On Valentines day, being the sad lonely cat lady, I treated myself to a little 2 night jaunt to Lille over Easter. Now I know some of you are thinking ‘going away alone, what a Jonah’ but actually this was my choice as I wanted some time to myself.
I thought if you are going to do it, do it properly, so I booked myself on the Standard Premier carriage, which includes a nice little meal at your seat. I don’t know what it is about train stations I find comforting, maybe its being surrounded by all the weird and wonderful people off the various corners of the world like me. As soon as I stepped into St Pancras station there was a random lady playing piano. I felt at home. I also felt that I deserved a wine. Now you may be thinking ‘Jesus it must of only been about 10am’ and you would be correct, but there is an unwritten rule that if you go on holiday you can drink as early as you want. If you don’t believe me, Wikipedia it.
as I’m sitting at St Pancras I’m well and truly rinsing my battery, of course telling everyone how excited I am. It doesn’t matter, because I read on the Eurostar website the Standard Premier seats have power sockets. Happy days.
*MASSIVE TIP* the power sockets on Standard Premier are European. Use your plug adaptor then Kel. Well I don’t have a plug adaptor, I don’t class France as ‘abroad’. Battery gone, map to hotel gone, everyone’s number written on pad. I got an adaptor from the Relay at the station and set off to just try and ‘find’ my hotel. I don’t know if you have ever tried to ‘just try and find’ something yourself but believe me its about as easy as getting your mates to get a round in. I bumbled round Lille for a bit clearly looking like a massive wanker with my broken travel bag, and jumped in a taxi. Feeling relieved that check in was painless at the Ibis Styles Gare Beffroi, I went to unpack and charge my phone so I could let my Mum know I was ok. The rooms at the Ibis Styles are basic but quite modern, and well worth the money. Upon a massive fight with the plastic packet the plug adaptor was in, I realised that I had actually been stupid enough to buy an adaptor that changes European plugs to UK plugs. Of course. Perfect.
Set off to Carrefour and then realised another dickhead-ish thing. My hotel was LITERALLY 5 minutes walk away from the station. Not that I would of made it with my broken Primark travel bag. So, phone charger agg all sorted, back to room and time for a Prosecco before I went out.
I’m not the best person for giving out the old life advice, but a top tip here is not to open a cork while pointing the bottle at the window. After nearly smashing the glass and getting Prosecco all over the carpet, this REALLY was well deserved.
One good thing about France, is people don’t walk around with a face like a smacked arse like people in the UK, they are less uptight, and therefore find it acceptable to dine alone. In fact, when I did visit ‘au bistrot’ which was opposite the McDonalds in Gare de Lille Flandres, there were less people in groups than there were alone.
When in Rome and all that, I decided to have a Ricard. One thing I like about getting Ricard in France, is that it comes in a glass saying ‘Ricard. So if you forget you are drinking Ricard, you can look at your appropriately labelled glass and remember you are drinking Ricard.
The hotel Ibis Styles is actually in a great location, its kind of mid way between all the attractions. The main square in Lille is a lovely place to wander around and kill some time, even if it’s just window shopping in the boutiques or having a coffee in one of the bistro’s.
Another great thing about the Ibis Styles is the fact breakfast is included in the price, which I found immense when I got up early to get at it on the Saturday.
As lovely as all you can eat croissants and cheese was (believe me I see all you can eat as a challenge not an offer), I was unfortunately sat next to a man who was eating so loudly he obviously wanted the people in Zimbabwe to know he was really enjoying that pain au chocolat. I literally think people who eat like this should be banned from food. It takes MORE EFFORT to chew like a cow, seriously. Eat normally. The Art Museum was high on my agenda so I took a wander (again this is very close to the hotel – I could see the roof from my room), however when I got there and mooched round the grounds, the sun came out and I decided to change my plans. If you are into architecture the grounds alone are a great way to kill ten minutes.
I moved on to the Citadel park, a lovely large open space with a free zoo near the outskirts of the city. This is a bit of a longer walk but if you are young and able and love it like myself you should be fine. Last time I was here I fell completely arse over tit down a hill on an electric bike I had hired so funnily enough I just skipped that shit and walked around for a good two hours exploring the grounds and the zoo.
I DEFINATELY spent longer than its socially acceptable looking at lemurs so I’m quite sure I looked like a weirdo. Well, even more like a weirdo.
Another place to while away a few hours if the weather clouds over (which it did so its what I did) is the Euralille mall which is right near both of the stations. although there are a lot of shops you will find in the UK, there are also a few one off boutiques that are lovely, and a large Carrefour if you fancy stocking up on cheese for your journey home.
After spending the whole day shenanigan and panic free unlike going there, I had an early night to get up and get my train home in the morning. This time, I actually walked to the station and saved myself 6 euro cab fare.
On the Eurostar on the way I got breakfast which was some bread, pain au chocolat, and a croissant with some yoghurt and unlimited coffee. On the way home I got a lovely lunch with the cutest little cake and wine as well. It really is worth the extra upgrading yourself to Standard Premier and getting waited on, not to mention the fact there are LOADDDSSSS of magazines in a little rack near the doors.
All in all, if you want a short, sharp get away and don’t want to pay Paris prices, I would strongly recommend Lille to you.
I stayed at the ibis Styles Gare Beffroi, booked through www.booking.com £119 for two nights including free wifi, breakfast and city tax.
The Eurostar was booked through www.eurostar.com £159 return journey in the Standard premier carriage which includes meal and drinks at your seat, more comfortable seats, power sockets and magazine rack.