Lille France is the capital of the Hauts-de France region, which is located in the Northernmost part of France. Lille is very close to the Belgian border in the North, an hour drive to the coast of North sea (De Panne, Dunkirk, and Pas de Calais) in the West, and less than 3 hours drive to Paris in its South. Despite being considered the 4th most populous city in France next to Paris, Lyon, and Marseille, Lille is a unique city that has many surprises to offer for a family traveller. Our choice of going to Lille is simply because it is very close to the Netherlands. It takes only 3 hours to drive to Lille by car or 3.5 hours by train. Lille has many advantages as compared to the next closest French city in the Netherlands – Paris. If you are interested in our review of Paris city, check my blog Discover Paris with family and friends.
If you want to avoid the hustly bustly city of Paris and want to experience a family friendlier, greener and more children entertaining city, then Lille France is definitely something for you. There are some hotels that accommodate bigger family size in this city. In our case, we stayed in the Ibis Hotel Lille, which has a bigger space for a family of four. This is quite a nice experience since in the Netherlands, most hotels are only accepting families of 3 (2 parents and 1 kid or a baby) per room. Otherwise you have to book 2 separate rooms for a family of four which apart from being less cozy is more expensive than having a family room for four.
Where to go in Lille France with kids?
Lille has many things to offer for kids. Below are our lists of recommended places to visit when you travel in Lille with kids. From educational, to attractions and entertainment, to playgrounds and to historic places!
1. Parc Zoologique de Lille (Lille Zoo)
This 3.5 hectares zoo offers more than 80 varieties of animals ranging from the white rhinoceroses to monkeys and tortoises. The entrance fee is only 4 euros per person, young kids are free and it offers family ticket for only 10 euros to give entrance to 2 parents and 2 kids. Touring the zoo took us only a few hours. Once the children are done with the zoo, they can continue their adventure in the Parc Citadelle which is right next to the zoo. Parc citadelle offers different rides and playgrounds for kids. In addition, the zoo and the Parc Citadelle are next to the Citadelle, an impressive 17th century five pointed star shaped fortress which is still actively used by the military.
2. Parc Citadelle attraction park
The amusement park Parc Citadelle is definitely something you do not want to miss with kids when in Lille France. This park is relatively small and less fancy as compared to Disneyland Paris. However, on the good side, this park is definitely much cheaper, has much smaller ques, and is frankly more fun and less stressful for parents than Disneyland Paris. If you are curious how it is to experience Disneyland Paris, check my blog about Disneyland Paris: Magic comes with a price. Parc Citadelle also offers free playground, which are next to the paid rides. Thus you may end buying tickets after your kids see them. The rides include horse riding, flying beetle bees, a small whale roller coaster, pirate ships, and many more. Kids will surely enjoy the place.
3. Park Jean-Baptiste Lebas
This 3 hectares park offers the greenery, the flowers, and the children playground. This is a public park and therefore does not require an entrance fee. Children will definitely enjoy varieties of playgrounds depending on their age categories. Of course, parents can also enjoy sitting under the tree or in special benches which are part of the beautifully designed fence around the park. Naturally, the park is a great place for having a family picknick.
4. Palais Des-Beaux Arts (Museum of Fine Arts)
If your children are a little bit older and they have affinity for arts, then Palais Des-Beaux Arts is a great place to visit. This museum highlights works of fine artists in Europe, such as in France, Belgium, and Netherlands. In fact, this museum is the second largest museum in France next to Louvre museum located in Paris France. Example of art works that this museum offers include religious works such as Feast of Herod by Donatello, Triptych of the Virgin with child surrounded by musician angels, Jesus in the garden of olives by El Greco, The Descent from the cross, and The Nativity. Non-religious works include some historical events and characters starting from the Hebrews and Roman times to the 19th century period made by famour artists such as Monet, Raphael, van Gogh, Picasso, and Rubens. More importantly, the museum houses a miniature department which depics 10 cities in miniature format which is very popular among kids. In front of the museum there is a fountain and huge space where children can play.
5. La Vieille Bourse
The Vieille Bourse (Old Stock Exchange) is one of the famous landmarks of Lille, which is located in the market square in front of Rihour metro station. This building is made up of 24 identical houses, with a front yard that serves as a place for booksellers and flower vendors and tourists space. Together with the Grand Place and the Place du Theatre, Vieille Bourse forms the panorama view of the market square.
6. Grand Place Lille
The Grand Place also known as the Place du General de Gaulle is a place in the market square where everybody gathers. This place is named after the previous French president Charles de Gaulle (also to whom the famous Charles de Gaulle Airport in Paris is named after). He was born in Lille France.
7. Marche (Markets) Lille France
Lille has many famous and relatively bigger markets. For example, there is the Marche de Wazemmes that is considered as one of the most important markets in the North of France. This market located in Place Nouvelle Aventure is the most popular markets in northern France and has the large outdoor gatherings during Tuesday, Thursday, and Sunday mornings. Another market is the Marche de Couvert which also gathers many vendors on the front and back sides, and offers agricultural products such as fruits, meats, breads,and cheeses inside its building. Of course there are some restaurants and bars to try if you happen to visit this place.
8. Town Hall and Belfry Tower Lille France
The Townhall and the Belfry Tower Lille is another landmark of the city. These two are just located adjacent to each other. These buildings are a mixed of modern and Flemish (Belgian) inspired architecture. The Belfry tower is 104 meters height, which has a steep way up. Despite the challenge of climbing this tower, the view on the top is definitely rewarding!
9. Stade Pierre Muroy Lille France
Are you a football fan and are interested to see where a European Football Championship stadium could be held? Then it is time to pay a visit to this beautiful and large stadium of Stade Pierre Muroy! The 2016 European Football Championship was held in this stadium and the knock out phase of Eurobasket 2015.
10. Porte de Paris
Porte de Paris is a unique looking gate monument that position Lille as a gateway to Paris region. This gateway is strategically located in a roundabout where there is less car and is close to Lille Townhall and Belfry tower and the Park JeanBaptiste Lebas. Below this monument is a garden where you can walk around and have a rest from a tiring day.