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July 08, 2016

Lille, France

Been dreaming of a quaint european city with everything you'd ever want all while still boasting a regional population of over 1 million?! Welcome to the northern French city of Lille, named the European Capital of Culture in 2004.

During my mid-Spring visit, the weather was very agreeable. Ranging from mild temperatures with some light rain and mostly sun & cloud mix. A very comparable climate to Atlantic Canada (NS, NB, PEI, NL) but bordering Belgium so slightly more exciting for this young Canadian traveller!
I spent 3 nights at the efficient Hostel Gastama for between $30-$50/night depending on how many beds per hostel room. Hostels are not for everyone but are the most cost effective way to travel, especially through Europe. There are absolutely clean and fully functional, good hostels to stay in - this was one of them. Gastama is to the north east of Citadelle de Lille and about a 10-15minute walk from La Grand Place.

Some major highlights of my time in Lille were La Grand Place and La Citadelle de Lille, both incredible areas of this historic city.
La Grand Place has an awesome atmosphere at all times of day. Mornings are busy with locals getting to their next destination while midday and evenings are even busier with locals and tourists gathering for meals, shopping and taking in the entertainment always on display at this great square. The square itself is a must see in both daylight and night as it can cast quite a different shape during each. I spent one particular evening at a local pub in the square watching a crucial UEFA Champions League knock-out match on the tele, so many different restaurants and pubs in the area were packed with excited spectators, fans and patrons - it added a great deal to an already beautiful spot. A perfect european night in Northern France for this footy fanatic.
La Citadelle provided a massive area (123 acres) of mother nature right in the heart of this european metropolis. The former military stronghold of the Northern Capital is still active but is also a budding local park. The many trails, surrounding waterways and vast space provide the ultimate spot for locals and tourists alike to get outside.
Aerial view of La Citadelle. Image: www.zoomsurlille.fr
I also picked up the Lille City Pass from the tourism department that included all my train and bus public transportation for the duration of my visit. It also includes museums, guided tours and much more. Definitely worth looking into if you plan on making the most of your time in Lille. The cost of the pass will vary depending on duration but prices start at €25.
Overall, Lille is a very different but enjoyable experience from the French capital, Paris. I highly recommend adding this northern city to your next european adventure!
À bientôt Lille!

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