De'Longhi Sandwich Press

Lille restaurants


The easiest way to find Old Lille (Vieux Lille) is to walk along the rue Esquermoise (more upmarket shops here) and here you are on the cusp of the less glitzy narrow winding streets of rue du Cure St Etiennee. In these cobbled alley ways you can find shops where you buy almost anything you can think of from retro lampshades to hand painted chairs or distressed garden pots. Interspersed you can also find earthy artisanal food shops most of them with chairs and tables outside where you can sample the goods, fresh charcuterie, foie gras, saucissons (air dried sausages), Fermier cheeses (farmhouse cheeses using milk from the farmers herd and traditional methods), and guess what - more waffles ! A good place for lunch is at Les Compagnons de la Grappe (if like me you want to escape from the crazy pace of the glamorous main square).

Where: Les Compagnons de la Grappe, 26 rue Lepelletier, Lille.

Even if you aren't going to buy, you must wander past this incredible fish shop, A l'Huitriere - perhaps the best in France and well known in Lille for selling many varieties of sparkling fresh fish and seafood. Striking and decorative original art deco glass windows and mosaic decoration show swimming fish, bright orange lobsters and quirky shell ornamentation with a blue frontage of chintzy iron work. The restaurant with its one Michelin star is at the rear of the building and you walk through the shop to get to it.

Where: AL ' Huitriere 3, rue des Chats Bossus Lille.

I'm exhausted and a meditative soothing Lapsang Souchong at Cha Yuan a stylish low - key tea emporium makes a pleasant retreat for this tired shopper. A small fung suay styled cafe tucked away at the rear of the shop offers a simple menu. You can choose from prawn, pork and vegetarian dim sum, served in chinese steamers with soy and chilli dips. The only disapointment is that the service seems a little slow but boy, what a great place to unwind.

Where: Cha Yuan, 8 rue Saint - Jacques Lille.

Afterwards there is some more retail therapy in the clothing boutiques, mostly housed in the old merchants houses around the rue de Lion and there is a good interiors shop here which has some lovely tableware ideas.

Where: Interiors, 8 - 10 Place du Lion d' or, Lille.

Getting away from the gastronomic trail, the Hospice Comtesse nearby is a unmissable museum dating back from the middle ages with beautiful Flemish interiors before I plunge back into the fray of the main square for a night cap as day turns slowly into night.