Shopping in Lille
Thanks to the city's textile history and its strong fashion student population, Lille offers some fantastic options for clothes shopping. There's also plenty to explore in the form of markets, boutiques and independent stores, and its size means it's easy to navigate whether you're window shopping or laden with bags.
In the Old Town, narrow winding cobblestoned streets hide tiny boutiques in old Flemish houses around the Rue de la Monnaie. For classic designer names, head for the Rue de la Grande Chaussée in the centre of town, where you’ll find big names like Louis Vuitton, Hermes and Lacoste.
Gourmet fare can be found at Philippe Olivier, 3 Rue du Cure St Etienne, one of France's most famous cheese shops. A stop at Meert, on Rue Esquermoise, is compulsory: here you will find exquisite waffles and other delicious pastries.
Several markets take place in Lille. The two most interesting are on Place du Concert, an excellent, bustling food market in Lille's old town on Wednesdays, Fridays and Sundays, and the daily book market in the Vieille Bourse (Old Stock Exchange) courtyard. Try the Wazemmes market on a Sunday morning for appealing flea market finds.
Don't miss Euralille, a huge modern shopping complex located between the Eurostar and Lille-Flandres train stations. It includes over 120 shops, several restaurants and a hypermarket over two levels.
In keeping with most other French cities, Lille follows the old-fashioned opening hours of 0900-1800. Most shops are closed on Sundays.
Foodies will return from Lille with bags bulging. Try and pick up some of Meert's thin waffles (sandwiched together with a classic vanilla filling), anything from the city's renowned patisseries or spiced brown sugar speculoos biscuits (spiced, shortcrust biscuits). Local beers and cheese are also popular, as are good reads from the antique book market in the Vieille Bourse.
VAT is charged at 20% in France. If you are resident outside of the EU, you are eligible for a VAT refund from each shop, if you purchase goods for personal use totalling more than €175.01. All shops are required by law to provide this service, but not all are equally cooperative.