Day 4 – Dunkerque and Ypres
It’s only an hour’s drive to Dunkerque this morning where 2015 marks the 75th anniversary of the Battle of Dunkerque and Operation Dynamo and between 21 and 25 May, a number of events will be taking part to commemorate this historic marker. Visit the War Memorial Museum for just €4 pp and learn about the Battle and evacuation of over 300,000 allied soldiers during Operation Dynamo.
Make your way to Ypres, only a 45 minute journey away, and head straight to an early lunch at Den Olifant. There is much to do in Ypres but we recommend the Grand Tour of Flanders which lasts for 4 hours and starts at 1pm costing €38 pp. The tour gives a very real insight into Ypres 1914-1918 and you will visit a number of battlegrounds and the trenches, a deeply thought provoking experience.
Day 5 – Lille
It’s a short drive to Lille this morning before having the remainder of the day to explore. Try Tradi’Balade, a tour of the city in a 2CV, great for Bond fans and lovers of classic cars. From €28 pp for an hour’s tour, this may be the perfect way to begin your stay in Lille before venturing out into the city on foot. Head to the Grand Square, where the old stock exchange (Vieille Bourse) is located and admire the buildings and then stop at one of the many cafes around the Square for lunch.
Take a closer look at the Vieille Bourse and sneak a peak at its courtyard (free entry Tuesday afternoon until Sunday) and pop inside to its flea market where you could well pick up a bargain. Also, every Sunday evening from July to September between 7-10pm, you can enjoy watching the Tango being performed here.
Spend the next 2 nights at either the modern Hotel Barrière Lille just 15 minutes from the centre or choose the beautifully historic L’Hermitage Gantois just 5 minutes from the centre, previously used as a hospital.
Day 6 – Lille
If you enjoy modern art and don’t mind a drive out of the city, make your way to Musee d’Art Moderne which has displays both inside and out, not too dissimilar to the Yorkshire Sculpture Park. It’s open most of the year (but for 1 January, 1 May and 25 December) from Tuesday to Sunday 9am until 7pm and costs from €7 per adult. We like the ‘Objets Perdus’…..a centrepiece which forms a map of France from lost objects; a rather lovely juxtaposition.
If you are with younger travellers, spend the afternoon at Parc Zoologique which opens again on 2 May and has no entry fee. A municipal park, similar to that in Amiens, Lille’s Parc Zoo is home to a plethora of animals you wouldn’t expect in the city including monkeys, rhino and tapirs.
Dine out at Le Potager des Demoiselles Cote Bistro, a cosy little restaurant which serves great wine, meals and desserts. It’s a drive out of the centre and so if you’re feeling more inclined to relax at a restaurant which is central, try Autour de Vous which has been impressing food critics, locals and tourists and for something a little different, head to Delassic for a cheese and wine night. Watch out for special evenings where you can taste 9 cheeses, 4 wines and finish with a dessert for €40 pp.