1 / GENERAL
Population : 228,000 inhabitants
Area : 3,483 km²
Population Density : 5,759 per km²
Name of Inhabitants : Lillois and Lilloises
Region : Nord Pas de Calais
Map : Google Maps
2 / TRANSPORT
The city enjoys an interesting geographical position, close to Belgium, Luxemburg, the Netherlands, and England. Less than one hour by train to Paris, and around 10 km from the Belgian border, it is located at the crossroads of Europe. Additionally, it is easy to get there, since the city is serviced by highways A1, A23, and A25.
The airport to get to Lille is based in Lesquin. It is located 15 minutes by car from Lille. It is serviced by well-known companies like Air France, but also by low cost companies like Easy Jet, Ryan Air, or Hop! The airport services France, Europe, and Northern Africa. A navette can take you from the airport to the train stations in just 20 minutes (8€ for a one-way and 10€ for a round trip). If you need more privacy, taxi ride might be worth it.
Lille has two train stations that are located right next to each other: two gares Gare Lille Europe and Gare Lille Flandres. They both have their tube stations as well as TGV lines
Lille Flandres, the olderst station, also offers Corail and TER services for nearby cities like Rouen, Valenciennes, Lens, Amiens, or Dunkerque.
Lille Europe is a modern station that welcomes Eurostar trains (1 hour and 20 minutes to reach London, 25 minutes to Brussels) and TGV trains. Next to it, you’ll find floral sculptures by Yayoi Kusama, a park, and a large shopping mall where you can dine or buy a few useful things for your stay in the Capital of Flanders.
Should you need further information, please visit the SNCF website.
In Lille, if you need a vehicle, you can call a rental agency or choose the car-sharing system.If you just visit the city, this isn’t really necessary, since you can go to all the interesting sitesby foot or use the public transports.
Getting around town
The Transpole network has the shape of a star. There are 2 metro lines, 2 tramlines, 98 bus lines, and 45 coach lines. To use them, you’ll need to get a temporary PassPass card.
You can buy your pass in one of the 200 automatic machines and in one of the 60 recharging terminals installed in the metro, bus, and train stations.
You can also get a pass at one of the 200 PassPass locations (stores and tobacco shops) in the city. You can even recharge it directly on the Transpole web site. If you feel that is too much, please note that you can buy tickets directly in the bus.
A single ticket costs 1.50€. The rechargeable card costs 0.20€, so your first fare will cost 1.70€.
Many plans are offered depending on your needs. The 10-trip card costs 12.50€. Don’t hesitate to take a day pass for 4€, a 2-day pass for 7.50€, or a 3-day pass for 9.50€ if you want to get your money’s worth. The interesting places in the city are relatively close to each other, so you can get to them by foot without going on a hike. However, if you don’t appreciate walking or if the weather is bad, it is better to get tickets to travel without getting wet.
Advice: don’t try to sneak a free ride, because the network is watched over by cameras and it isn’t rare to run into inspectors.
In Lille, the sense of being in Amsterdam reigns over you thanks to the numerous cyclists that go around in the city. If you don’t have your own one while visiting the city, you can always rent one thanks to V’Lille (similar to Vélib in Paris). No less than 10,000 red bikes were available in 2014 to decrease the amount of cars and other polluting vehicles. Nevertheless, it is necessary to have a PassPass card to use them.
3 / WHEN TO GO?
For the bigest flea market
Each year on the first weekend of September, the largest flea market in Europe (100-km-long) comes to the metropolis.
In addition to thousands of stallholders, many events are organized from Saturday 2pm to 11pm. The city is certainly crowded for several days, but it is an event that any bargain hunter attend. The citizens and tourists alike will notice the friendliness of the “Ch’tis”.
If you want to want to be there for the event, get on it early, because hotels fill up quickly and prices for flights and train tickets tend to get more and more expensive.
Surely, it will be a bit chill at this time of year, but it is when you’ll find a magical atmosphere emanating from the Capital of Flanders. At the end of the day, the lights come allive and you will discover the Grand’ Place from a new point of vieuw. The lights bring out the design and architectural details in the buildings. The Ferris Wheel located on the Grand’ Place will take you back to your childhood. Right next to it, the wooden chalets of the Christmas Market (Place Rihour) offer home-made waffles, mulled wine, gingerbread, and lovely items made by regional craftmen and women.
For a longer or shorter weekend, Lille is a nice city in the summer. The students who help fill up the town are gone on vacation or are working. The city is emptier and you will probably not have to queue that long for visits or shopping). However, pay attention to see if the places you want to discover are still open. If you miss the beach during your stay, go to Lille-Plage with your children for a relaxing day out with your family or friends on a patch of sand.
4 / INFORMATION AND USEFUL ADDRESSES
Tourism Office http://en.lilletourism.com/
Emergency number: 112 (Euro zone, 112 redirects you to 15, 17, 18, 115, and 119)
Pompier: dial 18
Ambulance (medical emergency): dial 15
Police: dial 17
Enfants disparus: composez le 116
There are free restrooms to use in the city center at the Tanneurs shopping mall.
Grand’ Place :http://en.lilletourism.com/la-grand-place.html#thaut
The Old Stock Exchange: http://en.lilletourism.com/la-vieille-bourse.html#thaut
The Opera House: http://www.opera-lille.fr/en/
The Belfry: http://en.lilletourism.com/l-hotel-de-ville-et-son-beffroi.html#thaut
The Chambre de Commerce et d’Industrie: http://www.grand-lille.cci.fr/
Wazemmes Market: http://www.lonelyplanet.com/france/northern-france/lille/sights/neighbourhoods-villages/wazemmes
Tri Postal: http://en.mairie-lille.fr/cms/Welcome/Culture-leisure/tri-postal
The Museum of the Hospice Comtesse: http://www.lille.fr/cms/accueil/culture-lille/Musees-et-expositions/Musees/musee-hospice-comtesse
The Fine Arts Museum: http://www.pba-lille.fr/spip.php?rubrique31
The Natural History Museum: http://mhn.lille.fr/cms
La Piscine: http://www.roubaix-lapiscine.com/
LaM Museum: http://www.musee-lam.fr/
Gare Saint Sauveur: http://lille3000.eu/gare-saint-sauveur/printemps-2015/index.php?p=
The birth place of Charles de Gaulle: http://www.charles-de-gaulle.com/
Citadel Park: http://www.lille.fr/cms/accueil/cadre-vie/parcs-jardins-promenades-lille/grands_espaces_lille/parc-citadelle
Lille’s Citadel: http://en.lilletourism.com/historic-sites-and-monuments-lille/citadelle-de-lille.html#thaut
5 / BUDGET IN LILLE
The following prices are indicative. They refer to a one night stay in a standard double bedroom and may be subject to confirmation at the time of booking.
You can find a comfortable and charming hotel, apartment-hotel, or bed & breakfast without paying a fortune.
- Less than 50€, nice and functional places will welcome you.
- Between 50 and 100€, you’ll have a large selection of 2 or 3 star establishments decorated in a modern or traditional way, but always with taste.
- Between 100€ and 150€, you’ll have a flat in an elegant establishment or a room in a 5 star hotel in the city.
Take a look at our website to find a place to stay in Lille.
The following prices are indicative. They refer to the price of one course or a menu for one.
- Less than 5€: :
- A warm Lille waffle (with sugar pearls) on Rue de Béthune.
- A sandwich in a bakery or a snack (like Tout Chaud) in the city center.
- A breakfast or snack on the Grand’ Place in the tea salon,Honey & Pie
(Honey & Pie, 149 rue de Paris)
- Aux Merveilleux, a delicious chocolate meringue cake.
(Aux Merveilleux,67 rue de la Monnaie)
- Above all else, 3€ for the legendary stuffed waffle of Meert just a few steps from the Grand’ Place.
(Meert, 27 rue Esquermoise)
- Between 5€ and 10€ :
- A full meal in a So Good healthy fast food place
(So Good, 16-20 place de Béthune)
- A snack at a local Starbucks-like shop called Notting Hill Coffee
(Notting Hill Coffee, Gallerie Grand’ Place)
- A salad that you can assemble yourself or a good pie from Be Yourself
(Be Yourself, 2 suqare Morisson)
- Want to have lunch in one of the best bakeries in the city? Go to Patrick Hermand's
(Patrick Hermand Bakery, rue Basse)
- Between 10€ and 20€ :
- A meal with a good burger from the Peek A Boo or Cut
(Peek A Boo, 92 rue de l’Hôpital Militaire)
(Le Cut, 24 rue de Paris)
- une pizza succulente dans le Vieux-Lille à la Bottega
- Between 20 and 30€: :
- A typical meal at L'Gaïette or the fullest meal from Chicorée, open until 4:30am during the week and 6:00am during the weekend. Flemish cuisine won’t have anymore secrets for you: beer, carbonade flammande, welsh, waterzoï, and the must-have dish: moules-frites.
(L’Gaïette, 30 rue Masséna)
- More than 30€ :
- A meal at Bloempot. Vous pourrez y déguster des mets surprenants avec une carte revue chaque jour en fonction des inspirations du chef et des produits de saison.
(Bloempot, 22 rue des Bouchers)
- A lunch or diner at L’huîtrière, an oyster bar and restaurant with elegant decoration in the old town.
(L’huîtrière, 3 rue des chats bossus)
For a night out :
- Do you want to hang around in the older part of Lille? We suggest 3 solutions that surely aren’t as economical as those that you’ll find in the normal bar scene, but are worth a detour.
- First, for an original cocktail on wooden casks, head to Dandy where you’ll meet a charming manager (around 10€*).
Next to it, you’ll find the So Mojito for a fruity cocktail in various sizes to quench your thirst (starting at 6€* for a mojito).
Finally, Fifi's wine where a scene from La vie d’Adèle was shot, is the perfect place for sharing a bottle of rosé, red, or white wine among friends (expect to pay 5 to 8€ per person) while watching excerpts from films and cartoons in an intimate atmosphere.
- Of course, the well-known bar district is, in fact, made up of two streets: the Rue Massena and Rue Solférino. You can find friendly bars with interesting prices especially during the Happy Hours (with 8€ you’ll easily be able to have a cocktail or 2 beers). Here are our favourites: the “after-skiing” bar,Base Camp, the night club, the Network and the most “like home”, Zythum for an organic lemonade, a good beer, or a glass of wine.
6 / UNMISSABLE VISITS!
To discover the city, you’ll probably appreciate being slightly guided. The City tour runs Monday to Sunday from 10am to 5pm except at 1pm. You will see the main places while comfortably seated. The price for this trip goes from 10 or 12€. It is free if you have a City Pass from the Tourist Office.
You’ll also be able to attend a guided tour on horseback, by foot with a guide in Vieux-Lille, on bicycle, or with a townie.
If you are looking more for some freedom, visit the city at your own pace by downloading the "Zevisit" tour that will help you discover many of the city’s wonders.
- It is the heart of the city. You will see the Théâtre du Nord, and most likely some events. Once you are here, you can go into the old stock exchange that is now occupied by vendors of old books, stamps, or records. You can also marvel at the lovely façade of the city opera house.You can visit it with a guide for two and a half hours if you come on a day when visits are allowed (check beforehand on their web site and at the tourist office).
- The Belfry Here is something that will impress you. You’ll need to climb 109 steps to reach the ticket office and gain access to the elevator that will take you 104 meters up in the building, listed as a UNESCO world heritage site. To appreciate an exceptional view, you’ll need to pay 4 or 6€. Be aware that there is a better deal: it is free to go up, and without a reservation, on the first Wednesday of each month.
- Lille’s Chamber of Commerce and Industry Stained-glass, glass canopies, frescos, antique furniture, a 76-meter high belfry (symbol of power in northern France)... Sounds promising doesn’t it? Reservations are necessary and you can only visit on certain dates.
- The “Heart of the City”
Welcome to the popular and charming neighbourhood called Vieux Lille (old town). You will discover homes and mansions with bowed fruit trees and stones dating back to the 17th century. Passing by these narrow streets, you’ll come across luxury boutiques, concept stores, as well as appetizing restaurants with uncommon décor. This area is one of the safest in the city, but also one of the most expensive for snacking or having a drink. In this neighbourhood with diverse architecture, the Cathédrale Notre-Dame de Treille, with a neo-gothic style, has an ultra-modern façade that might surprise you.
- Wazemmes The must-see, popular market, located on Rue Gambetta and Place de la Nouvelle Aventure (this name doesn’t seem to be given by chance), this market is a bit like a giant souk in the streets of Lille. And for good reason: you’ll find everything there. And when we say everything, we mean EVERYTHING, and at a price defying all competition. Here is what you can dig up there: colorful and fleshy fruits and vegetables, large packets of spices, oriental bread, fresh fruit juice, cheese, sweet or salty fritters cooked in front of you, giant strips of rotisserie meat, fabric merchants, clothing, shoes, furniture, florists, and food trucks to eat there or to go (pizza, Asian, Moroccan, etc.). The market surrounds les Halles, which are open every day but they are a bit more expensive (meat, fish, organic baked goods, coffee, tea, etc.). We can only dissuade you from bringing a grocery cart with you, because the market is packed, like really FULL especially if you arrive at 11am. Also avoid walking around with a large purse and your bank card, but instead choose a smaller bag, cash, and sacs for your purchases. Don’t be afraid of the crowd. There you’ll dig up some gold. Go there on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Sunday mornings to dive into another world.
- Euralille Inaugurated in 1994, this neighbourhood is very interesting.
In a few words: glass buildings, modernity, and height. There you’ll find the train stations that we talked about earlier, a large shopping center that is also home to schools and university housing. The Grand Palais, where different shows and events take place as well as the Barrière Casino. It is the third largest business neighbourhood in France after La Défense in Paris and La Part-Dieu in Lyon. Across from the shopping center, you’ll find a “place of art and life”, the TriPostal. Implanté sur l'emplacement d'un ancien lieu de tri postal (comme l'indique le nom), ce musée a été créé en 2004 à l'occasion de Lille, capitale européenne de la culture. Ce lieu Planted on the site of an old mail sorting center, this museum was created in 2004, when Lille was the European capital of culture. This place is known for its quality contemporary expositions, and various artistic performances. There’s also a fun children’s space as well as small and friendly restaurant.
In 2004, in addition to being the European capital of culture, Lille gained the status of City of Art and History. This wasn’t for nothing, because you will have a choice of museums to visit, each more interesting than the last.
- Dans le Vieux-Lille, direction le musée de l'Hospice Comtesse Located in the Vieux Lille, the hospice is located in a building with Dutch inspiration that was built in the 13th century for the Countess Jeanne de Flandres. Throughout your visit of the house, chapel, and medicinal garden, you’ll dive into the daily life of Augustinians of the 12th and 13th centuries. Temporary exhibits are also available there. You can visit this historic monument from 10am to 6pm every day except Monday mornings and all day Tuesday. It is free for anyone under 12, 3.50€ at full price, and 2.50€ at a reduced price.
- The Fine Arts Museum Get ready for 12,000 m² of exhibitions. This museum contains works painted between the 15th and 20th century. A collection of sculptures, earthenware, and works from the Middle Ages and the Renaissance. The young ones will appreciate the interactive tour that was created for them, as well as the workshops that are dedicated to them. It is free for anyone under 12, 4.50€ at a reduced price, and 6€ at full price.
- Museum of Natural History. This place is planned around a geological area, a zoological area, an insect room, and temporary exhibits. Workshops are offered for children or for adults. It is free for anyone under 12, 2.50€ at a reduced price, and 4€ at full price. It is open during the weekend from 10am to 6pm, during the week (except Tuesday) from 9:30am to 5pm.
- Piscine Forget your bathing suit, the Piscine is a great museum located inside an old swimming pool with an Art Deco style. Previously renovated, you will find material that acts as a witness to the region’s industrial past, paintings form different artistic movements, sculptures along the part of the basin that was saved, clothing placed in the old stalls, pottery, as well as the lesser known history of the place. If the art has given you an appetite, you can fill up at the Meert tea salon that is located in the museum’s enclosure. Open from Tuesday to Thursday from 11am to 6pm, Friday from 11am to 8pm and the weekend from 1pm to 6pm, it is free to enter for anyone under 18. The price is 4€* at a reduced price and 5.50€* at full price (6€ and 9€ along with temporary exhibits). To get there, exit the metro at Gare Jean Lebas.
- The LaM This is Lille’s modern art museum that is located in the suburbs in Villeneuve-d’Asc. It is a place with an impressive size and collections. Opened in 1983, this museum honours modern and contemporary artists (especially Fauvists and Cubists), as well as the big names of outsider art, little known to the larger public since it is difficult to approach. Temporary exhibits come all throughout the year in a way to always satisfy the curious visitors. Concerts, film showings, performances, and thematic workshops also bring an added interest to this place dedicated to art. You can go for a stroll in the park that surrounds it before or after your visit. It is open Tuesday to Sunday from 10am to 6pm. Access to the permanent collections costs 5 or 7€, the double ticket that includes temporary collections costs 7 or 10€. To get there take metro line 1 up to Pont de Bois station, then bus line 4 towards Halluin-Gonod (LaM stop) or metro line 2 to Fort de Mons, then bus line 59 towards Contrescarpe (LaM stop).
- Gare St-Sauveur. You might be wondering why it is so popular. First, because we love the “industrial” style of the giant building. Open since 2009, it is a place for leisure and for sharing artistic expression that everyone will enjoy. Concerts, film nights, exhibitions, contemporary art installations, and thematic events (Lille Ski, for example) are planned over several weeks. It is open from Wednesday to Sunday from 12pm to 7pm, later for specific events.
- The birth home of Charles-de-Gaulle. Come discover the house where the man who has marked the history of France and its republic took his first steps. The rooms are still furnished as if the home, which originally belonged to the general’s grandparents, was still occupied. You can visit from Wednesday to Sunday (for a price ranging from 3 to 6€).
Going out or finding a place in the sun to read or have a picnic :
- Lille’s central park Come stroll along the citadel’s star-shaped ramparts created by Vauban. There, you’ll find the same names as in Paris (Bois de Boulogne and Champ-de-Mars), but with a friendly atmosphere. Should you want to go on a romantic walk, have fun at the zoo (free entry) or at the fun fair that goes on there for multiple weeks each year, the park is the place to be. Going along by foot or on bikes, you’ll find a pleasant area to picnic or a spot where groups of friends play music for a perfect atmosphere perfect for a drink
- Quai du Wault,It is the preferred place for youth that want to relax with friends. Enjoy the weather for a half hour, find a spot by the Deule and dip your feet in to take yourself back to your childhood. Here, there is little noise even if the major streets and big buildings are nearby.
*This travel guide was published in November 2014, prices may then vary.