Lille, France

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Are you looking for a family-friendly destination for your next vacation? Then Lille, France, is the place for you, an amalgam of the traditional and the modern, the French and the Flemish. With its charming cobblestone streets, historic sites, and incredible food scenes, you’ll find something to please everyone in your family. Where to stay? Lille has plenty of family-friendly hotels and apartments that offer great amenities and easy access to the city’s attractions. What to do with kids in Lille? There’s a variety of activities that will keep your little ones entertained. The Zoo de Lille, for example, is a great place to spend a day, as is the Grand Place for an afternoon of shopping. If your kids are into art, check out the many galleries and museums in the city. And don’t forget to spend an evening or two at Lille’s incredible parks, where you can take a leisurely stroll or let the kids run around. So don’t let Lille’s bustling city life scare you away. With its abundance of family-friendly activities, you’re sure to have an unforgettable vacation. Read on for practical tips to plan ahead your visit with kids in Lille, what to do, where to stay and kids friendly restaurants

Is Lille a Day Trip?

Lille is the capital of the Hauts-de-France region in northern France and a few kilometers east of the Belgian border. You can visit Lille as a day trip either from Brussels or from Paris, since Lille is just 35 minutes away from Brussels by train and an hour away from Paris by train. We recommend spending at least one night in Lille, since the city is lovely and there are so many activities to do. See here our recommendations on where to stay in Lille. Having said that, you can see the most important sights in Lille in a day

Tip
If you are doing Lille as a day trip, then stick to trains, as it is much longer to reach Lille from Brussels or Paris by car or by bus

What to do in Lille with kids

Vieux Lille (Historic Center)

The Vieux Lille takes up three neighboring squares, Grand Place, Place du Théâtre and Place Rihour

Grand Place

The Grand Place is also named place du Général de Gaulle, as Charles de Gaulle was born in Lille in 1890

You can enjoy the architeture at one of the many cafés and restaurants around the Grand Place

Tip
We always enjoy a walking tour like this one or a city tour with a mini bus to get a good idea of the history of the place we are visiting. If your kids are older, then a scavenger hunt of the highlights of Lille or a tour with a 2CV might be a cool idea

Place du Théâtre & Opera

Place du Théâtre is in front of the Lille Opera, the Beffroi de la Chambre de Commerce de Lille and the Vieille Bourse. This square was called Petite-Place in contrast to the Grand-Place just a few minutes away

Vieille Bourse (Old Stock Exchange)

Built in 1652, when the city was Spanish, the bourse is made up of 24 separate houses that enclose a courtyard. You can also enter the Vieille Bourse and buy some books!

Notre-Dame-de-la-Treille Cathedral

Notre-Dame-de-la-Treille Cathedral is also worth a visit. Its construction started in 1854 and took almost 150 years (!) to finish. It was completed in 1999 with a modern facade. This is about 6 minutes walk from Grand Place

Fun Activities for Kids in Lille

Citadelle de Lille

The Citadelle de Lille park is about 15 minutes walk from Grand Place or 5 minutes by car. You can find there the attraction park Cita (it is perfect for younger kids!) and the Lille zoo. This is also where the Lille fun fair takes place twice a year. Read on for practical details on each of these!

Cita Lille

Cita is a small and fun attraction park in Lille. It is situated right next to the Zoo Lille. As both are quite small, it is easy to visit both in one day

Cita is a small and fun attraction park in Lille. It is situated right next to the Zoo Lille at the Citadelle de Lille park. As both are quite small, it is easy to visit both in one day. Cita is perfect for younger kids! Read the full post on Cita with lots of practical details to plan ahead your visit with kids

Zoo Lille

Zoo Lille is situated right next to the Cita-Parc, a small and fun attraction park. As both are quite small, it is easy to visit both in one day

Zoo Lille is situated right next to the Cita-Parc, a small and fun attraction park. As both are quite small and just a few minutes away in the same park, it is easy to visit both in one day

Puppet Theater Le P’tit Jacques

There is also a puppet theater right across the river opposite the zoo! This is open between April and October. Some shows are suitable for kids 2+ years old, other for 3+ years old
Puppet Theater “Le P’tit Jacques”
https://lepetitjacques.fr/
1 Av. Léon Jouhaux, 59000 Lille, France
https://goo.gl/maps/2MdYqdfz6cmyudAR8

Museum of Natural History

This is a small museum with a lot of stuffed animals and skeletons. There are vivariums with alive insects and spiders. There are also several ateliers for kids. This is about 10 minutes walk away from the center
https://mhn.lille.fr/
Musée d’histoire naturelle de Lille
23 Rue Gosselet, 59000 Lille, France
https://g.page/mhnlille?share

Tip
This is free with the Lille City Pass, along with more than 30 tourist sites and attractions and public transport

Beffroi de Lille

You can climb up the Beffroi de Lille for a panoramic view of the city. This is not for the faint-hearted with 100 steps until the elevator. This is about 15 minutes walk from the center of Lille and quite close to the Museum of Natural History
You can book a visit here
Beffroi de Lille
Pl. Simon Vollant, 59000 Lille, France
https://goo.gl/maps/hqw5i4S8gTtDiSux6

Tip
This is free with the Lille City Pass, along with more than 30 tourist sites and attractions and public transport

Palais des Beaux-Arts de Lille

The Palais des Beaux-Arts de Lille is one of the largest art museums in France. There are family animations for kids that are 3+ and 6+ years old every Sunday and for toddlers 18 months to 3 years old on Saturday. You can reserve here. There are also ateliers for kids during school holidays. This is close to the Museum of Natural History and the Beffroi de Lille.
Palais des Beaux-Arts de Lille
https://pba.lille.fr/
Pl. de la République, 59000 Lille, France
https://goo.gl/maps/9UJqg31jX5VMUj8t8

Tip
This is free with the Lille City Pass, along with more than 30 tourist sites and attractions and public transport

LaM, Museum of Modern Art

If you are into modern art, this is a great museum. There are ateliers for kids during school holidays, see more info here. There are also family visits organized that are suitable for kids 2-3 years old, see more info here. It is 15 minutes by car from the center (or about half an hour by public transport)
LaM, Lille Métropole Musée d’art moderne, d’art contemporain et d’art brut
https://www.musee-lam.fr/en
1 All. du Musée, 59650 Villeneuve-d’Ascq, France
https://goo.gl/maps/wCGdjyEzoqU4rmAp8

Tip
This is free with the Lille City Pass, along with more than 30 tourist sites and attractions and public transport

Seasonal Events

Lille Christmas Market

The Christmas market in Lille is magical, with a Ferris wheel, a carousel and a Christmas village! Read our post with lots of practical tips, photos and a video to get an idea of what it’s like

Lille Fun Fair

The Fun Fair in Lille is perfect for kids with lots of attractions. Another good reason to visit the capital of the Hauts-de-France! The fun fair takes place twice a year. Usually the spring fun fair takes place during Easter school vacations and the summer fun fair end of August

Lille Fun Fair

The Foire aux manèges in Lille is perfect for kids with lots of attractions. Another good reason to visit the capital of the Hauts-de-France! Usually the spring fun fair takes place during Easter school vacations and the summer fun fair end of August

Where to Eat with Kids in Lille

Grand Place

There are many restaurants around the Grand Place. There is no play area, but most have no cars around, so there is a lot of room for kids to run around, not to mention the beautiful setting

Pâtisserie Méert

Pâtisserie Méert deserves a special mention. It is famous for its waffles (which in Lille means thin waffles with vanilla cream in the middle)
Pâtisserie Méert
https://www.meert.fr/
25-27 Rue Esquermoise, 59000 Lille, France

Oasis

There is also Oasis, a restaurant between Cita and the zoo with indoor and outdoor area, if you are spending the day in the park. You can also grab something quick from the cantine right opposite of Oasis and eat at the picnic tables there

Oasis Lille Citadelle
1 Av. Mathias Delobel, 59800 Lille, France
https://goo.gl/maps/47GwAENRTQiMpz9E6

If you are willing to go outside the city center, the two restaurants mentioned below will definitely make the kids happy

Pirates Paradise

Pirates Paradise is a restaurant with an indoor playground and a pirate theme – what’s not to love? (20 minutes drive from the center of Lille)
Pirates Paradise
https://lille.pirates-paradise.fr/
2 Rte de Roncq, 59960 Neuville-en-Ferrain, France
https://g.page/pirates-paradise-288?share

L’Estaminet de la Ferme Aux Oies

L’Estaminet de la Ferme Aux Oies has both indoor and outdoor playground. In winter there is a small ice rink for kids too (15 minutes drive from the center of Lille)
L’Estaminet de la Ferme Aux Oies
https://www.lestaminetdelafermeauxoies.fr/
101 Rue Pavé Stratégique, 59700 Marcq-en-Barœul, France
https://g.page/estaminetlafermeauxoies?share

What to eat

*Carbonnade Flamande: beef stewed in beer for many hours. The Flemish roots of Lille show in this dish and in many others. Also everything is stewed in beer and not in wine, another sign of the Flemish background of the city
*Le Welsch: this popular dish is ham, brown beer, tons of cheese and an egg on top of it in the end
*Waffles: in Lille this means paper thin waffles with vanilla cream in the middle! The most famous ones are from Pâtisserie Méert

Where to stay

We love staying in the area around Grand Place or between Grand Place and the Citadelle. This is the easiest location with little kids, as in this way everything is within walking distance

Tip
We prefer not to drive in Lille, as it can be very tiring due to heavy traffic and finding parking can be challenging (see here details on where to park in Lille)

Novotel Grand Place is between Grand Place and the zoo. It is relatively inexpensive and good for families who want to spend their time in the center
€€ Le Chat Qui Dort Suites is at the same area between Grand Place and the zoo. There are 3 apartments and you book an entire one for your family (with all the facilities an apartment has)
€€€ Au Coeur de Lille is between Grand Place and the zoo (a bit closer to the zoo). There is also a parking
€€€€ Au 30 is close to Beffroi de Lille and a short walk away from Grand Place. They have suites with spa and sauna. If you feel like treating yourself, this is a great option

Practical stuff

How to get around Lille

If you are planning to see the main attractions mentioned in this post, then just walking around Lille should be more or less enough. The center and the Citadelle are 15 minutes walk from each other. Going from the center to the museums around Beffroi takes also 15 minutes walk

You can enter your itinerary and see public transport options at the official site of Lille

Tip
Public transport is free with the City Pass and it covers over 30 tourist attractions and museums. You can get your pass here

Tip
Driving around Lille can be difficult, as there is a lot of traffic. Try to stay around the center to have everything within walking distance! See our recommendations on where to stay

Lille City Pass

The Lille City Pass covers all the museums mentioned in this post and more than 30 tourist attractions and museums. There are passes for different amounts of time (24, 48, 72 hours). A travel pass for bus, tube, tram is also included, so public transport is free with the CIty Pass. You can get your pass here

Where to park in Lille

There are free places on the street, paid and park and ride places

Paid parking at streets

Most of the center is categorized in three zones, yellow, orange and red. You can pay at a parking meter or by a mobile app. You can find details on the zones here and the map to see where the zones are here

Park and ride

These are free parking places next to a metro station, so you can leave your car there and hop on the metro to get to the center. You can find more details here

Private parking

Citadelle: If you want to visit the Citadelle with the zoo and the Cita amusement park, there is paid parking next to Cita (outdoor, 500 places). It is much better to go early, otherwise the parking is very crowded and you will need to wait for cars to exit for you to go in
Parking Liberté
All. des Marronniers, 59800 Lille, France
https://goo.gl/maps/2KcY5eSnZj2api49A

Lille center: If you want to visit the center, there are several paid parking places around the center. This one is right at the Grand Place and it’s the one we usually use:
Parking Indigo Lille Grand Place
33 Pl. du Général de Gaulle, 59000 Lille, France
https://goo.gl/maps/NfY6PTecB55CUdzMA

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Map

All places mentioned above are also gathered on the map!
Indoor and outdoor activities, kids friendly cafés/ restaurants, hotels and more all under separate layers

Communities

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