The last leg of our little road trip saw us visiting Lille. This was by far the biggest city on our holiday. We paid for expensive parking in the centre and explored the city on foot. The city centre was a lot prettier than I had expected. When I told people I was going to Lille on my holiday, the response was normally “Why?!”. Not the most promising start to any holiday 😉 But actually it was really pretty.
We wandered around, had some lunch, took lots of photos, and popped into a couple of shops. After a couple of hours it started to rain, and funnily enough at the same time we felt that we had seen enough. So we cut our losses on the parking meter and drove towards the Citadel, which we had spotted on the map and looked exciting. In fact we drove right up to the Citadel, until we were stopped by an armed guard. He approached the car.
“C’est militaire?” I asked (is it military?)
“Oui” he said.
My (limited) French escaped me (as did my English, apparently). “We go” I said.
“Oui” he said.
And that was the extent of my dealings with the French army 😉
After that we found a car park near the Citadel and wandered into the park there. We enjoyed a wander into the park and saw a tree-trunk carved into the shape of millions of tiny houses and animals, and…. a zoo! Completely free! I thought it would just be some lame birds, but there were all sorts of things, including giant tortoises, rhinos and zebra. There was also a funfair for kids, and an adult sized funfair next-door. Lots to do in Lille! I was impressed!
We drove to an out-of-town shopping centre with a massive supermarket and restaurants attached. We dined in a chain pizza restaurant called Pizza Pai, which I was taken to as a kid so was keen to go back. We had a fantastic dinner including unlimited salad buffet (including quality stuff like shrimp) and a pizza each, for a reasonable price.
Overall, I’m not sure I could advise anyone to have a week’s holiday in Lille. But for a short break it was very nice! It is a sprawling industrial city, but the town centre is pretty and there is enough to do to occupy yourselves for a couple of days, even in the rain!
The next morning we drove back to Calais to catch our ferry. Cue more sitting on deck with my eyes fixed on the horizon to avoid sea sickness, clutching a 3 Euro cup of coffee to avoid frostbite. But I’d do it again in a second! 🙂
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