Vauban's citadelle at Lille
The Telegraph (3 April 07) has an article enticing you to visit Lille (59 Nord, Hauts de France)

Lille ticks all the French boxes – arty culture, handsome looks, stylish shopping, fabulous food – but without the country’s icy hauteur. Friendly and welcoming, it has a metropolitan buzz but a small, do-able scale. Unfairly dismissed as industrial, Lille has a charming old town, France’s second most important art collection, frothy Flemish architecture and gutsy cuisine.

For us one of the highlights of the year is a visit to the Lille Wine Fair (Salon des Vins) hosted by the French Independent Winemakers association ( )which is held in November in the Lille Grand Palais. A great chance to taste and buy wines from all over France – a great pre-Christmas shopping weekend just an hour from the Channel coast. Explore the old Town, great shops and restaurants, Christmas market from late November, and the impressive Citadelle built by Vauban.

The article inevitably recommends L’Huitrière restaurant which is a superb but expensive fish restaurant in the Old Town – a little less stressful on the wallet is another good fish restaurant – L’Ecume de Mers (spume of the sea). Vauban’s Citadelle just outside the city centre is an impressive fortification built by France’s most prolific military architect – and provides an oasis of tranquility just 10 minutes walk away.

See dates for other Independent Winemaker Wine Fairs (Salons)

By Train TGV TGV with Rail Europe