Of course, by ‘trappings’ we mean ‘incredible creativity, architectural splendour, a genuinely unique atmosphere and food that positively demands a gluttonous approach to meal times’. Lille stands below Bordeaux and ahead of Rennes on the list of French cities by population, but it really is unlike anywhere else in the country. Lille is a garrison town with the history to prove it, a hub of manufacturing that grows more productive by the day, a city that remains true to its mercantile origins despite the literal destruction it has faced on so many occasions.
Lille has quite literally been destroyed more than once, and such experiences create tough people imbued with a love of life that cannot be taught. You feel that from the taverns to the high-end restaurants, where the grit of the every day rubs shoulders with the glitz of the magnificent, exchanging ideas across a threshold that most cities deem something of a forbidden door. This is Lille, where the idea of the forbidden is, well, forbidden.
To be blunt, Lille is Lille. A little French here, nods to neighbouring Belgium there, Flanders everywhere and nowhere all at once. Its cobbled streets, brick townhouses and air of historic defiance are difficult to defy. Okay, fine, the Capital of Flanders it is….