A quick dash down from Calais will bring you to Lille, a vibrant city with wonderful Flemish architecture, great restaurants and fantastic shopping. Once a year, on the first weekend of September, the city is host to a giant flea market, the Braderie de Lille, which attracts around 10,000 sellers, offering a wide variety of items. The event takes on a festive air and everyone eats as much moules-frites (mussels and chips) as they can.
At other times of the year, Lille has plenty to offer antiques enthusiasts. Antique books and prints can be found at the Marche De La Vieille Bourse, which is held in the ornate central courtyard of the old stock exchange; and the hangar-like Espace Nord-Ouest is home to 17 different vendors offering everything from classic antique furniture to vintage prints and posters, mid-century lighting and ornate mirrors. When the shopping is done, take the Metro to Roubaix, where the arts centre is set around La Piscine Roubaix, a stunning art deco swimming pool. Stay at Hotel de la Treille, set on one of the city’s best shopping streets and within walking distance of the main sights. A double room is from 90 (hoteldelatreille.com/en). braderie-de-lille.fr
ABOVE Once a year, Lille’s Flemish streets are taken over by a vast flea market. LEFT The extraordinary art deco pool at La Piscine Roubaix is now an arts centre.