macaroons from Les cailliardises

One of the things that still completely amazes me about living in London is its ridiculously close proximity to all things European. And considering the fact that I think everything is in Europe, I propel myself at every opportunity to travel (because travel is why I’m living 500 gazillion miles away from my friends and family). You need only say “hey Cat, do you want to g—-“ “Yes! YES I’ll go!”, it’s that easy. Because of this, I’m so in the red that I am red (oh wait, that’s from peeling beetroots the other night), but I also get to go to Stockholm, Helsinki, Amsterdam, Alicante, Vegas, San Fran and LA, all in the next ten weeks!

Oh, and I was just in Lille last weekend.

Lille was a completely random destination. I didn’t know it existed until about six months ago, and knew absolutely nudda about the city, except that it would take me all of 90 minutes to get there on the Eurostar. I was meeting my friend, Ying (who I bonded with years ago over a conversation about my questionable taste in men), who arrived before me and was already chillaxing in our Suitehotel room.

Before I go on, here is a shameless plug for Suitehotel – it’s amazing. Stay. There. At €70 a night, this is uber cheap for Europe. They have brand new spacious rooms, a king bed with an extra bed (and possibly the best mattress I’ve ever slept on), separate bath and shower, two wardrobes and even a microwave, and free internet and free in-house movies. Omigod. So, ok, stay there.

Ok, I should just get on with it. Food.

There was plenty of it.

At 9pm, hunger pangs were starting to render me completely useless, so we had to eat. Place Rihour (a tiny street by the Grand Place) is supposedly the place to be. We took a punt and picked Brasserie Flore, mainly because it looked good and also because Ying’s research told us so.  I thought the food was good, not great, but what impressed me more was that the meals came with salads, unlike my Parisian experience that was a side salad of one cherry tomato.

Dinner at Brasserie Flore, Place Rihour

Dinner at Brasserie Flore, Place Rihour

A number of people recommended we head down Rue de la Monnaie for its scrumptious pastries, so first thing Saturday morning, we were there. There’s a few pastry shops along the cobbled street and we managed to sample a few of them between actual meals. And between the in-between-meals-pastries, we had some crepes.

pastries from Rue de la Monnaie; chocolate waffle from Le Napoleon; coffee along Rue de la Monnaie; crepes from.. everywhere!

Between the in-between-meals-pastries and the in-between-in-between-crepes, we had meals. Saturday’s lunch was supreme poulet and crab tartare at La Houblonniere, which is right on the Grand Place. Chicken was meh, crab tartare (dressed with red berries, star fruit and grapefruit) was divine.

crab tartare

We started Sunday with a ham, cheese and egg crepe at Le Napoleon on Place de la Gare, but the egg was raw. Eeeeew. And not just from an I-don’t-like-runny-yolk point of view, but the egg white goo was all up in the cheese and everything. It was wrong. Wrong.

ham cheese and egg crepe

The remedy, and a good one at that, was yet another in-between-meals-crepe, followed by the purchase of not one but two dozen macaroons from Les Cailliardises, and a visit to the food market (Rue de la Monnaie, Sundays only). A good food market fixes everything.

Food markets at Rue de la Monnaie

So I know it looked like all we did was eat our way through the quaint little town that is Lille. We didn’t, I promise. In fact it was one of the most well-rounded holidays (not just in our bellies) I’ve had for a while ~ we managed to shop (Ying doing some serious damage at LV), and even squeeze in some culture at the Palais des beaux arts de Lille

culture in Lille

All right, so we rushed through the art gallery so that we could sit outside:

outside palais des beaux arts de lille

and eat our chocolate eclaires:


Oh, and of course, there was that Michelin star dinner.

12 Thoughts on “how Lille was conquered in a day (or two… of eating)

  1. OMG you really scored big time! The room price is incredible and the food… I am licking my monitor screen!

  2. I’ve been waiting for this one to come out! Yummy yummy, first time I’ve ever seen/heard of crab tartare, didn’t realise one could eat em raw, with the berries it looked a perfect summer entree! The raw egg in the crepe does look very suspect… but then again, I’m quite a fan of the raw stuff, so I might have enjoyed that one!

    hehehe, I have to praise your inbetween-inbetweeners; I only had room for inbetweeeners myself, the french food was too rich for me, it had me gasping between walking out from restaurant to the Metro station 😛

    ok now i want to hop on train to lille to have crab tartare!

  3. man you’re really going places in the next 2 months! i want to go!!!

  4. valisa: I know, it was one of those cheap weekends. Even my train tix were cheap £70 return! Eating heaven! 🙂

    Kang: Yeh the crab tartare was good – not completely raw crab, lightly cooked I think, I don’t remember I ate it too quickly. The grapefruit slices were great. The raw egg? Eeewww. Haha yeh we had a lot of inbetween-inbetweeners! SO FULL. Parisian food is good though, did you find they skimp on salad there?

    mc: come back! travel with me!

  5. Great photos of a wonderful trip! Tell me again why you need a new camera?!

  6. Thanks Helen! … well.. cos I have camera envy. 🙁

  7. gorgeous pics … and the food looks fantastic … it’s gonna make me CRY!!! *sigh* … slightly envious .. ok, not just slightly 😉 Kidding – have fun & keep the pics coming!

  8. Is it possible to be full and hungry at the same time? Your photos and descriptions are so vivid, I feel like I’ve spent the day eating with you. However, your post also leaves me so…what’s the word…ravenous! I want to run into the kitchen to cook myself a ham, cheese and egg crepe (or omelette, because who can do crepes at 11pm?), but I think I will actually *cook* the egg. (Is it me, or do you see a face in that picture, too?)

    Anyway, I found you through TasteSpotting and I am writing to say that if you have any photos that aren’t accepted there, I would love to publish them. Swing by my new site (below) and have a look around. It’s a lot of fun!


  9. Muneeba: thanks for the awesome comment 🙂 I’ve just arrived home from travelling all day and am STARVING so I also want to cry. Hope you visit again!

    Casey: I hope you don’t serve up the omelette with a raw egg hidden inside.. although I think the physics of cooking an omelette would not allow that. Thanks for dropping by, I’ve checked out your site, it’s a great initiative 🙂

  10. haha i’m just like you with the traveling except i overdo it with food. in fact, i somehow gained a good 7lb the last time i went to europe, and haven’t had the chance to lose it… at least it was filled with yummy macaroons

    anyway, you should definitely submit some of your photos to it’s a visual restaurant review site, with a template inspired by tastespotting.

  11. jess: if the 7lbs were gained on macaroons, they were well worth it 🙂 thanks, I’ll check out the website.

  12. Thanks Catty – now I REALLY can’t wait to get to Lille for my Easter break this weekend! x

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