Which city is for you? Bordeaux or Lille
If you’re struggling to decide whether to visit the elegant city of Bordeaux or the vibrant Lille, you’ve come to the right place. In this blog post, we’ll delve into the unique characteristics of both Bordeaux and Lille, comparing their attractions, cultural experiences, and culinary delights to help you determine which city aligns best with your travel desires. So, sit back, relax, and let’s embark on a virtual journey through the fascinating worlds of Bordeaux and Lille!
A small city in southwestern France, Bordeaux is world-renowned for its wine, cuisine and architecture. If you mention Bordeaux to anyone, the first thing they think about is wine. But, there’s more to the city than just wine. It’s a beautiful city that is compact and walkable. We highly recommend visiting. It almost feels like a miniature Paris.
Located in northern France, Lille has a great mix of French and Flemish cultures. Its unique character gives it real charm. It’s probably a bit underrated in comparison to other cities in France if we’re being honest.
Pro’s and Con’s of Bordeaux and Lille
World-class wine culture.
Rich history and stunning architecture.
Vibrant arts scene and diverse culinary experiences.
Access to nearby UNESCO World Heritage sites, such as Saint-Émilion and the Cité du Vin museum.
Proximity to picturesque regions like the Dordogne and the Bay of Arcachon.
More laid-back atmosphere.
Warmer weather compared to Lille.
Less emphasis on arts and design compared to Lille.
Slightly more expensive than Lille.
May have fewer entertainment options compared to larger cities.
Best for: Wine enthusiasts, history buffs, foodies, and those who prefer a warmer climate and a laid-back atmosphere.
Charming historic center with beautiful architecture.
Vibrant cultural scene, including museums, galleries, and theaters.
Strong focus on the arts and design, especially with the annual Lille3000 event.
Warm and welcoming atmosphere.
Proximity to other major European cities, such as Paris, Brussels, and London, making it an excellent base for day trips.
Generally more affordable than Bordeaux.
Cooler weather and more rainfall compared to Bordeaux.
Limited options for outdoor activities and nature experiences.
Less known for its culinary scene and wine culture.
Best for: Art and design lovers, travellers who appreciate charming architecture and a vibrant cultural scene, and those who plan to visit other nearby European cities.
How long to stay in Bordeaux
Bordeaux isn’t a big city, but there’s plenty to do. You could get around most of the city in a day if you wanted but you’d miss all the best bits. Bordeaux is a city best enjoyed at a slow pace. Wandering around whilst stopping off at cafes and tourist attractions.
There are plenty of galleries, museums and shops to fill your time. Plus if you’re into your wine, there are all the local vineyards that you can visit. There are also some pretty local towns to visit like Saint-Émilion and Arcachon. We’d recommend staying at least two days in Bordeaux, three days would be better though. We could easily spend a few weeks here, although we’d probably be fat alcoholics by the end of it.
How long to stay in Lille
Lille is the fourth largest city in France so there’s plenty to do. Three days are probably enough to see everything it has to offer. But, if you wanted to extend your break and do some city hopping, Brussels, Ghent, Bruges and Dunkirk aren’t far at all!
How much is food and drink in Bordeaux?
The cost of food and drink in Bordeaux can vary depending on the establishment and the location. Here are some estimated average prices for food and drink in Bordeaux:
Beer: A beer in a typical bar or restaurant in Bordeaux will likely cost between €5 and €7.
Glass of wine: As Bordeaux is a wine region, wine is readily available and is often a better value than beer or cocktails. A glass of wine in a typical bar or restaurant can range from €3 to €10, depending on the quality and rarity of the wine.
Coffee: A cup of coffee in a typical café in Bordeaux will likely cost between €1.50 and €3.
Meal at a midrange restaurant: A meal at a midrange restaurant in Bordeaux will likely cost between €15 and €30 per person, depending on the restaurant and the menu.
How much is food and drink in Lille?
Lille is a foodie’s paradise, with plenty of amazing restaurants and cafes to choose from. Here are some estimated average prices for food and drink in Lille:
Beer: A beer in a typical bar or restaurant in Lille will likely cost between €5 and €7.
Glass of wine: A glass of wine in a typical bar or restaurant can range from €3 to €10, depending on the quality.
Coffee: A cup of coffee in a typical café in Lille will likely cost between €1.50 and €3.
Meal at a midrange restaurant: A meal at a midrange restaurant in Lille will likely cost between €20 and €40 per person, depending on the restaurant and the menu.
How much is it to stay in Bordeaux?
It’s worth noting that prices may be higher in touristy areas.
Luxury hotel: A room in a luxury hotel in Bordeaux can cost anywhere from €200 to €500 per night, or even higher for the most exclusive properties.
Midrange hotel: A room in a midrange hotel in Bordeaux will likely cost between €80 and €150 per night, depending on the location and the amenities.
Budget hotel: A room in a budget hotel in Bordeaux will likely cost between €40 and €70 per night, depending on the location and the quality of the hotel.
Hostel: A bed in a hostel in Bordeaux will likely cost between €20 and €40 per night, depending on the location and the amenities.
How much is it to stay in Lille?
The cost of accommodation in Lille can vary depending on the location and the type of accommodation you choose. Here are some estimated average prices for accommodation in Lille:
Luxury hotel: A room in a luxury hotel in Lille can cost anywhere from €150 to €500 per night, or even higher for the most exclusive properties.
Midrange hotel: A room in a midrange hotel in Lille will likely cost between €70 and €150 per night, depending on the location and the amenities.
Budget hotel: A room in a budget hotel in Lille will likely cost between €40 and €70 per night, depending on the location and the quality of the hotel.
Hostel: A bed in a hostel in Lille will likely cost between €20 and €40 per night, depending on the location and the amenities.
When is the best time to visit Bordeaux?
Bordeaux has got it all: mild weather, world-class wines, and plenty of festivals and events. Here’s what you need to know:
Weather: The weather in Bordeaux is usually pleasant, with mild temperatures year-round. Summers can get a bit sticky, but winters are mild and rainy. For the best weather, plan your visit during the shoulder season of April to June or September to October.
Wine season: Wine lovers, won’t want to miss the grape harvest season from September to October. The perfect time to indulge in wine tasting and vineyard tours and sample some of the best wines in the world.
Festivals: Bordeaux loves a good party, and there are plenty of festivals and events to keep you entertained. Don’t miss the Bordeaux Wine Festival in June or the Fête le Vin in June, both of which celebrate the region’s rich wine-making culture.
Crowds: The summer months of July and August are peak tourist season in Bordeaux, which means the crowds can be pretty intense. If you prefer a more relaxed visit, consider travelling during the off-season when the crowds have thinned out.
When is the best time to visit Lille?
Lille’s location means the weather is never too extreme, so it’s definitely a year-round destination. Here are a few things to consider before booking.
Weather: Lille’s climate can be pretty unpredictable, it’s prone to rain all year round. Summers are warm and sunny. Winters can get very cold with temperatures as low as -5°C. If you want to avoid rain and crowds, visiting in April would be a good happy medium.
Festivals: Lille has plenty of festivals to attend throughout the year. But its biggest festival is the Braderie de Lille, a huge festival held every September. For the first week in November, the city turns into the biggest flea market in Europe. If you like shopping for antiques and other random things, this may be for you! Lille’s Christmas Markets are also worth a visit in the lead upto Christmas.
Crowds: Lille can get busy during the summer and during Braderie de Lille. If you want to avoid the crowds don’t travel in the summer months or the first week in September.
Average Monthly Temperatures
The average monthly temperatures for Bordeaux are:
The average monthly temperatures for Lille are:
Getting around Bordeaux:
The city’s public transportation system consists of trams, buses, and a bike-sharing service. The trams are well-connected and cover most of the city’s major attractions. The tickets allow you to use any form of public transport for a certain period of time, (usually an hour). So if you needed to get one bus and a tram to get somewhere you’d only need one ticket if the journey was less than an hour.
Bike sharing is a good option for people that want to be a bit more active. Bordeaux has a lot of small windy streets so we spent most of the time walking, which I feel is the best way to see a city. Taxis and Ubers are readily available but you might struggle to get one right in the heart of the old town where a lot of it is pedestrianised.
Getting around Lille:
Lille is easy to get around due to its buses, trams and metro system. City passes are a good way to save money if you plan on making the most of public transport. Lille’s city centre is quite compact so it’s very walkable. You could hire a bike too if you wanted.
Top things to do in Bordeaux
Visit the Place de la Bourse: This square is an absolute must-see, with stunning architecture and a beautiful reflecting pool called the Water Mirror. Don’t forget your camera!
Explore the historic Saint-Pierre district: This area is so charming, with cobblestone streets, cute cafes, and lots of history. Take a stroll around and enjoy the vibes.
Go wine tasting in the nearby vineyards of Saint-Émilion: If you’re a wine lover, this is the place to be! Saint-Émilion has some of the best vineyards and wineries around, and the views are pretty stunning too.
Visit the Musée d’Aquitaine: Learn more about the region’s history and culture at this museum, which has everything from prehistoric artefacts to contemporary art.
Enjoy a leisurely stroll through the Jardin Public: This park is seriously beautiful, with a lake, a rose garden, and tons of trees and flowers. It’s the perfect place to unwind and relax.
Take a river cruise on the Garonne River: You’ll see all sorts of amazing architecture and landmarks, and the views are seriously good.
Visit the Basilique Saint-Michel: This church is up on a hill, so the views are even better! Take some snaps, enjoy the scenery and soak up the atmosphere.
Enjoy some of Bordeaux’s local cuisine: Bordeaux has got some seriously tasty food, including sweet pastries called canelés and a delicious steak dish called entrecôte bordelaise.
Go to one of Bordeaux’s many festivals and events: This city loves to party, so there’s always something going on. Don’t miss the Bordeaux Wine Festival in June or the Fête le Vin in June.
Take a day trip to the nearby town of Arcachon: This seaside town is seriously gorgeous, with sand dunes and beaches that will take your breath away. It’s an easy train ride from Bordeaux, so don’t miss out!
Top things to do in Lille
Visit the Palais des Beaux-Arts: One of the largest art museums in France, there’s an impressive collection from artists like Rubens, Delacroix and Monet. It’s definitely worth going if you’re an art lover.
Stroll through Vieux-Lille: Lille’s old town, Vieux-Lille is filled with colourful buildings and cobbled streets. There are lots of boutique shops, great restaurants and nice cafes if you fancy a coffee whilst people watching.
Explore La Citadelle de Lille: The shape of this 17th-century pentagonal fortress is fascinating. It’s still a working military base so you can’t enter but you can walk around its walls and the surrounding grounds.
Visit the Lille Cathedral: In comparison to most European cathedrals Lille’s feels very different. It was built between 1856 and 1975, so there are parts of it that don’t have the same old-weathered look you expect with cathedrals. It’s still impressive though.
Check out the Wazemmes Market: Open every Tuesday, Thursday and Sunday there’s loads of fresh produce like cheese, vegetables and sausages sold. It’s a must-visit for foodies. There are even little food stalls so you can get a pizza or some oysters if you’re hungry!
Take a Chocolate Tour: Lille has a reputation for its chocolate. If you’ve got a sweet tooth, a chocolate tour might be a good idea. The tours take you around some of the city’s best chocolatiers, learning about the history of chocolate along the way.
Explore the Hospice Comtesse Museum: Housed in a 17th-century hospital, this museum is only small but has exhibits of art and artefacts from the 16th to the 20th century. Entry is free on the first Sunday of every month.
Check out the Saint Maurice Church: This 14th-century Gothic church is definitely worth a visit. It’s quite an unusual shape and is seriously impressive from all angles. The stained glass windows are really beautiful too.
Take a Beer Tasting Tour: Beer-tasting tours are a fantastic way to sample some local beers and learn more about the city. The tours last about 3 hours and make a fun afternoon!
Visit Lille Zoo: Home to over 450 animals, this zoo is relatively compact but it’s worth a visit. It’s quite cheap so it’s good if you’re wanting a low-cost activity.
How to spend three days in Bordeaux
To begin your day, head to the Place de la Bourse and the Water Mirror reflecting pool. Take some time to check out the beautiful architecture and take some pictures. If you want a really special experience, try and get up early to visit during the sunrise. It’s so worth it! After that, visit the Musée d’Aquitaine to explore the history and culture of the region. The museum has a fascinating collection of artefacts and exhibits. End your day with a dinner in the Saint-Pierre district, it’s probably the prettiest area in Bordeaux. There are plenty of good restaurants to choose from, make sure you sit outside if the weather is good too!
Spend your morning taking a day trip to the nearby town of Saint-Émilion, famous for its vineyards and wine. It’s only 35 minutes by train. Go for a wine tasting in one of the local vineyards then get a lovely French lunch at a local restaurant.
In the afternoon, return to Bordeaux and take a river cruise on the Garonne River. There’s something about river cruises that we love, the water is so relaxing and it’s a good way to see a city from a different perspective. For dinner visit Les Halles Bacalan, a market hall full of food vendors and bars. There’s so much food to try and wines to drink! After dinner, take a walk along the Quai des Chartrons to enjoy the views of the river and the city lights.
Start your day with a visit to the Jardin Public, one of the most beautiful parks in Bordeaux. It’s a great place to relax and people-watch. In the afternoon, head to the Basilique Saint-Michel to enjoy the stunning views of the city. There are loads of cool shops close by if you fancy looking around too. Finally, attend one of Bordeaux’s many festivals and events in the evening, such as the Bordeaux Wine Festival or Fête le Vin. If none of them are on, why not visit Musée du Vin et du Négoce de Bordeaux. This museum takes you through the history of winemaking in the region and even has wine-tasting sessions! It’s well worth a visit.
How to spend three days in Lille
Morning: Begin your trip with a visit to Palais des Beaux-Arts de Lille. Allocate about three hours for this huge art gallery, there are over 72,430 sculptures, paintings and ceramics!
Afternoon: Have a wander around Lille’s beautiful old town. It’s a great place to just get lost and explore all the little shops and cafes. Make sure you try some good local food like Carbonnade Flamande or la tarte au Maroilles.
Evening: Go and see a show at Opéra de Lille. This building is spectacular inside and out. Plus tickets to the shows are very reasonable!
Morning: Get an early start and head to the Citadel of Lille. This impressive fortress looks amazing in the early morning light. It’s lovely to stroll around its grounds too.
Afternoon: Head over to La Piscine, a museum housed in a former art deco swimming pool! It’s a very cool building, I can imagine it would have been really cool to swim here when it was still a pool. There’s a great art collection of paintings, sculptures and textiles.
Evening: Spend your evening at the Rue de Gand. This famous street is filled with bars and restaurants so make sure you take an appetite and make the most of the amazing local foods.
Morning: Start your day with a visit to Wazemmes Market, there is loads of regional produce to try and buy. You could even get lunch at one of the stalls.
Afternoon: Make a choice between visiting Lille Cathedral or Saint Maurice Church. Saint Maurice Church is a little bit further out of the centre but is really beautiful. Lille Cathedral is very centrally located, it’s not quite as pretty as Saint Maurice but its size is very impressive.
Evening: Find a beer tour to go on before dinner then spend the evening sampling local foods.
Food and drink: 9
Culture and history: 9
Total score: 61
Food and drink: 9
Culture and history: 9
Total score: 62