For an authentic taste of grassroots Lille, head to the ethnically diverse, family-friendly quartier populaire (working-class quarter) of Wazemmes, 1.3km southwest of place du Général de Gaulle, where old-school proletarians and immigrants live harmoniously alongside students and trendy bobos (bourgeois bohemians).

The neighbourhood's focal point is the cavernous Marché de Wazemmes, Lille's favourite food market. The adjacent outdoor market is the place to be on Sunday morning – it's a real carnival scene. Rue des Sarrazins and rue Jules Guesde are lined with shops, restaurants and Tunisian bakeries, many owned by, and catering to, the area's North African residents.

Wazemmes is famed for its outdoor concerts and street festivals, including La Louche d'Or (The Golden Ladle; 1 May), a soup festival that has spread to cities across Europe.

Lonely Planet's must-see attractions

Nearby Lille attractions

1. Palais des Beaux Arts

0.69 MILES

Inaugurated in 1892, Lille's illustrious Fine Arts Museum claims France's second-largest collection after Paris' Musée du Louvre. Its cache of sublime…

2. Porte de Paris

0.91 MILES

Rising 32m high and topped by two sculpted angels, this triumphal arch was built between 1685 and 1692 to commemorate Louis XIV's conquest of Lille. Its…

3. Hôtel de Ville

0.97 MILES

Built between 1924 and 1932, Lille's city hall is topped by a slender, 104m-high belfry that was designated a Unesco-listed monument in 2004. Climbing 100…

4. Vieille Bourse

1.06 MILES

Ornamented with caryatids and cornucopia, this Flemish Renaissance extravaganza was completed in 1653. It consists of 24 separate houses set around a…

5. Citadelle


At the northwestern end of bd de la Liberté, this massive, star-shaped fortress was designed by renowned 17th-century French military architect Vauban…

6. Opéra

1.11 MILES

Lille's Louis XVI-style opera house was built between 1907 and 1913 by French architect Louis-Marie Cordonnier, who was responsible for many of northern…

7. Chambre de Commerce

1.11 MILES

Designed by architect Louis-Marie Cordonnier and built between 1910 and 1921 in neo-Flemish style, Lille's landmark Chamber of Commerce building is…