It was my first time to spend Christmas outside the Philippines and celebrated it the French way which means more than 4 hours of eating and talking, with unlimited cheese, champagne, wine, beer and I can’t remember how many courses we ate. We started at 2pm and ended at 8pm. Honestly, we definitely don’t do that in the Philippines, at least in my family. But I’m not complaining!
Backtrack to—why Lille?
It’s simple, my friend who is also my sister’s boyfriend lives there and we wanted to visit. It is true, it is a small town but there’s a lot to experience. Lille is the largest city in the northern of France and it has an easy access to London, Paris, and Brussels. So yes, it is usually a stopover area! It also has a Flemish influence that can be seen in the architecture and the food.
I was able to find a good AirBnB place located right in the middle of the old town center, that means I just have to go down the apartment and voila—everything is within reach!
Things to do in Lille, especially during winter:
- Christmas Market– where you can find different kinds of snacks, souvenirs, and even winter clothes like socks and gloves. You can also find waffles, cheese, sausages, hot choco or mulled wine! These markets are everywhere during the holiday season!
Within the Old town Center you will see the following –
Basilica of Notre Dame de la Treille or also known as Lille Cathedral- a national monument with Gothic architecture and has been known as the seat of the Bishop of Lille.
Ferris Wheel and Carousel for Kids– the Ferris Wheel that sits at the center of the Grand’Place and is an icon especially during the Christmas holiday. There is also a carousel near the stretch of outdoor restaurants and Hotel Carlton.
Vieille Bourse or Old Stock Exchange & Flea Market– this was built around 1652 – 1653 with a courtyard but now you will find a book and souvenir market inside.
Saint Maurice Church- with Gothic architecture and built in the 1914. I personally liked the paintings inside this church.
Gare Saint Sauveur – an old train station but now a place for recreational areas and exhibition events.
Indoor Ski – you’ll find this around Europe! I just realized I did not try it though.
Eat Le Welsh – We tried the Le Welsh in Estaminet du Welsh located in 45 rue de Grand- 59000 Lille. It’s a plate of cheese with bread and ham inside fried in beer! It comes with fries, salad and beer! Honestly, I wasn’t able to finish the plate but then again I do have a small stomach so I can’t finish most meals in Europe.
and Raclette– too bad I don’t have a photo. Traditionally, it’s a DIY meal perfect when you have friends over. You melt the cheese then you pair it with meat like smoked ham or salami. But here’s the usual pairing with beer!
Or just go to the grocery and make your own steak with foie gras!
Enjoy the night in Beerstro- a local restaurant with good food and alcohol!
And of course, I have to write about my French Christmas meal. Here are a few things I experience that’s a bit different from how we celebrate Christmas at home!
- Greet everyone before you do anything else when you enter a house or room. Introduce yourself if you have the time! I made the mistake of going straight to the toilet after greeting my friends’ dad, for the simple reason that I just needed to pee! I just apologized after.
- You always start with Apero or similar to appetizers. They usually serve champagne, cheese, and saucisson!
- After the Apero which lasts around 1-2 hours, they serve more appetizers like avocado with shrimp.
- After the Apero, they serve 1-3 courses with red wine and then beer!
- Last will be the dessert, I loved the homemade chocolate marble cake!
Here are a few photos from our Christmas lunch!
In between my stay in Lille, we did daytrips in Brugges and Brussels, Belgium! But that’s for another post! Ciao!
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If you are looking for more itineraries for France, here are a few more articles, just click on it!