As a Londoner, France is not that far away. Get down to Dover, take a ferry across to Calais and in an hour and a half you are at the apex of cross-roads to cute French beach towns and historic cities.
On a bank holiday in France we took a one hour drive from Calais inland to Lille which is in area of France which borders Belgium. You can certainly see Flemish influences when you visit the old town in its architecture, hearty cuisine and beer!
Having walked around the pretty cobbled streets, visited an art gallery and enjoyed impressive building facades in the market lined squares, we opted to rest up and eat at Café Leffe in the Old Town. Café Leffe is a (for want of a better word) chain, with locations across France. I didn’t hold that against them.
Leffe is a premium Belgium beer, so of course they had the full range of their abbey beers and some Hoegaarden thrown in for good measure.
We all went for a main course which consisted of Jacki’s gratin dauphinois with bags of cheese, ham, potatoes but strangely, not a whole lot of cream. I opted for chicken breast in cream and mushroom sauce with gorgeous fries, Pascal went for steak, medium rare with fries which made him very happy.
I guess this cafe could be called a tourist place due to its central location, but Michelin-starred chef, Helene Darroze, consults on some of the dishes – so you can see the quality and tastiness in the dishes, as opposed to conveyor belt style bland cooking for rotating tourists.
The food was good and reasonable priced. Café Leffe is the perfect stop between visiting the opera house, art galleries and other places of interest. Café Leffe is a gem in the Lille crown.
1, 3, 5 place Rihour
Tel: 03 20 54 67 37