As France’s fourth largest metropolitan area, Lille is an international crossroads, with a welcoming living environment, a well-preserved heritage and an active cultural life. Once a thriving commercial hub in French Flanders, Lille still brings out a strong Flemish character, both in its cuisine and the ornate buildings of its charming Old Town. In 2004, Lille was designated the European Capital of Culture. Lille has more than 230 000 inhabitants, they are called Lillois.
Places to Visit
They are many beautiful places to visit in Lille. Here is a list of must-see places in Lille.
- Vieux Lille – a gorgeous showcase of the city's historic French and Flemish architecture.
- Vieille Bourse – the Old Stock Exchange, built on the Grand Place in the mid-17th century in the Flemish Renaissance style.
- Citadelle – built-in 1675, one of the most beautiful castles in France. It's the last example of fortress architecture from the 17th century.
- La Grand’Place - born in the Middle Ages, the square is surrounded by buildings of great beauty and Flemish-style architecture.
- Lille Flea Market is one of the oldest and largest outdoor markets in Europe.
Lille is known for its active cultural life and its beautiful museums.
- Musée du Palais des Beaux-Arts – Lille's Fine Arts Museum is France's second-largest museum after the Louvre. It has been called "the jewel of Lille" by some. The museum contains works by assorted great masters, the likes of Rubens and Manet.
- Musée d'Art Moderne, d'Art Contemporain et d'Art Brut (LaM) – renowned museum and sculpture park full of masterworks by modern and contemporary artist
- La Piscine Musée d'Art et d'Industrie – housed in a former public swimming pool dating back to the end of the 19th century, the museum evokes an extraordinary atmosphere created by the water and the Art Nouveau decorations.
Most popular night spots
- Gare Saint Sauveur – a former train station rehabilitated as a bar, cinema and space for exhibitions, concerts, clubbing events and more
- Le Bar Paralléle – a local dive bar with lots of space, long hours and a DJ on the weekend
- La Boulangerie Bar – small but extremely popular bar with sodas, wines, beers and nice appetizers too
The food culture in Lille is rich and varied, with Belgium just 20km away, its influence on Lille is hard to miss. “The French capital of Flemish food” is famously known for its waffles, waterzooi and mussels with fries.
- Aux Moules de Lille is a classic little fish restaurant specializing in mussels cooked nine ways.
- WaterzooÏ - Lille's most iconic dish. A stew of chicken or fish baked in a pot with vegetables and cream. Waterzooï was invented in Ghent, Belgium but has become a symbol of Lille's cuisine.
- Carbonnade flamande – this traditional Flemish dish is made from beef braised in beer and served with fries or boiled potatoes.
- Fricadelle - a popular dish matched with French fries for a quick snack during visits.
- Welsh aux Maroilles - Lille’s number one local specialty, cooked with beer. Maroilles cheese is the highlight of this dish for lovers of northern cheeses served with eggs, ham, and mustard.
- Gaufre lilloise - sweet wafer-like and oval-shaped, soft and thin are filled with vanilla cream or ice cream and fresh fruits or with a sugar paste called vergeoise and rum. The most famous one if from the Patisserie Méert.
- Merveilleux - meringues with whipped cream and a sprinkling of chocolate chips. Sweet, authentic, and delicious you can taste them at the historical pastry shop “Aux Merveilleux de Fred” in Vieux-Lille.
Drink - Craft beer
The Lille region is one of the oldest brewing areas in France. The Lille beer has a very good reputation in the North of France and particularly in Belgium. Beers are often made with local ingredients and offer original flavors.
To discover craft beer in Lille we recommend you: La Capsule Lille, The Palace of Beer, Le café des Six Roses.