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This charming medieval city is proud of its wonderful architecture, cobbled streets and thriving Old Quarter, elegantly restored. It has a buzzing arts scene and is building a reputation for excellent shopping.

Insider Tip

Spoil yourself at the Michelin-starred restaurant L'Haitriere for an evening of gourmet seafood in opulent surroundings. Located close to the cathedral, it's a popular restaurant so you will have to book.

The regional dishes of Northern France combine the influences from both French and Belgian cuisine. The area is justifiably proud of its numerous brasseries serving regional specialities. Dishes to sample include carbinnade de boeuf and waterzooi, a Flemish stew made with chicken or fish in a creamy sauce. You'll also find mountains of mussels with enormous mounds of frites.

Desserts include tarte au sucre, brioche-like cramiques and almond macaroons. The drink of choice is beer and it's often used in cooking - you might even find beer soup on the menu!

There is plenty here for the discerning shopper. On the rue de la Grande Chaussee, you'll find French designer names such as Louis Vuitton, Hermes and Lacoste. For something more unique, try the tiny boutiques in the old Flemish houses of the old town; you might find antiques, jewellery or fashion. At Euralille Mall, near the Eurostar terminal, there are more than 100 high-street brands to browse through.