Lille, a spectacular heritage
Only an hour and a half drive from the Eurotunnel Calais terminal, Lille is the perfect destination for a day trip or weekend break.
The rich history of the town is reflected in the architecture as well as the wealth of museums and monuments. Designated the European Capital of Culture in 2004, Lille, leads the way in the Arts field. From great museums to art centres, the Opera to the National Orchestra, culture meets you at every street corner.
Proud of its tradition of festivities and fine food, Lille is a welcoming city filled with Northerners' generosity and warmth. Thanks to its unique charm, Lille offers visitors a tempting mix of Flemish cheerfulness and French elegance, making it a fascinating place to visit.
Main Sites and Monuments
- Palais Rihour
A rare architectural reminder of the flamboyant gothic style in Lille.
- Vieux Lille ( Old Town)
Remarkably restored, with its historic buildings, Vieux Lille is one of the most picturesque districts of Lille and is teeming with boutiques, art galleries, cafes and restaurants.
A true city within a city, surrounded by bastions in the shape of a five-pointed star, The Citadel is a masterpiece of fortification, urban art and French architecture. The Lille Citadel is still occupied by the army and may only be visited as part of a guided tour.
- Town Hall and Belfry
The town hall's size and the ingenious nature of its layout give it an impressive appearance. The Belfry, at 104m, was the first building in France over 100m to be made entirely of reinforced concrete. It is a symbol of communal freedom and a landmark for the entire area. In 2005, it was listed as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO.
- Palais des Beaux Arts
This Fine Arts Museum is considered to be the second largest general-interest museum in France. Rubens, Van Dyck, Goa and Delacroix are just a few of the collections that can be viewed.
The Grand Place Plaza
Have a well deserved rest after traipsing around the historical landmarks of Lille by stopping off for a coffee in the Grand Place, the beating heart of the City.
- The Goddess Column
Standing in the centre of the Grand Place, the column commemorates Lille's resistance to the Austrian siege in September 1792.
- The Old Stock Exchange
Without a doubt, the finest monument in the city. It was built to offer a home for tradesmen and financiers. Entry is via four gates guarded by Flanders lions, a reminder of the city's former attachment to The Netherlands.
Shopping in Lille
If you are more in the mood for shopping rather than strolling, Lille has it all. From wandering around the antique shops in Old Lille to bartering over flowers, food and fashion in the Wazemmes Market place; you could spend all day getting those perfect holiday presents. Make sure to check out which days different markets are held on; with over four prominent markets held several times a week, there will always be something to catch your eye!
- Wazemmes Market
With food, flowers, fabrics and exotic products, it is one of the largest markets in France and perhaps one of the liveliest with up to 600 vendors and 70,000 on some Sundays. Colourful and with a "Soho" atmosphere, you'll often hear an accordion being played.
- Braderie de Lille (Lille Flea Market)
With two days of shopping madness every first weekend in September, this is undoubtedly the biggest flea market in Europe. It officially opens at 2pm on Saturday and carries on until 11pm on Sunday – 33 hours nonstop! Thousands of traders, second-hand sellers and especially "Bradeux" (non professional sellers) continue a tradition from the 12th century, which is both commercial and festive. All of the city's restaurants sell mussels during the flea market and have an unofficial competition to see which one is able to build the highest pile of empty mussel shells; it's quite a sight!
Find out more about Lille Flea Market
Lille Christmas Market
During its month-long celebrations, the city of Lille takes on a festive atmosphere and welcomes you to its winter wonderland. Wrapped up in Christmas spirit, the entire city sparkles and carols fill the air as the 50 meter high Big Wheel turns majestically, providing guests with an incredible view of the city.
Follow the irresistible aroma of cinnamon and roasted chestnuts to Place Rihour where you can find more than 80 wooden chalets with merchants and craftspeople offering original and delightful gift ideas.
Open daily from 20 November to 30 December 2013 except 25 December.
Find out more about Lille Christmas Market
Find out more about Lille on
OFFICE DE TOURISME ET DES CONGRES DE LILLE
Tel : +33 (0) 359 579400
About 80 minutes drive on the motorway from Eurotunnel's Calais Terminal. The Capital of Culture, Lille, is approximately 70 miles east of Calais, making it an easy weekend destination.
Book your journey