Lille or Cannes? – Which City Will You Visit?

Lille or Cannes

Lille or Cannes? Which city should you visit?

Contemplating a French getaway and struggling between Lille or Cannes? Decisions, decisions, we’re here to make that call a tad bit easier for you. Here’s a quick rundown of both cities so you can get a better idea.

🏛 History Buffs: This isn’t an easy choice! Lille’s Flemish, Spanish and French heritage has left it with an interesting and unique historical background, added to the nearby battlefields of WW1 it’s a top destination for history nerds. But, Cannes’ holds its own with the Lérins Islands and the fortress and monastery located there.

🏖 Beach Lovers: No contest here! Cannes, with its sun-kissed beaches and blue waters of the Mediterranean, is a dream destination for those seeking sun and sand. Lille doesn’t even have a beach!

🥐 Foodies: This really boils down to personal taste. Lille, with its Flemish and French influences, offers hearty dishes like carbonnade flamande (a beef stew) and Potjevleesch (it literally translates to a pot of meat). Cannes on the other hand, offers lighter dishes more influenced by the Mediterranean and the incredible seafood on offer.

🌳 Nature Enthusiasts: Whilst the countryside around Lille is beautiful, it can’t quite match the diversity of Cannes. With the Mediterranean on its doorstep and the mountains behind it, there’s plenty to do here for outdoor lovers,.

🏢 Urban Explorers: Lille’s bustling markets, incredible art scene, diverse nightlife and lively streets are perfect for getting stuck in and exploring. Whilst Cannes is a beautiful city, it’s more suited to relaxing in the Mediterranean sunshine.

🍷 Wine Lovers: Being sat in Provence, Cannes is definitely the better destination for wine lovers, with plenty of vineyards to visit locally. But, if you’d rather experience a city with a passion for beer, Lille should jump straight to the top of your list.

🎒 Backpackers: With Lille having one of the largest universities in France, there’s a youthful vibe to match. Coupled with affordable options, it’s a great destination for backpackers. Whilst lovely, Cannes can be a bit expensive and pretentious.

👵 Over 60’s: Lille may have incredible history on offer, but it Cannes relaxing promenades, high end boutiques and slow pace caters perfectly to the older generation.

👨‍👩‍👦 Family-Friendly: Cannes, calm beaches and relaxing vibe make it a great destination for a family holiday. Lille is a better destination for families that prefer culture over the beach.

Conclusion: If you’re learning towards a city break full of culture, history, great food and art, head to Lillie. But, if you’d like to spend some time relaxing in the sun, Cannes is for you!

Can’t make up your mind just yet? Keep on reading for a more thorough analysis of 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.

Vieux Lille
Vieux Lille – Photo by couleursdumondemty


Known worldwide for its famous film festival, Cannes truly is a star of the Côte d’Azur. Here, you can wander along La Croisette, a boulevard lined with palm trees and luxury boutiques, with the sparkling Mediterranean Sea as your backdrop. The Old Town, known as Le Suquet, offers a change of pace with its winding streets and panoramic views of the city and sea. But Cannes isn’t just about the glitz and glamour. It’s also a city with beautiful sandy beaches, splendid villas, and a rich history. Whether you’re looking for luxury, culture, or simply a place to relax in the sun, Cannes has got everything.

Cannes Marina
– Photo by the_french_riviera_reviews

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

Lille or Biarritz

Lille or Nantes

Pros and Cons of Lille and Cannes

Lille Pros:

  • 🎨 Cultural Richness: Boasts numerous museums, art galleries, and a vibrant theatre scene.
  • 🚄 Transport Connectivity: Exceptional rail links, including Eurostar to London and TGV to major French cities.
  • 🛍 Shopping: Offers a mix of traditional French shops and modern retail experiences.
  • 🌆 Architectural Charm: Known for its beautiful Flemish architecture.
  • 🍽 Cuisine: A great destination for food lovers, with a mix of French and Flemish influences.
  • 🏫 Academic Hub: Home to several universities, providing a lively student atmosphere.
  • 🎉 Festivals: Hosts various cultural and music festivals throughout the year.

Lille Cons:

  • 🌥 Weather: Can be quite grey and rainy, typical of the northern France climate.
  • 🌃 Nightlife: More subdued compared to larger cities like Paris.
  • 🏞 Natural Scenery: Limited in comparison to more geographically diverse regions.
  • 🎭 Less International: Not as internationally renowned as other French cities.
  • 🏙 Industrial Past: Some areas still reflect its industrial heritage, which might not appeal to everyone.

Cannes Pros:

  • 🎥 Film Festival: Hosts the prestigious Cannes Film Festival.
  • 🏖 Beaches: Gorgeous beaches and a haven for sunbathers.
  • 🛍 Luxury Shopping: Known for high-end shopping experiences.
  • 🍴 Gourmet Dining: Offers an array of fine dining options with Mediterranean influences.
  • 🌟 Celebrity Presence: A glamorous hotspot attracting celebrities and the elite.
  • 🚤 Yachting & Water Sports: A prime destination for yachting and water activities.
  • 🍸 Vibrant Nightlife: Known for its upscale clubs and bars.
  • 🌅 Scenic Beauty: Stunning seaside views and picturesque settings.

Cannes Cons:

  • 💶 High Cost of Living: One of the more expensive cities in France, particularly during peak events.
  • 🏊‍♂️ Crowded: Can become overly crowded, especially during the film festival.
  • 🏛 Limited Historical Attractions: Not as rich in historical sites compared to other French cities.
  • 🚌 Public Transportation: Less comprehensive compared to major cities.
  • 🏨 Expensive Accommodation: Limited budget-friendly accommodation options.
  • 🍽 Dining Diversity: Dominated by high-end restaurants, fewer casual or budget dining options.
  • 🌡 Summer Heat: Can get quite hot and busy during summer months.

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 Cannes

Determining how long to stay in Cannes depends on what you’re looking to get out of your visit. With its sunny beaches, luxurious lifestyle, and vibrant cultural scene, Cannes has something for everyone.

For those looking to enjoy the sun and sand, a weekend getaway might suffice. This gives you time to soak up the sun on Cannes’ beautiful beaches, take a leisure stroll along the glamorous La Croisette Boulevard, and perhaps enjoy a meal at a seaside restaurant.

However, if you’re interested in exploring Cannes’ cultural attractions, such as the Le Suquet old town, the Musée de la Castre, or the various art galleries around town, a stay of three to four days would be more suitable. This will allow you to experience these attractions without feeling rushed.

For a more relaxed pace and time to explore beyond Cannes itself, consider a stay of a week or longer. This would give you ample time to enjoy day trips to the nearby Lerins Islands or other charming towns along the French Riviera like Nice, Antibes, and Saint-Tropez.

Lérins Islands
– Photo by dominadara

How much is food and drink in Lille and Cannes?

Item Lille (€) Cannes (€)
🍺 Beer (Bar/Restaurant) 5 – 7 6 – 8
🍷 Glass of Wine (Bar/Restaurant) 3 – 10 5 – 12
☕️ Coffee (Café) 1.50 – 3 2 – 4
🍽 Meal at Midrange Restaurant (Per Person) 20 – 40 25 – 50

How much is it to stay in Lille or Cannes?

Accommodation Type Lille (€ per night) Cannes (€ per night)
Luxury Hotel 150 – 500 300 – 1000
Midrange Hotel 70 – 150 100 – 300
Budget Hotel 40 – 70 60 – 100
Hostel 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 Cannes?

🌼 Spring (March to May) is a fantastic time to visit Cannes, especially if you’re a film enthusiast. The Cannes Film Festival, held annually in May, turns the city into a global hotspot for film lovers. Be prepared for larger crowds and higher prices during this period, though. Weather-wise, the temperatures are generally pleasant, perfect for exploring the city and nearby attractions.

☀️ Summer (June to August) in Cannes is all about the beach. The weather is typically warm, with lots of sunshine – perfect for swimming, sunbathing, and other beach activities. Outdoor festivals and events are common during this season, adding to the city’s lively atmosphere.

🍁 Autumn (September to November) in Cannes offers a more serene experience. The summer crowds have dispersed, leaving the city quieter and more peaceful. This is an excellent time to enjoy the city’s cultural attractions, as well as the beautiful autumn scenery of the French Riviera.

❄️ Winter (December to February) is the low season in Cannes, with fewer tourists and lower prices. The weather is generally mild, and while it may not be beach weather, it’s still pleasant enough for strolls along La Croisette or visits to nearby towns.
Weather: Cannes has a beautiful Mediterranean climate. So mild winters and hot summers, you’ll rarely see freezing temperatures here, even in winter. It can get very hot in summer, so don’t forget your sun cream!

Average Monthly Temperatures

Month Lille – High/Low (°C) Lille – Rain (days) Cannes – High/Low (°C) Cannes – Rain (days)
January 6° / 1° 11 days 13° / 4° 6 days
February 7° / 1° 9 days 14° / 4° 5 days
March 11° / 3° 10 days 16° / 6° 5 days
April 14° / 5° 9 days 18° / 9° 6 days
May 18° / 9° 9 days 22° / 13° 5 days
June 21° / 11° 9 days 25° / 16° 3 days
July 23° / 14° 9 days 28° / 19° 1 day
August 23° / 13° 8 days 28° / 19° 2 days
September 20° / 11° 8 days 25° / 15° 4 days
October 15° / 8° 9 days 21° / 12° 6 days
November 10° / 4° 12 days 17° / 7° 7 days
December 7° / 2° 11 days 14° / 4° 5 days

This table gives a clear overview of the general climate trends in Lille and Cannes, with temperature ranges and average rainfall days per month.

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 Cannes:

Navigating Cannes is surprisingly simple, even for first-time visitors. The city offers a mix of public transport and walkable districts that make getting around hassle-free. The city’s public bus system, operated by Palm Bus, covers a broad area, making stops at popular spots throughout Cannes and its suburbs. The bus service is reliable and runs frequently so you’ll never be waiting too long.

If you’re staying in the city centre, most places are easily reached on foot. The famous Boulevard de la Croisette, lined with luxury shops, restaurants, and of course, the Cannes Film Festival venue, is perfect for a leisurely walk. You’ll get to soak up the sun, enjoy the sea breeze, and maybe even spot a celebrity or two!

For more independent travel, consider renting a bike or an electric scooter. Cannes is bike-friendly with several bike paths and routes around the city. And if you’re planning to explore the French Riviera further, Cannes’ train station, Gare de Cannes, offers regular services to other glamorous towns along the coast.

Cannes-Mandelieu Airport, situated just a short drive from the city centre, serves a number of domestic and international flights, making the city easily accessible. There are also several car hire companies operating in and around the airport if you prefer to drive yourself. In short, Cannes offers a variety of ways to get around that cater to different travel styles and preferences.

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.
Palais des Beaux-Arts de Lille
Palais des Beaux-Arts de Lille – Photo by rizanovska

Top things to do in Cannes

  1. La Croisette Boulevard: Cannes’ most famous promenade offers stunning sea views, luxury shops, and first-class restaurants. It’s also home to the Palais des Festivals et des Congrès, where the Cannes Film Festival is held.
  2. Le Suquet (Old Town): A charming area with narrow winding streets, the Old Town offers a break from Cannes’ glitz. Don’t miss the spectacular views from the historic watchtower and church at the top.
  3. Lerins Islands: Just a short ferry ride from Cannes, these islands are perfect for a day trip. Visit the historic Fort Royal on Sainte-Marguerite Island and the Cistercian monastery on Saint-Honorat Island.
  4. Cannes’ Beaches: Cannes is famous for its beaches. Whether you choose a private beach with amenities or a public beach, it’s a must for any visit.
  5. Marché Forville: For a local experience, visit this daily market where you’ll find a range of fresh produce, cheeses, and other regional delicacies.
Marché forville Cannes
Marché forville – Photo by ernst_voyageur

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.

Grande Place Lille
Grande Place – Photo by cafesalleyways

How to spend three days in Cannes

Day 1: Explore the City and La Croisette

Start your Cannes journey by taking a leisurely stroll down La Croisette Boulevard. Visit the famous Palais des Festivals et des Congrès and walk in the footsteps of the movie stars. Spend the rest of your morning exploring the luxury shops and enjoying the sea views. After lunch, hit one of Cannes’ stunning beaches for some relaxation. Round off your day with a lovely dinner at one of the seafront restaurants.

Day 2: Discover the Old Town and Islands

Spend your second day exploring Le Suquet, the Old Town. Wander its quaint, winding streets, enjoy the local shops and cafes, and take in the stunning views from the top. After lunch, catch a ferry to the Lerins Islands. Explore the historic Fort Royal on Sainte-Marguerite Island and the Cistercian monastery on Saint-Honorat Island. Return to Cannes for dinner, perhaps choosing a restaurant in Le Suquet for its charming atmosphere.

Day 3: Enjoy the Local Culture and Scenery

On your final day, visit Marché Forville in the morning to explore the local produce and delicacies. Consider a picnic lunch with your market purchases at one of the local parks or beaches. In the afternoon, visit the Musée de la Castre for its collection of Mediterranean and Eastern artifacts, not to mention fantastic panoramic views from the tower. Conclude your visit to Cannes with a farewell dinner at a restaurant offering Provençal specialties.

Le Suquet
– Photo by the_french_riviera_reviews
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