‘Just 90 minutes on Eurostar and I was at de Gaulle’s birthplace (shame it was closed!)’: Author Hunter Davies takes a bargain weekend break to Lille by train

Over the tannoy at St Pancras Station came a message telling Eurostar passengers that they could upgrade to standard premier for only £39 – and get a free meal on board. Sounded good. After all, I was on a bargain trip. I could afford to splash out.

I could hardly believe the deal when a friend came across it – £254 for two people for one night in a four-star hotel in Lille, plus return tickets on Eurostar.

I suspected the hotel would turn out to be a pension on a roundabout, but as I had never been to Lille, I thought why not?

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