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Lille is a medium-sized city in the Nord-Pas de Calais region of northern France with a very large student population. This city has a strong industrial background, but, after some difficult years, it is now known throughout France for its handsome city centre and its very active cultural life.
Lille is France's fifth largest metropolitan area. It is located to the country's north, on the Deûle River, near the border with Belgium.The whole metropolitan area of Lille, both on French and Belgian territory (Courtray,Tournai) was estimated in 2007 at around 1,885,000 inhabitants, ranking as one of the major metropolitan areas of Europe.
|POPULATION :||• Population (2012) 228,652
• Urban (2009) 1,015,744
• Metro (2007) 3,800,000
|TIME ZONE :||• Time zone CET (GMT +1) (UTC+1)
• Summer (DST) CEST (UTC+2)
|AREA :||• Area 34.8 km2 (13.4 sq mi)
• Urban (2009) 442.5 km2 (170.9 sq mi)
• Metro (2007) 7,200 km2 (2,800 sq mi)
|COORDINATES :||50°37′40″N 3°03′30″E|
|SEX RATIO :|
|AREA CODE :|
|POSTAL CODE :||59350 / 59000, 59800|
|DIALING CODE :|
Lille features an array of architectural styles with various amounts of Flemish influence, including the use of brown and red brick. In addition, many residential neighborhoods, especially in Greater Lille, consist of attached 2–3 story houses aligned in a row, with narrow gardens in the back. These architectural attributes, many uncommon in France, help make Lille a transition in France to neighboring Belgium, as well as nearby Netherlands and England, where the presence of brick, as well as row houses or the terraced house is much more prominent.
Points of interest include
- Lille Cathedral (Basilique-cathédrale Notre-Dame-de-la-Treille)
- Citadel of Lille
- Palais des Beaux-Arts de Lille
- Jardin botanique de la Faculté de Pharmacie
- Jardin botanique Nicolas Boulay
- Jardin des Plantes de Lille
Lille hosts an annual braderie on the first weekend in September. Its origins are thought to date back to the twelfth century and between two and three million visitors are drawn into the city. It is one of the largest gatherings of France and the largest flea market in Europe.
Many of the roads in the inner city (including much of the old town) are closed and local shops, residents and traders set up stalls in the street.
Origin of the city
Archeological digs seem to show the area as inhabited by as early as 2000 BC, most notably in the modern-day quartiers of Fives, Wazemmes, and Old Lille. The original inhabitants of this region were the Gauls, such as theMenapians, the Morins, the Atrebates, and the Nervians, who were followed byGermanic peoples: the Saxons, the Frisians and the Franks.
The legend of "Lydéric and Phinaert" puts the foundation of the city of Lille at 640. In the 8th century, the language of Old Low Franconian was spoken here, as attested by toponymic research. Lille's Dutch name is Rijsel, which comes fromter ijsel (at the island). The French equivalent has the same meaning: Lille comes from l'île (the island).
From 830 until around 910, the Vikings invaded Flanders. After the destruction caused by Norman and Magyar invasion, the eastern part of the region was ruled by various local princes.
The first mention of the town dates from 1066: apud Insulam (Latin for "at the island"). At the time, it was controlled by the County of Flanders, as were the regional cities (the Roman cities Boulogne, Arras, Cambrai as well as theCarolingian cities Valenciennes, Saint-Omer, Ghent and Bruges). The County of Flanders thus extended to the left bank of the Scheldt, one of the richest and most prosperous regions of Europe.
A notable local in this period was Évrard, who lived in the 9th century and participated in many of the day's political and military affairs. There was an important Battle of Lille in 1054.
From the 12th century, the fame of the Lille cloth fair began to grow. In 1144 Saint-Sauveur parish was formed, which would give its name to the modern-dayquartier Saint-Sauveur.
The counts of Flanders, Boulogne, and Hainaut came together with England and East Frankia and tried to regain territory taken by Philip II of France following Henry II of England's death, a war that ended with the French victory at Bouvinesin 1214. Infante Ferdinand, Count of Flanders was imprisoned and the county fell into dispute: it would be his wife, Jeanne, Countess of Flanders and Constantinople, who ruled the city. She was said to be well loved by the residents of Lille, who by that time numbered 10,000.
In 1225, the street performer and juggler Bertrand Cordel, doubtlessly encouraged by local lords, tried to pass himself off as Baldwin I of Constantinople(the father of Jeanne of Flanders), who had disappeared at the battle of Adrianople. He pushed the kingdoms of Flanders and Hainaut towards sedition against Jeanne in order to recover his land. She called her cousin, Louis VIII("The Lion"). He unmasked the imposter, whom Countess Jeanne quickly had hanged. In 1226 the King agreed to free Infante Ferdinand, Count of Flanders. Count Ferrand died in 1233, and his daughter Marie soon after. In 1235, Jeanne granted a city charter by which city governors would be chosen each All Saint's Day by four commissioners chosen by the ruler. On 6 February 1236, she founded the Countess's Hospital (Hospice Comtesse), which remains one of the most beautiful buildings in Old Lille. It was in her honour that the hospital of the Regional Medical University of Lille was named "Jeanne of Flanders Hospital" in the 20th century.
The Countess died in 1244 in the Abbey of Marquette, leaving no heirs. The rule of Flanders and Hainaut thus fell to her sister, Margaret II, Countess of Flanders, then to Margaret's son, Guy of Dampierre. Lille fell under the rule of France from 1304 to 1369, after the Franco-Flemish War (1297-1305).
The county of Flanders fell to the Duchy of Burgundy next, after the 1369 marriage of Margaret III, Countess of Flanders, and Philip the Bold, Duke of Burgundy. Lille thus became one of the three capitals of said Duchy, along with Brussels and Dijon. By 1445, Lille counted some 25,000 residents. Philip the Good, Duke of Burgundy, was even more powerful than the King of France, and made Lille an administrative and financial capital.
On 17 February 1454, one year after the taking of Constantinople by the Turks,Philip the Good organised a Pantagruelian banquet at his Lille palace, the still-celebrated "Feast of the Pheasant". There the Duke and his court undertook an oath to Christianity.
In 1477, at the death of the last duke of Burgundy, Charles the Bold, Mary of Burgundy married Maximilian of Austria, who thus became Count of Flanders.
Early modern era
The 16th and 17th centuries were marked by a boom in the regional textile industry, the Protestant revolts, and outbreaks of the Plague.
Lille came under the rule of the Holy Roman Emperor Charles V in 1519. The Low Countries fell to his eldest son Philip II of Spain in 1555. The city remained under Spanish Habsburg rule until 1668. Calvinism first appeared in the area in 1542; by 1555 the authorities were taking steps to suppress this form of Protestantism. In 1566 the countryside around Lille was affected by the Iconoclastic Fury. In 1578, the Hurlus, a group of Protestant rebels, stormed the castle of the Counts of Mouscron. They were removed four months later by a Catholic Wallon regiment, after which they tried several times between 1581 and 1582 to take the city of Lille, all in vain. The Hurlus were notably held back by the legendary Jeanne Maillotte. At the same time (1581), at the call of Elizabeth I of England, the north of the Seventeen Provinces, having gained a Protestant majority, successfully revolted and formed the United Provinces. The war brought or exacerbated periods of famine and plague (the last in 1667–69).
The first printer to set up shop in Lille was Antoine Tack in 1594. The 17th century saw the building of new institutions: an Irish College in 1610, a Jesuit college in 1611, an Augustinian college in 1622, almshouses or hospitals such as the Maison des Vieux hommes in 1624 and the Bonne et Forte Maison des Pauvres in 1661, and of a Mont-de-piété in 1626.
Unsuccessful French attacks on the city were launched in 1641 and 1645. In 1667, Louis XIV of France (the Sun King) successfully laid siege to Lille, resulting in it becoming French in 1668 under the Treaty of Aix-la-Chapelle, provoking discontent among the citizens of the prosperous city. A number of important public works undertaken between 1667 and 1670, such as the Citadel (erected by Vauban), or the creation of the quartiers of Saint-André and la Madeleine, enabled the King to gradually gain the confidence of his new subjects in Lille, some of whom continued to feel Flemish, though they had always spoken the Romance Picard language.
For five years, from 1708 to 1713, the city was occupied by the Dutch, during the War of the Spanish Succession. Throughout the 18th century, Lille remained profoundly Catholic. It took little part in the French Revolution, though there were riots and the destruction of churches. In 1790, the city held its first municipal elections.
In 1792, in the aftermath of the French Revolution, the Austrians, then in the United Provinces, laid siege to Lille. The "Column of the Goddess", erected in 1842 in the "Grand-Place" (officially named Place du Général-de-Gaulle), is a tribute to the city's resistance, led by Mayor François André-Bonte. Although Austrian artillery destroyed many houses and the main church of the city, the city did not surrender and the Austrian army left after eight days.
The city continued to grow, and by 1800 held some 53,000 residents, leading to Lille becoming the county seat of the Norddépartment in 1804. In 1846, a rail line connecting Paris and Lille was built. At the beginning of the 19th century, Napoleon I's continental blockade against the United Kingdom led to Lille's textile industry developing even more fully. The city was known for its cotton while the nearby towns of Roubaix and Tourcoing worked wool. Leisure activities were thoroughly organized in 1858 for the 80,000 inhabitants. Cabarets or taverns for the working class numbered 1300, or one for every three houses. At that time the city counted 63 drinking and singing clubs, 37 clubs for card players, 23 for bowling, 13 for skittles, and 18 for archery. The churches likewise have their social organizations. Each club had a long roster of officers, and a busy schedule of banquets festivals and competitions. In 1853, Alexandre Desrousseaux composed his lullaby P'tit quinquin.
In 1858, Lille annexed the adjacent towns of Fives, Wazemmes, and Moulins. Lille's population was 158,000 in 1872, growing to over 200,000 by 1891. In 1896 Lille became the first city in France to be led by a socialist, Gustave Delory.
By 1912, Lille's population stood at 217,000. The city profited from the Industrial Revolution, particularly via coal and the steam engine. The entire region grew wealthy thanks to its mines and textile industry.
First World War
Between 4–13 October 1914, the troops in Lille were able to trick the enemy by convincing them that Lille possessed more artillery than was the case; in reality, the city had only a single cannon. Despite the deception, the German bombardments destroyed over 2,200 buildings and homes. When the Germans realised they had been tricked, they burned down an entire section of town, subsequently occupying the city. Because Lille was only 20 km from the battlefield, German troops passed through the city regularly on their way to and from the front. As a result, occupied Lille became a place both for the hospitalization and treatment of wounded soldiers as well as a place for soldiers' relaxation and entertainment. Many buildings, homes, and businesses were requisitioned to those ends.
Lille was liberated by the Allies on 17 October 1918, when General Sir William Birdwood and his troops were welcomed by joyous crowds. The general was made an honorary citizen of the city of Lille on 28 October of that year.
Lille was also the hunting ground of World War I German flying Ace Max Immelmann who was nicknamed "the Eagle of Lille".
The Années Folles, the Great Depression, and the Popular Front
In July 1921, at the Pasteur Institute in Lille,Albert Calmette and Camille Guérin discovered the first anti-tuberculosis vaccine, known as BCG ("Bacille de Calmette et Guérin"). The Opéra de Lille, designed by Lille architect Louis M. Cordonnier, was dedicated in 1923.
From 1931 Lille felt the repercussions of the Great Depression, and by 1935 a third of the city's population lived in poverty. In 1936, the city's mayor, Roger Salengro, became Minister of the Interior of the Popular Front, eventually killing himself after right-wing groups led a slanderous campaign against him.
Second World War
During the Battle of France, Lille was besieged by German forces for several days. When Belgium was invaded, the citizens of Lille, still haunted by the events of the First World War, began to flee the city in large numbers. Lille was part of the zone under control of the German commander in Brussels, and was never controlled by the Vichy government inFrance. Lille was instead controlled under the military administration in Northern France. The départments of Nord and Pas-de-Calais (with the exception of the coast, notably Dunkirk) were, for the most part, liberated in five days, from 1–5 September 1944, by British, American, Canadian, and Polish troops. On 3 September, the German troops began to leave Lille, fearing the British, who were on their way from Brussels. The city was retaken with little resistance when the British tanks arrived. Rationing came to an end in 1947, and by 1948 normality had returned to Lille.
Post-war to the present
In 1967, the Chambers of Commerce of Lille, Roubaix and Tourcoing were joined, and in 1969 the Communauté urbaine de Lille (Lille urban community) was created, linking 87 communes with Lille.
Throughout the 1960s and 70s, the region was faced with some problems after the decline of the coal, mining and textile industries. From the start of the 1980s, the city began to turn itself more towards the service sector.
In 1983, the VAL, the world's first automated rapid transit underground network, was opened. In 1993, a high-speed TGV train line was opened, connecting Paris with Lille in one hour. This, with the opening of the Channel Tunnel in 1994 and the arrival of the Eurostar train, put Lille at the centre of a triangle connecting Paris, London and Brussels.
Work on Euralille, an urban remodelling project, began in 1991. The Euralille Centre was opened in 1994, and the remodeled district is now full of parks and modern buildings containing offices, shops and apartments. In 1994 the "Grand Palais" was also opened.
Lille was elected European Capital of Culture in 2004, along with the Italian city of Genoa.
Lille and Roubaix were impacted by the 2005 Riots which affected all of France's urban centres.
In 2007 and again in 2010, Lille was awarded the label "Internet City @@@@"
Lille can be described as having a temperate oceanic climate; summers normally do not reach high average temperatures, but winters can fall below freezing temperatures, but with averages quite a bit above the freezing mark. Precipitation is plentiful year round.
The table below gives average temperatures and precipitation levels for the 1981-2010 reference period.
Climate data for Lille
|Record high °C (°F)||15.2
|Average high °C (°F)||6.0
|Daily mean °C (°F)||3.6
|Average low °C (°F)||1.2
|Record low °C (°F)||−19.5
|Source #1: Meteo France|
|Source #2: Infoclimat.fr|
A former major mechanical, food industry and textile manufacturing centre as well as a retail and finance center, Lille forms the heart of a larger conurbation, regrouping Lille, Roubaix, Tourcoing and Villeneuve d'Ascq, which is France's 4th-largest urban conglomeration with a 1999 population of over 1.1 million.
Revenues and taxes
For centuries, Lille, a city of merchants, has displayed a wide range of incomes: great wealth and poverty have lived side by side, especially until the end of the 1800s. This contrast was noted by Victor Hugo in 1851 in his poem Les Châtiments: « Caves de Lille ! on meurt sous vos plafonds de pierre ! » ("Cellars of Lille! We die under your stone ceilings!")
Employment in Lille has switched over half a century from a predominant industry to tertiary activities and services. Services account for 91% of employment in 2006.
Prices in Lille
MARKET / SUPERMARKET
|Beer (domestic)||0.5 l||€3.10|
|Bottle of Wine||1 bottle||€5.00|
|Dinner (Low-range)||for 2||€29.00|
|Dinner (Mid-range)||for 2||€44.00|
|Dinner (High-range)||for 2||€|
|Mac Meal or similar||1 meal||€7.50|
|Beer (Imported)||0.33 l||€4.00|
|Beer (domestic)||0.5 l||€4.00|
|Coctail drink||1 drink||€8.00|
|Men’s Haircut||1 haircut||€16.00|
|Mobile (prepaid)||1 min.||€0.32|
|Pack of Marlboro||1 pack||€7.00|
|Toilet paper||4 rolls||€1.60|
CLOTHES / SHOES
|Jeans (Levis 501 or similar)||1||€73.00|
|Dress summer (Zara, H&M)||1||€38.00|
|Sport shoes (Nike, Adidas)||1||€85.00|
|Local Transport||1 ticket||€1.55|
55 € per day
Estimated cost per 1 day including:
- meals in cheap restaurant
- public transport
- cheap hotel
192 € per day
Estimated cost per 1 day including:
- mid-range meals and drinks
Transportation - Get In
Most visitors will probably arrive by train due to the major international railway hub situated there. It is possible to land at the Charles de Gaulle Paris airport and then continue by train, but do not try this at the Ryanair's Paris airport (Beauvais) as there is no train connection at all and the only bus is back to Paris itself.
The Lille Lesquin International Airport is small but convenient for entering Lille or travelling on to nearby areas across the border in Belgium. Both major and budget airlines operate scheduled services. Unlike larger airports there is hardly any walking as the checkins are directly inside the entrance and the security gates are directly behind the checkins. However, there may be a walk from the gate area to the aeroplane if it is parked on the taxiway rather than at a jetway. A direct coach connects to central Lille (stops outside the main railway station) in 20 minutes, and runs once an hour costing 7 Euros (return ticket is 9 Euros). A taxi would cost about 20 Euros.
Lille lies on the Brussels-Paris-London connection. TGV and Eurostar trains stop here. The journey to Brussels takes little more than 30 minutes, to Paris about an hour, and to London about an hour and 25 minutes following the new high speed train link to London St Pancras which opened in October 2007. Coming in by ferry from Calais, train connections run fairly regularly, though it can be hard to get accurate times online. The journey takes about an hour and a half. (SNCF website allows one to check train timetables) Lille is also linked by TGV (fast trains) to Lyon (3 hours), Nantes (4 hours), Strasbourg (3.20 hours) and Marseille (5 hours).
If you are travelling from the United Kingdom, Eurostar is the best option to reach Lille through the Channel Tunnel; the journey time to Gare Lille Europe is 1hr 22 mins from London St Pancras International, 1hr 8 mins from Ebbsfleet and just 56 mins from Ashford.
Another option is to take the TER or the regional, slower moving trains, where a ticket can be purchased fairly cheaply to many locations throughout France and Belgium. The transit bureau for the Nord-Pas-de-Calais offers weekend "Trampoline" passes, where a round trip on TER trains between Lille and several Belgian cities can be purchased for a set price (between 20 and 40 Euro), and you can choose your own train times. Be careful though--depending on the train, cities may be referred to either their French or Dutch names, which can get confusing.
Transportation - Get Around
Lille has two subway lines that connect the centre of the city with several suburbs. It also has many bus lines that go throughout the city and two lines of cable trains that go to Roubaix and Tourcoing which are other important cities of the region.
- Transpole Public transportation in Lille, In French, English and Dutch.
- BEST RATED -
- BEST VALUE -
- The open market, Marché de Wazemmes, is open every Tuesday, Thursday and Sunday morning, but the busiest day is definitely Sunday. Vendors sell everything from fresh fruits and vegetables, books and stationery, suitcases and shoes, even perfume and undergarments! Be sure to pick up a bag of fresh clementines, a bright bouquet of fresh-cut flowers, some rotisserie chicken and roast potatoes for lunch, and a glass of beer at one of many little pubs surrounding the market.
- The pedestrian streets just past Grand Place (rue de Béthune, rue Neuve, Rue du Sec Arembault, rue des Tanneurs, etc.) offer popular clothing chain stores such as Etam, Pimkie, Zara, H&M, Sinéquanone, as well as small pubs, restaurants, and two (huge) movie theatres. Some of the buildings that house these stores have beautiful 30's-40's architecture.
- Euralille is Lille's largest shopping centre and offers popular clothing chains, as well as the Carrefour hypermarket. Situated between the two train stations, Gare Lille Flandres and Gare Lille Europe, and right in the heart of the city near dozens of hotels, Euralille is easily accessible to travellers coming into the city.
- Le Furet du Nord (Place du Général de Gaulle) is the largest bookstore in Europe, it appears to be one of the most touristic "monuments" in the city. It has 8 floors and offers more than 420,000 titles.
- There are dozens of upscale boutiques (e.g. Louis Vuitton, Hermès, Hugo Boss, Kenzo) and trendier, independent stores located in Vieux Lille.
Food lovers will find hundreds of little patisseries selling more cakes then they knew existed, as well as a number of chocolate shops. Guillaume Vincent (12 Rue du Cure Saint Etienne), sells exquisitely decorated chocolates that, judging from their taste, must have about 90% cocoa solids.
One of the more popular and affordable (but greasy) eating options are the multitude of kebab shops around the city. For a few Euro, you can get a hearty sandwich with shaved chicken or lamb with a side of frites. A local speciality is the kebab with "Fricandelles," or sausages that are native to this region. These are a great (and more local) alternative to a fast food chain for a quick bite.
Delicious stuffed waffles to be enjoyed at Meert (probably the most beautiful pâtisserie in France) on the Rue Esquermoise right next to the Grand-Place (place du Général de Gaulle) (Station: Rihour on Line 1), as well as at the new location at thePiscine (Museum of Arts and Industry) of Roubaix (Station : Gare Jean Lebas on Line 2)
- Le Flams, 8 rue du Pas (nearLa Grand Place). From 11.90€ for the "all you can eat" flammekueche menu (Alsacian speciality. Crème fraîche, onions, and bacon on a thin crust of dough). Yummy.
- Pâtisserie du Lion d'Or, Place du Lion d'Or. This pâtisserie has all sorts of goodies, including THE best croissants in Lille.
- You can try some of Lille's famous "estaminets" (typical restaurants) : for instance rue de Gand has two nice restaurants : T'Rijsel and Chez la vieille. The atmosphere is very agreeable, and you can taste some of Lille's typical dishes : Potje'vleesch, Carbonade flamande etc... But you must know that these restaurants, being rather notorious in Lille, are very popular, and it is strongly recommended to book a table two or three days before the day you plan to eat there.
- Brasserie Flore, place Rihour (just beside La Chicorée, near 'Rihour' subway station.). Large choice of good meals. Menus from 13,50€.
- Crowne Plaza Euralille, 335, Boulevard de Leeds, 59777 Euralille. Newly opened in December 2002, this modern hotel has light airy rooms with long rectangular windows, giving excellent view over the city of Lille. Opposite Lille Europe train station, just a short walk to the historic heart of the city. Restaurant offering excellent buffet meals and "à la carte".
- La Chicorée, place Rihour (just beside le Flore, near 'Rihour' subway station).Food served nearly 24/24 and 7/7. Typical meals, typical beers. But do not expect to find excellent food here : this restaurant may just be useful if you don't know where to have dinner at 3 in the morning...Do not miss the awesome plate collection on the walls. Each was signed by an artist or a famous person, as La Chicorée is the place were they usually eat after the show. You might even meet someone famous if you try it after 2 or 3 am!!! It's also the place where a lot of casual people eat at night, after their job, after a trip in café, after a show... It's of course rather popular with tourists, but if you wish to appreciate Lille's cuisine at its best, try some other place. Menus from 13,50€.
- L'Omnia, 9 Rue Esquermoise. You won't miss the entrance of this restaurant/bar, which is situated close to la Grand Place. Ramps and murals combine to create a perspective that makes you feel like you're Alice in Wonderland. Inside the decor appeals to the same childish sense of wonder- all red lights and plush, appropriate to this ex-theatre and ex-brothel (you'll find the history of the building on the placemats). The food itself is affordable- the lunch time menu starts from 9 euros. I had the 'potjevles', a regional speciality I would recommend only to the adventurous. Otherwise, I can vouch for some chicken tikka skewers being very enjoyable. The bar also seems to be very proud of their wide range of beers, and the wine was reasonably priced and good.
- Pubstore, 44 rue de la Halle. This somewhat intimate restaurant is a great place for lunch or dinner. Candles on each table make it a nice spot for couples to have a quiet dinner. The menu, found under the glass tabletop, is full of diverse, delicious dishes. Each dish also has a clever name, usually a play on words.
- L’ Gaïette, 30, rue Masséna. The menu in this restaurant focuses on regional specialties and is written in Ch'ti, the local patois/dialiect. Great food and a warm, friendly waitstaff make this restaurant a great place to have dinner.
- Le Compostelle, rue saint-Etienne. May offer some good dishes in a beautiful environment.
- The Barbue d'Anvers, rue St Etienne. Flemish cuisine.
- L'Huitriere, rue des Chats Bossus. Behind the early 20th century art-nouveau fish store lay one of the best seafood and fish restaurants in the country, appreciated by many famous people. The upscale restaurant is definitely closed, but you can still have oysters (and other small seafood) with a drink on the 1st floor
Sights & Landmarks
Lille has a very nice city centre, excellently suited for a city trip. Most of the sights can be combined in a walking tour.
- La Vieille Bourse (1653). Right between two picturesque squares, Place du Général-de-Gaulle and Place du Théâtre, this former commercial exchange still plays a central part in the life of the city. You may find booksellers and flower markets in the inner court.
- The main square, Place du Général-de-Gaulle, better known as the "Grand'place", has many lovely historic houses, like the neo-Flemish headquarters of local newspaper La Voix du Nord, and a fountain with the statue of a goddess, "la Grande Déesse" (1843).
- Place Rihour, surrounded by restaurants, houses the tourist information centre inside its main attraction, the Palais Rihour (1453).
- The town hall is worth a look and can be combined nicely with a visit to the Porte de Paris (1692).
- The Opera (1923) and the Chamber of Commerce (1921) are located close together on Place du Théàtre and offer magnificent sights, especially when lit-up at night.
- Take a stroll through the old quarter of the city, known as Vieux Lille, and enjoy the quiet, cobble-stone streets, the variety of stylish designer shops, gourmet restaurants, and the modern Cathédrale Notre Dame de la Treille. More notable streets like Rue de la Monnaie and Rue Esquermoise are definitely worth the trip.
- A bit farther from the city centre is la Citadelle, an interesting example of defensive military architecture, built by Vauban, a famous French military architect, under the reign of Louis the Fourteenth. In the same area is a zoo (free of charge) and a lovely park.
- The subway in the long-distance train station Lille Europe is an attraction on its own. In the large stairway's hall, the walls are entirely covered with a big mural.
- The annual Christmas Market is a must for visitors. However there are bigger & better Christmas markets in the UK. The lights, atmosphere, local shops & restaurants is still worth a visit.
Museums & Galleries
- Musée des Beaux-Arts. A famed museum covering European art from 15th - 20th century.
- Museum of Natural History. A large collection of stuffed mammals, insects, fossils, etc.
- Musée de l'Hospice Comtesse. A former hospital now presenting art.
- Musée d'Art et d' Industrie de Roubaix : La Piscine. A 20th century art museum hosted in a beautiful "Art déco" (start of 20th century) former swimming pool.
- LAM - Lille Art Modern Museum. Modern art, outsider art, contemporary art.
- Maison Natale de Charles de Gaulle. The birthplace of Charles de Gaulle, Leader of the French Resistance and later President of France.
Things to do
- La Braderie is an annual street fair held every September, for which millions of people come to Lille. You will find everything: paintings, antiques, ornaments, furniture. Inhabitants are partying, eating mussels with French fries and drinking, in a very fun atmosphere.
- Once a month, there's a big reggae event in Wazemmes called Chalice Sound System. Check their MySpace to know when the next event will be. If you're in Lille, it's really worth it.
- Coming Out. LGBT-friendly bar. This relatively new bar has a diverse clientele. Virginie and Alain, the friendly, personable owners and operators, are there every day, working hard to make their clients happy, and they are! Red walls, blue lights, and a black bar create a very cool environment with ample seating in comfortable chairs. Open from 5 PM on, stop in for a beer or a cocktail (the specials are written on the chalkboard on the wall), or ask about their Karaoke or other special nights.
- Maison du Moulin D'Or (Morel & Fils), 31 Place du théâtre, . This place used to be "une bonneterie," which is still reflected in the decorations inside. Dress forms, wooden dolls, cloth, and beautiful colors (soft sea green and pink) are found throughout two floors. A great place to stop for a coffee or beer when you're out and about.
- The Drugstore, 21 Rue Royale, . Very small, groovy lounge with two floors and a few tables outside when the weather warms up. Ambient music and orange lighting complement the vintage-looking movie and music posters on the walls. My advice: grab a table upstairs - the chairs are comfy and you can see down onto the street and people-watch. This bar is more for cocktails than beer, and their happy hour special offers all their cocktails for 6 Euros.
- Café Oz/The Australian Bar, 33, Place des Bettignies, .Café Oz / The Australian Bar, 33, Place des Bettignies. Very cool bar with a lively atmosphere, good mix of music played, and a mélange of Francophone and Anglophone bartenders. They also have a terrace open during the day when the weather warms up for those who wish to enjoy an afternoon refreshment. Check their website or head on in and ask about their various happy hour specials, which fluctuate depending on the day/season.
- On Rue Masséna, you will find countless bars, nightclubs, and restaurants including small delicious kebab stands that are open late until the wee hours of early morning.
- Salsa the night away at Le Latina Café on 42/44 Rue Masséna, where you will find all things Cuban including portraits of Che Guevara, hot Spanish tunes, and their famous Havana Club Mojitos. As well, indulge in a Desperado (tequila beer) or two. Drinks are a bit pricier, but the ambiance makes it all worth it.
- Pub Mac Ewan's on 8 place Sébastopol offers about 140 different beers. Starting at €1.90.
- The Hermitage Bar in the Hermitage Gantois luxury hotel is open to the general public (dress appropriately). It is one of the most refined spots to enjoy a drink in Lille (priced accordingly). The hotel also hosts art exhibitions that you can enjoy free of charge.
Safety in Lille