Solo weekend in Lille - any Covid safe tips?
September 15, 2020 7:05 AM   Subscribe

I'm going to be in Lille, northern France, and totally free of commitments from Friday lunchtime until Sunday lunchtime. How can I amuse myself while social distancing? Also, I'm quite anxious about going to restaurants or hanging out in a bar solo, can anyone set my mind at rest?

I'm staying in a studio apartment with a kitchen near Gambetta Metro Station, about ten minutes walk from the Lille-Flandres TGV Station.

Things I like:
Wandering around looking at buildings, especially modernist / post-modernist / brutalist architecture
People watching and cafe culture
Weird and wonderful museums and art galleries
Street art
Local food and cooking new stuff from the supermarket
Being in greenery and wildlife watching
Learning the history of a place
Long walks (at some point I hope to meet up with a friend for a walk, so any suggested routes would be wonderful)
City views

Not bothered about shopping, guided tours or queueing up to do anything too touristy.

Does anyone have any recommendations? Thanks in advance!
posted by doornoise to Travel & Transportation around Lille, France (7 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Best answer: A weird and wonderful museum, you say? Go see the cultures used to make the first tuberculosis vaccine at the Pasteur Institute. The whole thing is three rooms and won’t take you more than an hour.
posted by lakeroon at 7:52 AM on September 15, 2020 [2 favorites]

Best answer: The Citadel is a gem, and makes for a lovely walk around. Fresh air, distancing from others, fantastic architecture.
posted by Capt. Renault at 7:55 AM on September 15, 2020 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Also, you will need to stop by Meert for some waffles (think more a soft, layered cookie than a giant waffle). You can get a box to go. Do not miss this opportunity -- they're a life changer.
posted by Capt. Renault at 8:03 AM on September 15, 2020

Best answer: lille was part of Flanders, which means beer; estaminets are the equivalent of pubs. I went by myself and was left alone
poppy flower sweets are A Thing
when I went to a creperie with table service and ordered a citron pressé with my artichoke crepe they laughed at me but it was quite good

my focus that trip was great war sites/exhibits and I didn't get a chance to go to the de Gaulle museum but the Palais de beaux arts is lovely
posted by brujita at 10:55 AM on September 15, 2020

Best answer: Seconding the Citadel! The park surrounding it is wonderful and fun to wander, with good wildlife watching, especially if you're into birds. When I was there in late July there were also tons of butterflies, tho perhaps not now. There's also a small zoo, which I found slightly odd and charming (but I have an affinity for zoos, even though I'm not really on board, ethically speaking), and worth the low entrance fee.

Also, it's France so there will be cheese, but it's Flanders, so there will be beer. Even if you're not a stinky cheese fan, I really recommend ordering some Maroille with your beer at least once. Mmmmmm washed rind goodness...
posted by JuliaIglesias at 11:37 AM on September 15, 2020

Best answer: I don't know Lille that well, but the Grand Place and surrounding area are great for wandering around and looking at buildings, though not so modern. Definitely beer, you will find a good selection of local beers and Belgian beers. I also found the Jardin de Géants nice to wander through. This weekend would have been the Journées du patrimoine (many buildings and sites open to the public for free), but they have been cancelled in Lille and some of the other cities in the Nord.

In terms of coronavirus, Nord (the département that contains Lille) is classified as a red zone and has 136 new cases/100,000 people, and I imagine Lille is even worse. I wouldn't go inside any bar or restaurant, but you'll find plenty with outdoor seating, and the weather should be nice this weekend. Many museums now require advance reservations and are limiting the number of visitors so check ahead.

Masks are required on public transport, any indoor location, and outdoors in busy locations. Bars now close at 00:30. You can find a complete list of measures including a map of where masks are required here (in French).
posted by orchidee at 1:56 PM on September 15, 2020

Best answer: If you like unusual museums, take the metro line 2 to Gare Jean Lebas stop and visit La Piscine in Roubaix. Mefi post about La Piscine.

It's not on my radar, but apparently the Lille Museum of Modern Art has quite an Art Brut collection. Has a sculpture park to stroll in.

A word of warning: last summer my husband, a native of Lille, was drugged with GHB while out with his friends in a perfectly safe-looking hipster bar. Fortunately his friends noticed that he went from sober to stumbling on the floor in twenty minutes and packed him off in an Uber. We suspect that the plan was to take him in the alley and rob him, or worse. Keep your drink with you, covered, in your line of sight at all times.
posted by Liesl at 2:53 PM on September 15, 2020

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