Lille: Wikis


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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Coordinates: 50°38′14″N 3°03′48″E / 50.637222°N 3.063333°E / 50.637222; 3.063333

Ville de Lille
Flag of Lille
Coat of arms of Lille
New city flag Traditional coat of arms
Place du Général de Gaulle, also known as Grand'Place
Lille is located in France
Time zone CET (GMT +1)
Country France
Region Nord-Pas de Calais
Department Nord
Arrondissement Lille
Intercommunality Lille Métropole
Mayor Martine Aubry (PS)
Land area1 39.51 km2 (15.25 sq mi)
Population2 226,014  (2006)
 - Ranking 10th in France
 - Density 5,720 /km2 (14,800 /sq mi)
Urban spread
Urban area 450 km2 (170 sq mi) (1999)
 - Population 1,000,900 (1999)
Metro area 975 km2 (376 sq mi) (1999)
 - Population 1,164,716 (2007)
INSEE/Postal code 59350/ 59000, 59800
1 French Land Register data, which excludes lakes, ponds, glaciers > 1 km² (0.386 sq mi or 247 acres) and river estuaries.
2 Population sans doubles comptes: residents of multiple communes (e.g., students and military personnel) only counted once.

Lille (French pronunciation: [lil]  ( listen); Dutch: Rijsel) is a city in northern France. It is the principal city of the Lille Métropole, the fourth-largest metropolitan area in the country behind those of Paris, Lyon and Marseille. Lille is situated on the Deûle River, near France's border with Belgium. It is the capital of the Nord-Pas de Calais region and the prefecture of the Nord department.

The city of Lille, which annexed Lomme on 27 February 2000, had a population of 226,014 at the 2006 census[1]. Meanwhile, the Lille Métropole, which also includes Roubaix, Tourcoing and numerous suburban communities, had a population of 1,091,438. The eurodistrict of Lille-Kortrijk, which also includes the areas of the Belgian cities of Kortrijk, Tournai, Mouscron and Ypres, had 1,905,000 residents.[citation needed]




Origin of the city

The legend of "Lydéric and Phinaert" puts the foundation of the city of "L'Isle" at 640. Although the first mention of the town appears in archives from the year 1066, some 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 the Menapians, the Morins, the Atrebates, and the Nervians, who were followed by Germanic peoples, the Saxons and the Frisians, and the Franks later.

From 830 until around 910, the Vikings invaded Flanders. After the destruction caused by Norman and Magyar invasion, the eastern part of the region fell under the eyes of the area's princes.

The name Lille comes from insula or l'Isla, i. "the island", since the area was at one time marshy. This name was used for the castle of the Counts of Flanders, built on dry land in the middle of the marsh.

The Count of Flanders controlled a number of old Roman cities (Boulogne, Arras, Cambrai) as well as some founded by the Carolingians (Valenciennes, Saint-Omer, Ghent, Bruges).

The County of Flanders thus extended to the left bank of the Scheldt, one of the richest and most prosperous regions of Europe.

Middle Ages

A local notable in this period was Évrard, who lived in the ninth century and participated in many of the day's political and military affairs.

From the twelfth 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-day quartier Saint-Sauveur.

The counts of Flanders, Boulogne, and Hainaut came together with England and the Holy Roman Empire of Germany and declared war on France and Philip II of France, a war that ended with the French victory at Bouvines in 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 1224, the monk Bertrand of Rains, 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 February 6, 1236, she founded the Countess's Hospital (L'hospice de la comtesse), which remains one of the most beautiful buildings in Old Lille. It was in her honor 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 battle of Mons-en-Pévèle.

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. At the end of the reign of the Holy Roman Emperor Charles V, Spanish Flanders fell to his eldest son, and thus under the rule of Philip II of Spain, King of Spain. The city remained under Spanish rule until the reign of Philip IV of Spain.

The modern era

The façade of the 'Vieille Bourse' on the 'Grand Place'

The 16th century was marked by the outbreak of the Plague, a boom in the regional textile industry, and the Protestant revolts.

The first Calvinists appeared in the area in 1542; by 1555 anti-Protestant repression was taking place. 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 Southern Netherlands, having gained a Protestant majority, successfully revolted and formed the United Provinces.

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 Lille subjects, some of whom continued to feel Flemish, though they had always spoken the Latin Picard language.

Entrance to the 'Vauban Citadel' (17th century)

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.

After the French Revolution

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 La Place du Général de Gaulle), is a tribute to the city's resistance, led by Mayor François André. 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 black dots around the windows (not the decorative cartouches) are Austrian cannonballs lodged in the façade.

The city continued to grow, and by 1800 held some 53,000 residents, leading to Lille becoming the county seat of the Nord départment 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 itself even more fully. The city was known for its cotton, and the nearby towns of Roubaix and Tourcoing worked wool.

In 1853, Alexandre Desrousseaux composed his famous lullaby Dors mon p'tit quinquin. In 1858, an imperial decree led to the annexation of 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 was at 217,000: the city profited from the Industrial Revolution, particularly via coal and the steam engine. The entire region had grown wealthy thanks to the mines and to the textile industry.

First World War

German military parade in Lille, 1915

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. Lille was liberated by the British 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

France map Lambert-93 with regions and departments-occupation.svg

Lille was taken by the Germans in May 1940, after brief resistance by a Moroccan Infantry division. When Belgium was invaded, the citizens of Lille, still marked 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. 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 the 1 to 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. Following this, the Lille resistance managed to retake part of the city before the British tanks arrived. Rationing came to an end in 1947, and by 1948, some 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


Arms of Lille

The arms of Lille are blazoned :
Gules, a fleur de lys argent.


Lille can be described as having a temperate oceanic climate; summers do not reach high temperatures, but winters can fall below zero temperatures. Precipitation is above average year round.

Comparative Climatic Table
City Clear Rain Snow Storm Fog
Paris 1,797 h/yr 642 mm/yr 15 d/yr 19 d/yr 13 d/yr
Nice 2,694 h/yr 767 mm/yr 1 d/yr 31 d/yr 1 d/yr
Strasbourg 1,637 h/yr 610 mm/yr 30 d/yr 29 d/yr 65 d/yr
Lille[2] 1 600 h/yr 687 mm/yr 19 d/yr 19 d/yr 69 d/yr
National Average 1,973 h/yr 770 mm/yr 14 d/yr 22 d/yr 40 d/yr

The table below gives temperatures and precipitation levels for the year 2006 and also the record temperatures.  :

Climate data for Lille
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Record high °C (°F) 14.8
Average high °C (°F) 6
Average low °C (°F) -1
Record low °C (°F) -19.5
Precipitation mm (inches) 48
Source: Météo France[3] 2009-01-01


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.

Revenus and taxes

For centuries, Lille has been a city of revenues contrasts : as a merchants city, great wealth and precarity have been living side by side, especially until the end of the 19th century. This contrast has been witnessed by Victor Hugo in 1851 in his poem Les Châtiments: « Caves de Lille ! on meurt sous vos plafonds de pierre ! » ((English) « Lille cellars : there are deaths below your stone roofs»)


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.

Employment in Lille-Hellemmes-Lomme from 1968 to 2006

Business area 1968 1975 1982 1990 1999 2006
Agriculture 340 240 144 116 175 216
Industry & engineering 51 900 43 500 34 588 22 406 15 351 13 958
Tertiairy activities 91 992 103 790 107 916 114 992 122 736 136 881
Total 144 232 147 530 142 648 137 514 138 262 151 055
Sources of data : INSEE[4]

Employment per categories in 1968 and in 2006

  Farmers Businesspersons,
Upper class Midlle class Employees Blue-collar worker
1968 2006 1968 2006 1968 2006 1968 2006 1968 2006 1968 2006
Lille 0,1 % 0,0 % 7,8 % 3,2 % 7,5 % 20,2 % 16,7 % 30,0 % 33,1 % 32,8 % 34,9 % 13,8 %
Greater Lille 1,3 % 0,3 % 9,0 % 3,8 % 5,3 % 17,5 % 14,6 % 27,7 % 24,4 % 29,6 % 45,4 % 21,1 %
France 12,5 % 2,2 % 9,9 % 6,0 % 5,2 % 15,4 % 12,4 % 24,6 % 22,5 % 28,7 % 37,6 % 23,2 %
Sources of data : INSEE[5]

Unemployment in active population from 1968 to 2006

1968 1975 1982 1990 1999 2006
Lille 2,9 % 4,6 % 10,3 % 14,6 % 16,9 % 15,2 %
Greater Lille 2,4 % 3,8 % 8,8 % 12,4 % 14,3 % 13,2 %
France 2,1 % 3,8 % 7,4 % 10,1 % 11,7 % 10,6 %
Sources of data : INSEE[6]


In 2007, Lille hosts around 21,000 industry or service sites.

Entreprises as per 31 December 2007

  Number Size category Mean number of employees
Greater Lille Lille % Lille None 1 to 19 20 to 99 100 to 499 500+ Lille Greater
Industries 3 774 819 22 % 404 361 40 12 2 17 22
Construction 4 030 758 19 % 364 360 32 2 0 8 11
Commerce 13 578 4 265 31 % 2 243 1 926 83 13 0 7 11
Transports 1 649 407 25 % 196 182 23 5 1 32 26
Finance 2 144 692 32 % 282 340 51 17 2 21 18
Real property 5 123 1 771 35 % 1 159 587 23 2 0 5 4
Business services 12 519 4 087 33 % 2 656 1 249 149 27 6 15 17
Services to consummers 8 916 3 075 34 % 1 636 1 347 86 6 0 7 6
Education and health 11 311 3 217 28 % 2 184 765 195 58 15 43 31
Administration 4 404 1 770 40 % 1 187 456 80 34 13 59 48
Total 67 468 20 861 31 % 12 311 7 573 762 176 39 18 17
Sources of data : INSEE[7]

Architecture and points of interest


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


Public transport

A Lille tram

The Lille Métropole has a mixed mode public transport system, comprising buses, trams and a driverless metro system, all of which are operated under the Transpole name. The Lille Metro is a VAL system (véhicule automatique léger = light automated vehicle) that opened on 16 May 1983, becoming the first automatic metro line in the world. The metro system has two lines, with a total length of 45 km and 60 stations. The tram system consists of two interurban tram lines, connecting central Lille to the nearby communities of Roubaix and Tourcoing, and has 45 stops. 68 urban bus routes cover the metropolis, 8 of which reach into Belgium.[8]


Lille is an important crossroads in the European high-speed rail network: it lies on the Eurostar line to London and the French TGV network to Paris, Brussels and other major centres in France such as Marseille, Lyon, and Toulouse. It has two train stations, which stand next door to one another: Lille-Europe station (Gare de Lille-Europe), which primarily serves high-speed trains and international services (Eurostar), and Lille-Flandres station (Gare de Lille-Flandres), which primarily serves lower speed trains.


Lille: motorway network.

No fewer than five autoroutes pass by Lille, the densest confluence of highways in France after Paris:

A sixth one — the proposed A24 — will link Amiens to Lille if built, but there is opposition to its route.

Air traffic

Lille Lesquin International Airport is 15 minutes from the city centre by car (11 km). In terms of shipping, it ranks fourth, with almost 38,000 tonnes of freight which pass through each year.[citation needed]


Lille is the 3rd largest French river port after Paris and Strasbourg. The river Deûle is connected to regional waterways with over 680 km of navigable waters. The Deûle connects to Northern Europe via the River Scarpe and the River Scheldt (towards Belgium and the Netherlands), and internationally via the Lys River (to Dunkerque and Calais).

Shipping statistics

Year 1997 2000 2003
Millions of tonnes 5.56 6.68 7.30
By River or Sea 8.00% 8.25% 13.33%
By Rail 6.28% 4.13% 2.89%
By Road 85.72% 87.62% 83.78%


With over 110 000 students, the metropolitan area of Lille is one of the first student cities in France.

  • The Université Catholique de Lille was founded in 1875. Today it has law, economics, medicine, physics faculties and schools. Among the most famous is Institut Catholique d'Arts et Métiers (ICAM) founded in 1898, ranked 20th among engineering schools, with the specificity of graduating polyvalent engineers, École des hautes études commerciales du nord (EDHEC) founded in 1906 and the IESEG currently ranked within the top 5 and top 15 business schools in France, respectively. In 1924 ESJ - a leading journalism school - was established.
ESA - Ecole Supérieure des Affaires is a Business Management school established in Lille in 1990. IEP Sciences-Po Lille political studies institute was established in Lille in 1992.

The European Doctoral College Lille Nord-Pas de Calais is headquartered in Lille metropole and includes 3,000 PhD Doctorate students supported by university research laboratories.

Notable people from Lille

Scientists and entrepreneurs


Politicians, professionals and military


Lille's football club, the Lille O.S.C., is one of the major teams in the French football league. They have won 8 major national trophies and now regularly features in the UEFA Champions League and UEFA Cup.

Famous players include :

International Relations

Twin towns - sister cities

Lille is twinned with:

See also


  • Codaccioni, Félix-Paul (1976) De l'inégalité sociale dans une grande ville industrielle, le drame de Lille de 1850 à 1914 Lille: Éditions Universitaires, Université de Lille 3 ISBN 2-85939-041-3 
  • Collectif (1999) Lille, d'un millénaire à l'autre (Fayard ed.) ISBN 2213604568 
  • Despature, Perrine (2001) Le Patrimoine des Communes du Nord (Flohic ed.) ISBN 2-84234-119-8 
  • Duhamel, Jean-Marie (2004) Lille, Traces d'histoire Les patrimoines La Voix du Nord ISBN 2-84393-079-0 
  • Gérard, Alain (1991) Les grandes heures de Lille Perrin ISBN 2-262-00743-8 
  • Legillon, Paulette; Dion, Jacqueline (1975) Lille : portrait d'une cité Axial 
  • Lottin, Alain (2003) Lille - D'Isla à Lille-Métropole Histoire des villes du Nord La Voix du Nord ISBN 2-84393-072-3 
  • Maitrot, Eric; Cary, Sylvie (2007) Lille secret et insolite Les Beaux Jours ISBN 2351790111 
  • Marchand, Philippe (2003) Histoire de Lille Jean-Paul Gisserot ISBN 2-87747-645-6 
  • Catherine, Monnet (2004) Lille : portrait d'une ville Jacques Marseille ISBN 2914967020 
  • Paris, Didier; Mons, Dominique (2009) Lille Métropole, Laboratoire du renouveau urbain Parenthèses ISBN 978-2863642238 
  • Pierrard, Pierre (1979) Lille, dix siècles d'histoire Stock ISBN 2-234-01135-3 
  • Versmée, Gwenaelle (2009) Lille méconnu Jonglez ISBN 2915807566 



  1. ^ INSEE: 2006 Census
  2. ^ Données Météo France publiées par l'internaute - Climat à Lille
  3. ^ "Weather Information for Lille". World Weather Information Service. Retrieved 1 January 2009. 
  4. ^ INSEE (2006) "SecteurEmpLT-DonnéesHarmoniséesRP68-99" Retrieved 11 octobre 2009 
  5. ^ INSEE (2006) "CS-EmploisLT-DonnéesHarmoniséesRP68-99" Retrieved 11 octobre 2009 
  6. ^ INSEE (2006) "CS-ActivitéLR-DonnéesHarmoniséesRP68-99" Retrieved 11 octobre 2009 
  7. ^ INSEE (2007) "Caractéristiques des entreprises et établissements" Retrieved 11 octobre 2009 
  8. ^ "Travel & Transport". La mairie de Lille. Retrieved 2008-02-18. 
  9. ^ Rapport L’’OPTIMISATION DU RESEAU DE FORMATION INITIALE D’’ENSEIGNEMENT SUPERIEUR EN REGION, RAPPORT DE M. Alain LOTTIN Au Conseil Economique et Social Régional Présenté lors de la séance plénière du 7 novembre 2006
  10. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n "Lile Facts & Figures". Retrieved 2009-04-09. 
  11. ^ Turin City Hall - International Affairs (English) Retrieved on 2008-01-26.
  12. ^

External links

Travel guide

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikitravel

Place du Général-de-Gaulle
Place du Général-de-Gaulle

Lille [1] (Dutch: Rijsel) 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 the main city of France's fourth 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 (Kortrijk, Tournai) was estimated in 2007 at around 1,885,000 inhabitants, ranking as one of the major metropolitan areas of Europe.

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 airport (Beauvais) Ryanair uses for Paris as there is no train connection at all and the only bus is back to Paris proper.

By Plane

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 about three Euros. A taxi would cost about 20 Euros.

Lille Flandres Station
Lille Flandres Station

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).

Get around

By subway

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.


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 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.
  • Musée des Beaux-Arts [2], a famed museum covering European art from 16th - 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 from a rather alternative angle.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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, [ [3]]. Check their MySpace to know when the next event will be. If you're in Lille, it's really worth it.



As a student city, there are many schools and universities. You can attend bachelor, master degrees in Lille or ask for a student exchange.

For any foreign students wishing to come to Lille, the following website could come in handy : Web Site du Crous

  • ICL-Clarife is the language centre for the Institut Catholic de Lille, France's largest private university. Located in the heart of Lille, ICL-Clarife organises complete French language and civilisation study programmes for non-Francophones. Web Site ICL-Clarife
  • 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 the Piscine (Museum of Arts and Industry) of Roubaix (Station : Gare Jean Lebas on Line 2)
  • 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 would definitely be recommended to visit Lille. There are hundreds of little patisseries selling more cakes than I knew existed, as well as a number of chocolate shops. Of these, I would suggest Guillaume Vincent (12 Rue du Cure Saint Etienne), which sells exquisitely decorated chocolates which, judging from their taste, must have about 90% cocoa solids.
  • Pâtisserie du Lion d'Or, Place du Lion d'Or. This pâtisserie has all sorts of goodies, including THE best croissants in Lille.  edit
  • Le Flams (8 rue du Pas, near "La 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[4]
  • 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 agreable, 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) menus from 13,50€, large choice of good meals
  • 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". [5]
  • La Chicorée (place Rihour, just beside le Flore, near 'Rihour' subway station) menus from 13,50€, 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.
  • 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 XXth century "art-nouveau" fish store lies one of the best seafood and fish restaurants in the country, appreciated by many famous people.
  • 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.  edit
  • Maison du Moulin D'Or (Morel & Fils), 31 Place du théâtre, 03 20 55 00 10. 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.  edit
  • The Drugstore, 21 Rue Royale, 03 20 12 00 53. 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.  edit
  • Café Oz/The Australian Bar, 33, Place des Bettignies,, [6]. 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.  edit
  • 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.
  • Alliance Lille: luxury hotel in the center of Lille. Seminars organization. [7]
  • Lille Hostel. A HI hostel, about €17.30/night. [8]
  • Nord Hotel. Situated in the southern part of Lille, about a ten minute ride on the subway away from the centre of town. When first arriving, the area seems a bit intimidating, but is actually quite quiet. Fairly basic accommodation. Small, clean room and friendly staff. €60/night for a twin room.
  • Hotel Brueghel. Peacefully overlooking a church, but in a very central location. about €80/night, 3/5 Parvis Saint-Maurice. Tel. (33) 3 20 06 06 69 [9]
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  • Mister Bed City Lille, 57, Rue de Béthune, +33 3 20 12 96 96, [10]. Central location, basic but clean. Approx €50.  edit

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Up to date as of January 15, 2010

Definition from Wiktionary, a free dictionary

See also lille



Wikipedia has an article on:


Proper noun


  1. A city in France, the capital of Nord-Pas-de-Calais
  2. A village in Belgium, near Turnhout.




Proper noun


  1. Lille

Derived terms

Simple English

A street in Lille

Lille is a city in the north of France. Lille has about 226,800 inhabitants. It is the capital of the region Nord-Pas de Calais. About two million people live in the urban area (conurbation) shared with Kortrijk and Tournai.

It is on the border with Belgium.



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