|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.
Lille houses a library and research institute called GKC (Gay Kitsch Camp!) for the study of gender pluralism
and currently 42% of the local population is under 25, so if you're over thirty you're in a minority!
There is a real atmosphere of civilisation throughout Lille and
in just ten minutes you can walk from the Gare-Lille Europe, where Eurostar glides in,
to the 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
Le Privilege is a full on gay bar in the Rue Royale with regular DJs and extraordinary interior design with its chandelliers, clocks and lighting rig. It is one of few exclusively gay bars in the city and as a result, gets pretty busy after midnight. If you walk past the bar and stools, thereâ€™s a more subdued upstairs and downstairs seating area where there is table service.
Just around the corner, L'Autrement Dit may not have the widest beer choice, but it's a nice bar with a terrace and cellar.
Le SĂ©basto in the Rue Inkermann is a simple tobacco bar, whilst Chez Paulette
is all about its friendly staff and their good range of drinks and dishes. Their karaoke evenings are great too and they have an attractive terrace to enjoy.
Back on Rue Royale, Quai Des Bananas is making a name for itself having been around since 1997, and they have certainly developed the art of celebration in all its forms.
It's a cocktail bar in a speakeasy style with 1950-70s music, and just occasionally 80s pop culture mixed with an Hispanic flavour. They trade on their originality and style.
Chillin on the bar scene of Lille
There's a nice atmosphere and a modern bar with pretty decor to be found at Le Big Up Bar. There's great diversity of those who go their regularly and the quality of music is good.
And if you like things really mixed then lots of 'strays'
pass the time in trendy gay-friendly venues like L'Open Bar.
Barman Arnaud is one of the tasty treats of Lille
Liquium is known for being a rather cosy Bar with Bar Games, Great cocktails and both the bar staff and clientele are very warm, welcoming and friendly, even if you
can only speak very little french. Themed around unicorns, this pro LGBT bar offers nice Belgium beers on the tap and the food is 100% vegan - their lasagna is to die for!
Le Beaulieu serves excellent pizza in the Rue du Sec Arembault - it's gay friendly and good fun.
You can also find a warm welcome and good food also at The Corner in the Rue Saint-SĂ©bastien. It's always busy and is known for being a great place in Lille for cocktails.
Le Bayard in the Rue Nationale is a gay friendly coffee bar run by VĂ©ro and Arno - the boss and her brother. It has a relaxed atmosphere
and is a great place to meet friends - they have shooter and cocktail specials which you shouldn't miss out on.
Cabaret La BonbonniĂ¨re
opened in 2011, and is now regarded as the must-go cabaret venue in Lille's city centre.
It attracts a growing clientele enjoying loads of great performances, fine costumes, glittering stones and sequins, and plenty of fun.
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.
Le Sling is located in a former factory over 300 sqm and on 3 levels in the Rue Jean JaurĂ¨s. It's 100% about guys and the best known crusing and fetish club in Lille.
Lights, equipment, music and everything is designed for a decidedly underground atmosphere, making it conducive to all your favourite fetish fantasies. They have 10 cabins, 4 cells,
2 dark rooms, 10 glory holes, 5 slings, a royal room with leather armchair and a St Andrews cross which allows the arms, legs, waist & chest of your man to get tied up.
The club has jock fetish nights, naked events, incognito sessions, naked horse evenings (for the bigger boy) and much more.
There are also two saunas that battle it out for all our queer attentions:
Sauna Les Bains were the first, and now they claim biggest, all male bath house and bar in Northern Europe. They
have two large spas for 8 and 16 guys at a time, a pool with three whirl-bath spots, another to swim against the stream and one to lay
around comfortably under a waterfall. There's also a gym, sauna and sun-deck, tanning beds and a relaxing massage available.
Photos: Sauna Les Bains in Lille
Also located in the Lille Moulins district, Le Sauna Soho is close-by Le Sling. It's known for its exemplary cleanliness, good decor and pleasant welcome.
Their wet area includes a steam room, sauna, 2 jacuzzis and baths. There's a play area, consisting of cabins, backrooms and dark corners, spread over three levels connected by stairs.
There is also an attractive terrace and solarium, a bar with snacks and a small gym. In an adjoining building, there is a massage room, a UV cabin and a smoking room.
They attract a varied clientele with a majority of guys around 30-40 years.
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 03432 186 186 or visit
THE LITTLE BLACK BOOK
Cabaret La BonbonniĂ¨re (157 Rue du Molinel; T: +33 3 28 53 09 14; Website)
Chez Paulette (34 Rue des Bouchers; T: +33 6 30 55 86 60)
L'Autrement Dit (14 Rue Royale; T: +33 3 20 51 02 22)
L'Open Bar (Place Mendes France; T: +33 3 20 15 17 67)
Le Bayard (153 Rue Nationale; T: +33 9 64 12 45 61)
Le Beaulieu (29 Rue du Sec Arembault; T: +33 3 20 54 80 18)
Le Big Up Bar (16 Place Pierre MendĂ¨s France)
Le Privilege (2 Rue Royale; T: +33 3 20 21 12 19)
Le Sauna Soho (10 rue de la Madeleine; T: +33 3 20 07 87 00; Website)
Le SĂ©basto (47 Rue Inkermann; T: +33 3 20 54 96 32)
Le Sling (32 Rue Jean JaurĂ¨s; T: +33 3 20 58 04 97; Website)
Liquium (71 Rue Jeanne d'Arc; T: +33 3 62 92 91 41)
The Corner (30 Rue Saint-SĂ©bastien; T: +33 9 81 35 33 64)
Quai Des Bananas (84 Rue Royale; T: +33 6 45 80 46 43)
Sauna Les Bains (52 rue de Cambrai; T: +33 3 20 53 02 02; Website)
Revised February 2018.