Lille, France: A precious town. (Collab with Julieythe1st)

Morning Explorers!

Today, Juliey Pham shows us a marvelous little town you could visit as a day trip from Paris. Enjoy!

Tell us about yourself, about where you come from and about how and when did your passion for traveling start?

Hi The Wise Explorer! Thanks so much for having me!

I’m Juliey Pham, from Vietnam. I’m currently working and living in the UK.

I’m a Sagittarius; people under this star sign are known to be real adventure seekers/travelers. Funnily enough, when I was small I never realized how big my passion for traveling could be – I’d always been on family summer vacations but that was it. It was not until when I moved to Oxford, UK that I started to have little wanders around the beautiful town and eventually discovered my hidden thing for traveling and travel photography.

 Today you are going to share your recent trip to Lille, France. How did you decide on this location?

This summer I did a Eurotrip, which included Paris. Having 2 full days in Paris, I decided to spend the first day in Paris (as I’d been to Paris before) and go on a one-day trip to a nearby city the next day. After doing some online research, I chose Lille, “the capital of the North of France”.

How did you travel to the location? Is there/how is the transportation there? Did you use an agency, a guide or you did it all yourself?

I took a train from Gare du Nord (Paris) to Lille-Europe (Lille). The trip took just over 1 hour. There’re Metro lines and buses in Lille, however, I used neither of them because I often explore places on foot.

I hardly ever seek help from a travel agency, my wanderlust leads me to explore things by myself, although I did use TripAdvisor for some attraction recommendations.

How was the language barrier?

It was not a problem at all! The people I met in Lille were very friendly and could communicate in basic English.

 Was the trip mostly sightseeing, or you enjoyed activities and shows as well?

My trip to Lille mainly involved wandering, enjoying and photo-taking. Though I only had one day, I gave myself enough time to chill and really “take everything in” as I was walking around the city.

What surprised you there in a good way? Any strange/unpleasant experience?

This is the most interesting part!

I took the earliest train from Paris and arrived in Lille at about 8am. At first, I was very excited and proud of my decision to go early – I believed the earlier I got there, the better chance I’d have to take beautiful and “clean” photos, because other visitors would still be in bed or having breakfast and won’t get in my frame (which often happens a lot if I go out at 12pm or later in the afternoon).

One thing I never expected was that in early mornings, shops and restaurants were not yet open, and the city center was full of cargo trucks delivering food and products to the stores, which made the whole scene, especially the two famous squares: La Grand Place and Place du Théâtre, look quite messy. Although no one got in my frame, instead I had big and not-so-attractive vans running around!

Vieux-Lille also couldn’t win me at that point as all shops were still closed. Therefore I couldn’t really enjoy “the quaint streets with pretty cafés and vintage shops” as reviewed on TripAdvisor and other travel sites, although the quiet streets in the early morning were pretty charming in a way.

So during the first 2-3 hours, I admit I was quite disappointed at the city.

Then at about 11am, the sun started to shine, restaurants were open and I immediately felt regretful for judging Lille too quickly. It was sunny for the whole day, I had so much fun visiting a lot of pretty areas in the city and took many photos. Everywhere I went, Lille kept filling me with awe. I eventually had one of the best one-day trips I had ever had!

What was your favorite sight/thing in Lille?

Definitely Vieux-Lille!

Why should people visit it? Any other attraction recommendations?

Vieux-Lille (Old Lille) is a pretty neighborhood, with loads of cafés and shops that give you a warm vintage feel.

If you come here in an early morning, you may find the streets really really quiet, but this is definitely a photo op. Then when the streets get a little busier, the neighborhood becomes livelier and even more appealing.

Place du Théâtre and La Grand Place are also very beautiful under the sunlight (without the trucks and all).

Another place I’d highly suggest is La Ville Bourse right at La Grand Place, which has all sorts of little old French things like stamps, postcards, newspapers, books, accessories… Absolutely a must-visit!

Any tips for future visitors? Anything you would have loved to know/ be prepared for before arriving?

Exploring Lille early in the morning can be an advantage because you’ll save a lot of time and be able to see how a place transitions from quiet to busy at different times of the day.

However, be prepared that if you arrive too early in the morning (before 10am-ish), you might find the city a bit disorganized (from my personal experience). But soon I hope you’ll fall in love with Lille just like I did!

Do you have a bucket list? What are some things/places on it?

Yes, definitely.

Traveling-wise, as I’m back in my hometown – Hanoi, Vietnam for the summer, I plan to explore the city as much as I can. Hanoi is very beautiful and historic and I want to do more photography to show you my home city. There’s also Santorini, I’ve been there but I really want to return soon, it’s a magical place! Paris has got to be on the wishlist as well – it’s very close to London and I could literally go there every weekend.

I’m working as an intern in the Education UK Promotion Team at the British Council Vietnam this summer. My goal is to slay this internship haha.

What is your next adventure? Anything planned yet?

I’ll be quite busy with work this summer so no vacations have been planned yet. I do hope I can go on a break though, probably to a beach in Vietnam. Vietnam has a beautiful coastline and I can’t wait to feel the ocean breeze, the chilly water, the salt and the sand.

How can we see more about you and your trips? What is your website or/and social media?

Follow me on Instagram: @julieythe1st, where I post my best travel pics

I also write about my travel experience, along with life stories, songs, short screenplays and some random stuff on my own personal blog: Have a look and I hope you’ll enjoy it!

Thanks for your love and support!

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