm the evening before at £65 return – not bad when you consider the cost of UK train fares or entry fees into many attractions as alternatives for a day out.
We booked onto the 8.50am departure as this meant a “reasonable” wake up call of 6am and made it to the terminal early enough to get onto a slightly earlier departure – bonus! Unfortunately, we were delayed by nearly an hour due to a fuel leak on a cargo vehicle but this didn’t dampen our spirits too much.
With the time difference of one hour, we arrived in the city centre at lunchtime. Parking was super convenient. We easily came across a centrally located car park and getting a space wasn’t a problem. The metered parking cost just over 10 Euros for around 5 hours, a bargain when you are used to London pay and display prices!
Lille offered a fairly small market with all the usual food and drink stalls as well as crafty bits and pieces. It didn’t take us much more than 15 minutes to wander round as we didn’t particularly want anything! We did purchase some intricate gold effect baubles so they will make an appearance on next year’s tree (although indistinguishable that they are from Lille!).
So it turns out that MANY restaurants were closed; this is very typical for a Sunday in these parts but compounded by it being the week between Christmas and New Year. Nonetheless we managed to make a good selection, Le Flore, which was a few steps away from one of the Christmas market entrances.
The restaurant was huge with different sections so it still retained a good atmosphere. It was also very child friendly, providing a high chair, kids’ menu and changing facilities so no qualms there.
We decided on mussels to share as a starter and then beef stews for mains with plenty of French fries for good measure! Unfortunately our request for the mussels to be served first got lost in translation but not a biggie. We decided that Sienna would share our stews, especially as we’d already had a bread basket between us but she seemed to much prefer the mussels!! We were rather pleased at her adventurous and somewhat unexpected taste buds!
Fun riding the carousel
This was my highlight of the day – 5 minutes or so of pure joy!!! I was a little dubious since it looked quite fast as a bystander but took our chances and held onto Sienna tight (of course there was a safety barrier but she was still a little small, although there weren’t any formal safety restrictions)! I think she liked it even more than I did; we had great fun waving at Ani / Daddy each time we went round, who doesn’t enjoy this type of ride! I didn’t think 7 Euros for the two of us was too extortionate for some good old fashioned fun (and a fab photo opportunity of course).
Basilica of Notre Dame de la Treille
The rather bland and modern exterior in my opinion doesn’t do this Church justice!!! It’s enormous inside with ultra high ceilings, an extremely large organ and not surprisingly felt very calming and peaceful. We lit a couple of candles and enjoyed looking around, taking in the Christmas nativity scene.
Market at the Old Stock Exchange, Vieille Bourse
This is a rather charming market that sells second hand books, posters and some toys located in a picturesque courtyard.
We enjoyed a slow amble around the cobbled streets following our noses. There were many pretty buildings with lots of twinkling lights and other Christmas touches thrown into the mix. High end shops are located in this area and many of these had lovely festive displays.
To round off the day we ducked into a cafe for a takeaway hot chocolate before embarking on the journey home. This went without a hitch and we arrived back at home in Blighty, ready for a good night’s sleep!