Historically, it has also been the capital of Flanders, and later an industrial powerhouse, thanks to which it now boasts a large and handsome historic centre. The night life, thanks to the city’s large student population, is cutting edge and lively. It is a diverse, dynamic, and beautiful city – there is something in Lille that will appeal to everyone.
Lille (map) is the capital of the Hauts-de-France region (Nord-Pas-de-Calais & Picardy.) in northern France, within a 90-minute train ride from Paris, Brussels and London.
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Lille hosts an annual braderie (La Braderie in Lille) on the first weekend in September. Its origins are thought to date back to the twelfth century and between two and three million visitors are drawn into the city. It is one of the largest gatherings of France and the largest flea market in Europe.
Place du Général-de-Gaulle (map). The main square of Lille. It has many beautiful, Flemish inspired buildings. There are myriad restaurants, bars, and stylish shopping centers located around the square.
Palais des Beaux-Arts, Place de la République (map). A famed museum covering European art from the 15th to 20th century. There are myriad events open to all, including night events and festivals.
Town Hall (Hôtel de Ville, map). The Town Hall and its 104-m-tall Belfry is a historical monument and Unesco World Heritage Site.
Cathédrale Notre Dame de la Treille (map). The construction of this cathedral started in 1854 and was eventually finished only in 1999.
La Vieille Bourse (map). Built in 1653, this is a historic and beautiful building with an atrium style opening and inner court. Within the inner court, you may find antique booksellers, posters, and other hidden gems.
The open market Marché de Wazemmes (map). Open every Tuesday, Thursday and Sunday morning, but the busiest day is definitely Sunday. Vendors sell everything from fresh fruits and vegetables, Moroccan, Mediterranean, and Vietnamese food, books, stationery, suitcases, shoes, clothes, and even perfume and undergarments!