You may just have missed the annual Lille Wine Fair but Lille‘s colourful Christmas Market starts in late November and runs through Christmas Eve. This vibrant northern city also features an excellent selection of modetn and stylish shops (Galeries Layfayette, Fnac, plenty of fashion) and the heart of the old town (Vieux Lille) has innumerable interesting shops and boutiques – including food, antiques, gift shops.
There is no shortage of places to eat e.g the extravagant ll’Huitriere for superb but extyravagant fish and seafood. Local resident Alexandra Hudson at le Jardin d’Alix recommends the rue de la Monnaie, the oldest street in Lille for finding somewhere to eat – including l’Assiette du Marché (the market plate) which is housed in the old mint (* gourmet food, and a good deal at 16€ (starters and a main course, or the main course+dessert), but also more refined dishes“).
Nearby is the la Pâte brisée very cheap, which specializes in different hot and cold, sweet and salty tarts and pies. Both places are jammed with Lille people, because the price value is so good.

The chocolate expert is also on rue de la Monnaie near the musem l’Hospice Comtesse – his name is Benoit, and he is listed in all the gourmet guides..
A personal favourite is another fish restaurant, somewhat cheaper than l’Huitriere, but excellent food and service – l’Ecume des Mers, near the Grand Place – or if you are a fan of mussels and want something more bistro style – try Aux Moules in the rue de Bethune.

There is no shortage of places to stay in Lille to suit all pockets, but for a real sense of the place you could try the Jardin d’Alix, a B&B in the suburbs but on the tramway straight into the city centre.

Also until 20th January 2008 there is an exhibition of Chagall’s ceramics at the Roubaix Swimming Pool!

If you missed the Lille wine fair, Paris is the venue for the Independent Wine Makers’ Wine Fair in November

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