A walk through Lille will make you question whether you are still in France, for there is a distinctly Flemish feel at play here.
Lille’s Flemish influence is most clearly seen in the ornate Bourse or stock exchange with its 24 buildings and book market which is held in the courtyard on Tuesday-Saturday and Sunday mornings.
To the rich merchants who constructed the brick residences surrounding the Bourse in the 17th century, all things Flemish were synonymous with style and wealth. As a result, Lille has an exciting buzz to it, a modern driverless train, the vast Euralille shopping centre, two great art museums and plenty of stylish shops, cafes and restaurants.
If music is your thing then why not try Le 30 for live jazz, blues and Latin American music or the Nouveau Siecle concert hall for classical concerts. There are many museums to chose from such as the Musee d’Art Moderne du Norda, a first-class museum with works by Braque, Miro, Leger, Picasso, Modigliani & other artists.
The Musee des Beaux Arts contains a superb art collection including works by Rubens, Van Dyck, Goya, Delacroix, Courbet and many others. With the Lille-Paris TGV link, created in 1993, as well as the creation of the new Euralille district and the arrival of Eurostar in 1994, this has allowed the city to enter the third millennium with confidence.
Lille is placed in France’s fourth largest metropolitan area, an international crossroads and a dynamic financial centre. In 2004, it was designated as a European Culture Capital. Since then, Lille has become an important tourist destination, recognised for its welcoming vibrant environment, well-preserved heritage and active cultural life.
Cultural Capital at Europe’s Crossroads
Handsome and full of buildings with character, Lille has a lovely centre ideally suited for a city break – most of the sights can be combined with a leisurely walking tour and the open market (Tuesday, Thursday and Sunday morning) is a bargain hunter’s feast. It also boasts the largest bookstore in Europe with 8 floors and more than 400,000 titles so this is a must see holiday destination for those who enjoy a good read.