Travel diary Lille: On a road trip with Srprs.me and eating low FODMAP
A few weeks ago, I went on a Srprs.me trip with my sister Malu. Srprs.me is a Dutch travel concept where you book a trip without knowing where you are going beforehand. You arrive at the airport and there you can scratch open a card that will reveal your destination. Srprs.me books your flights and hotel for you. I read a lot about this concept on other blogs and heard enthusiastic stories from friends, so I decided that I wanted to give Malu a Srprs.me trip for her birthday. When I was looking at what options they offer, I found out that next to city trips, backpacking trips and even a low budget trip by plane, they also offer road trips. As a trip by plane for two persons was a bit above my budget, this was a perfect option!
You go with your own car and srprs.me books a hotel for you on an unknown destination. You can even choose how far you want to go: between 0-150 km, 150-250 km and 250-350 km. It is also possible to go on a longer road trip where you visit several different cities. Because we would only go for a weekend, I picked 150-250km. Like this, we wouldn’t have to drive too much, but we would still have the chance to end up in Belgium, Germany or France. I could book this weekend for about 80 euro per person.
We received an envelope with the instructions and we were allowed to open it on our day of departure. In the envelope was a scratch card with a code and the code revealed the direction that we had to drive in. We secretly hoped that we would at least go abroad because with the distance we chose we could also end up in Groningen (which is a very nice city, but it is in Holland). Luckily the directions that we were giving immediately showed us that we would go abroad: it was Waregem in Belgium. We drove until we were close to Waregem and there we scratched open our destination on the map. It was Lille! Something we did expect after we drove to Waregem because Lille was the only city close by. We were super excited to go to France for the weekend.
Malu and I had both been to Lille once, in the 4th class of secondary school for our French class. Strangely enough, we both hardly couldn’t remember anything about the city and we both couldn’t remember if it was a nice city or not. Probably because we both were bored teenagers at that time, who were forced to have awkward conversations in French with people on the street (which really wasn’t fun!).
We were so surprised and excited to find out that Lille was a beautiful city. A lot of beautiful buildings, cute little streets, boutiques and trendy restaurants. A perfect city for a sister weekend away. The hotel we stayed in was also perfect. When we arrived we it didn’t look like we were in the centre because the hotel was situated in a very calm neighbourhood, but it turned out that we were only five minutes walking away from the old centre of Lille. In Vieux Lille (old Lille) we spend most of our time. There were so many nice streets to walk around in. The hotel that we stayed in is called Couvent Des Minimes Alliance and is a four-star hotel. We had a very beautiful room and the lobby was also stunning. It looked very luxury. The only downside was that we had to pay 20 euro’s for parking on Saturday because the hotel didn’t have a free parking. On Sunday we parked our car in the city centre because parking was free on Sunday. I informed srprs.me beforehand that I couldn’t eat gluten, garlic and onion (the things I usually mention for the FODMAP diet) and srprs.me added a note in French with the hotel reservation that explained what Celiac disease is and what people with this disease can and cannot eat. For me, this was not entirely relevant, because I don’t have Celiac disease, but it is very handy to have this with you when you are a Celiac and it is great that srprs.me thought about that.
The hotel breakfast was delicious (even though it doesn’t look great on the picture). There were plenty of things for me to eat: scrambled eggs, smoked salmon, several kinds of meat, low FODMAP fruits and they even had almond milk and rice crackers. I can definitely recommend this hotel if you are looking for a FODMAP Friendly hotel in Lille.
The first day we walked around a lot. We are not really into visiting museums and churches and things like that, but we love to walk around and to see the city. We had some drinks on a terrace in the sun and we ate, of course, we ate. Considering gluten-free food, I feel that France is a little bit behind on the Netherlands. I couldn’t find restaurants with gluten-free options that easily, but luckily almost every restaurant has some salads on the menu that you can make low FODMAP with a few adaptations. On our first evening, we had dinner in a very cool American diner (HD Diner) that we passed by accidentally. The menu was mainly burgers and fries and unfortunately, they didn’t have gluten-free buns. So I just ordered my burger without the bun. And for everybody who thinks that I always eat perfectly low FODMAP, I don’t ;). I didn’t ask what spices they used in the burger patty and I knew that the combination of a burger and fries would actually be too fatty for my stomach, but I ordered it anyway. It did give me a bit of trouble, but luckily it wasn’t too bad. I really liked the atmosphere in the restaurant, but the food wasn’t amazing. The menu said they served home-made fries, but if you see the fries on the pictures you can see that they look more like fries that came straight from the freezer. For the food, this place isn’t necessarily a must-go, but I really loved the décor!
We also noticed that Lille is a real student city. There were enough bars to have a drink in the evening. For example in Rue Royale (the street were HD Diner is too) and also in the surrounding streets.
On Sunday, we started our day with a visit to the Wazemmes market. I always love to visit markets when I am abroad and I read on the internet that a lot of things were closed in Lille on Sunday, so this was a perfect Sunday activity. The weather was great, so it was nice to be outside. When we arrived at the market we also found out that there was an Aux Merveilleux patisserie there. A famous bakery in Lille where they make merveilleux. Merveilleux is a confectionary made of two meringues with in between and around whipped cream and then rolled in chocolate. If you can have some lactose (or use lactase pills like I do), this is a delicious low FODMAP treat. You can find several Aux Merveilleux shops in Lille. I was surprised how many bakeries and patisseries there were in Lille. You can literally find a bakery on every street corner and in every
I was surprised how many bakeries and patisseries there were in Lille. You can literally find a bakery on every street corner and in every bakery, they sell the most beautiful cakes and pies. Truly French of course! Unfortunately, I couldn’t eat most of it, but the merveilleux were super tasty.
5 minutes from our hotel was the Lille zoo. When we found out that the tickets were only 4 euro’s per person, we decided to visit it on Sunday afternoon. It wasn’t a super big or special zoo, but it was fun to go there. We loved the monkeys :). Afterwards, we went to have lunch at Le Pain Quotidien. One of my favourite chains to go for lunch. They have very tasty gluten-free bread and there are always some low FODMAP options. I ate two slices of bread with avocado (avocado is limited low FODMAP, but I tolerate about ½). After lunch, we had a coffee at Caféine Coffee, a real hipster hotspot.
We spent our last hours in Lille on the grass in the sun. There are enough spots in Lille where you can sit and relax and at the end of the afternoon, we drove back to Holland. From Breda, Lille was only 2.5 hours away and we loved the idea that you can actually be in France for a weekend with only a little bit of travelling. It felt like a real holiday, even though it was only 2 days!
Malu and I are both very enthusiastic about our trip with srprs.me. Lille was a city that we would have never picked ourselves. I also loved that I didn’t know where we were going beforehand. I am a real planner and if I know where I am going, I always feel obligated to find things to do on the destination, so this trip was very relaxing. I think we might try a srprs.me trip by plane in the future too.
If you are interested:
- Srprs.me is a Dutch company, but it is also possible to book srprs.me trips from England and Ireland.
- Couvent Des Minimes Alliance was the hotel that we stayed at in Lille.
From Holland, you can go to Lille by train for only 29 euro’s (one way). So it is a very nice place to go for a weekend away. Whether it is a romantic weekend with your boyfriend/girlfriend or a weekend with friends.
This blog is not sponsored. I write about this purely because I am so enthusiastic about it. The blog does contain affiliate links. If you want to know what affiliate links are and why I use them, you can read that here.