Bordeaux or Lille – Which City Will You Visit?

Bordeaux or LilleWhich city is for you? Bordeaux or Lille

So you’re thinking of a trip to Bordeaux or Lille but cannot decide where to go? In this blog, we’ll cover everything you need to know about both cities so you can decide which one is for you. Here’s a quick rundown of both.

🏛 History Buffs: This a difficult choice, Bordeaux with its UNESCO World Heritage status, 18th-century architecture and history of wine making is impressive. But, Lille’s mix of French and Flemish history plus its proximity to the battlefields of WW1 also make it a serious contender. I suppose it’s all down to what sort of history you’re interested in.

🏖 Beach Lovers: Neither of these cities are particularly close to the sea, Bordeaux is around 55km and Lille is around 75km. If you’re wanting a beach holiday you’ll probably be better off going elsewhere.

🥐 Foodies: Bordeaux may be renowned for its wine but its food shouldn’t be underestimated. The classical French cuisine you find here is seriously good! Lille’s food is an interesting mix of Flemish and French cuisine, but instead of wine, it’s famous for its beer. So which would you prefer? Classic French food and wine? Or Franco-Flemish food and beer?

🌳 Nature Enthusiasts: Bordeaux’s proximity to the Médoc Natural Park, Landes de Gascogne Regional Natural Park and the Atlantic Ocean make it the clear winner here. Lille does have areas of natural beauty close by but they can’t match Bordeaux.

🏢 Urban Explorers: Both cities have incredible cultural scenes, Bordeaux’s beautiful squares and 18th-century architecture are something special. But Lille’s French-Flemish architecture and fantastic art scene shouldn’t be overlooked. Bordeaux edges this one due to its abundance of things to see, but it’s close!

🛍 Shopping Enthusiasts: Lille might have the fantastic Euralille, but it can’t quite match Bordeaux’s mix of chic French boutiques, designer stores and quirky little shops.

🍷 Wine Lovers: Let’s keep it simple. If you love wine go to Bordeaux. If you prefer beer go to Lille.

🎒 Backpackers: Bordeaux’s an amazing city but it can be expensive. Lille on the other hand is less touristy and cheaper. Also, it’s got great rail access to Paris, Belgium and even the Netherlands.

👵 Over 60’s: Bordeaux’s relaxed atmosphere, wine culture and elegant squares make it the better destination for a relaxing visit.

Bordeaux takes the wines with its renowned wine culture, beautiful natural landscapes, and diverse shopping options. On the other hand, Lille offers a more budget-friendly travel experience, serves as a gateway to World War I battlefields, and provides an excellent base for exploring nearby cities.

Still not sure? Keep on reading to find out more about these two amazing cities.


Now, if you’re a wine lover, you’re probably already grinning because Bordeaux is like the holy grail of vineyards. Nestled in the southwest of France, this city is famed for producing some of the world’s finest wines. But it’s not just about the wine here. Bordeaux is a city that wears its history proudly.

It’s got grand squares lined with elegant 18th-century buildings, bustling street markets, and stunning gardens. Stroll along the Garonne River at sunset and you’ll quickly understand why it’s often referred to as ‘Little Paris’. And foodies, don’t feel left out because Bordeaux’s culinary scene is as enticing as its wines!

Cathédrale Saint-André de Bordeaux
Cathédrale Saint-André de Bordeaux


Nestled near the border with Belgium, Lille has a unique charm that’s all its own. This vibrant city blends French and Flemish influences, creating an ambience that’s distinct yet welcoming. The old town, Vieux Lille, enchants visitors with its narrow cobbled streets and colourful old houses. But it’s not just about the past here. Lille is also a young city, thanks to its large student population, and this brings a dynamic, energetic feel to the place. Whether you’re exploring the bustling markets, diving into the lively arts scene, or just relaxing in a cosy café, Lille has something for everyone. It’s a city that knows how to live well and invites you to share in that.

Rue Lepelletier, Lille, France

While we’re comparing Bordeaux and Lille in this post, we’ve also looked at how Bordeaux stacks up against other cities like Nantes and Strasbourg. We’ve linked to those articles below if you want to take a look!

Bordeaux or Nantes

Bordeaux or Strasbourg

Pros and Cons of Bordeaux and Lille

Bordeaux Pros:

  • 🍷 Wine Heritage: Bordeaux is globally renowned for its exceptional wines, making it a paradise for wine lovers. You can visit world-class vineyards and participate in wine-tasting tours.
  • 🏛 UNESCO Heritage Site: Bordeaux’s historic centre is a UNESCO World Heritage site, boasting numerous historical monuments and architectural gems.
  • 🥐 Food Scene: Bordeaux is home to a vibrant food scene, with an abundance of markets, bakeries, and restaurants showcasing the best of regional cuisine.
  • Riverfront Beauty: The city’s beautiful riverfront, the Garonne, provides a scenic setting for a leisurely walk or bike ride.

Bordeaux Cons:

  • 💶 Pricey: The cost of living and visiting Bordeaux can be higher than other French cities, especially during the peak tourist season.
  • 👫 Crowded: Bordeaux can become quite crowded, particularly during the summer and the wine harvesting season.

Lille Pros:

  • ⛪️ Cultural Diversity: Lille offers a unique blend of French and Flemish influences in its architecture, food, and culture.
  • 🎨 Vibrant Arts Scene: Lille’s arts scene is thriving, with numerous museums, such as the Palais des Beaux-Arts, and regular cultural events.
  • 🍺 Beer Culture: Thanks to its proximity to Belgium, Lille has a lively beer culture, making it an excellent destination for beer enthusiasts.
  • 🏛 Historic Charm: Lille’s old town, Vieux Lille, offers a charming experience with its cobbled streets, colourful old houses, and chic boutiques.

Lille Cons:

  • 🌧 Weather: Lille’s weather can be unpredictable, with a chance of rain throughout the year. The city’s climate is generally cooler compared to southern France.
  • 🧳 Less Touristy: Lille is not as widely recognised as a tourist destination compared to other French cities, which means fewer tourist-specific amenities and services.

Which City Has Better Food? Bordeaux or Lille?

Food is a huge factor in any trip. Both Bordeaux and Lille have their unique gastronomic offerings that foodies will enjoy. But let’s break it down.

In Bordeaux, food and wine go hand in hand. The city’s restaurants and bistros are famous for serving traditional French cuisine that pairs beautifully with the local wines. Famous for its fresh seafood from the nearby Atlantic coast, particularly oysters, Bordeaux is also known for its “Entrecôte à la Bordelaise” – a rib steak cooked in a rich gravy made from Bordeaux wine, bone marrow, shallots, and butter. Add to that an array of local cheese and the famous canelés – small, caramelised pastries with a soft and tender custard centre, and you’re in for a culinary treat.

On the other hand, Lille, sitting close to the Belgian border, boasts a unique blend of French and Flemish influences in its cuisine. Traditional dishes you should try include the hearty “Carbonade Flamande” – a beef and onion stew made with beer, and “Potjevleesch” – a terrine of different meats in gelatin. Lille is also famous for its waffles and the “Merveilleux” – a small cake that is a marvel of lightness.

Both cities have their specialities, it’s hard to decide which one has the best food. It depends on your personal preferences. If you prefer wine and seafood, you may find Bordeaux’s food scene more to your liking. But if you enjoy hearty dishes with beer and a blend of cultural influences, Lille’s food might be more appealing to you.

Which City is Better For Couples? Bordeaux or Lille?

Romance is often found in the details of a city – the way the sun sets over a historical monument, the quiet charm of cobblestone streets, or the intimacy of a meal in a nice restaurant. Both Bordeaux and Lille, with their unique allure, can make for beautiful experiences for couples. However, here’s how they compare:

Bordeaux, known for its elegance and old-world charm, offers an enchanting setting that can be quite appealing to couples. The city’s majestic 18th-century architecture, grand squares, and beautiful gardens provide perfect backdrops for romantic strolls. A sunset walk along the Garonne River, a wine-tasting tour in the surrounding vineyards, or a gourmet meal in a fine dining restaurant – Bordeaux has all the ingredients to craft a romantic getaway.

Lille, on the other hand, presents a unique blend of French and Flemish influences, creating a charming atmosphere. Its old town, Vieux Lille, with its cobbled streets, colourful old houses, and chic boutiques, is ideal for leisurely walks. Couples can enjoy exploring the diverse arts scene, savouring the local cuisine, or simply cosy up in one of the many quaint cafes spread across the city.

Vieux Lille
Cute building in Vieux Lille

Bordeaux, with its wine culture and grandeur, offers a more classic romantic atmosphere. In contrast, Lille, with its historic charm and cultural vibrancy, provides a more cosy and intimate setting.

Which City is Better For Families? Bordeaux or Lille?

Bordeaux is a city steeped in history with beautiful architecture and plenty of green spaces. The kids will enjoy exploring the Jardin Public, and the whole family will love a boat ride on the Garonne River. Bordeaux also has many family-friendly restaurants and easy-to-navigate public transportation. Plus, it’s in the heart of wine country – so there’s something for the adults too!

Jardin Public Bordeaux at sunrise
Jardin de Public Bordeaux

Lille, on the other hand, offers a vibrant mix of French and Flemish culture. This means there are loads of fun and educational opportunities for the family. The Palais des Beaux-Arts museum has plenty to capture the kids’ imaginations, and Lille’s old town, with its cobbled streets and colourful houses, is great for a family walk. Lille also has some excellent family-friendly eateries where you can sample local dishes.

Both cities are great for a family vacation. Bordeaux might appeal more if your family enjoys outdoor activities and history. Lille might be a better choice if your family is into art, culture, and food. In the end, it’s all about what your family prefers!

Which City is Better For Partying? Bordeaux or Lille?

Bordeaux is well-known for its wine and for good reason. The city is surrounded by some of the world’s most famous vineyards, and this is reflected in the local nightlife. There are tons of wine bars where you can sample local vintages. And for those after a late-night dance, Bordeaux has a variety of clubs that cater to different musical tastes.

Lille, however, is a student city, which means it has a lively, youthful energy when the sun goes down. The city has a mix of traditional pubs, trendy bars and some great clubs, especially around the Rue Solferino and Rue Masséna areas. And don’t forget to try the local beer while you’re there – it’s a speciality of the region!

So, if you’re a wine lover looking for a sophisticated night out, Bordeaux might be the city for you. But if you’re after a youthful, energetic vibe with a wide choice of pubs and clubs, you might have a better time partying in Lille.

Which City is Safer? Bordeaux or Lille?

Bordeaux is considered one of the safest cities in France. Its tourist areas are well-patrolled, and it’s generally safe to walk around both day and night. However, as with any city, it’s wise to stay vigilant, especially at night and in less crowded areas.

Lille, being a student city, is lively and generally safe. The city centre and main tourist areas are well-lit and busy most of the time. However, as in all cities, some neighbourhoods might be best avoided late at night, and it’s always a good idea to stay aware of your surroundings.

So, in terms of safety, there’s not a huge difference between Bordeaux and Lille. Both cities are relatively safe, especially in the tourist areas. But no matter where you are, it’s always smart to take basic safety precautions, like avoiding less busy areas late at night and keeping an eye on your belongings.

How long to stay in Bordeaux

If you’re in Bordeaux primarily for the wine, you’ll want at least a few days. This will allow you to visit several châteaux, take part in wine tastings, and possibly engage in a wine-making workshop. Remember, the Bordeaux wine region is vast, and it’s worth taking the time to explore it thoroughly.

For those interested in the city’s rich history and culture, a two to three-day stay might be sufficient. This should give you enough time to visit major attractions like the Gothic Cathédrale Saint-André, the Musée d’Aquitaine, and the contemporary art installations at CAPC, not to mention leisurely strolls along the Garonne River and through the charming city streets.

Place de la Comédie Bordeaux

However, if you’re like me and enjoy immersing yourself in the local culture, you might want to stay longer. A week in Bordeaux would give you ample time to visit the city’s attractions, dine in its best restaurants, explore the surrounding vineyards, and simply soak up the atmosphere.

How long to stay in Lille

For a short trip, 2-3 days in Lille should give you enough time to see the main sights. You can explore the charming old town, visit a museum or two, and enjoy some local food. This is a good option if you’re on a tight schedule or if you’re visiting Lille as part of a larger trip.

If you have a bit more time, a week in Lille allows you to experience the city more thoroughly. You can take your time exploring the city’s different neighbourhoods, visit more museums, and even take day trips to nearby cities like Bruges or Ghent.

So, whether you’re planning a quick visit or a more extended stay, Lille has plenty to offer. But remember, the best trip length for you will depend on your personal interests and how much time you have available.

Which City is More Budget-Friendly? Bordeaux or Lille?

Bordeaux, as a world-famous wine region, can be a bit pricier, especially if you plan on visiting lots of vineyards or dining in high-end restaurants. Accommodation and eating out in the city can be more expensive compared to other French cities. But there are still plenty of budget-friendly options available, like local markets for food and a variety of affordable attractions.

Lille, on the other hand, is a student city, which often means a good range of budget-friendly options. Accommodation prices are generally lower than in Bordeaux, and you’ll find many affordable eateries, particularly if you stick to the local favourites. Public transportation in Lille is also reliable and reasonably priced, which can help you save on travel costs.

So, if budget is a major concern for your trip, Lille might be the more budget-friendly option. But remember, with a bit of planning and some savvy choices, both cities can be enjoyed on a budget.

How much is food and drink in Bordeaux and Lille?

Beer (€) Glass of Wine (€) Coffee (€) Meal at Midrange Restaurant (€)
Bordeaux €5 – €7 €3 – €10 €1.50 – €3 €15 – €30
Lille €5 – €7 €3 – €10 €1.50 – €3 €20 – €40

How much is it to stay in Bordeaux or Lille?

Luxury Hotel (€/night) Midrange Hotel (€/night) Budget Hotel (€/night) Hostel (€/night)
Bordeaux €200 – €500 €80 – €150 €40 – €70 €20 – €40
Lille €150 – €500 €70 – €150 €40 – €70 €20 – €40

When is the best time to visit Bordeaux?

🌼 Spring (March to May) in Bordeaux is a beautiful time, with moderate temperatures and the vineyards coming alive with new growth. This is a great time to visit if you’re interested in wine, as many châteaux begin to offer tours and tastings for the new season.

☀️ Summers (June to August) in Bordeaux are warm and sunny, perfect for exploring the city’s historical sites or enjoying a cruise on the Garonne River. This is also the time for numerous festivals such as the Bordeaux Wine Festival and the River Festival, offering an extra layer of entertainment for visitors.

🍁 Autumn (September to November) is grape harvest time, a significant event in any wine region. This season allows visitors to experience the winemaking process firsthand. The weather during this period remains pleasant, and the changing colours of the vine leaves add an extra charm to the city’s surroundings.

❄️ Winter (December to February) in Bordeaux is relatively mild, with fewer tourists around. While not the peak season for outdoor activities, it’s the perfect time to explore the city’s museums, enjoy its culinary delights, and perhaps get a chance to attend the Bordeaux Christmas Market.

When is the best time to visit Lille?

🌼 Spring (March to May) is a time when the city begins to revive after winter. The temperatures are mild, and the city’s parks and gardens are blossoming. This is a great time to visit if you enjoy outdoor activities and want to avoid the summer crowds.

☀️ Summers (June to August) in Lille are warm and lively, perfect for exploring the city’s charming old town and its vibrant markets. The city is bustling with festivals like the Lille Braderie, a huge flea market event and a unique cultural experience.

🍁 Autumn (September to November) in Lille brings mild weather and changing colours, turning the city into a vibrant palette. The falling leaves in the city parks create a beautiful spectacle, making it an ideal time for photographers.

❄️ Winter (December to February) in Lille is fairly chilly, but it’s also when the city turns into a festive wonderland. The Christmas market lights up the city, and while it might be cold, the magical atmosphere more than makes up for it.

Average Monthly Temperatures

Month Bordeaux (°C) Bordeaux Rainfall (days) Lille (°C) Lille Rainfall (days)
January 10° / 3° 12 6° / 1° 11
February 12° / 3° 10 7° / 1° 9
March 15° / 5° 10 11° / 3° 10
April 17° / 7° 10 14° / 5° 9
May 21° / 11° 10 18° / 9° 9
June 24° / 14° 8 21° / 11° 9
July 27° / 15° 6 23° / 14° 9
August 27° / 15° 7 23° / 13° 8
September 24° / 13° 8 20° / 11° 8
October 19° / 10° 9 15° / 8° 9
November 14° / 6° 12 10° / 4° 12
December 11° / 3° 11 7° / 2° 11

Please note that the given data includes the average high and low temperatures in Celsius (°C) and the number of rainfall days per month.

Getting around

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 who 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:

Getting around Lille is a breeze thanks to its efficient public transport system, which includes buses, trams, and a metro. The Lille Metro is particularly notable as it was the world’s first fully automated light rail network. For shorter distances, walking or cycling is quite feasible as Lille is a compact city with many pedestrianized areas.

There’s also a bike-sharing program known as V’Lille. If you plan on exploring the wider region, trains from Lille’s stations offer quick connections to other major cities in France and Belgium.
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

1. Place de la Bourse: One of the city’s most iconic sights, Place de la Bourse is a must-see. Be sure to check out the ‘Miroir d’Eau’, the world’s largest reflecting pool, located directly across from the square.


2. La Cité du Vin: A modern museum dedicated to the world of wine, La Cité du Vin is a unique experience. Learn about the wine production process and enjoy tastings with an amazing view of the city.

3. Saint-André Cathedral: This impressive Gothic cathedral offers a stunning view over Bordeaux from its bell tower, Tour Pey-Berland.

4. Rue Sainte-Catherine: As one of the longest pedestrian streets in Europe, Rue Sainte-Catherine is perfect for shopping enthusiasts. It’s lined with a variety of shops and restaurants, offering a real taste of Bordeaux’s vibrant culture.

5. Bordeaux Riverfront: Take a stroll along the picturesque Garonne River, which offers lovely views of Bordeaux’s historic facades. Consider a river cruise to truly appreciate the city’s beauty.

Place de la bourse, Bordeaux
Place De La Bourse

Top things to do in Lille

1. Visit the Palais des Beaux-Arts: As the second-largest general interest museum in France, the Palais des Beaux-Arts in Lille houses an impressive collection of paintings, sculptures, and drawings from the likes of Rubens, Van Dyck, and Delacroix.

2. Stroll around the Vieux Lille: The old town of Lille, with its cobblestone streets, beautiful old houses, and chic boutiques, is perfect for leisurely walks. Take time to enjoy the area’s charm, and don’t forget to try a Merveilleux, a local pastry.

3. Explore the LaM: Standing for Lille Métropole Museum of Modern, Contemporary and Outsider Art, the LaM holds over 4,000 works including pieces by Picasso, Modigliani, and Miro. Its beautiful park is also a must-see.

4. Take a walk through the Citadel: Designed by Louis XIV’s engineer Vauban, the Citadel is a star-shaped fortress. The surrounding park, Bois de Boulogne, is a great place for a picnic or a jog.

5. Visit the Wazemmes Market: This is one of the largest markets in France and a must-visit spot in Lille. From fresh produce to clothing, you’ll find almost everything here. Try to catch it on Sunday when it’s at its liveliest.

Le Transi by François Pompon (Palais des Beaux-Arts Lille)
Le Transi by François Pompon (Palais des Beaux-Arts Lille)

How to spend three days in Bordeaux

Day 1: Discover the City Centre

Start your Bordeaux adventure in the city centre. Begin at the Place de la Bourse and marvel at its grandeur. Don’t forget to take a memorable picture at the Miroir d’Eau. Continue to Rue Sainte-Catherine for a spot of shopping and lunch. In the afternoon, explore the Gothic Saint-André Cathedral and climb the Tour Pey-Berland for panoramic city views. End your day with a delicious dinner at a restaurant in the historic Saint-Pierre district.

Day 2: Dive into Wine and Culture

Begin your second day at La Cité du Vin. Immerse yourself in the world of wine and enjoy a tasting with a view. After lunch, head to the Musée d’Aquitaine to learn about Bordeaux’s history from prehistoric times to the present. Spend the rest of the afternoon at the CAPC, Bordeaux’s Museum of Contemporary Art. Finish the day with a relaxing dinner at the Chartrons district, known for its wine trading history and trendy eateries.

Wine City Bordeaux
La Cite Du Vin

Day 3: Explore the Outskirts

On your last day, consider exploring beyond the city. Take a half-day tour to the Saint-Émilion wine region, where you can visit vineyards, enjoy tastings, and discover the charming namesake village. Back in Bordeaux, spend the rest of your afternoon strolling along the Garonne River, or explore the Public Garden for a leisurely end to your trip.

How to spend three days in Lille

Day 1: Get Acquainted with Lille and Its Historic Heart

Begin your Lille adventure by meandering through the streets of Vieux Lille, the city’s old quarter. Marvel at the charming Flemish architecture, visit the imposing Lille Cathedral and indulge in some retail therapy at upscale boutiques. After lunch, head over to the Grand Place, the city’s main square, where you can admire historic buildings like the Vieille Bourse. Cap off your day with a delicious meal at one of the local French or Flemish restaurants in the area.

Day 2: Dive into Lille’s Cultural Treasures and Parks

Start your second day by visiting some of Lille’s renowned museums. Explore the Palais des Beaux-Arts to see masterpieces from Goya, Rubens, and other great artists. Post-lunch, take a leisurely stroll or have a picnic at Citadel Park, home to the impressive 17th-century Citadel. In the evening, venture back to Vieux Lille for dinner, opting for a cosy bistro for its delightful atmosphere.

Palais des Beaux-Arts de Lille
Palais des Beaux-Arts de Lille

Day 3: Embrace the Local Atmosphere and Farewell Meal

On your final day, immerse yourself in the local vibe at Wazemmes Market in the morning. Here you can sample local delicacies and pick up fresh produce. Consider a picnic lunch at the beautiful Jardin des Plantes, one of the city’s lovely green spaces. In the afternoon, pay a visit to the Maison Natale de Charles de Gaulle, the birthplace of the former French president. To wrap up your Lille trip, enjoy a farewell dinner at a restaurant serving traditional Northern French cuisine.

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