Lille or Biarritz? Which city should you visit?
Considering a trip and can’t choose between Lille or Biarritz? Let’s break it down by interests to see which might suit you best.
🏛 History Buffs: Lille is rich in history with landmarks like Place du Général-de-Gaulle and the Citadel, alongside the nearby battlefields of the western front. Biarritz, once a whaling town, was made famous when the Emperor Napoleon’s wife built a palace there. In terms of historical attractions, Lille is a much more varied destination. But if you like the idea of visiting Emperor Napoleon’s holiday resort Biarritz is for you!
🏖 Beach Lovers: Due to Lille being landlocked, Biarritz wins by default. This world famous surfing destination has some really beautiful beaches.
🥐 Foodies: Lille’s hearty mix of French and Flemish dishes like Carbonade Flamande and Potjevleesch will leave you very full! Biarritz has a lighter cuisine. Influenced by the sea and the Basque region, here it’s all about seafood and pintxos (mini tapas) we’d be leaning towards Biarritz if we were choosing.
🌳 Nature Enthusiasts: Whilst Lille has some nice parks, Biarritz wins this with its rugged coastline and incredible views. Whether it’s surfing or hiking along the coast, there’s plenty to do for nature lovers here.
🏢 Urban Explorers: Biarritz is a beautiful city, but if you want to spend a few days exploring museums, galleries, bars and restaurants, Lille is a better destination. There’s so much more to see and explore in Lille.
🍷 Wine Lovers: While Lille has an incredible beer scene and isn’t short on wine, there’s no nearby vineyards. Unlike Biarritz, which is on the doorstep of the Basque Country wine region.
🎒 Backpackers: Thanks to its student population, Lille is a more budget friendly destination and has a more youthful vibe. But, if you’re looking for the sea and surfing Biarritz is the obvious destination.
👵 Over 60’s: Biarritz’s relaxed pace and incredible views are perfect for those looking for a relaxing getaway. Lille’s flat terrain and compact city centre is great for the older generations, but it can get busy.
👨👩👦 Family-Friendly: Both of these cities have plenty to offer for families. Biarritz is the obvious destination if your family is wanting a seaside getaway. But Lille has plenty to offer for families that enjoy activities, parks and museums.
Conclusion: If you love museums, culture, beer, and hearty food Lille is the perfect destination for you. But, if you’re more into surfing, the beach, rugged coastlines and seafood head to Biarritz.
Still not decided? Keep on reading for a more thorough take on both cities.
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 ambiance 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.
Often referred to as the ‘surfing capital of Europe’,Biarritz is a stunning seaside city located on France’s Basque coast. It’s a place where the glamour of the old world seamlessly blends with the laid-back vibes of a surf town. Known for its grand, Belle Époque architecture, pristine beaches, and world-class surfing conditions, Biarritz is truly an ocean lover’s paradise. Not to forget the city’s vibrant food scene that boasts a unique mix of traditional Basque specialties and innovative fusion cuisine. And if that wasn’t enough, the city also offers plenty of cultural attractions, including museums, art galleries, and historic sites. In short, Biarritz is a delightful mix of elegance, culture, and adventure – an ideal destination for any traveller!
While we’re comparing Lille and Biarritz in this post, we’ve also looked at how Lille stacks up against other cities like Cannes and Strasbourg. We’ve linked to those articles below if you want to take a look!
Pros and Cons of Lille and Biarritz
- 🎨 Cultural Richness: Renowned for its vibrant art scene, museums, and cultural festivals.
- 🚆 Transport Hub: Excellent rail connections, including direct links to major European cities.
- 🛍 Shopping: A delightful mix of modern shopping centres and traditional markets.
- 🏰 Architecture: Charming old town with impressive Flemish influences.
- 🍽 Diverse Cuisine: A culinary hotspot blending French and Flemish flavours.
- 🎓 Academic Vibrancy: Home to several universities, infusing a youthful energy.
- 🎉 Festivals and Events: Known for lively events and a strong festive culture.
- 🌧 Weather: Often cloudy with higher chances of rainfall.
- 🌃 Nightlife: More low-key compared to other major cities.
- 🏞 Natural Scenery: Lacks immediate access to beaches or mountains.
- 🌍 Global Recognition: Less internationally known than other French destinations.
- 🏭 Industrial Heritage: Some areas still reflect its industrial roots.
- 🏄♂️ Surfing Haven: Renowned worldwide for its excellent surfing beaches.
- 🏖 Beach Lifestyle: Offers a laid-back beach atmosphere with stunning coastal views.
- 🍽 Seafood Cuisine: Famous for fresh seafood and Basque culinary traditions.
- 🌞 Pleasant Climate: Benefits from mild weather throughout the year.
- 🛍 Boutique Shopping: Charming boutiques and local artisan shops.
- 🎥 Film & Music Festivals: Hosts various cultural events including film and music festivals.
- 🌿 Natural Beauty: Surrounded by picturesque landscapes and natural beauty.
- 💶 Cost: Generally more expensive, especially during peak tourist seasons.
- 🚗 Traffic and Parking: Can be challenging during summer months.
- 🌆 Small Town Feel: Lacks the urban vibrancy of larger cities.
- 🛩 Accessibility: Less accessible compared to major urban centres.
- 🏨 Accommodation: Limited budget options, with a focus on higher-end stays.
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 fully. 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 longer 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.
How long to stay in Biarritz
Three to Four Days: A 3-4 day trip can cover the highlights of Biarritz. You’ll have enough time to stroll around the city centre, visit the main landmarks such as the Rocher de la Vierge and the Biarritz Lighthouse, and soak in the atmosphere of the Les Halles market. Of course, don’t forget to spend some quality time at the Grand Plage, the city’s famous beach. You may also squeeze in a visit to the Aquarium de Biarritz or the Asiatica Museum if you’re interested.
Five to Seven Days: If you’ve got a week in Biarritz, that’s even better! You can take your time exploring the city at a leisurely pace, trying out various water sports, or indulging in the renowned thalassotherapy for which Biarritz is famous. With a few extra days on your hands, consider making day trips to nearby locations like the charming town of Saint-Jean-de-Luz or even cross the border into Spain to explore San Sebastian.
Of course, the length of stay in Biarritz depends on what kind of trip you’re looking for. If you’re seeking a relaxed beach holiday with a sprinkling of city exploration, a longer stay would be suitable. However, if you’re on a whirlwind tour of France or trying to cover multiple cities, a shorter stay would work too. Regardless, Biarritz promises an amazing holiday!
How much is food and drink in Lille and Biarritz?
|5 – 7
|4 – 7
|🍷 Glass of Wine
|3 – 10
|4 – 10
|1.50 – 3
|2 – 4
|🍽️ Meal at Midrange Restaurant
|20 – 40
|20 – 40
How much is it to stay in Lille or Biarritz?
|Lille (€ per night)
|Biarritz (€ per night)
|150 – 500
|200 – 600
|70 – 150
|80 – 200
|40 – 70
|50 – 80
|20 – 40
|20 – 40
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.
When is the best time to visit Biarritz?
🌼 Spring (March to May) in Biarritz is an ideal time for surfers as the waves are just right and the weather is becoming warmer. It’s also less crowded, offering you an intimate experience with the city. This is a great time to learn surfing if you’re new to the sport as many surf schools open their doors for the season.
☀️ Summers (June to August) in Biarritz are vibrant and sunny, making it the perfect season for beach activities, from sunbathing to swimming. The city buzzes with tourists and locals alike, creating a lively atmosphere. Keep in mind, this is also peak tourist season, so be prepared for larger crowds and higher prices.
🍁 Autumn (September to November) brings a peaceful charm to Biarritz. The summer crowds thin, and the city regains its tranquility. The weather remains pleasant, and the Atlantic Ocean is still warm enough for swimming and surfing. This season is also ideal for leisurely walks to appreciate the changing colours of nature.
❄️ Winter (December to February) in Biarritz is relatively mild and quieter, with fewer tourists. It’s the perfect time to explore the city’s museums, like the Biarritz History Museum or the Asiatica Museum, without the crowds. You could also take this time to enjoy the city’s renowned thalassotherapy centres for a relaxing spa experience.
Average Monthly Temperatures
|Lille Temperature (High/Low °C)
|Lille Rainfall (days)
|Biarritz Temperature (High/Low °C)
|Biarritz Rainfall (days)
|6° / 1°
|13° / 5°
|7° / 1°
|14° / 5°
|11° / 3°
|16° / 7°
|14° / 5°
|17° / 9°
|18° / 9°
|20° / 12°
|21° / 11°
|23° / 15°
|23° / 14°
|25° / 17°
|23° / 13°
|25° / 17°
|20° / 11°
|24° / 15°
|15° / 8°
|21° / 12°
|10° / 4°
|16° / 8°
|7° / 2°
|14° / 6°
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.
Getting around Biarritz:
Biarritz, being a compact town, offers multiple easy travel options. The local bus system, Chronoplus, provides regular services around town and to nearby areas.
For those wishing to venture further, car rentals are available, although parking can be tricky during peak season. Within the city, walking is a popular choice due to the town’s small size, allowing you to reach most places on foot.
Bike rentals offer an active alternative for getting around, and of course, taxis and rideshare services like Uber are always at your disposal for convenient, direct transport. However, these might come with a higher cost compared to public transportation.
Top things to do in Lille
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
Top things to do in Biarritz
- Biarritz’s Beaches: Famed for their beauty and surf-friendly waves, Biarritz’s beaches are the heart of the town. Grande Plage, the largest beach, offers plenty of room for sunbathing and swimming, while Côte des Basques is the surfers’ choice.
- Musée de la Mer: This sea museum offers insight into marine life with numerous aquariums housing everything from sharks to sea urchins. It’s an ideal destination for families and marine enthusiasts.
- Phare de Biarritz: The Biarritz Lighthouse stands tall on the town’s northern cliff. You can climb the 248 steps to the top for a panoramic view of Biarritz and its surrounding areas.
- Rocher de la Vierge: This iconic rock formation is accessed by a bridge and offers stunning views over Biarritz. Named for the statue of Virgin Mary placed on top of it, it’s a picturesque spot worth visiting.
- Les Halles de Biarritz: To taste the flavours of Biarritz, visit Les Halles, the town’s vibrant food market. Here, you’ll find a fantastic assortment of regional produce, cheeses, pastries, and seafood to savour.
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 the 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.
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.
How to spend three days in Biarritz
Day 1: Embrace the Ocean’s Call
Begin your day with a leisurely stroll along the Grande Plage, Biarritz’s main beach, perhaps even braving a morning dip. Later, explore the marine life at the Musée de la Mer Aquarium, where the seal feeding sessions are a highlight. As the day mellows, find a cozy spot in the Old Port area to enjoy some local pintxos and a picturesque sunset.
Day 2: Ride the Waves and Revel in the Views
Kick-off your second day by diving into Biarritz’s renowned surf culture with a lesson at a local surf school. In the afternoon, wind down with a scenic walk along Rocher de la Vierge, an iconic rock formation offering breathtaking views. Cap off your day with a fresh seafood dinner at the charming Port des Pêcheurs.
Day 3: Explore Local Flavours and Neighbouring Charm
Start your final day early at Les Halles de Biarritz, sampling fresh local produce from the bustling market. Later, venture out on a short bus ride to the neighbouring town of Bayonne. Absorb its picturesque streets, try the famous Bayonne ham, and let the city’s Basque charm captivate you. Finish your trip back in Biarritz with a farewell drink overlooking the ocean.
Gareth is an avid city adventurer with a particular passion for finding amazing food! There’s quite literally nothing he doesn’t like. He spends most of his travelling time trying to find great restaurants and cafes to eat at. Alongside trying local street food which he loves! He’s done most of his travelling in Europe so far but would love to visit Japan and Mexico
When not travelling you can find Gareth boxing, running, or in the gym. He’s got a passion for exercise and loves physical challenges.
You can contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org