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Lille
Lille

Atypical Nordic charm

Lille in short

In a nutshell

The capital of Flanders, Lille is a city in the north of France with a rich culture and diversity. Popular with students for its dynamic living environment, many visitors come to enjoy a weekend in Lille. With its striking architecture, generous cuisine and lively streets, this metropolis just an hour by train from Paris is becoming increasingly popular. What's more, the friendly welcome offered by the locals makes up perfectly for the lack of sunshine criticised by the more sceptical.

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Between brick and cobblestone, the streets of Lille's old quarters have a special appeal that needs to be explored as you wander around. Small boutiques, traditional restaurants and art galleries share the coveted pavements of Vieux Lille, where the modern art of living blends harmoniously with the historic setting. The more atypical Wazemmes and Gambetta districts feature street art on the walls of buildings with a strong working-class past. It's an urban mix at the heart of the daily lives of the people of Lille and the city's cultural customs.

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The Vieille Bourse, the Belfries, the Hospice Comtesse museum and the Palais des Beaux-Arts are the architectural symbols of the city. While some are only open to the public on an exceptional basis, the majority are open to the public on a daily basis, free of charge even, much to the delight of those lucky enough to be there. A blend of culture, learning and architecture, these visual treasures are also the perfect places to learn more about French history!

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A paradise for convivial persons, Lille is the birthplace of many dishes rich in cheese, sauce and meat. To accompany these hearty dishes, one of the world's most popular alcoholic beverages has some of its roots here: beer. The tasty welsh, a dish made with beer, cheddar, mustard, bread and ham, is best enjoyed in the quintessential Lille restaurant: the estaminet! Some may prefer a carbonnade flamande, potjevleesch or chicory au gratin... it's up to you. For a sweet touch at the end of the meal or as a snack, head for Meert and its waffles filled with Madagascan vanilla, or Aux Merveilleux de Fred for its mythical pastry revisited!

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The peaceful, festive lifestyle of the people of Lille is matched by one unmissable event after another in the city. During the winter, Lille is decked out in 1001 lights and colours to sparkle in the Christmas atmosphere. The Christmas market on Place Rihour and the wheel on the Grand Place take the curious even further north. In spring, as all year round, the Wazemmes market takes place several times a week in these heterogeneous streets, where thousands of visitors come to shop at the hundreds of stalls. The most festive of visitors celebrate the arrival of summer in style at the Fête de la Musique, in the hundreds of bars and restaurants in the heart of Lille. In autumn, at the start of the new school year, the world-famous Braderie turns the city into a giant flea market over the course of a weekend.

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Throughout the year, many travellers come here for weekends, particularly to take advantage of the many evening entertainment venues. Dance bars, numerous nightclubs and restaurants with a very warm atmosphere make the evenings - sometimes rainy - in the capital of Flanders shine.

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Just a few kilometres away, Roubaix, Tourcoing and even Belgium offer residents and visitors alike the chance to get away from it all and discover new gems."La Piscine" museum, Villa Cavrois and the beaches of the Nord region a little further afield add considerable appeal to this already charming town. Head for Lille and its countless attractions, for a weekend, a week... or for life, if you fall in love!

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How to get there?

Lille is easily accessible by car, plane or train, and lies at the heart of a triangle between France, Belgium and the UK. With an airport just a few minutes from the centre and two train stations in the middle of the city, the options are numerous and all very interesting. As far as possible, choose to travel by train rather than by car or plane.

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Where to stay?

Whether you're staying in a hotel, a youth hostel or a rented flat, there are plenty of options in Lille. If you want to be as close as possible to the main tourist attractions, head for the centre or Vieux Lille. If you're looking for peace and quiet and more space, the neighbouring towns of Villeneuve D'ascq, La Madeleine and Marcq-en-Baroeul are ideal, with excellent transport links.

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Practical information

City Pass :

Offered by Lille Metropole, the City Pass gives access to the city's biggest tourist sites and public transport at reduced prices. Depending on the length of your stay - 24, 48 or 72 hours - you get a bus tour, a guided tour of Old Lille, a trip up to the Belfry of the Hôtel de Ville, a visit to the Palais des Beaux-Arts and many other of Lille's most emblematic sites, as well as unlimited access to the transport network. The price varies according to the duration of the pass, from €25 to €45, which quickly proves to be very advantageous for travellers passing through the capital of Flanders.

Public transport :

Numerous bus lines, two metro lines and two tramway lines serve the whole of the Lille metropolitan area (Roubaix, Tourcoing, La Madeleine, Marcq-en-Baroeul, Villeneuve D'ascq...). For occasional travellers, single journeys valid for 1 hour are ideal if you plan to spend most of your stay on foot. Otherwise, day passes and week-long passes are available, from €5.3 to €18.1.

For more information on the Ilevia public transport network: https: //www.ilevia.fr/fr/?utm_source=easyvoyage

Essential documents:

Foreign travellers need to carry identification with them, especially in major cities like Lille. A national identity card, passport or driving licence may be essential to enter certain places and sometimes useful to benefit from special fares.

Safety and security:

Although Lille is generally a pleasant city where walkers have nothing to worry about, some areas should be avoided in the evening. The areas to the north of the city - Vieux Lille, the centre, Vauban, La Madeleine, etc. - are well frequented, but you should be wary of pickpockets in the vicinity of the most touristy places and on public transport. In the districts further south - Fives, Wazemmes, Moulins and Sud - insecurity can sometimes be felt, although on a smaller scale, particularly after dark and in the streets with the most bars and nightclubs.

Tourist tax:

For visitors staying in Lille establishments, a tourist tax is added to the price of the night's stay. Depending on the type of accommodation, the rate ranges from €0.2 to €4, with the lowest rate applying to campsites and the highest to palaces. This additional cost imposed by the Government is multiplied according to the number of nights and the number of people. Note that some establishments include it in their price, while others require payment at the end of the stay.

Ideal period :

The best time to visit Lille is during the summer. From May to September, temperatures are mild or even warm, ideal for visiting the charming little cobbled streets. Despite the city's reputation, it doesn't rain all year round, and the warmth of the locals makes up for it on bad days! If you want to make the most of the city's gastronomic delights, head for Lille in winter, where the welsh, carbonnade flamande and maroilles of the estaminets provide comfort for travellers. If you prefer to enjoy the pleasures of the Citadelle or the Quai du Wault, summer is the time to go, but the prices are less attractive... If you're a party-goer, a bargain-hunter or both, don't miss Lille's famous Braderie, at the start of the new school year! Do you prefer the charm of the Christmas markets under the Flemish architecture or the coolness of the city's green public spaces in the heat?

What to bring back?

For epicureans at heart, the desire to bring home a Maroilles is inescapable, but it's difficult to impose it, or at least its smell, in the boot of a car or in the carriage of a train. So opt instead for a packet of Meert's traditional vanilla-filled waffles or a home-made beer bought direct from the brewer.

lightbulb_outline Editor's tip

If you want to feel like a real inhabitant of Lille, never confuse the belfry of the Town Hall with that of the Chamber of Commerce and Industry! Don't forget: next to the Grand'Place, it's the CCI belfry that stands taller than the Town Hall belfry, further south in the city.

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