The ultimate Lille guide: a ‘Lille’ bit of literature!
Do you love French books and reading in French? Or do you just love to write? From bookshops to cafes, I will take you on a literary guide around Lille to get your creative juices flowing with this Lille literature guide.
After discovering where to eat, drink and stay in Lille, it’s time to find out where the best places are for a bibliophile’s needs: inexpensive books, collectors’ items and maybe even a decent chocolat chaud to go with it all!
Lille literature: À la recherche of French books!
Lille is not only home to Charles de Gaulle, the famous ch’ti beer and of course, maroilles cheese, but for certain it is also a literary goldmine!
Famous écrivains (writers) such as Amélie Suard (1750-1830), Yvonne Chauffin (1905–1995) and Alain Decaux (1925-2016) all came from here.
The best way to find most copies of their work would be in Furet du Nord!
This big chain of book shops would be the French equivalent to the English ‘Waterstones’. It has a wide range of materials for French study and pleasure. I found a Gallimard version of Proust’s entire À la recherche du temps perdu for thirty euros here! Although that was a good bargain, Furet has its drawbacks – many paperbacks are pricey!
For a bargain, follow Judy’s directions to the Vieille Bourse, Lille’s famous flea market. Despite having to hunt through the stacks, it’s great for old French literature as well as finding some fancy treasures. Don’t bother asking the sellers what copies they have though, they’ve lost track years ago!
Discover classic librairies in Lille
Not to be confused with the English ‘library’, librairies are traditional French bookshops. I can recommend two in Lille:
Librairie Godon – a shop for collectors or French literary lovers, with anciens romans (classic books) at collector’s prices! The librairie has a museum feel to it and is a must for French book lovers!
16 rue Masurel
And La Librarie Charpente – 20 minutes out of Lille by train, in a town called Douai. This librairie has even been on French TV. It’s a small beautiful book shop, with a place to sit and read as well as a wide range of inexpensive choices. The staff are always happy to chat about books too, from French to English literature they always have brilliant recommendations. This is the place for cat lovers – the shop’s three cats have free reign of the books!
134 rue de la Mairie
Lille literature guide: favourites for inspiration
2008 saw Lille as a setting in Jérôme Leroy’s short crime novel ‘Rendez-vous rue de la Monnaie’.
Perhaps Lille could inspire you too! Here are a few of my favourite spots where I feel inspired.
Le café livres /La Patronne in Lille is the perfect place to start. Surround yourself by inspiration with books everywhere, and, drink as much coffee or hot chocolate as you wish.
35 rue des Bouchers
Chez Méert would be a great place to read, or to start writing. Staff are friendly and not pushy at all here, I’ve spent 3 hours without being forced to leave or order something else despite massive queues! The interior design truly has the wow-factor too!
27 rue Esquermoise
Le Palais de Beaux Arts is an incredible place to activate the creative juices for your first novel, a lovely place to walk around with plenty of places to sit and read, to wonder and to look at the amazing artwork.
18 Bis rue de Valmy
Where are your favourite places to read, or write or feel creative? Is it at home? Could it be in somewhere in Lille? Share your thoughts in the comments box below.
I'm a final year French student at University of Nottingham. I am passionate about French literature, in particular nineteenth-century French novels and love escaping to Paris for chocolat chaud. Follow me: my year abroad blog, instagram & twitter!
Come with us to experience French life beyond the cliché. Magazine – Events – Experiences
Would you like to work with our team?
Wherever you live, if you’re a francophile or French and you’d like to join our team of Contributors then we’d love to hear from you – check out oursubmissionspage. We’re also constantly seeking savvy interns – please check on availableinternships