What to eat and drink in Lille?
Updated: May 31
The region of Nord-Pas-de-Calais, made famous by an acclaimed film entitled Bienvenue chez les Ch'tis, in the city of Bergues, situated 50 minutes in the North of Lille by car. This element is essential to understand how it has influenced the pleasant gastronomy present on the territory. It got the call sign “the French capital of Flemish food”, preserving a long tradition of fine cuisine and plenty of good restaurants. Its Flemish heritage is strongly tied to a thriving culture: that of beer. Unsurprisingly, the most popular drink is not wine but is the craft beer.
The food culture in Lille is rich and varied, although most commonly known for its waffles, waterzooi, and finally mussels with fries, as many other regions of France. About the latter one interesting fact: during the Braderie event, a large open-air market, each restaurant throws the shells on the sidewalk to form a pile and at the end of the feast, the biggest pile wins the challenge. Sounds strange, isn’t it?
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Concerning the main dishes some exquisite tips for you:
Welsh aux Maroilles
Big surprise! It is cooked with beer. It’s Lille’s number one local specialty. Maroilles cheese is the highlight of this dish for lovers of northern cheeses served with eggs, ham, and mustard. If you want to try different varieties, there are many with different types of cheese, but the one with Maroilles is typical for the region. Usually is served with a side plate of French fries and salad. A cold beer will be a great drink for the meal, during summer days.
The average price in a restaurant is between 13-16 euros.
Apart from Maroilles, there are a few more local cheeses you can't miss to try:
The cheese is made from raw, partly-skimmed cow's milk and it's a soft-semi cheese. The interesting fact is During the maturation process, it's washed with beer and brine. That's why instead of wine, it can be a side dish for a class of beer.
Boulette de Cambrai
It is a cheese named after the city of Cambra, near the Belgium border. It is served in the shape of small balls and has a milky-sweet flavor. If the cheese stays to age for too long it can develop butter flavor.
This is another delicious French cheese from the region of Lille. It is made of cow milk. Usually, the flavor is improved by spices, and it is served with beer.
This traditional Flemish dish is made from beef braised in beer (usually brown ale) and served with fries or boiled potatoes.
A mixture of veal and chicken cooked in aspic jelly. It is made of three pieces: a chicken-based terrine, a veal-based terrine, and a layer of jelly that holds the other two together. It is served cold with pickles. The name comes from the Flemish language and means "little pot of meat".
Lille's most iconic dish is waterzooï, a stew of chicken or fish baked in a pot with vegetables and cream. To make this dish, egg yolks are added to warm water and whisked together until they become creamy. Waterzooï was invented in Ghent, Belgium but has become a symbol of Lille's cuisine.
A popular dish matched with French fries for a quick snack during visits. To get the perfect combination, don't forget to put the famous Bicky sauce on.
For the sweet tooth, Lille offers a variety of treats: fruit jellies, bonbon, candies, and biscuits. Moreover, due to its proximity to Belgium, the home of chocolate, Lille is also famous for its endless chocolate shops... and we know that chocolate is something that cannot be renounced! The following sweets are those that mark the tradition and the identity of the city:
Meringues with whipped cream and a sprinkling of chocolate chips. Sweet, authentic, and delicious you can taste them at the historical pastry shop 'Aux Merveilleux de Fred' in Vieux-Lille.
Sweet wafer-like and oval-shaped, soft and thin are filled with vanilla cream or ice cream and fresh fruits or with a sugar paste called vergeoise and rum. The light pastry is similar to the waffle one, but more crispy and delicately browned.
Belonging to the Belgian tradition, they are dough balls fried and dipped in sugar. Moreover, they could be flavored with beer. Some people prefer them with lemon or orange peel or they can be tasted with a spoonful of orange blossom or rum. It depends on your preference! These simple sweets are very popular in the north of France. Warm and golden, a pure wonder!
Beer has been brewed in the city ever since the first millstones were installed here! The Lille region is one of the oldest brewing areas in France. The Lille beer has a very good reputation in the North of France and particularly in Belgium, its neighbor. Beers are often made with local ingredients and offer original flavors. To discover craft beer in Lille we recommend you a few places: La Capsule Lille, The Palace of Beer, Le café des Six Roses.
Know that you know everything about the cuisine in the Nord-Pas-de-Calais, you can discover the food of other French regions by reading our articles about Food and Drinks in Bretagne, in Normandy, or in Île-de-France! See you soon parakeets for another article!