It’s the oldest, prettiest and probably the best-marketed shops in the whole of France. A-double fronted shop full of cakes and pastries on one side and nougat and chocolate on the other. Everything screams, “eat me” through the glass and its no wonder that since 1761 Meert has supplied royalty and the VIP sweet-toothed the world over. Their speciality is the waffle or gaufre, and it’s filled with Madagascar vanilla cream. It sounds sweet, it is sweet and each bite leaves you needing another filling, but you just have to try them because it’s the law.

Visitors window shop

To the rear of the shop, there’s a tearoom, and an expensive one at that. So, be warned you will pay a lot for a pot of tea, coffee, hot chocolate, cake and ice cream sundaes. If you don’t mind spending 30 Euros on coffee or tea and a couple of cakes, this is a must, if you don’t then buy a cake in the shop to eat elsewhere.

However, if you want to sit down, enjoy what truly is an incredible work of art in the shape of a patisserie, and soak up the atmosphere then I’d wholly recommend spoiling yourself. The tearoom is very pretty, all white tablecloths and silver cutlery, serving an equal mix of locals and tourists. The courtyard is a nice spot, made better with the sunshine and there’s plenty to gaze at the interior is a large room with a side addition of a conservatory.

The tea menu was long and varied; coffees of various descriptions and their famous liquid chocolate drink were all on offer.

The cakes we tried were what can only be described as some of the best I’ve ever eaten. A lemon meringue ‘bomb’ which was obviously made with love and care by the hands of the cake fairy. A thin biscuit base, topped with dense lemon cream filling and when cut with a fork revealed a small amount of sponge and the thinnest meringue layer.

The apple cake was another matter. Imagine a toffee apple without the mess. The fluffiest toffee mousse atop the lightest sponge sandwich, in there somewhere is a dense apple filling and the whole creation is topped off with a faux apple and a thin chocolate sail.

There is a food menu, I didn’t try it, and you really don’t go to Meert to sample their version of the Caesar salad, you need to try LA.

Meert: 27 rue Esquermoise, Lille