Whether it’s walking along the banks of the River Deûle or immersing yourself in the outdoor café culture of the medieval Vieux-Lille district, Lille delivers an experience typical of its French origins.
From the Middle Ages through to the French Revolution and the World Wars, France’s fourth largest city has been occupied and destroyed many times over. Since then, the ‘capital of Flanders’ emerged as a textile and mechanical manufacturing hub before evolving into one of northern France’s most important financial centres. Despite Lille’s turbulent history, many UNESCO-listed landmarks remain, with the Beffroi de Lille and the Old Stock Exchange being some of its best. Museums like the Palais des Beaux Arts and Lille Métropole Museum of Modern, Contemporary and Outsider Art highlight the city’s artistic past and future, while the Maison Natala showcases the birthplace of former French leader, Charles de Gaulle.
Like many other French cities, Lille’s culture revolves around food and shopping. The first week of September sees the arrival of the Braderie de Lille market – a flea market dating back to the 12th-century with over 10,000 vendors selling food, furniture and antiques. Alternatively, head to Le Tripostal for artsy book shops or visit restaurants like Estaminet T’Risjel and Le Broc for a more traditional French experience.
The arrival of the Eurostar to Lille-Europe brought many new visitors to Lille, connecting the city to its European neighbours, London and Paris. Alternatively, regional trains to Lens, Amiens and Calais are available from Lille-Flandres Station.