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The Wazemmes neighbourhood in Lille

The Wazemmes neighbourhood in Lille is rather like what Belleville is to Paris: a popular, working class area, previously inhabited by factory workers but now home to a large vibrant and diverse immigrant population.

The area is rife with heady scents, exotic cuisine and unusual shops and often you will find halal butchers, kebab shops or Asian supermarkets incongruously nestled at the ground floor of traditional wooden buildings from previous centuries. Within easy walking distance from the centre of Lille this area is well worth the detour. Just like the buildings, the Wazemmes neighbourhood oozes cosmopolitan charm wrapped up in history, a perfect example of the old embracing the new.

This area is most famous for its market which is open on Mondays, Thursdays and Sunday mornings from 7am to 2pm. Here you can find everything from fruit, vegetables and flowers to a great selection of clothes, jewellery, beauty products and even books. The atmosphere in this market is electric particularly on Sundays where you will find it hard to move amongst the crowds. As well as all these products there are great restaurants in the market where you can take a break from all that shopping with a delicious meal for a reasonable price.

The covered gallery on Place de la Nouvelle Aventure which is open every day offers more expensive produce but is a perfect place to enjoy the Mert waffles, a speciality of Lille.

Named as the European City of Culture in 2004, Lille has been firmly placed on the culture map and you can find plenty of cultural activities in its Wazemmes neighbourhood. As a result of a significant regeneration project recently particularly the establishment of the Maisons Folies, a dozen hot cultural centres located in rehabilitated factories, fortresses and farmhouses, Wazemmes certainly has a cultural buzz around it.

Bursting with lots of small bars, notably on Rue Gambetta and Rue du Marché, many head to this area to have a drink with friends in the company of the accordionists who even have a festival dedicated to them in May!