10 reasons to visit the Lille Christmas markets
’Tis the season where a trip to a European Christmas market is essential. If you’ve never been to one, picture a magical winter wonderland heaving with people. Numerous wooden stalls sell gifts, mulled beverages, comfort food, and sweet treats. Christmas music is audible around the clock, and if you’re lucky there’ll be a sprinkling of snow. Dreamy.
What’s not so dreamy is finding flights, accommodation, and trying not to take a day of leave before the Christmas break. Desperate to cross the boarder without spending too much time or money, I scoured the internet for my best option. Enter Eurostar and its speedy journey times. Within moments I was sold on a weekend day trip to Lille.
Here are my 10 reasons why you should book a trip to Lille’s Christmas markets, this festive 2017 season.
1. Journey time
Thanks to Eurostar you can find yourself in Lille in less than one hour and 30 minutes (from London St Pancras International). The market itself is only a 15 minute walk from the station.
2. The atmosphere
The feeling is festive, joyous and in the words of Hugh Grant “love actually is all around” (I’ve been waiting my whole life to use that quote). The moment I turned the corner and saw the markets, I was filled with that quintessential Christmas spirit.
3. The mulled beverages
And the fact that it’s acceptable to drink them before midday. At €3 a glass, it’s impossible to say no.
4. The ferris wheel
Standing tall in all its lit-up glory, in the main square, the ferris wheel hard to miss. If you don’t see it, you’ll hear it as it blasts the most festive of Christmas songs, all day long.
Who doesn’t love potatoes fried with onions and bacon, then covered in melted cheese? I could’ve eaten the stall out of business, but I only took so many euros with me.
6. Freshly-made stroopwafel
The smell is intoxicating and the stall works like a well-oiled machine. Wafel after wafel is cooked, sliced and smeared with rum butter, brown sugar butter or vanilla butter. It’s €3.50 for 10, and mine were still warm in the bag. Drool.
7. The gift stalls
From jewellery to Christmas tree decorations, you can find small gifts or trinkets for those who are on your Christmas list this year. Edible gifts are aplenty, including gorgeous honey products, several chocolate stalls and even a stall selling Canadian products.
8. Christmas hats
After a santa hat, or seven? Look no further, Lille’s Christmas markets have stalls that sell every type of red and white, Christmas-themed hat you could ask for.
It’s not part of the markets, but Meert is well worth a visit. One side of the shop is a bakery selling the most beautiful little cakes and pastries, the other side sells anything and everything chocolate. There’s also a café, so you can enjoy a little cake, alongside a cup of tea.
10. Rue de la Monnaie
Wander down this cobbled street for boutique stores, quaint cafes and Aux Merveilleux de Fred. This cake shop has a queue that spills out onto the pavement. After realising that a lot of the queue was made up of locals, I decided to see what all the fuss was about. It’s worth both the fuss and the wait. Tender meringue is covered in a light-as-air cream and topped with shavings of chocolate, or nuts. I treated myself to both the chocolate and caramel flavours. Bliss.
Eurostar operates up to 11 daily services from London St Pancras International to Lille with fares from £29 one-way. Tickets are available from eurostar.com or 03432 186 186.
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