This year I kicked off December with a visit to Lille: a city in Northern France, close to the Belgian border and a stone’s throw from Calais and the Eurotunnel connections to Kent. We were pushed for free weekends in December this year, but desperately wanted to squeeze in a Christmas market trip. We settled on Lille given that it is known for its seasonal decorations and we could travel there from Friday to Sunday. On the first weekend in December we set off for France, excited to find out why people visit during the festive season. I enjoyed the experience so much that I thought I’d share some reasons to visit Lille in December. It is far too late for this to be relevant in 2023, but hopefully this is helpful to people looking to visit in future years.
1. The Christmas Market (Village de Noël)
There is one Christmas market in Lille and it is literally footsteps from the Grand Place, located in the heart of the Place Rihour. The Village de Noël is an open air market with over 80 food, drink and gift stalls that sell French street food and locally made products. It is incredibly popular with tourists looking to soak up the festive atmosphere and is good fun for an hour or two. My top tip would be to visit before it gets dark, as the queue and crowds build during the evening and it gets very busy.
2. The festive decorations in the Grand Place
The Grand Place is a pedestrianised plaza in the city centre, where you can find majestic Flemish architecture, restaurants and shops. In late November and early December, decorations are put up throughout the square, specifically a giant Christmas tree and ferris wheel. The twinkling lights and festive displays look absolutely spectacular at night, and with the majority of the crowds being over at the Village de Noël in the evening, the Grand Place offers a more relaxing, festive experience after dark.
3. Festive lights in the entirety of the Old Town
The streets of ‘Vieux Lille’ or Old Lille are adorned with fairy lights. From shop fronts to displays in the street, pretty much every walkway in the centre is decorated with lights. After dark it looks incredible with so many connected roads all lit up. I’d recommend putting some time aside for an evening walk across the historic quarter, so you can marvel at the lovely lights.
Visiting Lille from the UK
Lille draws lots of visitors from the UK thanks to the good road and rail transport links. You can reach the city by Eurostar from London in just under 2 hours or take the Eurotunnel and drive from Folkestone, arriving at a similar time.
If you visit Lille in December in the future, I’d love to hear what you think of the city. It is magical at Christmastime!
Thanks for reading my blog today.
Love Kat xxxx