The largest city in northern
France, Lille is one of the country’s best-kept secrets and surprises many people with its impressive and striking architecture. Whether you fall for the quaint winding streets of the old quarter or the all-round vibrancy and energy of the city, with so much going on all year round you’ll see why it is becoming a hit with tourists.
Why visit Lille?
Lille may be the largest city in northern France but as soon as you visit you’ll find that the atmosphere is friendly and relaxed with the backdrop of some handsome Flemish-style architecture as a backdrop.
As you would expect from a city crowned European Capital of Culture 2004, there are lots of things to do in Lille including museums, galleries, cathedrals, churches, historic buildings and monuments. Plus, as most galleries and museums have an extensive calendar of exhibitions and events throughout the year, whenever you choose to visit you’ll discover something new and different.
To really make the most of your stay it might be well worth investing in a 24-hour Lille City Pass. For a one-off payment it gives free access to over 25 major Lille attraction as well as travel on all of the city’s buses, metros and trams.
Lille Christmas market is also a must for visitors. Every December the city’s main square is taken over and transformed into a winter wonderland with a huge ferris wheel and Christmas tree as well as over 80 chalets selling Christmas decorations, food and arts and crafts items.
Lille is located in northern France, within an hour’s drive of Dunkirk and just over an hour away from Calais, meaning either of our routes from
Dover to France
If you live in the north of England or Scotland then our
may be easier. You can drive from Amsterdam to Lille in approximately 3 hours from our IJmuiden port.
What to see in Lille
The centre of Lille can roughly be divided into three main sections: Vieux Lille (the old town), Grand-Place (around the Place Général de Gaulle), and the République – Saint-Sauveur quarter. Beyond the centre, but still in Lille and easily accessible on the metro network, are the towns of Villeneuve d'Ascq, where the LaM museum holds France's greatest modern art collection outside Paris, and Roubaix, which is home to the stunning La Piscine art museum, formerly an Art Deco swimming pool.
Lille is also famous for its Flemish architecture, 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".
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.
Dubbed "Queen of the citadels" by Vauban, the Citadel of Lille is one of the most notable citadels that the foremost military engineer of his age designed. Vauban was famed for his skill in both designing fortifications and breaking through them. The star-shaped Citadel of Lille is testament to his ability and knowledge.
There are plenty of museums in Lille, and its love of art is legendary. Palais des Beaux-Arts de Lille is one of the largest museums in France, and the largest French museum outside of Paris. It was one of the first museums built in the country, established under the instructions of Napoleon I at the beginning of the 19th century as part of the popularisation of art. LAM, or the Lille Art Modern Museum houses modern and outsider art as well as pieces from Pablo Picasso, Amedeo Modigliani, Joan Miró, Georges Braque and more.
For families, Lille boasts an abundance of beautiful parks and gardens to explore and admire at your leisure. There’s the Botanical Gardens and Greenhouse, The Vauban Garden and the most popular of them all, the Citadel Park and Zoo which is free and houses around 400 animals from monkeys, zebras and panthers to rare and exotic birds.
Lille is also home to a young, cool population of students and young professionals, helping the city stay lively and varied both day and night. This likely helped it claim the Capital of Culture title.
Where to stay in Lille
As a large city, there's a wide choice of Lille hotels, whether you are looking for luxury or a budget hostel. Our accommodation partner, booking.com has a full range to choose from.
Prices are subject to availability. Credit card & telephone booking fees apply. Terms & Conditions apply.
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