Category: France

A perfect day trip to Lille

A perfect day trip to Lille – Things to do in Northern France

Lille in the Northern part of France, which is close to the Belgian border is an ideal day trip city. It’s very easy and inexpensive to travel to Lille – around 80 minutes by one of the European bus lines from London or less than 2hours from Bruges or Brussels. There is also an opportunity to visit Lille by train.

Lille, Northern France
Lille, Northern France

Lille is not at the top of most European bucket lists but it’s fifth largest urban area in France with a rich history. It’s the centre of French Flanders with crucial influence of Belgian and Flemish culture. It has a compact size so you easily reach everything by feet, you can also rent a bike. You can also enjoy a bus tour through Lille which introduces you to the main sightseeings. All in one 1 day in Lille is enough to discover the best of it.

Lille, France
Lille, France

There are some interesting facts about Lille like it was Cultural Capital of Europe in 2004. Moreover the name “Lille” evolved from “L’Île”, meaning “island”. The French city originated on a tiny island in the river Deûle.

Where to stay in Lille

Hotel Ambassadeur, Lille
Hotel Ambassadeur, Lille

There is a different price range of hotels and B&B places in Lille, France. You can definitely find a budget staying but also very fancy accommodations. I would definitely recommend Hotel Ambassadeur. This hotel located in the centre of Lille just next to the Hospice Gantois and less than 1km from Grand Place Lille. Rooms are small but tidy and cozy. Ah and of course the price is unbeatable!

One day in Lille – Top things to do

The Place du Théâtre, Lille
The Place du Théâtre, Lille

Start with the Place du Théâtre

When arriving at Lille Flanders Station the first beautiful sightseeing of Lille that you will discover will be the Place du Theatre. This is where you can start to absorb some of the Lille’s main sights.

To recharge your batteries in the beginning of your day have a delightful breakfast at one of the cafés at the Place du Theatre. All of them look very charming and serve delightful croissants and coffee. We stopped by We are ARA, which is not very traditional but still worth of visiting.

Try some beers in Lille
Try some beers in Lille

Opera De Lille

Take a quick look around at the Place du Theatre and you will discover Lille’s grand Neo-classical Opera House, officially inaugurated in 1923. The architecture and opera’s facade are pretty impressive, which has been designed originally by Lille architect Michael Joseph Lequeux but because of a fire accident in 1903 Opera de Lille has been redesigned by multiple architects.

The best view of the city from Beffroi de Lille

Beffroi de Lille
Beffroi de Lille

The symbol of Lille and also a must-do attraction is definitely the 104 metres high Beffroi de Lille or Belfry. You can climb over 100 steps to cherish the 360 degree view from the top of the UNESCO heritage site. On a clear day you can observe Mountains Flanders and the valley of the Lys. Try to buy ticket online and you will save 1,50€!

The Place Charles de Gaulle

One of Lille’s first attractions that you are going to see is the Place Charles de Gaulle, named after the French general and later president De Gaulle. It’s the central square in Lille Old Town surrounded by charming bars and restaurants. Ideal spot to immerse into the vibes of the city. From here you can also easily explore the entry city of French Flanders.

Unfortunately the view of Lille might be obstructed by the amount of homeless people with dogs and also beggars. Looks like it’s a significant issue that the city struggles with. Nevertheless locals are very kind to the minorities by giving them food and water.

Sweets in Lille
Sweets in Lille

 Palais Rihour

Palais Rihour is a flamboyant example of gothic buildings in Lille, built in 1453. On the ground floor you will find Lille’s tourist centre in the Salle des Gardens. Upstairs the Sacisity are venues for various public events and also exhibitions. If you travel to Lille in the winter then don’t hesitate to visit the Christmas Market on the square in front of the Palais Rihour.

Book Market on Vieille Bourse

The Vieille Bourse or also known as “Old Stock Exchange” is the building of the 17th century which consists of 24 identical houses built around an inner square. It’s considered to be one of the most beautiful architectures in the square, and probably in Lille.

Notre Dame de la Treille Cathedral

Notre Dame de la Treille Cathedral
Notre Dame de la Treille Cathedral, Lille

On your day trip to Lille you should doubtlessly visit the beautiful Notre Dame de la Treille Cathedral. Located in the heart of Lille you can step into the extraordinary scenery of gothic architecture without paying any entrance fee. Don’t be foolished by the underwhelming exterior made from concrete and stone and lacking on aesthetical appeal. Inside is a completely different story: colourful stained-glass windows and amazing interior artwork.

Where to eat in Lille

Place aux Oignins, Lille
Place aux Oignins, Lille

There are plenty of nice places where you can have a bite or try something sweet. And yes, because Lille is located on the border of two countries Belgium and France it combines the best of both. It means you will discover various delicious chocolate creations and amazing dessert stores.

If you’re on the hunt for something savoury I would recommend to visit the Place aux Oignins just next to the beautiful Notre Dame de la Treille Cathedral. It’s a hidden square with charming cafés where you can enjoy your lunch or dinner.

Musee de l’Hospice Comtesse

If you are curious to get to know more about local architecture then don’t miss Musee de l’Hospice Comtesse. It’s hidden behind the shops and small streets but worth visiting. It was founded by the Countess of Flanders in 1237 as a charitable gesture to poor people but now it has been transformed into an interesting museum with many Flemish paintings and Lille tapestries.

Architecture in Lille, France
Architecture in Lille, France

The Palais des Beaux Arts 

If you have an affinity for the fine arts then don’t hesitate to visit famous the Palais des Beaux Arts. The permanent collection, taking in 22,000m², implements mainly art works from the 17th until the 19th century.

Because of its magnitude, this museum is often called the Second Museum of France, with the Louvre being the first. Nevertheless you will need quite some time to cherish the collection of paintings. The building is also a distance away from the Old Lille that’s why I would recommend to take a city bike to save some time.

Walk through the Porte de Paris

Porte de Paris, Lille
Porte de Paris, Lille

Not far from the Palais des Beaux Arts you will find another Lille’s impressive tourist attraction: The Porte de Paris (“Gate of Paris”). It’s an Arc de Triomphe which was build in the 17th century to commemorate Louis XIV conquering the city. Great spot to take Instagram pictures!

Lille Citadelle

To be honest, you won’t make it to see everything in one day but you can decide whether you explore the last two sights or Lille’s beautiful Citadel.

The Citadel is a French military base. You can’t enter it but you can admire the various gates and outer walls on a ramble in the canal-side park, in Esquermes. The star-shaped citadel was built in just 3 years after Louis XIV conquered Lille in 1667. Not only the speed of the project was incredible but also a fact that three million stone blocks, 70,000 lumps of sandstone and 60 million bricks were needed to build this construction.

Pinterest: perfect day trip to Lille, France
Pinterest: perfect day trip to Lille, France
Undiscovered Paris

The Top Secret Paris Attractions You will Absolutely Love

You will be surprised but there are various top secret Paris attractions that no one tells you about. And no wonder, Paris is the second largest French speaking metropolis in the world. You are probably surprised, but Kinshasa, capital of the Democratic Republic of the Congo is in first place. Nevertheless growing from a small village, today it’s an influential and tremendous metropolis with secret Paris attractions.

Treat yourself with baking goods when you are in Paris, France

Treat yourself with baking goods when you are in Paris, France

Undiscovered Paris

Undiscovered Paris offers numerous possibilities to entertain yourself, from historical museums filled with artworks and sculptures, beautiful theaters and 9,057 of different open terraces, where you can savor incredibly delicious food and great wine. And if you are in love with bread, then Paris will be an epitome for you: There are 1,784 bakeries in Paris. Apropos love: It’s amazing to walk around and see lovely couples kissing and looking deeply in each other’s eyes, without being ashamed of showing their sensitive sides. The French language and behavior resembles love doves cuddling under the roof. It means Paris is an ideal place to fall in love in the city and with the city.

But before you get lost in this French urban jungles, overwhelmed by the choice of sights, let me guide you through the best unique places in Paris. Just one reminder, don’t forget to charge you camera, to capture the beauty of the magnificent city. My advice, take a power bank with you. I’m using Lumsing® 16000mAh, which is great. It charges your phone within 30 minutes and you can use the battery 8-10 times until you need to plug it in again.

Getting around in Paris with public transport

Regarding Paris´magnitude you might be using the public transport. It’s very simple to orientate yourself in the city, because there are plans and signs everywhere, showing you the way. If you stay just for a weekend you might get 10 tickets for 14, 10€. If you want to buy a single trip ticket, it would cost you 1,90€. If you are planing to stay for longer, it might be worth to get a rechargeable week card, which works from Monday until Sunday and costs 5€. For 25€ you will be able to use every public transport up to 18 times. You can buy these cards at any counter, just don’t forget to bring a photo of yourself in a passport size.

The Perfect Start in a Traditional Parisian Café

Charming Le Petit Château d'Eau in Paris

Top Secret Paris Attractions: Le Petit Château d’Eau

If you want to experience Paris off the beaten path visit this charming traditional Parisian café Le Petit Château d’Eau. It’s close to the Republique metro station, where you can have a terrific start of your day. Surrounded only by locals, in secret streets of Paris, away from the chaotic big city, the wonderful Le Petit Château d’Eau will provide you with a typical French breakfast: delicious croissants with various sorts of cheese and an awakening coffee. The little oasis is owned and delegated by the family since 5 years, which gives it a cozy feeling, as if you would visit your friends. Furthermore the delicious food and typical French design of the café will let you immerse into the traditional French culture and have an excellent beginning of your lovely trip. You can also visit Le Petit Château d’Eau in the evening and have a drink with the chatty patrons.

Have a breakfast at Le Petit Château d'Eau in Paris, France

Have a breakfast at Le Petit Château d’Eau in Paris, France

Cool & Famous Places to visit in Paris

After an amazing waking up procedure in Le Petit Chateau you can visit another cool place in Paris, which is just a 15 minutes walk away and it’s next to metro station Etienne Marcel. This district is popular with it’s numerous cafés, open terraces and restaurants. It’s a great spot to have a break after the never-ending sightseeing and get some inner fuel. Additionally it’s a place to be in the evening, when every location seduces French habitants and curious tourists with it’s happy hour.

Well-known Centre Georges Pompidou in Paris, France

Well-known Centre Georges Pompidou in Paris, France

Unique Things to Do in Paris

Just a stone’s throw away you will discover the unique & well-known Centre Georges Pompidou. It’s a vast public library, the largest museum for modern art in Europe and also a centre for music and acoustic research. You might not fall in love with the complex building on the first sight, but don’t judge this book by it’s cover. It may still seem to be under construction, which is not true apparently.

The story of Centre Pompidou

 Centre Pompidou has a smart soul: The architectonical statement and radical design was born by known architects Renzo Piano and Richard Rogers in the 1970´s. They decided to focus on the beauty of the functional elements of the structure, that’s why the building is classified as Structural Expressionism. The main idea of the Centre Pompidou is being flexible and able to be reconfigured to suit new conditions. To achieve this, they turned the construction inside-out to maximize the internal magnitude.

On the west facade of the complex you will see color-coded ducts: blue is the climate control, yellow is electric wires, green is plumbing and red fulfills the role of communication. The pipes, tubes, escalators and ducts create the illusion that it is a machine. The terminator carcass gives a possibility to realize emptiness, amazing light structure and a flexible interior by using temporary walls and partitions. The result is a genius building for the exhibitions from the architectural point of view, from the esthetic side it’s ambiguous though. Nevertheless it’s one of the Paris’s most visited  attractions.

Every first Sunday of the month the entrance to the vibrant arts exhibitions of Centre Pompidou are for free. If you missed that opportunity then you can also visit the hyper-industrial restaurant, Georges, with magnificent panoramic views of Paris. You can access the restaurant by a free elevator.

The Top secret Place in Paris

Where you can meet only locals: Square du Vert-Galant

The top secret place in  Paris, Square du Vert-Galant

There is a top secret okay in Paris that only locals know about. It’s located on the Square du Vert-Galant, just follow the stairs, leading you under the bridge. It may sound suspicious, but it’s a beloved spot by locals to observe the scenic view of the river and Louvre. Take a drink and you will have the optimal justification to stay longer. Afterwards you can visit the Eiffel Tower, which starts sparkling between 8 – 9 p.m. A memorable show!

 

 

What is Montmartre famous for?

The must visit place in Paris, Monmartre

The must visit place in Paris, Monmartre

 Montmartre’s hill is the highest point of the city, which reaches 130 meters and is proudly topped by the landmark, Church of Sacré-Coeur. The basilica was built between 1875 and 1914 and it’s name means “Sacred Heart”. It’s a reference to Jesus’ heart. The word Montmartre itself means “Mountain of the Martyr” and comes from the brutal martyrdom of Saint Denis, the bishop of Paris in 250 AD.

Saint Denis was a missionary who was sent to spread Catholicism in the city of Paris. Unfortunately not everyone liked it and one of the local pagan priests sentenced him to death. According to the legend Saint Denis was decapitated on the famous hill, but even then , he stood up, picked up his head and walked another 10 kilometers preaching a sermon. So over time when you see sculptures, paintings or watch the movie “Sleepy Hollow”, you will know from where the inspiration came.

Church of Sacré-Coeur, Paris, France

Church of Sacré-Coeur, Paris, France

Climb the stairs and as an award you will see the picturesque view of the metropolis. Montmartre has long been known as a home of various Bohemian artists, like Picasso, Matisse and Dali. The area inspired and provided ideas for the incredible masterpieces for such great painters like Van Gogh and Utrillo. Nowadays you can find numerous painters on a square Place du Tetre, which is located just a few steps away from basilica Sacré-Coeur.

 

Amelie Filming locations at Montmartre

Cafe des Deux Moulains, Paris where the movie "The fabulous destiny of Amélie Poulain" was shot

Cafe des Deux Moulains, Paris where the movie “The fabulous destiny of Amélie Poulain” was shot

There are several Amelie Filming locations at Montmartre. As an authentic fan of the movie “The fabulous destiny of Amélie Poulain”, you should know that there is a “Cafe des Deux Moulains”, which is very close to the Cathedral Sacré-Coeur. You can soak in one of the movie scenes and imagine that you could meet Amelie here personally. The location has almost an exact environment that is familiar to us from the movie. The only missing piece, is the tobacco shop. Definitely enter the restroom and not only for being part of iconic Georgette’s and Jesophe’s love scene, but also to admire the film’s artifacts displayed behind the glass, one of them is the legendary travel gnome.

Cafe des Deux Moulains, Paris, France

Cafe des Deux Moulains, Paris, France

Undiscovered Paris: The Crazy Ice Cream in Paris

This is one of the hidden gems in undiscovered Paris: A crazy ice cream shop, Glaces Glazed, with naughty but delightful flavors. The names of the sweets will make you giggle, but the mix of ingredients will make you curious. I really liked “Porn Cop”, a combination of pop corn and caramel. It already sounds divine! We even got delicious waffles for free.

The best experimental ice cream in Paris, France

The best experimental ice cream in Paris, France

Interesting Place to visit in Paris, Philharmonie

Front side of Philharmonic of Paris, France

Front side of Philharmonic of Paris, France

Since a couple of years every big city is willing to spend a huge amount of money on futuristic buildings of Philharmonics. Paris is not different, in 2015 this vast space ship, designed by the French architect Jean Nouvel, was presented to the public. The cost of constructions were expected to be just 170 million Euros, after having an enlightenment that it was not enough, the costs were multiplied 3-4 times. France self-proclaimed it’s innovative cultural center as unique in the world. But if you think about the invested money then it doesn’t make sense to spend the same insanely high amount into a twin building. Philharmonic of Paris, France

Philharmonic of Paris, France

So Philharmonic of Paris is another interesting place to visit in Paris. The new music complex entertains it’s visitors with concerts and various exhibitions. It’s also possible to climb to the the top of the roof of the Philharmonic and enjoy the view of the city.

Unusual Things to Do in Paris

Very first café, where coffee was served in Paris, France

Very first café, where coffee was served in Paris, France

There is one awesome and unusual thing to do in Paris that you should try out: A tour with Mon Beau Paris through one of the most significant neighborhoods of Paris, rich with important moments of French history, Saint Germain. It’s 2,5 hours walking tour which is not only informative but also entertaining and memorable. You will get polaroid cameras with 10 snapshots. Few know secret places in Paris where was the very beginning of the city of Paris, the way we know the metropolis nowadays. After plenty of revolutions, massacres, beheaded kings, it became an upscale district combined with vivid youthful energy, filled with interesting streets, which are covered by art from known street artists.

Best Photo Spots in Paris

 During the tour you will be shown best photo spots in Paris but you can also check instagrammable Paris here. You will also see the café which was the pioneer in serving coffee not only for the spoiled nobles, the spot where the cruel guillotine had it’s premier and many other intriguing insiders, which you would never read anywhere else, because you just basically don’t have time for that.

Sculpture made by Picasso in Paris, France

Sculpture of Picasso in the garden of the church of St. Germain des Prés

Paris Hidden Gem: Sculpture of Picasso

In addition you would never guess what you can discover in the parking spots of St. Germain. There is a Paris’ hidden gem a sculpture in the garden of the famous church of St. Germain des Prés from the world-known artist, Picasso. There is no sign, so everyone just passes by. As you can see there are numerous Paris’ hidden gems in the streets of a metropolitan and to immerse in it’s history and to refresh your knowledge, it is necessary to have a guide. My advice, join one of Mon Beau Paris tours for an affordable price and enjoy a toury time!

Paris of the Beaten track

And again, it’s impossible to describe all the amazing sides of Paris. The city has just too much to offer, you need to write a book about it. And while you are writing, there are new incredible places growing in the streets of the expressive metropolis. Visit Paris for a week, see the beautiful cemetery Pére Lachaise, with the tombs of famous people like Jim Morrison, Oscar Wilde and Edith Piaf. Observe the splendid magnitude of the opera hiding a huge artificial lake under it’s facades. And now start planing your trip and bon voyage!

Top Secret Paris Attractions

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