Welcome to Lille
Lille is not widely praised. Known for its Eurostar terminus, the city is generally seen as a stopping-off place, somewhere ordinary and vaguely French, to be swiftly abandoned in favour of more famous destinations. But Lille rewards infinitely more attention. As the old capital of Flanders, the city’s border heritage runs through the architecture like an old family resemblance, linking the disparate styles and traditions of Northern Europe. Lille has been Flemish, Burgundian, Spanish, Dutch, French, German and is now French again - but the Flemish influences remain in the narrow houses, the steep grey roofs and the beer and moules et frites. “One gazes with pleasure and some surprise at its handsome streets, where everyone seems to live and thrive,” says Percy Fitzgerald. “The new streets, built on the Paris model...offer the same rich and effective detail of gilded inscriptions, balconies and flowers, with the luxurious cafes below, and languid flaneurs settling down to their absinthe or coffee.”The description still stands. Lille is deceptive- at first, perhaps it resembles any small European city, with its old square and pavement cafes, but there is something more welcoming here, a rare friendliness and charm emanating from its people and places. Little cafes rub up against important galleries, Gothic spires pierce the Flemish-oil-painting clouds above Art Nouveau cake shops, and pigeons peck round the cobbles by the Deule river, as couples share plates of oysters in candlelit bars. Lille is relaxing. It isn’t constantly striving to show off its wares, dazzle tourists, or thrust itself onto the world stage. That’s why, even though thousands of train travellers pour through daily, the little city itself still feels like a secret- a place as delightful and unexpected as platform nine and three quarters.
Town Hall Belfry
La Piscine Roubaix
Cafe Le Voltaire
Le Coq Hardi
Cafe Le Relax
Couvent Des Minimes
Germinal- Emile Zola
The Girl You Left Behind - JoJo Moyes
Bienvenue Chez Les Ch'ti
Symphony in G minor- Piano Concerto in F Minor -Lalo (Lalo was born in Lille.)
Don’t wear high heels- most of the old town is cobbled, so flat shoes are essential.
Be alert to beggars. The Grand Place can be targeted by distressingly young children, trained to beg at café tables. Keep your bag close, and let the café owner know.
Plan carefully- Lille hosts several festivals. The huge antiques and vintage fair, the ‘Braderie’ takes place on the first weekend of September. Book accommodation well in advance.
Car parking is banned in the city centre on Saturdays- use public transport, and bear in mind that Lille is compact enough to walk around comfortably.
Most shops close on Sundays- it’s a good day for visiting galleries or the Wazemmes market instead.
Try oysters- the city is well known for them and the best place to go is A L’Huitriere with its fabulous seafood mural and Art Deco interior.
Lille is a student city, so bars can get very crowded at weekends- get there early if you want to sit at a table.
CARLille’s car parks offer around 20,000 spaces, not including the several pay-and-display areas and underground car parks in the city. A space costs around €1.50 an hour – outer neighbourhoods either have space for free street parking, or have cheaper private car parks. There are six car parks with direct access to the Metro, at stations Port d’Arras, Porte des Postes and CHR B Calmette.
Lille has two Metro lines that cover the whole town, as well as two tram lines and sixty bus routes, including the Citadine bus from the suburbs in and out of the city. Tickets cover the entire public transport network and can be bought at a single-rate of €1.40 a day pass for €4 and a carnet of ten for €11.
Transpole offers an electric bike hire service at Champ de Mars, and l’Atelier du Velo offers a rental service on Avenue Willy Brandt.
Lille Tourist Information
BP 205 - 59002
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