De'Longhi Sandwich Press
Francois Brigant - artisan waffle maker


There is plenty to do in Lille to fill the third day but you can't refuse the offer of a car and a gastronomic tour of the Flanders countryside

Our first stop is at a small waffle museum where Jean Francois Brigant an artisan waffle maker skillfully creates and demonstrates making the traditional gaufre just as his mother and grandmother used to before him. We watch him using a splendid collection of old long handled waffle iron moulds with a variety of decorative patterns cut into them (these imprint their pattern into the batter of each wafer as it cooks) deftly cooking pieces of dough between the irons on a special griddle stove then slicing and filling the resulting crisp round biscuits with a delicious scented sugar cream, including Juniper a favourite drink in this area (from the local gin factory at Wambrechies), chicory, and Napoleon brandy which in turn add coffeesque and orange scents. We sample the waffles fresh and warm from the gaufre irons and still dreaming of their sweet sugary flavours we make our way for lunch to the Kasteel hof a Estaminet set in the Flanders Hills

Where: La Gaufre du Pays Flamand, 4 rue Victor Hugo - Houplines.

It has also been arranged by the Nord tourist office that I would have an aperitif with the owner of the Kasteel hof, a talented architect and gardener Emmanuel de Queillacq. We arrive at his residence to see a typical low brick Flemish farmhouse (called la ferme du Mont des Recollets) whose walls tumble with white blossoms, surrounded by beautifully kept gardens. Emmanuel is a thoroughly charming man and my aperitif turns out to be a local Flemish beer that is clear amber, thick and honeyish. This is followed by a tour of his gardens: the Flemish Rennaissance garden, the Contemporary with quirkily shaped topairy and finally the Traditional garden with the Pottager - a typically french kitchen garden divided by little box hedges where he grows the herbs and vegetables that supply the Estaminet Kasteelhof.
The Estaminet Kasteelhof itself is a simple rustic blue building complete with old fashioned cast iron pans, blue painted willow baskets and jugs that hang attractively from the ceiling. The plain wooden tables create a cosy rustic feel, but the simple sunny terrace with a great panoramic view of the Flemish hills looks more inviting. Rickity chairs and tables hardly deter the flavours of our three course meal which follows, starting with a Planche du Reuze (a board of delicious local cheeses pates and tarts) accompanied by gherkins and salad. Next Chef's Confit de canard, sauce speculoos (duck confit in a creamy sauce flavoured with a sweet spicy ginger biscuit called speculoos) is unimaginably delicious and a very unusual combination of flavours. My partner chooses the Carbonade Flamande (a slow - cook beef and beer dish) served with French fries, followed by a Mystere Flammand (glace meringue flavoured with chicory and a dusting of crushed speculoos). Within a matter of minutes the silence is shattered by a fleet of touring English Evictor cars who drive up to the huge square at the top of the hill (the highest point north of Paris). It is an ideal lunch venue for car rallies too, it seems: good unpretentious Flemish food in a beautiful location.

Where: Estaminet Kasteelhof. 8 rue St Nicolas, Cassel. (at the top of the hill, follow the signs to the windmill).

We return to Lille after a short visit to the Abbaye du Mont des Cats, the name of the hill and of the cheese. The famous cheese is prepared with raw pressed curd by the monks who have produced cheese here for centuries using unpasteurised milk from the cows that graze on the hilly slopes of Bailleul, (a beautiful area for walking). We buy some cheese from the Abbaye shop and visit the village of Boeschepe set among the undulating hills that surround the Mont des Cats and the nearby village of Godewaersvelde with its Museum of Border life and the historic Estiminet Het Blauwershof with a reputation for good flemish food linked with intriguing smugglers tales.


Au Chapon d'or for good charcuterie potjevleesch and traditional chapon capon.

Where: 7 rue Esquermoise, Lille.

Les Vins gourmands is a good wine shop.

Where: 33 rue Esquermoise, Lille

Les Bons paturages a specialist cheese shop with a cheese maturing cellar
Here there are a some spectacular well aged pungent cheeses as well as over 40 cheeses from the region including Mont des Cats and the Maroilles cheese the essential ingredient in many of the Nords dishes where it makes an unctuous creamy sauce to veal, potatoes ham and Fenoil (turnip) gratins, and Flamiche au Maroilles a delicious sharp nosed cheese flan.

Where: 345 rue Leon Gambetta, Lille. (Allow a 30 minute walk from the Grand' place) alternative travel by Metro.

Kitchen ware shops I liked Alice Delice.

Where 5 rue Esquermoise, Lille.


Usually open every day from 10am - 7pm except on Monday morning and Sunday.

Estaminets are cosy hostelries where you can enjoy local beers and often the best places to acquaint yourself with traditional Flemish dishes.

Patisseries are sometime solely shops, but often have a Salon de the attached where patrons can enjoy refreshment and a patisserie in the mid morning or afternoon. Lunches if served atall will be salads.

Markets Colourful and abundant markets with vegetables spilling from the stalls are a good source for tempting charcuterie, try the spicy andouillettes (sausages) smelly cheeses, thick creme fraiche, champignons and farm fresh produce.
You can also eat in the little market cafes for lunch. A well regarded one by the locals is The Place du Concert cafe - for posh creative food also very fashionable for brunch. Located near the Place du Concert Market which is on Sunday mornings. Also visit Wazemmes market also on Sunday morning.


We stayed at the Comfort Hotel (two star). It was simple and comfortable and very central just a 3 minute walk from the Grand' place. Cost 60 - 85 Euros for two people sharing per night, half board. (third night free), plus it has a car park.

For more information on 2, 3, and 4 star accommodation ask at the Lille tourist Office or check their website before you travel. (see below)
I stayed for 2 nights and three days, but with the cities proximity from Eurostar (just a 10 - 15 minute walk into Lille - makes it well worth a day trip so that you can stock up with some scrumptious confectionery, beer and pungent cheeses). Its more than likely your travel back well laden with goodies, so treat yourself to a taxi to take you back to Eurostar It will cost you about 8 Euros from the Grand place, or by Metro 1.2 euros.


is at 6 rue Gauthier d Chatillon - 59013 Lille, Cedex.
Phone 00 33 320 57 59 59

Carol Pastor travelled to Lille by Eurostar.
Eurostar operates up to nine daily services from London Waterloo International to Lille with return fares starting from £55. Tickets are available from or tel: 08705 186 186. Fastest London - Lille journey time is 1hr 40 minutes.