What to Do in Lille in Northern France

Check out World War I memorials and battlefields

war tours lille

Dan Kitwood/Staff/Getty Images 

Lille , France, is located in the north of France, on the Deûle River, near the border with ​ Belgium . Lille is one hour from Paris and 80 minutes from London by the high-speed TGV train. In France, Lille is in the Nord-Pas de Calais region .

How to Get There

The Lille-Lesquin Airport ​is located about 5 miles from the center of Lille . An airport shuttle (from door A) gets you into the center of Lille in 20 minutes.

France has an in-depth rail system , and Lille has two train stations located 400 meters apart. The Lille Flandres station offers TER regional trains and direct TGV service to Paris , while the Lille Europe station has Eurostar service to London and Brussels , TGV service to Roissy Airport, Paris, and major French cities.

Visiting World War I Battlefields Around Lille

Lille, as the first stop on the French side of the channel tunnel, is a good place to visit if your main interest in the region is the World War I battlefields. However, there are other places you might want to consider. Arras, an hour from Lille but with no direct trains, is actually a little closer to many of the battlefields, while Bruges in Belgium also has WWI battlefield tours . You can also check out a two-day battlefield tour  from Paris.

These are some of the main battlefields close to Lille:

  • Somme:  This was the biggest battle of the western front where one million people were killed or injured. It's around an hour's drive from Lille. You can remember those who lost their lives on this  Somme Battlefield Tour .
  • Fromelles:  This site saw the bloodiest battle in the history of warfare involving Australian troops. You can learn more about what happened on this  Battlefield Tour of Fromelles and Flanders.
  • Vimy Ridge:  This battlefield was a victory for largely Canadian troops. You can learn more on this  Vimy Battlefield Tour from Lille .
  • Ypres:  One of the most famous battlefields, it was called "Wipers" by troops at the time. There is no tour from Lille, but there is from nearby Arras through the  Ypres Tour from Arras.

About the Battle of Fromelles

The Battle of Fromelles, close to Lille, was the first important battle on the western front involving Australian troops. It is also considered to be the bloodiest 24 hours in Australian military history. In the night of July 19, 1916, 5,533 Australians and 1,547 English soldiers were killed, injured, or left missing. You can visit the memorial to Australians. The German losses were estimated at less than 1,600 people.

For many, this battle was as tragic as it was useless. It was simply a diversion for the great offensive battle in the Somme that was raging about 50 miles to the south. The battle provided neither a strategic advantage nor lasting benefit.

More Things to Do in the Area

Lille is known for its narrow, cobbled streets with Flemish houses, lively cafes, and elegant restaurants. It was designated as the "European City of Culture" for 2004.

You'll want to see Lille's  Gothic Cathedral , the collection of 15th- through 20th-century paintings at the  Musée des Beaux-Arts de Lyon , which art folks have designated the second most important art museum after the Louvre in Paris, and Place du Général de Gaulle, also known as the Grand Palace.

To get a different perspective on Lille, climb the stairs of the belfry and see it from above. You could also cruise through the streets of Lille in style in a vintage 2CV convertible.

For a great example of the Flemish baroque by architect Julien Destrée, see the  Old Stock Exchange ( Vieille Bourse ) .

The  Hospice Comtesse Museum  was founded as a hospital in 1237 by the Countess of Flanders, Jeanne de Flandre and remained as a hospital until 1939. Get a glimpse of where Augustine nuns provided a haven for the sick, see some art, then go outside and visit the medicinal garden.

On the west side of Lille is  Citadelle de Lille , Lille's fortress, built around 1668 by Vauban and was part of the city's fortifications, most of which were dismantled towards the end of the 19th century. The  Bois de Boulogne  surrounds the Citadelle and is popular with walkers and folks with children. There is a well-run zoo ( Parc Zoologique ) nearby.

Shoppers will want to stop over at the  Center Commercial Euralille  or Euralille Shopping Center located between the two train stations. There are 120 shops, restaurants, and cafes that will vie for your money in this Rem Koolhaas 1994 classic.

Note that many museums in Lille are closed on Monday and Tuesday.

For an interesting day trip from Lille, take the train to the nearby town of Lens , where you can see the new extension of the Louvre, called the Louvre-Lens.

Public Transportation

Lille has two metro lines, two tram lines, and about 60 bus lines. For the tourist, obtaining a Lille City Pass might be the best answer to transportation needs, as it provides entry to 28 tourist sites and attractions as well as free use of the public transportation system. You can get the pass at the tourist office.

Office of Tourism

The  Lille Tourist Office is located in the Palais Rihour at Place Rihour. There are many tours you can sign up for in the tourism office, including a remembrance tour, a city tour, a bike tour, and a guided walking tour of Old Lille. You can also reserve to climb the Town Hall Belfry for a view of Lille and sign up for Segway tours.

Christmas Market

Lille was the first city in France to offer a Christmas market. The market runs from about mid-November to the end of December, and shops are even open on the three Sundays before Christmas. The Lille Christmas market is located on Rihour square.

Weather and Climate

Lille offers a very pleasant climate in the summer, although you can expect a little rain, which intensifies in the fall. June through August daily highs are in the low 20s (Centigrade), which is around 70°F.

Lille Guide: Planning Your Trip

The Nord-Pas-de-Calais Region: North France

A Tour of World War I Memorials in France

France Border Travel From the North to Spain

North Coast of France: The Ultimate Road Trip From Dieppe to Calais

Top 20 Most Popular French Cities for International Visitors

12 Top Things to Do in Lille, North France

Albi: Planning Your Trip

What to See and Do in Lens, France

One Week in France: The Ultimate Itinerary

Top 15 Monuments and Historic Sites in Paris

Travel Guide to Bruges, Belgium

5 Best Places to Visit in the 10th Arrondissement of Paris

France Travel Planner for Every Vacation

Guide to Arras in Northern France

Nantes: Jewel of the Loire Valley

A Comparison of Lille Battlefield Tours

Still fresh in human memory, the battlefields of WW1 serve as important reminders of the needless brutality of war. These three tours from Lille are a handy way to reach them.

war tours lille

(Photo: Getyourguide.com)

To the west of Lille, the main city in France’s Flanders region, there are scars that will never fully heal. Running roughly from Belgium in the north to the south and east, the trenches of World War I in this part of the country saw more intense fighting and protracted battles than anywhere else on the Western Front. The battles at Ypres, Messines, Arras, Cambrai and the Somme turned the fields red with blood. Today, these sites are poignant reminders of the senselessness of war of any kind.

Flanders battlefield private tour with lunch

Get picked up from your hotel in Lille to spend a full day visiting a broad array of memorial sites and historical landmarks. Stops on this private tour include the Australian Memorial Park in Fromelles, then into Belgium to see where Winston Churchill served, in Ploegsteert, where you’ll also have lunch at a local eatery. The day ends at Menin Gate, where you’ll attend the daily Last Post remembrance service. Please note that a minimum of two people is required for this tour to run. From €230 per person.

Book at Getyourguide.com

war tours lille

Canadian WW1 Vimy and Somme battlefield tour

The battlefield sites around Lille saw nationals from many different countries fight and die for their countries. The result is a series of tours dedicated to visiting the places where platoons from particular nations were posted. In the case of this nine-hour tour you’ll tread the footsteps of Canadian soldiers at Vimy Ridge, where they bravely fought the German army. You’ll also be able to visit Canadian Cemetery No. 2, among other memorial sites. From €295 per person.

Australian battlefield guided tour of Flanders

If you’re keen to see the sites where Australian troops were posted and fought, as well as V.C. Corner, the only exclusively Australian WW1 cemetery on the Western Front, choose this tour. You’ll also visit the New Zealand Memorial, the Irish Tower in Messines, and explore the battlefields around Ypres, where you can see the expert work of Australian tunnellers at Hill 60. Lunch is provided on this 12-hour tour. From €295 per person.

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war tours lille

Tour Details

Somme wwi battlefield small group day trip from lille.

war tours lille

Duration: 9 hours

Categories: Culture & History, Sightseeing

Step back in history on a small group day trip to the First World War battlefield site of the Somme in Northern France.

To most people the Somme signifies one day - July 1st 1916. It was the day that the British Army suffered its greatest ever losses in a single day with nearly 60,000 casualties. But the actual battle for the Somme raged until November of that year, and saw massive fighting again in 1918. What remains is truly awesome. There are sites seen today that will be etched into your consciousness forever.

You will tour the Somme battlefield covering major sites from the calamitous first day, through the whole five months of the battle. You'll see Delville Wood, the Welsh memorial at Mametz Wood, the huge Lochnagar mine crater, the sunken road where the Accrington Pals were virtually wiped out, the Poziere battlefield and Windmill Hill (both important site for Australians), Courcelette, site of the first major use of tanks supporting Canadian troops, and the nearby the tank memorial.

An undoubted highlight, however, will be a guided walk around the incredible preserved Beaumont Hamel battlefield site. Other sites will be added according to the interest of the tour participants.

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Culture Shock Rating

We have a wide range of tours designed to give you an insight into the destination you're travelling in and there is something for everybody. The culture shock ratings considers the destination visited, transport used, activities undertaken and that "Wow, I'm really not at home now!" factor. While generalisations are always tricky, a summary of our gradings is as follows…

This is the least confronting of our tour range. Transport used on the trip is either private or a very comfortable public option, the activities included are usually iconic sites and locations that are not all too confronting.

The tour can include a mix of private and public transport providing a level of comfort that is slightly below what you would experience at home. Sites visited are usually iconic sites, tours can also include market visits, visits to communities etc that provide the traveller with a fantastic insight into destination.

Expect to rough it for parts of this tour, whether it's a packed public bus where you are forced to stand, a visit to a local market, a local community, you are sure to have an experience that is very different from what you're used to at home.

The comforts of your home town and the environment you are used to are more of a rarity. Expect some challenging transport options, visits to local sites and areas that don't resemble anything at home.

You're out there in the global community! You are likely to be exposed to the elements, travel in whatever means of transport is available and basically take it as it comes, whatever comes! It can be tough.

Physical Rating

Our physical rating gives you an idea of how much huffing and puffing you can expect on the tour. While generalisations are always tricky, a summary of our gradings is as follows…

These tours have very limited physical activity. Usually climbing in and out of the transport provided, walking through sites, markets etc included in the itinerary.

These tours have a bit of physical activity but nothing that should challenge you too much. This could be climbing on and off public transport through to a walk through the destination you're travelling in, they can include walking only tours or a combination of walking and transport.

These tours involve a bit of physical activity from walking up and down hills in the destination you're travelling in or the surrounding areas. Climbing on and off local transport or riding a bike up to 30 kms along predominantly flat terrain or jumping in a kayak for a gentle paddle on flat water.

These Tours will provide you with some solid physical activity. Whether its bike riding, walking, trekking, kayaking or riding on public transport you will need to have a good level of fitness to enjoy this tour.

Be prepared for some serious physical activity. These tours are our most challenging and involve some serious walking, hiking or bike riding. Can involve step climbs by foot or pedal and some challenging public transport options in the destination you are travelling.

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To help you choose the trip that's right for you, we've broken all of our trips down into four service levels. Measuring the comfort level of the accommodation and transport. So whether you're travelling on a budget and want to save money by using public transport, or prefer upgraded accommodation and are happy to pay a little more, then we have a level for you.

This is grassroots travel at its most interesting

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Battlefield Experience

war tours lille

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war tours lille

Vimy and Flanders Fields Canadian Battlefield Tour from Lille

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2day Australian WW1 battlefield tour in Flanders the Somme from Lille and Arras

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Australian Battlefields Private Tour in Fromelles and Flanders from Lille

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Full-Day Private Tour of World War 2 in Northern France

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Detailed Reviews: Reviews ordered by recency and descriptiveness of user-identified themes such as waiting time, length of visit, general tips, and location information.

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BATTLEFIELD EXPERIENCE (Lille) - All You Need to Know BEFORE You Go

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Canadian War History Tours - All You Need to Know BEFORE You Go (2024)

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Discovering the Western Front

Discovering the Western Front

The british & commonwealth forces 1914 - 1918.

Experience Tours Military History and Battlefield Tours

5th - 9th August 2024 (5 Days)

Expert Historian : Dr Bruce Cherry

Tour price: £2,150

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Your Holiday Essentials

5th - 9th August 2024 (5 Days)

4-star hotels, meals as indicated,

drinks with dinner, all entrance fees,

tour manager and expert historian

throughout, all internal travel,

optional travel from UK.

Activity Level : 2

Standard price: : £1,850

Incl. travel from UK: £2,150 Room sole occupancy supplement: £210 Non-refundable deposit: £350

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Interested in this tour but not ready to book? Register your interest using the link below and we will keep you updated on the progress of the tour.

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Tour Introduction

This five-day Western Front tour provides an overview of the major events involving British and Empire forces in Northern France and Belgium: it is both an introductory tour for the novice and an essential ‘aide memoire’ to those more familiar with the First World War. At selected key locations, cemeteries, monuments and memorial parks in and around Mons, Ypres, the Somme and Arras you will hear of the human experience, gain an appreciation of the ground, discuss the effectiveness of the tactics and weaponry employed, challenge the strategy and capability of the commanders and question the impact of logistics and morale. Our list of sites is not exhaustive, so if we have missed a particular place that you would like to visit, please ask us if it is possible to be included in the itinerary when you book.

The battlefields of the Somme and Ypres saw the shedding of the blood of almost one million British and Commonwealth soldiers during the First World War. Their names are synonymous with the horrors and sufferings of that conflict and the size of the monuments to the Missing at Thiepval, the Menin Gate and Tyne Cot are testament to the scale of devastation of human life. But the war was not always one of continuous static stalemate. Starting as a war of manoeuvre, the fast-moving German armies inexorably swept through Belgium outflanking all before them until the battles for the Frontiers gradually brought them to a halt and trench warfare ensued as they determined to hold the ground they had won. The next 3 years saw the Allies attempt to break the deadlock through a succession of costly and indecisive battles: Ypres, Loos, Neuve Chapelle and The Somme. But during those years both sides also significantly developed their armies, weaponry and tactics to such an extent that the final months of the war saw armies once more on the move engaging tactics that would develop into the German Blitzkrieg of the Second World War.

  • Visit Casteau, where the first British shots of the war were fired on 22 August 1914
  • Spend time at St Symphorien and Tyne Cot Cemeteries
  • Visit war poet Wilfred Owen’s grave at Ors
  • See the great crater of Lochnagar
  • Visit Delville Wood South African Memorial at Longueval
  • See the Australian and Tanks Corps memorials at Pozieres
  • See where the first tank battle was fought on 24 April 1918 at Cachy
  • Visit the Memorial to the Missing at Thiepval
  • Stop at the Menin Gate to watch the emotional Last Post ceremony
  • Visit Langemark German cemetery

What's Included

  • Return Standard Premier Eurostar from London (optional)
  • 4 Star Hotels
  • Buffet breakfast each morning
  • Dinner parties hosted by your expert historian and tour manager
  • Two drinks i,e wine or beer at each dinner and a welcome drink on first evening
  • Dedicated Tour Manager
  • Entrance fees for sites included in itinerary
  • Modern, comfortable, air-conditioned coach
  • Tour information booklet
  • Access to the Cultural Experience app
  • Helpful and friendly travel advice
  • The company of like-minded travelers

"The interaction between Bruce Cherry and the tour group was most enjoyable – Bruce is the best guide we have ever encountered"

Day 1 – Mons 1914

We take a morning Eurostar to Lille and drive to Mons, via Casteau, where the first British shots of the war were fired on 22nd August 1914. Explore the line of the Conde Canal: Nimy railway bridge, where the first VCs were won; Obourg, where the Germans crossed; and St Symphorien Commonwealth War Graves Cemetery where many of those who fought rest. After an absorbing day we will check-in to our hotel in Mons for one night. (D)

Day 2 -  Retreat from Mons/The Somme 1916

We will visit war poet Wilfred Owen’s grave at Ors. Owen died just one week before the armistice was declared in 1918. We then explore the rolling fields to the west of Le Cateau where the outnumbered British II Corps held the German 1st Army at bay for 24 hours on 26th August 1914. To the Somme: the great crater of Lochnagar at La Boiselle; the old front line at Mametz; the Delville Wood South African Memorial at Longueval; the Australian and Tanks Corps memorials at Pozieres. At the end of the day, we will check-in to our Amiens hotel for two nights (B,L,D)

Day 3 – The Somme 1916 & 1918

Weather permitting, we will view a magnificent vista of the August 1918 Amiens battlefield from the top of the Australian National Memorial at Villers-Bretonneux. At Cachy we see where the first tank battle was fought on 24th April 1918. Returning to the events of 1916, we visit the Memorial to the Missing at Thiepval, the preserved trench lines at the Newfoundland Memorial at Beaumont-Hamel and the Sheffield Memorial Park near Serre from where the Pals battalions launched their attacks on 1 July.(B,L,D)

Day 4 – The Artois 1915 – 1917

In addition to the British 1915 Loos battlefield, many of today's sites featured action by Dominion and Colonial troops, including the Canadians at Vimy Ridge; Fromelles, where the newly arrived ANZACs received their 1916 baptism of fire; and Neuve Chapelle where the Indian Army made the major contribution in the 1915 victory against the Germans. Continue to Ypres for one night. We take an early evening walk around the ramparts and visit some of the less well-known sites before stopping at the Menin Gate to watch the emotional Last Post ceremony.(B,L,D)

Day 5 – The Ypres Salient

Our last day will include a visit to Hill 60 with its massive mine craters, Hooge Crater, John McCrae’s medical station at Essex Farm, the gas attacks at Vancouver Corner, Langemark German cemetery, Vancouver Corner, Passchendaele Museum and Tyne Cot cemetery. Drive to Lille for our return Eurostar to London. (B,L)

Recommended Reading List

  • Catastrophe
  • Goodbye to All That
  • Minds At War - The Poetry & Experience of the Great War
  • Storm of Steel
  • WW1 - A Short History

Dr Bruce Cherry

Dr Bruce Cherry

A former university lecturer with his PhD in military history, Bruce has been guiding on the Western Front since the late 1980s. Indeed for many years he operated a range of First and Second World War tours out of Lille. Amongst other titles, he is the author of ’They Didn't Want to Die Virgins; a study of Sex and Morale on the Western Front'. As an academic, his tours very much emphasise the learning aspect that is to be gained from battlefield touring.

Photo Gallery

  • Vimy Ridge memorial
  • St Symporien Cemetery
  • The Menin Gate
  • Group shot at Wilfred Owens grave
  • Group at Delville Wood
  • German troops advance, 1914
  • German front line, Beaumont Hamel
  • 4th bn royal fusiliers 22 august 1914

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World War I Battlefields

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World War 1 Battlefields Guided Tour

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See Where WWI's Battles Were Waged During a 4-Day Guided Tour in France & Belgium

Live through the history and grit of World War I during this 4-day guided tour of its key battlefields and monuments. Journey from Paris to the Ypres Salient battlefields and see the Passchendaele Memorial and Tyne Cot Commonwealth War Graves Cemetery, the largest cemetery in the world for Commonwealth forces. Later, visit the Australian Fromelles Military Cemetery, where 250 British and Australian soldiers were buried after the Battle of Fromelles. Meet a Local Expert for a tour of the key battlefields of the Somme and see the church in Albert where many weary soldiers stopped for comfort on the way to those battlefields. On the way to Paris, visit the Australian National Memorial at Villers-Bretonneux and the Franco-Australian Museum in the local Victoria School.

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Colleville Cemetery near Omaha Beach

L.Durand - Calvados Attractivité

World War 1 & 2 Battlefields

France world war 1 & 2 battlefields self-drive tours.

war tours lille

If you are particularly interested in World War history, we can craft a tour just for you. The key regions you will want to visit are Normandy , Verdun and the Somme . All you have to do is contact us and tell us your special interests, as well as any other activities you’d like to include in your trip (such as wine-tasting, hiking, and particular places you wish to visit). Then we’ll put together an itinerary based on your interests, allowing you to explore places, learn about the history, and enjoy activities at your own pace.

Montfaucon sur Argonne Cemetery

France Just For You

Verdun and Argonne: Echoes from World War I

Explore the off-the-beaten-track landscapes of Verdun and Argonne , regions once scarred by the ravages of World War I. As you drive through and explore these regions on foot with an expert private guide, you'll witness the remnants of fierce battles and the memorials that now stand tall in honor of the fallen.

You’ll discover that the Verdun area has long played an important role in conflicts throughout European history, as it is situated at the crossroads of France, Germany, Belgium and Luxembourg.

Verdun resonates with stories of bravery, sacrifice, and the sheer endurance of the human spirit. Here, you can explore the Verdun Memorial , which not only commemorates the sacrifices of troops of several nationalities but also educates visitors about the grueling ten-month-long Battle of Verdun.

We’ll arrange for an expert private guide to take you to these key sites, as well as a village that was completely destroyed during the battle and never rebuilt. You’ll see some of the ruins and signs marking where different buildings in the village used to be.

Fleury-avant-Douaumont, a town that was destroyed during the Battle of Verdun

Amidst the tranquil forests of Argonne, stories of heroic American soldiers come to life, a testament to their unwavering spirit during intense combat. In Argonne you’ll be able to visit the Romagne-sous-Montfaucon German military cemetery and memorial , as well as the Meuse-Argonne American Cemetery , the largest American military cemetery in Europe. Over 14,000 American soldiers who died during World War I are buried here, making it an important pilgrimage site for Americans and a testament to the sacrifice of the U.S. soldiers during the First World War.

Varenne sur Argonne, Verdun, a war monument

The Somme: The Great War's Fiercest Battles

The Somme region saw some of World War I's bloodiest confrontations. A journey through these once-devastated landscapes provides a somber reminder of the sheer scale of conflict and the human cost attached to it. 

The Battle of the Somme, which took place in 1916, remains one of the most fiercely fought battles in history, with over a million casualties. Today, this region, dappled with scars and memorials, serves as a living museum to the heroism and sacrifices made by those who served.

By visiting places like the Thiepval Memorial , you'll be paying homage to the thousands of soldiers whose final resting place remains unknown. The massive Lochnagar Crater , a result of underground warfare, shows the devastating might of artillery during the war. The numerous cemeteries across the region hold the remains of British, French, American, Australian and German soldiers and various other nationalities.

The Somme is more than just a battlefield; it's a testament to endurance, resilience, and the human spirit. France Just For You will arrange for a private guide to accompany you and help you gain a deeper understanding of the events that shaped the course of history and the legacies that still influence the world today. The stories from the Somme are not just about warfare but also hope, camaraderie, and the indomitable spirit of humanity amidst its darkest hours.

https://www.france-justforyou.com/sites/default/files/content-image/Le%20Hamel%20Australian%20war%20memorial%20CRT%20Somme%20Tourisme%20Samuel%20Crampon.jpegLe Hamel Australian war memorial in the Somme

Samuel Crampon, Somme Tourisme

Normandy: Relive World War II’s Pivotal Moments & Walk in Your Ancestors’ Footsteps

We’ll help you embark on an fascinating journey along the historic coastline of Normandy, where the traces of World War II still linger. As you explore these iconic shores, each beach tells a unique tale of courage and liberation. 

Omaha Beach stands as a stark reminder of the heavy casualties sustained by American forces , while Utah Beach saw more successful landings and advances made by the Allies.

Travelers Kathy, Keith, Rose and Brian at Utah Beach

Gold Beach and Juno Beach , despite their calm beauty today, bear the weight of intense battles fought by British and Canadian forces respectively. Not far from these shores, the town of Sainte-Mère-Église  tells tales of American paratroopers who played a crucial role in the early hours of D-Day. Each site, each stretch of sand, serves as a poignant marker of the pivotal Normandy landings.

Arromanches, Normandy

Calvados Attractivite

Arromanches has a key role in the memory of D-Day, best known for its remarkable Mulberry Harbors . These temporary portable harbors, a feat of wartime engineering, were crucial in the success of the Allied invasion, allowing vast amounts of supplies and troops to be landed in the days following D-Day. 

Not far from Arromanches lies the iconic Pegasus Bridge , the site of a daring airborne operation in the early hours of June 6, 1944. British paratroopers, in a swift and strategic move, captured this vital structure, ensuring that the eastern flank of the landings would be protected. Today, Pegasus Bridge stands as a testament to the meticulous planning, precision, and valiant efforts of these airborne troops.

Travelers Chee Keong & Zack on the Pegasus Bridge on the D-Day Anniversary

Chee Keong & Catherine Loo-Khaw

Many of our travelers over the years have had a father, grandfather or uncle who fought in the Battle of Normandy, and wanted to retrace their ancestor's footsteps . In these cases, we work with expert private guides to create an itinerary that includes the exact places where their ancestors would have stayed and fought. If you have a personal connection to France, let us know and we’ll help bring your family history alive for you.

Harry from Australia kneeling in front of a grave in a war cemetery in Normandy

Harry from Australia

A Personal Touch with France Just For You

France Just For You brings history alive, allowing you not only to visit these iconic sites but to deeply engage with them. Through private tours, you can relive tales of bravery, understand the grand strategies, and, for those with ancestors who fought in these wars, follow in their footsteps. This may involve visiting the battlefields or beaches where they fought, towns they stayed in, or their grave, if they were killed in action in France. 

Expert guides, with an intimate knowledge of local history, ensure that every moment of your journey resonates with meaning and relates to your personal interests.

Embarking on this self-drive tour is not just about revisiting history, but honoring the millions of individuals who shaped it. As your self-guided itinerary takes you through these important sites (along with a private guide for some sites), you'll experience a blend of reflection, understanding, and profound respect. 

If you’re interested in booking a personalized tour of France World War 1 & 2 Battlefields with France Just For You, crafted according to your interests and/or family history, please contact us and we will get back to you within 1 working day. In the meantime, we invite you to take a look at our World War History Tour of France, which will give you an idea of the type of itinerary we can plan for you.

France World War 1 & 2 Battlefields

Obernai in Alsace

Obernai in Alsace Lez Broz - Visit Alsace

Northern France from Paris to Alsace

In 13 days, this tour will take you from Paris to the Somme region, and on to Lille at the Belgium border. You will then drive your way south-east to the Verdun area and the surrounding WWI sites. You will end your journey in Alsace, on the border with Germany. A great way to discover Northern France !

war tours lille

Colleville American Cemetery in Normandy Vincent Rustuel - Calvados Attractivité

World War History Tour of France

Many of us are related in some way to the World Wars' history : a father, uncle, grandfather, family friend, or a famous soldier we admire, who fought amongst the Allied troops on French soil. We are very happy and proud to plan itineraries for you to learn more about the history of the two World Wars of the 20th century. The below tour is a sample and we will craft your own trip based on any information you may have available or are willing to discover.

Chinon fortress

Chinon fortress Jean-Christophe Coutand - ADT Touraine

From Verdun history to the Loire castles

This itinerary gives a nice overview of the center of France: the Verdun WWI battlefields, the wine and heritage of Burgundy, and ending in the Loire Valley with its gardens, castles and sweet life.

war tours lille

Hautvillers in Champagne E.Vidal - ADT Marne

The North-East of France: from WWI history to vineyards

Explore North-Eastern France and jump into French wines & history! Starting in Reims, capital of the Champagne region, you will learn many stories starring Joan of Arc, Marie-Antoinette and a famous widow . . . Clicquot. A private guide will make World War I history come alive, allowing you to get a comprehensive overview of the Verdun battlefields. You will bike and taste wines in Burgundy and finish your journey with flourish in Paris.

Utah Beach

Utah Beach C.S Frères - CRT Normandy

World War II History Tour

If you are interested in WWII history and/or have a family member who fought in the Battle of Normandy, this tour is just for you. We can plan a general itinerary based on what we think you would be most interested in, or you can tell us. For example, North Americans may like to visit the American and Canadian beaches of Omaha, Utah and Juno, and the American and Canadian war cemeteries. If you have a family connection, we will plan an itinerary that follows the route your family member took with their battalion during the Battle of Normandy. WWII Family History Tour What is truly unique about …

WWII landing sites on the beach

WWII landing sites on the beach CDT Normandy

Bayeux & WWII Sites in a Day

Get immersed into the Battle of Normandy and Bayeux history. How To Get There This Day Tour starts in Bayeux. From Paris, you can take a direct train. Bayeux Old City Bayeux may not be well known compared to Omaha Beach but the city has a lot to interest travelers. We plan for you to walk around Bayeux old city in the morning. We will provide a detailed map and information: restaurants, special shops, streets you don’t want to miss. You will also see the famous Bayeux Tapestry which is a beautiful testimony of the Middle Ages and William the Conqueror history. The WWII Landing Sites In the …

Langeais town in the Loire Valley

Langeais town in the Loire Valley David Darrault

Normandy & the Loire Valley Loop

Normandy & the Loire Valley are 2 regions of France you should not miss: the climate is mild, the people are very welcoming and history is around every corner.

war tours lille

Our Travelers’ Reviews

I was going to plan a trip for my daughter and I and quickly got overwhelmed. We didn't want to go on those tours that have you going for morning until night. We wanted to be able to take our time and enjoy our trip. That's when I found Emiliee. We wanted to stay for 3weeks and really experience France, and Emiliee did just that. Her guide books …

I was going to plan a trip for my daughter and I and quickly got overwhelmed. We didn't want to go on those tours that have you going for morning until night. We wanted to be able to take our time and enjoy our trip. That's when I found Emiliee. We wanted to stay for 3weeks and really experience France, and Emiliee did just that. Her guide books were more than I ever dreamed they would be. Every B&B we stayed at was beautiful. The hosts were wonderful and welcoming. We had the most wonderful trip and Emiliee took care of every detail. I would highly recommend them.

There's a legitmate reason everyone is giving 5 star reviews. Truly personalized service. The guidebook and app were tailored to our requests, and the small details included, gave us great insight into the nuances of travelling in France. When an unavoidable problem came up, Emilie and Clelia were on it literally within minutes, getting it resolved …

There's a legitmate reason everyone is giving 5 star reviews. Truly personalized service. The guidebook and app were tailored to our requests, and the small details included, gave us great insight into the nuances of travelling in France. When an unavoidable problem came up, Emilie and Clelia were on it literally within minutes, getting it resolved. If you enjoy the freedom of travelling on your own, yet not having to worry about the details, then FJFY is an indispensable resource. I recommend them without hesitation. And I say this as someone who travels frequently, yet rarely submits reviews. Thank you to the ladies of FJFY. Where to next, Emilie?

If you want to experience France, but are hesitant because you don’t speak the language, this company is for you. Emilie will prepare an itinerary that is so detailed that even the most inexperienced, non-French speaking traveler will be able to navigate France. Her attention to detail is so incredible that almost everything sitiuation you …

If you want to experience France, but are hesitant because you don’t speak the language, this company is for you. Emilie will prepare an itinerary that is so detailed that even the most inexperienced, non-French speaking traveler will be able to navigate France. Her attention to detail is so incredible that almost everything sitiuation you encounter can be assisted with a page in your “book.” You let her know what you’re interested in experiencing and she will make it happen. I would highly recommend everything that she planned for us. Raphaelle’s walking tour of Paris, Christophe’s D-Day tour, Brigitte’s cooking class, a bike tour through the Loire Valley, and Amelie’s tour of Mont Saint Michel were incredibly enjoyable. There was plenty of flexibility in our itinerary to make other plans as well. All of our accommodations were beyond wonderful and the restaurant suggestions were all perfect! Although we didn’t have the time to experience everything suggested, we definitely wish we did! We are already planning our next trip!

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Seclin Fort | World War 1 Museum

  • Battlefields and War Memorials

Seclin fort

Hidden off the beaten track in the rural countryside of Nord, northern France is the site of the Seclin Fort, the last intact survivor of a ring of massive fortifications built to protect the city of Lille.

This enormous building has a long and diverse military history and has even been the location for a sweet factory during its long life, and if you hear a faint bleating while walking round, don’t panic – it’s just a herd of sheep and goats that contentedly graze the fort’s grass-covered roofs to control the undergrowth and keep the weeds at bay!

During World War I Seclin Fort was a strategic supply post for the Western Front, first for the occupation forces and afterwards for the British. For the last 15 years the fort has been lovingly restored and preserved by the Boniface family who own it. It is used to host weddings and events and is home to an ever expanding military museum with at its centre an area dedicated to General Deffontaines, the first and youngest French general to die at the Front during WWI.

The Artillery Museum houses the Boniface family’s remarkable private collection of historic militaria, including a wide variety of German, British and French weapons, field guns, carriages, uniforms, pictures, models and other objects that reflect the conditions of life and combat during the First World War in barracks which at different times housed soldiers from France, Germany and Britain.

A popular destination for military experts, the fort is also an ideal attraction for families, with lots to discover in the museum housed in a series of brick-vaulted rooms as well as a maze of tunnels leading down to the moat that encircles the fort, with everything explained by an English-speaking guide.

“It’s a pleasure to welcome British visitors,” said Sophie Boniface, who runs the fort with her parents. “They understand our enthusiasm for the amazing building and its collection, and enjoy sharing the experience of a tour to find out more about its long and fascinating history.”

Every October the Boniface family holds a weekend of exciting events to commemorate the fort’s liberation in 1918, with re-enactments by more than 150 soldiers wearing authentic uniforms, using vintage military vehicles and armaments to bring WWI to life (see the website for dates and details, below).

Entrance costs a few Euros and it is open every weekend (except Bank Holidays).

Website for Fort Seclin

More in the area:

From Seclin, it’s a 30-minute drive to the former coal-mining town of Lens, now home to the Louvre’s stunning new art gallery and museum, housed in a series of five remarkable glass and aluminium building. The gallery is within easy reach of the town centre, served by several free and paid-for car parks. If you arrive by train, there’s a free museum shuttle bus from Lens SNCF railway station.

Read more about the Louvre-Lens

Nearby Lille is a vibrant and cosmopolitan city with a wealth of culture, architecture, shops and restaurants see: 24 hours in Lille , Shopping in Lille

Find out what’s on in the area with Nord Tourism

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Best Day Trips from Lille, France

Article written by Elisa - Travel Writer & Local in France This article may contain compensated links. Please read disclaimer for more info.

Best Places to Visit Near Lille

The capital of the region Hauts-de-France, Lille is a gorgeous city to travel to, with many things to do. Irresistible for its Flemish heritage, once you are done exploring Lille , you should take a day trip to one of the many amazing neighboring places.

Visit scenic towns in the Hauts-de-France region , discover World War battlefields and memorials, and stroll around European capitals for an exceptional getaway.

Where to go from Lille? Here’s the list of the best day trips from Lille, France.

Plage de Zuydcoote - Dunkirk

Best Lille Day Trips

Lille day trips in a nutshell.

Best day trips from Lille by train: Roubaix, Disneyland Paris, Brussels.

Book your train tickets with Omio.com or Trainline.com

Best day trips from Lille by car: Amiens, Bruges, WW1 Battlefields.

Rent a car in Lille with DiscoverCars.com . Click here for our best tips for renting a car in France .

Piscine of Roubaix - France

Just 16 km south of Lille is the lovely town of Roubaix , a former industrial city with an exceptional heritage.

Roubaix is a great Lille day trip as it is incredibly easy to reach by train and metro. The town’s main attraction is La Piscine (23 Rue de l’Espérance, closed on Mondays), the former public swimming pool converted into the Museum of Art and Industry. The venue is spectacular: a 1930s Art Deco building where the pool chamber and the other rooms have been conserved and turned into exhibition spaces.

After visiting the pool museum, make sure to stop by Le Grand Bassin (27 Rue de l’Espérance), a concept store managed by designer-makers with handmade products of quality craftsmanship and promoted artistic events.

Roubaix is a perfect destination for those interested in art and design.

Amiens Cathedral

The charming city of Amiens is 140 km south of Lille. Accessible by a one-hour drive, Amiens was an important textile town, and it is nicknamed the “Venice of the North” for its pretty canal district and floating gardens (called Hortillonages).

Unmissable is the majestic Cathédrale Notre-Dame d’Amiens , listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and the Old Town in general. Another must-see is the Maison de Jules Verne , where the famous writer lived for 18 years.

One of the most beautiful cities near Lille, you should also spend time strolling around the historic neighborhood of Saint-Leu , hosting colorful half-timbered houses with trendy cafès and art galleries. 

Don’t leave Amiens before exploring the Hortillonages, a 300-hectare floating garden perfect for leisurely walks and bike rides. Amiens is an excellent getaway for a relaxing day but also for those interested in art and history – Click here to buy your train tickets to Amiens

Arras - France

Arras is 55 km south of Lille, accessible by train, and is among the top places to visit near Lille.

A true jewel, Arras Old Town boasts picture-postcard Flemish-Baroque buildings, two beautiful squares ( Grand’Place and Place des Héros ), and a UNESCO-listed belfry (the 75-meter-high Beffroi d’Arras ).

The area has a deep link with World War history, and while in Arras, you should visit the Les Boves network (4 Place des Héros). Used by soldiers during the Battle of Arras in 1917, these underground galleries that New Zealand tunnellers carved out can still be visited today.

A portion of the tunnels today hosts the Carrière Wellington , a fantastic museum that will introduce you to the Battle of Arras and the living conditions experienced by the soldiers.

Arras is a dreamland destination for history geeks and architecture lovers – Click here to buy your train tickets to Arras

4. Disneyland Paris

Disneyland Paris

Located 244 km south of Lille, a mere 1-hour ride by TGV train , Disneyland Paris is definitely worth the trip.

Disneyland Paris needs no presentation. Made up of two different parks, Disneyland Park and Walt Disney Studios , this iconic destination is among the best Lille day trips for families.

Disneyland Park revolves around the central Sleeping Beauty Castle , the most colorful and detailed you will find in any Disney park. All around the park, you will assist at parades and meet-and-greet with the beloved Disney characters.

Walt Disney Studios Park boasts thrilling rides for the grown-ups and Pixar attractions suitable for the younger.

Disneyland Paris parks feature unique attractions that you won’t find anywhere else, including “Cars: Road Trip,” “Alice’s Curious Labyrinth,” and the newer “Avengers Assemble: Flight Force.”

A trip to Disneyland Paris is ideal for spending fun moments with the whole family. If you are flexible with your dates, check out this Disneyland Paris Crowd Calendar to avoid the busiest days – Click here to buy your tickets to Disneyland Paris

5. Dunkerque

Dunkirk - France

About 80 km north of Lille, Dunkerque (Dunkirk) is a beautiful coastal town and the closest beach for locals in Lille.

The city is the third-largest port in France, and one of its main attractions is Malo-les-Bains , a vast sandy beach that is perfect to visit all year round. The beach promenade is packed with restaurants and ice cream shops to enjoy a sea-view break. 

Dunkirk is one of the best places to visit in Northern France , especially for history lovers. The city had a central role during WW2, where the Allied forces coordinated “Operation Dynamo.” You can discover all about it at the Musée Dunkerque 1940 (32 Rue des Chantiers, open daily), which also displays authentic weapons and uniforms.

The city has many other things to see, such as the Musée Portuaire , the Instagrammable blockhaus Réfléchir , and the Fort des Dunes .

Dunkerque makes for a fantastic beach day but is also an ideal getaway for war history enthusiasts. If you visit during the days around Mardi Gras, you will experience one of France’s most famous carnivals! – Click here to buy your train tickets to Dunkerque

TIP: This Dunkirk Operation Dynamo Battlefield Tour is a great-value tour that visits the WWII beaches, battlefields, and memorials of Dunkirk and includes hotel pickup, lunch, and entrance fees.

6. WW1 Battlefields

war tours lille

The French and Belgium Flanders areas were part of the Western Front and were the theater of fierce battles during the First World War in 1914-1918. The battle scars are still evident today, and the area features many war memorials and cemeteries.

Lille is perfectly situated for visiting these historic sites. The best way to explore the Great War sites is by joining one of the guided WW1 battlefield tours from Lille with an expert guide. Here are the most popular day tours from Lille that visit the WW1 battlefields:

  • Australian Battlefields Tour in Fromelles and Flanders
  • Canadian WW1 Vimy and Somme Battlefield Tour
  • Australian and New Zealand Battlefield Tour in the Somme
  • Fromelles and Ypres Day Tour

Touring the World War 1 battlefields is an excellent idea for history lovers.

Pyramid of the Louvre - Paris

France’s capital city, Paris , is located 220 km south of Lille, and it’s an easy 1-hour ride by TGV train.

The best day trip from Lille you can make, Paris is among the most popular destinations worldwide. Nicknamed the “City of Love” and the “City of Light,” Paris boasts timeless beauty and charm.

With iconic landmarks, first and foremost the Eiffel Tower , countless museums, beautiful architecture, and rich history, there are so many things to do in Paris that you will be spoilt for choice! – Check out this itinerary for one day in Paris

Stroll along the Seine River , explore the bohemian Montmartre neighborhood, marvel at the Notre Dame de Paris, and visit the remarkable collection of the Louvre Museum .

Also, stop in one of the many restaurants to savor the unmatched French cuisine . Paris is perfect for a romantic day trip, art and architecture lovers, and foodies – Click here to buy your train tickets to Paris

8. London (United Kingdom)

war tours lille

London is located 290 km north of Lille. Although the important distance between the two cities, it only takes 1 hr 30 min to reach London from Lille by Eurostar train – Click here to buy your train tickets to London

One of the top-visited cities in Europe, London is among the best places to visit near Lille. Just a train ride from it, London is packed with world-class museums, glamorous shopping venues, funky markets, edgy districts, great urban parks, and eateries serving cuisine from virtually everywhere.

You can spend hours inside the British Museum , relax at Hyde Park , admire the Tower Bridge , and try to spot the royals at Buckingham Palace .

Whether you prefer walking around or hopping on a double-decker bus, London will surprise you with its architecture. The city also boasts an interesting underground music scene and many festivals, so you surely won’t get bored.

You should visit London if you are into architecture, cultural sights and events, history, and shopping. To optimize your time in London, check out this Grand London bicycle tour that explores the best of the city on two wheels.

9. Bruges (Belgium)

war tours lille

The lovely medieval town of Bruges is only 80 km north of Lille. The journey from Lille to Bruges takes 1 hour by bus and 2 hours by train, with a change of trains in Belgium.

With picturesque cobblestone streets lined with Flemish-style buildings and canals weaving through the historic center, Bruges is a fantastic Lille day trip idea.

Walk around and discover the Basilique du Saint-Sang , famous for housing Christ’s bloody cloth, and the 15th-century Belfry Tower , from the top of which you can admire incredible views over the Gothic city. For a romantic and relaxing time, cruise the city canals.

Unmissable is a stop at Markt Square , which has held a weekly market since 1985. In wintertime, the square turns into a Christmas wonderland with dozens of festival stalls and a fantastic ice rink. 

Bruges makes for a relaxing getaway surrounded by stunning architecture and history – Click here to buy your train tickets to Bruges

TIP: This Bruges walking tour and canal cruise always gets good reviews

10. Bruxelles (Belgium)

war tours lille

Belgium’s capital city is 112 km east of Lille. This is one of the easiest Lille day trips, as it only takes 35 minutes to reach Brussels by TGV train – Click here to buy your train tickets to Brussels

A wonderful day trip from Lille, Bruxelles is known for a huge number of things, among which is the European Parliament . Visiting the Parliament is an incredible activity to do in the city, alongside walking around its center, which boasts astonishing architecture.

Particularly impressive are the Grand Place , the city’s main square, and the Palais de Bruxelles , one of the royal residences of Belgium’s monarchs. 

If you are traveling with kids, an unmissable attraction is Mini Europe , an amusement park with miniature models of European countries. Brussels is also known for its cuisine, chocolate production, and craft beers.

You should take a day trip to Brussels if you want to discover an under-the-tourist-radar European capital with many landmarks. For a one-day visit, we recommend this 3-hour walking tour that explores the best of Brussels with some tastings.

And there you have it, the best day trips from Lille, France, in the country and abroad. Which Lille day trips tempt you most?

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6 Best Day Trips from Lille

6 Best Day Trips from Lille

Lille is ideally situated for exploring north-western France and Flanders, with windswept beaches, historic towns, and the Belgian border all within day-trip distance. If you’re visiting Lille for the France Rugby World Cup 2023, why not make the most of the time between matches and take in some of the regional highlights?

Ready to explore the Belgian capital, visit WWI battle sites and memorials, and marvel over UNESCO-listed monuments? Here’s our pick of the six best day trips from Lille .

1. Arras and Lens

Indulge your inner art lover and history buff by combining these two northern France towns in one day trip. First up is historic Arras, where you can marvel at architectural landmarks—such as the UNESCO-listed Beffroi d’Arras and Flemish-style townhouses on Place des Héros—and visit WWI battlegrounds, memorials, and war tunnels used during the Battle of Arras.

Nearby, Lens has its own WWI museum, the Centre d’Histoire du Mémorial 14-18, housed in a striking black-cube building, but it’s most famous as the site of the Louvre-Lens Museum, the Louvre’s first-ever satellite museum.

Distance from Lille: 32 miles (52 km) to Arras

How to get there: Drive (45 mins) to Arras, join a tour from Lille, or take the train (59 mins to Lens and a further 13 mins to Arras)

Don’t miss: The Louvre Lens Museum

war tours lille

Forever synonymous with the heroic WWI evacuation of Allied troops, Dunkirk is also a lively student hub and a busy Channel port. After admiring the Flemish-style Hôtel de Ville, the Beffroi de Dunkerque belfry, and the 16th-century Church of Saint-Éloi—the few landmarks not demolished in WWII—Dunkirk’s biggest draw is its wide sandy beach.

Don’t miss the Dunkirk 1940 Museum, which chronicles the fateful events of Operation Dynamo, the LAAC modern art museum, and the Mémorial des Alliés (Allied Memorial), which stands right by the beachfront.

Distance from Lille: 47 miles (75 km)

How to get there: Drive (1 hour), join a tour from Lille, or take the train (1 hour 8 mins)

Don’t miss: The Mémorial des Alliés (Memorial to the Allies)

war tours lille

3. Le Touquet

On the southern cusp of the Opal Coast, at the mouth of the Canche River, Le Touquet has long been the beach getaway of choice for sun-seeking Parisians. The town’s connections with the capital are so strong that its full name is actually “Le Touquet-Paris-Plage”, and it even boasts its own Eiffel Tower sandcastle, the almost 10-metre-high Tour Paris-Plage sculpture.

Miles of sandy shores await along the coast, but you can also climb the red-brick lighthouse for a view across the Channel, head to the Parc de l’Estuaire (Estuary Park) for a walk or horseback ride through the sand dunes, or party into the early hours at the many bars, clubs, and casinos.

Distance from Lille: 93 miles (150 km)

How to get there: Drive (2 hours)

Don’t miss: Hit the beach

war tours lille

4. Ypres, Belgium

Just over the Belgian border, Ypres’ (Leper in Dutch) charming Old Town and medieval monuments are all but eclipsed by the importance of its WWI history. This Flemish town sits at the heart of the poppy-filled “Flanders Fields” and some of WWI’s bloodiest battlefields, and it’s impossible to pass through without feeling the weight of its history.

The Menin Gate memorial hosts its moving Last Post ceremony every evening at 8pm, and the city is surrounded by battlefields, trenches, war cemeteries, and memorials, most notably Tyne Cot Cemetery, Hill 60, and Zillebeke.

Distance from Lille: 25 miles (40 km)

How to get there: Drive (40 minutes), join a tour from Lille, or take the train (1-hour 10 minutes via Kortrijk).

Don’t miss: The poignant Last Post ceremony.

war tours lille

5. Bruges, Belgium

Arguably the most picturesque of all Belgian cities, Bruges is an artful jumble of medieval landmarks, fairy-tale churches, and impossibly pretty canals. Architectural wonders abound in the UNESCO-listed Old Town, and the Basilica of the Holy Blood, the Church of our Lady in Bruges, the Market Square, and the Belfry will all have you reaching for your camera.

Hop aboard a traditional wooden boat for the most romantic views, cruising along the flower-lined canals, past rows of pastel-coloured gabled houses and leafy parks. Alternatively, hire a bike to visit the city’s windmills and Beguinage before heading back to the city to enjoy a beer tasting at one of the many brewpubs and breweries.

How to get there: Drive (1 hour 10 minutes) or take the train (1 hour 51 minutes via Brussels).

Don’t miss: A cruise along the canals.

war tours lille

6. Brussels, Belgium

All roads in Brussels lead to the Grand Place, and the central hub is an architectural feast with its baroque façades, gothic guild houses, and medieval townhouses crowned by the magnificent Hotel de Ville (Town Hall).

There’s plenty to fill up a day tour of the Belgian capital. Once you’ve strolled around the Grand Place (and perhaps indulged in a Belgium waffle from one of the square’s many cafés), pay a visit to the Notre Dame Du Sablon church, snap a selfie with the beloved Manneken Pis statue, and enjoy a stroll through the lush Parc Du Cinquantenaire. Don’t forget to pick up some Belgian chocolates from the artisan chocolatiers along Rue des Bouchers.

Distance from Lille: 68 miles (110 km)

How to get there: Drive (1 hour 30 mins) or take the train (34 minutes).

Don’t miss: The magnificent Grand Place.

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