Lille is rich in history, and as one of the most fought over towns in olden France, has a large military history. It is also a very cosmopolitan city and ideal for culture lovers. The architecture is amazing at Lille, from the « ski boot » of the Credit Lyonnais tower at Eurolille, to the art deco « Piscine » museum.
Top Attractions in Lille
Vieille Bourse (Old stock exchange)
Probably Lille's finest building, it dates from the mid 1600's, and is made up of 24 identical houses built in a square shape, with a courtyard in the middle. It is a little hub of activity, with a second hand book market, flower seller, chess players, and in the warmer weather Tango dancers !
An unmissable family visit in Lille, the zoo is next to the famous citadelle, and unlike most zoos has free entry ! Over 350 animals of all types, and often a special theme, for example on Polar animals, with extra activities and animations.
Built at the end of the 1600's the five sided citadel of Lille was designed by Vauban, the famous military engineer. It was built on the junction of two rivers and could be safeguarded by flooding over 1500 hectares of the surrounding land. The main access was by the Royal Door (Porte Royale). The citadel is still occupied by the military today, so public visits are not possible.
Palais des Beaux-Arts (The Fine Arts Museum)
The museum opened in 1809 and transferred to the present building in the late 1800's. With over 2000 items on display this is the 2nd largest general museum in France. It is well worth a visit to see paintings from Rubens and Goya, and sculptures from Rodin, amongst a host of other incredible pieces.
The Museum Of Natural History
An amazing museum with a two fold collection, firstly superb zoology and geology collections, including several extinct species. Secondly the ethnology collection, which is one of the best in France, with some unique pieces from around the world.
Notre-Dame De La Treille Cathedral
Maison Coilliot (Coilliot House)
Maison Coilliot (Coilliot House), 14, rue de Fleurus – Worth a detour to see this incredible art deco frontage, the house was designed by Hector Guimard for Louis Coilliot, a ceramics manufacturer. It is completely out of place, with it's unmatching facades, wrought iron, and enamelled lava, but very beautiful. It is not open to the public.
The City Doors (Portes)
The City Doors (Portes) – Originally there were 7 gates into Lille, 3 remain. The Porte de Paris, Place Simon Vollant, was chosen to create a majestic monument, 32 metres high, to celebrate Louis 14th 's capture of Lille in 1667. The Porte de Gand, Rue de Gand, is not so obvious in its appearance, but is more intricate, with well mixed building materials, and it's different depending which side you look from. It was originally built in the 1620's during the Spanish occupation. The last of the doors, the Porte de Roubaix, Rue de Roubaix, was built at the same time, and enlarged in the 19th century.
La Piscine Art museum
La Piscine Art museum – In an old art deco swimming pool, the museum of art has a very large collection of fine arts, including ceramics and fashion as well as the more usual sculptures and paintings. Worth a visit for the incredible inside of the building.
Fashionista's – The area around the Piscine museum is the home to several of Lille's new and upcoming fashion designers. This area, together with the rue du Faubourg des Postes, are quickly getting Lille a strong reputation as a fashion capital
Getting to and around Lille
Lille (LIL), has its own international airport which has flights to european airports and a few to further afield. You could also fly to Paris and transfer to Lille. Lille has a very good public transport system, so there is no need to hire a car, unless you plan to explore further afield.