I recently spent a wonderful long weekend in Lille and discovered some very interesting eateries. The traditional cuisine of the area is tasty and hearty combing Flemish traditions with a touch of the French ‘art de vivre’. Regional specialties include carbonnade (chunks of beef stewed in beer), waterzoi (poultry or fish in a creamy sauce and potjeveesch (white meat terrine in aspic) usually washed down with a traditional, local beer. And for dessert look out for gaufres fourrées (a type of thin filled waffle).
With around 900 restaurants and cafés in Lille, you are certainly spoiled for choice. If, however, you are looking for something more than just great food, here are my suggestions for 5 unique dining experiences in and around Lille.
Cook your own
At L’atelier des Chef, on Bouleverde de la Liberté, you can have a hands-on cooking lesson with a highly experienced French chef and then eat your hard work with your classmates. Courses start from just 17€ for a 30 minute lesson preparing a delicious main course, such as French roast chicken with raspberries and mashed potatoes with basil.
Eat in a second-hand bookshop
On rue des Bouchers in Vieux Lille (the old town) you’ll find Le Café-Livres. Old armchairs and shelves of secondhand books give a very cosy feel to this bar come restaurant come bookshop. Enjoy simple, fresh meals while browsing through the books, either inside or on the small interior terrace.
Eat in a hosier’s shop
This small restaurant on place du Théâtre, was once a hosier’s shop, founded in 1813 by the present owner’s ancestor. Many details have been kept to remind visitors of the café’s past including dummies, fitting rooms and mirrors, resulting in a quirky, welcoming café bar that is popular with the locals.
Eat in a swimming pool
We recently featured this wonderful museum in a beautiful art deco building that was once a swimming pool – La Piscine, on rue de LEspérance in Roubaix, a suburb of Lille. The museum’s Restaurant Meert serves traditional French cuisine and is famous for its Madagascan vanilla waffles. The original decor of the restaurant has been preserved in every detail including the mahogany bar and even the furniture.
Eat in a Foundry
The Fonderie also in Roubaix on Bvd Montesquieu is a stylish restaurant in what was once a 19th century foundry. Combining contemporary décor with reminders of its industrial past creates an intimate atmosphere with style.