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Lille is France's fourth largest city and boasts a sizeable gay scene just two hours from London. If you live in the South it's closer than Manchester and wherever you are in the UK, it's the perfect Gallic gay spring break away says OutUK's Adrian Gillan.

Tired of attitude in Paris? Bored with Brussels? Then follow the boys in the know to Lille near the French border with Belgium and get the best of both worlds, without the crowds. The city is steeped in history from real-life musketeer d'Artagnan to General de Gaulle and from Louis Pasteur to the Battle Fields of Flanders. It houses a library and research institute called GKC (Gay Kitsch Camp!) for the study of gender pluralism and currently 42% of Lille's population is under 25, so if you're over thirty you're in a minority!

It's just a ten minute walk from the Gare-Lille Europe, where Eurostar glides in, to Lille's beautiful Grand Place.

Then it's just another five minute jaunt north into the Vieux Lille, the Old Town, and the gay cluster around the rue Royale and the rue de la Barre.


rue de la Monnaie in Lille's Old Town

NIGHTLIFE

Gay restaurant Le Royale Avenue is both modern and atmospheric, well confirming Lille's reputation for fine cuisine - at moderate prices. All Lille's gay bars are extremely friendly, both staff and patrons. Most have a long bar and DJ decks which stretch back from the entrance towards an extra upper loft area for drinking and gazing down on the main action below.
Mum's Bar is a good place to start, just off the rue Royale, with a nice dance space and smaller upper bar and rather cruisy loos at the very top. Then go round the corner into rue due la Barre and duck into Vice-Versa for some pleasant conversation with the locals. Over the road and down an alley and you're in Japanese-themed Yo, undoubtedly the style bar in town. Its simple red, white and black décor focus in on a large spot-lit Buddha but you'll have to hunt cross-legged for the toilet door, a panel concealed within a wall. Chillin at Tchouka
If you like to mix it with the girls Le P'tit Marais a few streets away is the main dyke bar around. And if you like things really mixed then lots of 'strays' pass the time in nearby trendy gay-friendly venues like Le Loundge and L'Open Bar.
Barman Arnaud from Tchouka Tchouka Club is the key late night rave in Lille, about a fifteen minute walk away, just south west of centre beyond the Palais des Beaux-Arts - France's second national art gallery after the Louvre.

Young Lille lads in the packed main room encircle a large central bar-in-the-round which itself defends a dance-boy podium bang in the middle. With guys also writhing around in the smaller back-room bar, the venue is almost too busy for its own good but you're bound to find something grabs you!

MISCHIEF

And it's not far to go if you want to walk off some horn and take things fresh. The main cruising ground is at the end of the rue de la Barre towards the historic Citadelle fortress. The bushes aren't the only things lush in the Jardin Vauban. Or you can pop over the canal-cum-moats to the Bois de Boulogne park, around the edges of the Champ de Mars car park and amidst the buttresses of the castle's ramparts.

Two saunas battle it out for queer attentions. Les Bains is old and big; Le Lokal new but small. Swings and round-abouts say locals - you pays your money and takes your kit off. Or if you're allergic to steam, La Boite a Films is a no-nonsense video shop with porn dark room and private video booths. And horny boys on heat can also shop 'til they pop at Le Kheops.

HOTELS

OutUK in association with BOOKINGS offer a host of excellent Lille hotels at unbeatable discount rates. Click here for more details, online brochures, availability and online booking.

Adrian travelled with Eurostar who'll take you effortlessly from London Waterloo to the heart of Lille in two hours. For information and booking, phone 08705 186 186 or visit www.eurostar.com.

THE LITTLE BLACK BOOK
Mum's Bar (4 rue Doudin; T: 00.33.3.20.06.32.22)
Vice-Versa (3 rue de la Barre; T: 00.33.3.20.59.93.46)
Le Yo (Place Jacques-Louchard; T: 00.33.3.20.06.82.82)
Le P'tit Marais (45 rue Lepelletier; T: 00.33.6.82.35.23.90)
Le Loundge (21 rue Royale; no phone)
L'Open Bar (Place Mendes France; T: 00.33.3.20.15.17.67)
Tchouka Club (85 rue Barthelemy Delespaul; no phone)
Les Bains (52 rue de Cambrai; T: 00.33.3.20.53.02.02)
Le Lokal (95bis rue du Molinel; T: 00.33.3.20.30.67.85)
La Boite a Films (24 rue de Roubaix; T: 00.33.3.20.51.29.51)
Le Kheops (2 rue des Jardins; T: 00.33.3.20.06.29.87)

Revised February 2015.

 

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