Crêperie de la Vielle Bourse
After a short journey from Brussels, we crossed the border into France and arrived in Lille in time for a late afternoon snack. We decided to make our way to the Grand Place to see what was on offer there. Venturing into a small side street along one side of the Vieille Bourse my eyes lit up at the sight of a neon sign flashing the word “Crêperie”. Inside the we enjoyed a light meal of savoury crêpes, made using certified traditional Brittany buckwheat flour. My spicy sausage, cheese and egg galette hit the spot, and Bec’s cheese, onion and chorizo was pretty darn good too. We ate them so quickly we didn’t even get a chance to capture the crêpe goodness with a photo.
Pâtisserie Patrick Hermand
With our savoury cravings satisfied, it was off in search of something sweet. Paul seemed like an obvious option, given that the now global chain originated in Lille. But as we approached the Paul on Rue Lepelletier, we passed a mouthwatering window display of the prettiest macaron creations. We had found Patrick Hermand, a pâtisserie known for its exquisite macarons. Inside we watched as gloves were donned by staff before our selection of macarons were carefully picked from the shelves as though they were delicate jewels. These macarons were definitely worthy of the fuss. Delicate yet flavourful, our favourites were Sunshine (violet ganache with a berry centre), Addict (blue dandelion ganache with salted caramel and speculoos) and Pistache-Mandarine (pistachio ganache with a mandarine centre).
Le Barbier Qui Fume
We followed Rue Basse to the shop-lined Rue de la Monnaie and passed a long queue in front of Aux Mervielleux de Fred, a Lille institution known for its cream covered meringues. Since we’re lucky enough to have a shop in Brussels, I was more interested in a shop across the road where I spotted rows and rows of salami hanging from the windows. Le Barbier Qui Fume is a restaurant and delicatessen specialising in smoking their own meats. I grabbed a selection of saucisson and had already torn open the butchers’ paper packaging before I’d even left the store.
La Part Des Anges
Right across the road was La Part Des Anges, a relaxed wine bar offering an extensive selection of wines by the glass. One of the first wine bars in Lille, this seemed to be a popular spot with the locals – the main downstairs bar area was completely full so we sat ourselves on the upper level where we washed down Merv’s delicious saucission with a couple of glasses of equally delicious Bordeaux.
We followed our pre-dinner apéritif with a fancy dinner at the nearby Rouge Barre where we enjoyed a five-course Valentines’ Day menu prepared by French Masterchef finalist Steven Ramon. We were treated to some top-notch fare, with truffle, lobster and champagne among the highlights – yum.
Marché Du Concert
The next morning we headed to Place du Concert for the Sunday food market, hoping to find our favourite French food market treat of galette au jambon-fromage-oeuf (ham cheese and egg crèpe). Although there wasn’t a crèpe stand to be found, there were many other delicious treats on offer, including row upon row of fragrant rotisserie chickens and giant pans of piping hot paella.
Restaurant Les Ptiots
As we walked along the restaurant-lined Rue de Gand in search of a bite to eat for lunch, we couldn’t help but notice a common mysterious menu item among almost all of the restaurants – “The Welsh“. One restaurant was even called Le Well Welsh and served a variety of Welshes. When we reached Les Ptiots and finally found a description of the Welsh, it didn’t take us long to decide to go inside for the beer-soaked bread topped with ham and mustard and baked in cheddar cheese. Served with a side of fries and a fried egg, I was in heaven!
No foodie trip to Lille would be complete without a visit to Maison Meert, famous for its thin oval-shaped waffles with a creamy vanilla filling. Even though the patisserie-chocolatier also has an outlet in Brussels, nothing beats a visit to the original shop and tea room which has been a Lille institution for over 250 years and apparently a favourite of King Leopold I and Charles De Gaulle once upon a time.
Crêperie de la Vielle Bourse 6 Rue des 7 Agaches, 59000 Lille www.lavieillebourse.fr
Patrick Hermand 1 bis Rue Bartholomé Masurel, 59000 Lille www.patrickhermand.com
Le Barbier Qui Fume 69 Rue de la Monnaie, 59000 Lille www.le-barbier-lillois.com
La Part des Anges 50 Rue de la Monnaie, 59000 Lille www.lapartdesangeslille.fr
Rouge Barre 50 Rue de la Halle, 59800 Lille www.rougebarre.fr
Marché Du Concert 6-8 Place du Concert, 59800 Lille
Restaurant Les Ptiots 35 Rue de Gand, 59800 Lille www.lesptiots.com
Meert 27 Rue Esquermoise, 59800 Lille www.meert.fr