Be seduced by the French capital
You'll never forget the northern French city of Lille. Take in the brilliant Flemish paintings in the city's many museums or simply hang out in the beautiful Grand Place.
The Fête de la Soupe: this soup festival is a small-scale event, but it's still a favourite! On 1 May each year everyone gathers in Wazemmes to share a good bowl of soup. The surrounding streets are abuzz to the tune of oompas and fanfares as people set off to meet up with friends. Cosmopolitan hospitality at its best in this neighbourhood festival that's actually become so much more. Around 50,000 visitors attend the festival each year - pretty impressive.
Don't miss the grand "Louche d'Or" prize-giving. Entrants can concoct their own recipe and compete for the best tasting soup to win the Golden Ladle.
The highlight of the Lille social calendar is the Grande Braderie. Held on the weekend of the first Sunday in September, this vast open-air market occupies hundreds of kilometres of the city's pavements from the Saturday right through untill 8.00pm on the Sunday. It is divided into sections, each with its own speciality: antiques alongside Jean-Baptiste Lebas park, bric-a-brac and professionals along the Champ de Mars and la Deûle (beside the Citadelle).
Come evening, enjoy a delicious plate of "moule-frites" (mussels and chips)... bearing in mind that each year the city's restaurants compete with each other to build the largest pyramid of empty mussel shells in their front window!
(1) Price quoted is the off peak lead in adult Standard Class return fare available for travel between midday Monday and midnight Thursday and between midday and midnight Saturday. This price is based on a compulsory return trip. Exchangeable before departure by paying a £30 fee per leg per person, plus the difference in price between the original fare and the available fare on the day in the same or higher class of service. Tickets are non refundable at any time.
© Eurasia Press, Dutton-Colin, Gérar, Hervé-Gyssels, Yves Talensac, Massimo Borchi-Sime.