Things to do in Lille, Brussels...

Old May 24th, 2002, 07:19 PM
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Things to do in Lille, Brussels...

I will be traveleing from Bruges-Paris via Brussels and Lille by train. I'm already planning on spending a couple of hours in Brussels, but would like to know if I should also stop for a couple of hours in Lille.

What are the absolute must sees since I'll only be in each city so briefly?
Things that are within walking distance of the train stations would be wonderful, but if there is something you think warrants it I would be glad to venture farther into the cities...

Thanks in advance for any pointers!
Old May 24th, 2002, 11:34 PM
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Old May 25th, 2002, 10:43 AM
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Old May 25th, 2002, 05:04 PM
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In Brussels see the Grand Platz and the Mannekin Pis.
Old May 27th, 2002, 10:27 AM
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Just curious why you will be hitting both Lille and Brussels to get to Paris from Bruges. I just made train reservations and the train leaves Bruges, goes to Lille, then to Paris. Brussels seems to be in the opposite direction and no need to go through Lille. Perhaps you want the opportunity to see Brussels. Let me know if I'm unaware (which is very likely!).
Old May 27th, 2002, 01:34 PM
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Old May 27th, 2002, 03:29 PM
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This is a modified copy of a message I posted last week in response to a similar question...

You will be coming into the Gare du Midi. There are luggage lockers and a staffed luggage storage area available. You will pass them on your right as you come down from the Thalys/TGV and just before you reach the main part of the terminal and the round information booth.
Follow the signs to the Metro station(the big M). Buy yourself either a day ticket or a ticket for 5 or 10 trips, depending on how much time you have for sightseeing. Take the metro, direction Simonis, two stops up to Louise. Do a little window shopping along the Ave. Louise up to the Place Stephanie, turn back and then walk up the Blvd. Waterloo toward the Hilton--this is the district with most (not all) of the top stores. If you want to skip that (you're going to Paris after all), still take the metro to Louise. Get off and transfer to the 92, 93, or 94 trams heading toward the big Palais de Justice. Get off two stops later at the Sablon (you could also walk if you choose; go down to the Palais de Justice and turn right, it's about 5-10 minutes depending on walking speed).
Stroll down through the Sablon--and take a minute or two in the pretty little park right at the Sablon. Stop at Au Vieux St. Martin for delicious coffee (and a calorie busting cappuccino, Brussels style, which is coffee served with a whole bowl of fresh whipped cream and chocolate shavings). When you come to the end of the main Sablon square, take the largest street to your right (you turn at a cafe with a big Leffe sign). Follow that as it winds down past shops and cafes (best shops are on the lefthand side). It's about 10-15 minutes to walk from the Sablon to the Grand'Place. You can turn in (to the right) at any of the streets below Place St. Jean and follow the crowds to the Grand'Place. The GP area is full of cafes and restaurants and the GP branch of the Chez Leon is probably the best of the mussel restaurant's chain of restaurants (it's not directly on the Place, though). Of the cafes on the Grand'Place itself, our favorite is Au Chaloupe d'Or (the golden boot). It was the Guild Hall for tailors in the 17th century; burned down in 1695 under attack from the forces of Louis XIV, was rebuilt in 1696. We think it has the most professional service of the GP cafes. If you go inside and up one story, you may be able to snag one of the tables with a great view of the Place. On your way out of the Place, walk down the rue de l'Etuve to see Mannekin Pis. Don't be surprised if you're underwhelmed.
That should use up your time pretty well; to get back to the Midi Station, either take a cab (about $5-10) or walk up to the Gare Central, take the #1 metro line, direction Stokkel OR Hermann/Debroux (it doesn't make any difference for your destination) and get off two stops later at Arts/Loi aka Kunst/Wet (remember most stations will have two names--one French, one Dutch/Flemish). Change to the number #2 line, direction Clemenceau. It's 6 stops to the Gare du Midi (in total about a 20 minute metro ride).
When leaving Brussels, make sure you are seated before the train pulls out of the station because for the first few minutes, the train really shifts and twists and it's easy to lose your balance.
Have a good visit!
BTilke (Brussels)

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