The Grand Place, July 2008. Once upon a time, the French city of Lille was just a hop, skip and a jump away from my apartment in Brussels. So one weekend I boarded a train and eighty minutes later I was in Lille! My only other French adventure had been a trip to Paris, and while the city of romance hadn’t disappointed, there was something much more laid back and sincere about Lille. Indeed from my first stroll I sensed a distinct lack of pretension. The locals seemed genuinely friendly actually seemed happy and were able/willing to speak English. Was I really in France? Lille’s eye-catching epicentre is this massive square, with enough stunning architecture and atmospheric bars and cafes to rival its peers in Paris and Brussels.