The Perfect Paris to Lille Day Trip (Local’s Guide)

For more than six years I’ve called France my home, and for three of those years, I lived in Paris. During that time, I made countless day trips.

One of my favorites was Lille, so much so that I’ve visited several times since.

This beautiful city is the capital of the Hauts-de-France region and is known for its Flemish architecture, tasty Merveilleux pastry, and fascinating museums.

Best of all, it’s only an hour from Paris by train.

In this post, I’ll share with you the perfect Paris to Lille day trip itinerary. It has everything you need to plan an amazing visit.

Here is your perfect Paris to Lille day trip itinerary.
Lille Day Trip from Paris

Paris to Lille Day Trip Overview

If you’re short on time, here is an overview of this guide.

  • Morning: Vieux-Lille, Grand Place, Maison Natale Charles de Gaulle, Passage des Trois Anguilles, Église Saint-Maurice de Lille, Palais Rihour
  • Afternoon: Estaminet Au Vieux De La Vieille, Aux Merveilleux de Fred, Musée de l’Hospice Comtesse, La Vieille Bourse, Cathédrale Notre-Dame de la Treille, Jardin Vauban, Palais des Beaux-Arts, Musée d’Histoire Naturelle, Belfry
  • Evening: Return to Paris

Getting to Lille from Paris

This is the Gare de Lille Flandres. It's one of two stations you will arrive at. It's a 2-story stone building with four entrances. There a clock on the top tower and two French flags hanging from the second floor. There are people entering and exiting the train station.
Gare de Lille Flandres

While there are plenty of ways to get from Paris to Lille, for this day trip, I recommend taking a high-speed TGV train.

These trains leave from Gare du Nord (Paris Nord) in Paris and take about one hour.

You’ll find tons of departure times throughout the day, but, when I did this day trip, I took the earliest train.

Then, you’ll arrive at one of Lille’s two train stations, Lille Europe or Lille Flandres. Both are within walking distance of the city center so you can start this itinerary when you arrive.

You can buy your train tickets online or at the train station in Paris. But I recommend buying them online and as early as possible.

Helpful Tip: If you prefer to drive, it will take two to three hours, depending on traffic.

One Day in Lille – 15 Things to Do

Now that you know how to get from Paris to Lille, let’s dive into all the things to see and do during your day trip.

Below is a list of the top attractions that I recommend.

1. Wander through Vieux-Lille

This is Rue des Vieux Murs in Lille's Old Town. It's a cobble stone street with brick buildings on either side. There is a banner hanging down that says Passage des Arts.
Rue des Vieux Murs

Vieux-Lille is a charming neighborhood filled with narrow cobbled streets and colorful houses.

Here you’ll find Flemish architecture, quaint cafes, hidden courtyards, and boutique shops.

I arrived early in the morning and strolled through the quiet streets before they got crowded. I had the place to myself and felt completely safe.

Some of my favorites were Rue de la Monnaie, Rue des Vieux Murs, and Rue de Weppes.

I also stumbled on a few courtyards that weren’t in any guidebook.

And, of the ones I found, Place aux Oignons, Place Gilleson, and Abbaye de Loos Garden stood out as the most beautiful.

2. Hang Out in Grand Place

This is Lille's Grand Place. It's a large square surrounded by Flemish styled buildings. In the photo I took about you can see La Vieille Bourse and there are tables with umbrellas in front of it. People are walking around. In the distance you can see the clock tower and the clock.
Grand Place

The Grand Place is easily one of the most spectacular squares I’ve seen in France. I’d say it even rivals Strasbourg’s Place Kléber at Christmas.

It once served as the old market square during the Middle Ages and has since become a popular hang-out spot.

Here you can admire the ornate architecture, grab a bite to eat, or simply people-watch.

After I stopped by L’Abbaye Lille for a cup of coffee and a croissant, I went to the balcony in front of the Théâtre du Nord.

From there, I had an incredible bird’s eye view over the square (photo above).

Helpful Tip: There is a set of stairs on the side of the balcony in front of the Théâtre du Nord. They aren’t obvious so keep your eyes peeled.

3. Tour the Maison Natale Charles de Gaulle

This is the Tea Room at the Maison Natale Charles de Gaulle. There is a round table with. tea set on top. Then in the back there is a another table with flower pots. Surrounding the are two metal chairs. Then, against the walls, there is a lounge chair, a bench, a wooden chair, and a rocking horse.
Maison Natale Charles de Gaulle

The Maison Natale Charles de Gaulle is both a historical monument and a museum. It’s dedicated to the life and legacy of the former French President, Charles de Gaulle.

Inside you’ll find personal objects, documents, and photographs that give insight into his life.

There are also several family keepsakes and personal belongings, like his baptismal dress and cradle.

I loved how each room was made to feel like a specific moment in time, with period furniture and decor. I had the impression I was walking through a house someone was living in.

As you can see in the photo I took above, the tea room looks like it could still be in use.

It was an immersive visit, much like the one I had at the Maison de Jules Verne in Amiens and the Musée Bartholdi in Colmar.

Address: 9 Rue Princesse

4. Walk through Passage des Trois Anguilles

This is the entrance to he Passage des Trois Anguilles. In the middle of the photo there is an entryway that goes all the way through. This is the passage. At the top of the entrance it's written Passage des Trois Anguilles.
Passage des Trois Anguilles

There’s nothing cooler than finding a secret passage.

In fact, several cities in France have them. The most known passageways are the traboules in Lyon.

Then, in Lille, there’s Passage des Trois Anguilles. Tucked between two streets, this hidden alleyway is more of a shortcut than anything else.

It was a fun thing to do and added something extra to my visit.

You won’t need more than five minutes to walk through it, so there’s no reason not to stop by.

Address: 22 Rue Négrier or 29 Rue Voltaire

5. Visit the Église Saint-Maurice de Lille

This is the interior of Église Saint-Maurice de Lille. There is a aisle leading to the alter then several rows of wooden chairs on either side. There are tall stone columns that go to the ceiling and in the distance there are stained glass windows.
Église Saint-Maurice de Lille

Of the churches I visited in Lille, the Église Saint-Maurice de Lille was the most spectacular.

Construction began at the end of the 14th century and lasted 500 years. The result was a beautiful blend of traditional Gothic and neo-Gothic styles.

But what surprised me the most was how peaceful it was.

It’s right in the center of Lille so I expected it to be full of tourists. Instead, I found it to be a quiet sanctuary.

My favorite feature was the stained-glass windows behind the altar.

They were so intricately detailed, and they reminded me of the ones I saw in Sainte Chapelle.

Address: Parv. Saint-Maurice

6. Admire the Palais Rihour

This is Lille's Palais Rihour. It's a stone building with an octagonal tower in the middle. There are several windows.
Palais Rihour

Palais Rihour is the most unassuming piece of Gothic architecture in Lille.

Its construction began in 1453 under the direction of Philippe the Good, Duke of Burgundy, and was completed under Charles the Bold.

Interesting Fact: In the 1400s, the Duke of Burgundy’s main residence was Dijon. If you want to learn more about their history, I recommend spending a day exploring this beautiful city.

Of the key features, the most impressive is the octagonal orange brick tower at the front.

Today, the Palais Rihour houses the Lille’s Office of Tourism, and, occasionally, hosts exhibitions.

When I visited, I was surprised to find a free exhibit on Michel Serrault.

I had initially passed by to pick up my Lille City Pass and ended up spending half an hour admiring the collection.

Helpful Tip: I used my Lille City Pass to get discounts on museums. I recommend stopping by here first, if you want to do the same.

Address: 42 Place Rihour

7. Lunch at Estaminet Au Vieux De La Vieille

This is the Assiette Régionale from Estaminet Au Vieux De La Vieille. There is Carbonnade flamande, Potjevleesch, Welsh au Maroilles, and a few Croquettes au Moroilles. There's also a salad and some fries.
The Assiette Régionale

Estaminet Au Vieux De La Vieille is an absolute must-try. This traditional restaurant is tucked away in Vieux-Lille and serves the best regional food in town.

And, since there was so much to choose from, I took the Assiette Régionale so I could try everything.

It included carbonnade flamande, potjevleesch, Welsh au maroilles, and a few croquettes au moroilles.

The only dish I didn’t like was the Welsh au maroilles, but the rest was outstanding.

Helpful Tip: If you want to guarantee a table, I recommend making a reservation.

Address: 2 Rue des Vieux Murs

8. Indulge at Aux Merveilleux de Fred

This is Le Merveilleux from Aux Merveilleux de Fred. It's a round pastry with chocolate shavings. Next to it is the box it came in with the name of the pastry written on the front.
Le Merveilleux

After lunch, your next stop is Aux Merveilleux de Fred for some sweet indulgence.

This bakery is famous for its light and airy meringue cakes, known as Merveilleux.

They come in a variety of flavors, from classic chocolate to seasonal fruit options.

But I recommend trying their signature Le Merveilleux. It has layers of vanilla cream and whipped cream covered in chocolate shavings.

That’s what I took, and it was out of this world.

Address: 67 Rue de la Monnaie

9. Discover the Musée de l’Hospice Comtesse

This is a painting of Lille before the French Revolution at the Musée de l'Hospice Comtesse.
Musée de l’Hospice Comtesse

The Musée de l’Hospice Comtesse is a former hospital that has been transformed into a museum.

It was founded in 1236 by Countess Jeanne de Flandre and showcases the history of Lille through ceramics, paintings, and furniture.

The hospital was in use until the 20th century, so the building you see today is the original.

My favorite exhibits were on the top floor. Here there were paintings of Lille before the French Revolution (photo above).

There are ceramic tiles at the Musée de l'Hospice Comtesse. They are small sqaures and each one has a different rural scene painted on it. Some have fishing, some have gardening, etc.
Ceramic Tiles

I also loved the original ceramic tiles on the walls.

From a distance they looked very ordinary, but, when I moved closer, I saw each one showed a different rural scene.

It was like a hidden gem within the museum.

Address: 32 Rue de la Monnaie

10. Stop by La Vieille Bourse

This is the second-hand book market at the Vieille Bourse in Lille. There are tables with crates of books. They are all organized by genre.
Second-Hand Book Market

The Vieille Bourse, also known as the Old Stock Exchange, is the most striking building in Grand Place.

It was built in the 17th century and is composed of 24 individual houses surrounding an arched courtyard.

Today, these houses host various businesses.

But what makes this place so special is the second-hand book market that takes place in the courtyard every afternoon.

Take a stroll through the stalls and browse through old books, prints, and postcards.

I loved sifting through the vintage treasures and chatting with the sellers. I found lots of cool souvenirs.

Most of the books were in French, but I’m fluent so it wasn’t a problem for me. It was easily one of the best free activities I did in Lille.

Helpful Tip: If you’re not fluent, but want to improve your French, look for children’s books. It’s a fun and easy way to practice.

Address: Place du Général de Gaulle

11. Explore Cathédrale Notre-Dame de la Treille

This is the inside of the Cathédrale Notre-Dame de la Treille. There is a aisle that leads to the altar and two rows of wooden chairs on either side. There is a chandelier hanging down and stained glass windows behind the altar.
Cathédrale Notre-Dame de la Treille

Cathédrale Notre-Dame de la Treille is one of the most eccentric churches I’ve seen in France.

The initial foundation was laid in the mid-19th century, but it wasn’t completed until the end of the 20th century.

So, what you’ll see is a mix of two very contrasting styles, neo-Gothic and contemporary minimalism.

And the interior is as intriguing. There are tons of geometric patterns and modern stained-glass windows.

The rose window doesn’t compare to the one in the Metz Cathedral, but I still thought it was breathtaking.

Address: Place Gilleson

12. Unwind in the Jardin Vauban

This is the Jardin Vauban in Lille. There is a stone monument in the distance and a garden full of flowers in the foreground.
Jardin Vauban

This Lille day trip from Paris is packed full of activities and sightseeing.

And, after a day of exploring, you’ll need a moment to unwind.

I found no better place than the beautiful Jardin Vauban.

This 19th-century garden is filled with lush greenery, fountains, and statues. It’s the perfect place to enjoy a picnic, soak up some sun, or go for a stroll.

There are also tons of benches where you can sit and take in the peaceful surroundings.

13. Visit the Palais des Beaux-Arts

This is the Relief Map of Lille at the Palais des Beaux-Arts. It's a 3d rendering of Lille on a small scale.
Relief Map of Lille

The Palais des Beaux-Arts is one of the largest and most renowned art museums in France.

Founded in 1809, it boasts an impressive collection, from paintings and sculptures to ceramics and relief maps.

It houses works from prestigious artists such as Van Gogh, Toulouse-Lautrec, Monet, and Rodin, spread across three floors.

I spent over an hour wandering around. And, of the exhibits I saw, the most unique was the room dedicated to the relief maps.

These intricately detailed maps showcased 3D models of all the once-fortified cities along the border.

It was something I had never seen before and added an interesting historical element to my visit.

Address: Place de la République

14. Tour the Musée d’Histoire Naturelle

This is the inside of the Musée d'Histoire Naturelle in Lille. There are dinosaur bones and exhibits with different animals from millions of years ago. In the middle there is a bench where you can sit and look at the different exhibits.
Musée d’Histoire Naturelle

If you’re like me and love natural history, the Musée d’Histoire Naturelle is a must-visit.

Established in 1822, this museum has an impressive collection of fossils, minerals, and taxidermied animals.

The highlight of my visit was the dinosaur skeletons and fossils, some of which were millions of years old.

There’s also an insectarium with tons of creepy crawlers. Since I’m scared of spiders, it wasn’t my favorite part.

Helpful Tip: This museum is often filled with school groups during the week. If you want a quieter experience, I recommend going later in the day.

Address: 23 Rue Gosselet

15. Climb Lille’s Belfry

This is the view from Lille's Belfry. You can see the roof tops and several monuments in the distance.
View from Lille’s Belfry

Lille’s Belfry, or Beffroi de Lille, is one of the city’s most iconic landmarks.

At 104 meters (341 feet), it stands as the tallest municipal building in France. Not only that but it’s also a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

You can climb this Art Deco tower, which has an observation deck that offers stunning views of the city.

In total, it’s about 500 stairs, but I took the elevator for the last 400.

Compared to the other belfries that I visited in northern France (Beffroi d’Amiens and Dunkirk’s Beffroi de Saint-Éloi) this one had the most impressive views.

The only thing I didn’t like was the protective barrier around the observation deck. It helped my vertigo but hurt my photos.

Helpful Tip: I recommend buying your tickets in advance. When I went, several people didn’t, and they had to wait outside until all the ticketed visitors were done.

Address: Place Simon Vollant

Conclusion: Day Trip to Lille from Paris

Lille may not be as well-known as other French cities, but it has plenty to offer.

From the prehistoric wonders at the Musée d’Histoire Naturelle to the panoramic views atop Lille’s Belfry, there are so many things to see and do here.

When I did this day trip, my favorite activities were wandering around Vieux-Lille and touring the Palais des Beaux-Arts.

And, if you want to make the most of your visit, I recommend getting the Lille City Pass and pre-booking your ticket to climb the belfry.

That’s what I did, and it made my day so much smoother and enjoyable.

Now that you have your day trip itinerary, you might be wondering how to spend an extra day in Lille. Luckily, I’ve got you covered with the perfect two-day guide.

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Jen Ciesielski
Jen Ciesielski

Jen Ciesielski is the creator of Dabbling in Jet Lag. She has lived abroad for over ten years, traveled to more than 50 countries, and speaks French and English fluently. Her areas of expertise include moving abroad, learning languages, and travel planning. Originally from the United States, she now lives in France, where she has been for more than six years. She has also traveled extensively around the country. She shares her experiences as an expat living in France and helps thousands of people plan their trips every month.

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