The Berlitz Lille Pocket Guide is such a tiny format that it really could fit in some pockets, measuring 4 inches by 5.75 inches. Despite that it does contain plenty of information; the font is of course small, but not to the extent that you would strain your eyes when reading.
The guide begins with a double page that has colour photos of Lille’s top ten attractions, which include the Porte de Paris, the Modern Art Museum, the Vieille Bourse and Wazemmes covered market. Each picture has a caption that tells you the page number where you can find out more about the attraction. Next there is a double page outlining “A Perfect Day in Lille” which includes some of the top ten attractions but also gives suggestions for eating out, shopping and nightlife. After this comes the Table of Contents.
The introduction is followed by a twelve-page section on the history of Lille that traces a period of Spanish rule followed by a French conquest and then outlines industrial developments. The section ends with a timeline spanning the years 1066 to 2006. Next comes the guide’s main section entitled “Where to Go,” which covers sixty pages. It features sub-sections on the old town, the stations and the St-Sauveur district, nineteenth century Lille, Lille metropole, border hopping to places nearby, and finally excursions to, for example, Boulogne-sur-Mer and Dunkerque.
Following this, the section entitled “What to Do,” is just thirteen pages long but covers sports, shopping, entertainment and children’s Lille. A calendar of events is given on the last page of the section. Then there’s “Eating Out,” sixteen pages that start off with an overview of Lille’s regional dishes, types of eating places, beer and juniper gin. A page of food vocabulary is followed by a list of eateries. An indication of price is given, as well as the type of cuisine each restaurant offers.
The “A-Z Travel Tips” is a summary of practical information on topics such as health and medical care, car hire, tipping and opening hours. Next come several pages listing a range of hotels in various price brackets; some are included from places featured earlier in the section on excursions. The guide ends with an index and a plan of the metro. The inside front cover has a map of Lille itself, while the inside back cover shows the surrounding area too.
Throughout the guide are a number of “features” with titles such as “Mad as Houses,” “Historical Landmarks” and “Time for Tea.” They stand out on a coloured background and give extra information on a variety of topics.
There is no shortage of colour photos in the guide to illustrate the places of interest. Even though some are rather small, they still give a good indication of the subject. The various sections of the guide are colour coded, so it is easy to flick through and find the one you want. The paper used is of a superior quality, so the book will stand up to being carried around and referred to in all weathers.
For tourists who are on foot, the Berlitz Lille Pocket Guide is an excellent choice as a compact and lightweight guide. Those who do not speak French are likely to need a phrase book as well, since there is only one page of food vocabulary in the guide. That is perhaps its main drawback, but as a guide to this French city, it provides a wealth of information with an attractive, well illustrated layout.
Berlitz: Lille Pocket Guide
Published by Berlitz Travel, 2010
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