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Panoramic view of the Grand' Place

Euralile - Europe in the heart of the city

What better place to start your visit of the city than Euralille with its futuristic constructions... The heart of the new business district, the metropolis is anchored in its European dimension by metal and glass.  This new urban island was designed at the end of the 1980s. It is the materialisation of both an economic and social transition which launches it into the 21st century. An zone of glass and steel, where the towers span the station and literally light up in flames at sunset. A zone for exchange, passages - like Corbusier’s long viaduct which literally planes over the Matisse park. While some sit in the grass for some fresh air, others hurry to take their train. Two contrasting movements which cross the esplanade, giving it a particular tempo.

Europe Lille station with its copper coloured futuristic buildings
  • The Eurolille district with the Lille Europe International railway station and the business district with its futuristic outlines
  • © Xavier Alphand

The Grand’Place - the Lillois’ meeting place

It is here that the mix between Parisian Lille and Flemish Lille starts. Gently sliding from Haussmann-style buildings to prosperous façades of the trading city. Head towards place du Général de Gaulle and ask for the Grand'Place. Enter the Vieille Bourse.  Another world where booksellers, chess players and Tango dancers share this infinitely beautiful space. Take a break at one of the restaurant or café terraces.  It is clear to see that the central fountain is the preferred meeting place for the Lille population. Under the constantly vigilant gaze of their Goddess. Go shopping in the surrounding area - the boutiques are chic, and very chic... And just nearby, you will find the first winding paved streets. You are in the former heart, the historical centre of the city.

Book sellers in the courtyard of the old Stock Exchange
  • The old Stock Exchange: accessible from the Grand' Place. This is the rendez-vous for those who like peace, quiet, and old books!
  • © Jean-Pierre DUPLAN
In the city, each step is a century. Each century leads to another.

The charm of the paved streets

The old town, Vieux-Lille with its maze of paved streets, small squares, and passages is one of  the most enchanting facets of the city.  Stroll along the magnificent rue de la Monnaie and contemplate the majestic Hospice Comtesse.  Go up the rue de Gand - a pedestrian zone in the Summer. It becomes Mediterranean when all the terraces are in the street. Go around la Treille square with its amazing cathedral... On a sunny day the lawns and café terraces are taken by storm.  But even when lively, the site exudes tranquillity. Discover the surrounds where high, narrow houses with coloured façades press against each other. Stop for a moment on one of the small, wooden bridges - you are in the centre of the Antique city. When the island becomes Lille...

Strollers, terrace, cobbled streets in the old quarter - Vieux Lille
  • The Place aux Oignons: for a stroll, a drink, or a tasty regional dish in one of the taverns in the old quarter - Vieux Lille
  • © Samuel Dhote

Imagine for an instant the surprising face of Lille with canal crossing the city. The ditches around la Treille are full of water... Boats moor before the existing Palais de Justice... The Pont-Neuf overlooks the Basse-Deûle... The embankments were only transformed into pavements at the beginning of the 20th century. The last visible remnants are the forgotten canals of the plaine de la Poterne with the magnificent Wault embankments near the citadel. The surrounding streets are now quiet, far from the effervescence of the ferry workers. Heritage of this double identity unique to Vieux-Lille, the art galleries and bistros share an intimate living space.

House frontages in Vieux Lille behind Notre Dame de la Treille cathedral
  • House frontages in Vieux Lille behind Notre Dame de la Treille cathedral
  • © Samuel Dhote

The citadel - Lille’s green lung

Vauban’s queen of citadels is one of Lille’s flagship monuments - a symbol of the city becoming French. The coexistence between its military function and its use as a public area has always existed.  A place for strolling, the site for fun fairs, a park for leisure activities, a zoo... You will find all that at the citadel. Add joggers, families strolling, friends picnicking, waffles, cones of fries, terraces by the water, barges passing by or moored... In just a few words, that describes the convivial atmosphere that reigns on the banks of the Deûle and in the avenues of the Bois de Boulogne. The demolition of the stadium and the reconstruction of the surprising Napoléon bridge, unique in France, were the beginning of the major planning changes on the Esplanade.

The Vauban citadel for a stroll or playing sport, Lille's "green lung"
  • The Vauban citadel: Lille's "green lung", a place where families go for a stroll and where joggers meet, something for everyone!
  • © Samuel Dhote

Along the grands boulevards

The Lille citadel is the ideal starting point for discovering the part of the city built in the second half of the 19th century. Very Parisian, with 5 grands boulevards lined with trees, and  very northern in the neo-regionalism of the façades. It is at the height of industrialisation. The city needs new spaces. It stretches to the west. The villages of Wazemmes, Esquermes, Moulins, and many others enter Lille’s fold. New neighbourhoods emerge. The place de la République opposes the sublime Museum of Fine Arts - an absolute must visit, and the imposing police headquarters.  Two important symbols of this new urban centre in Lille’s cartography.  

The Fine Arts Museum on the Place de la République
  • Place de la République and the Fine Arts Musuem (opposite the Prefecture). The Museum has a rich art collection from Antiquity to the present day
  • © Jean-Pierre Duplan

The new districts are bourgeois along the boulevards, working class in Wazemmes and de Moulins, and for the student population in Saint-Michel and Vauban. There remain today very distinct atmospheres due this social geography. Vauban and the Catholic university take us across the Channel; Solférino-Massena are known for their nightlife; Wazemmes is a mix of working-class and bohemian bourgeois around the legendary Sunday market; Saint-Michel, Lille’s former latin quarter gets a facelift. It became a fashionable neighbourhood, for example avenue Jean Baptiste Lebas and Saint Sauveur. The former goods train station has become a cultural venue where having a drink “at St So” has become a must.

Courtyard of Saint Sauveur Station - a cultural venue
  • Courtyard of the former goods station: Saint-Sauveur station has become a cultural venue that is very popular with the people of Lille
  • © Gare Saint Sauveur © OTCL Lille / Laurent Ghesquière

The Saint-Sauveur district - a symbol of renewal

The Saint-Sauveur district, around the town hall, is a telling example of Lille’s history and metamorphoses.  Each step is a century. Each century leads to another. The Nobel tower, a last medieval bastion, touches the surrounding boulevards.  The Hermitage Gantois, a 17th century jewel faces typical 1960 residential buildings. The flamboyant Porte de Paris is at the foot of the colossal town hall with its emblematic 1930s belfry. The beginning of a long transformation when the workers’ houses were replaced by larger constructions.  A metamorphosis which continues today. The industrial wasteland left by the closing of the Saint-Sauveur station has become a cultural venue. A residential district will be built there before the end of the 21st century.

Belfry and town hall
  • The Town Hall belfry is a UNESCO listed site. Climb 104 metres when you visit; the view will take your breath away!
  • © Rémi Vimont
Ilot Comtesse

Visit - Discover Lille

Price for 1 person for a 2 days / 1 night stay