What I love the most about northern France is that it's a hidden gem that has yet to be discovered by the rest of the world. Lille has all of the charm and beauty of Paris, minus the hordes of tourists.
Only 10 minutes away from the Belgian border, Lille is adorned with an elegant mix of both French and Belgian architecture. Not to mention, northern France boasts the best of both French and Belgian cuisine. I shamelessly feasted upon French cheeses, wines and omelets as well as Belgian chocolates and frites all weekend long. Talk about the best of both worlds. Quand on est à Lille, on mange comme les lillois!
Despite their bad reputation, I've always found French people to be quite friendly - and the people of Lille are by far the most amicable. I love practicing my French whenever I can (although I'm still pretty terrible), but whenever I'm in Paris and I initiate a conversation in French, Parisians automatically respond to me in English. However, in Lille my broken French was met with a smile. They listened patiently and spoke to me slowly, further inspiring me to keep continue learning French.
We spent our time in Lille wandering through the quaint cobblestone streets, admiring all of the charming buildings, snacking on macarons, drinking café au lait while people watching, and eating a sublime mix of French and Belgian food. I loved that there wasn't an overwhelming list of sightseeing to-dos, and there wasn't a tourist in sight. I felt as if I could freely enjoy the culture of France without stressing about squeezing everything in. During a season of many hectic travels, Lille was truly a breath of fresh air.