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Lille

Travel Guide Europe France Nord-Pas-de-Calais Lille

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Introduction

Lille

Lille

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Lille (Dutch: Rijsel), the fourth largest city in France with around 1.2 milllion inhabitants living in the metropolitan area, is in the far north of France, near the border with Belgium. It is the administrative centre and largest city in the region of Nord-Pas-de-Calais. The town's history goes back a thousand years, when it was an important trading town on the river Deûle. Lille was initially the possession of the powerful Counts of Flanders, but was taken over through the years by Burgundy and Spain before Louis the XIV took the town in 1667. He fortified the town, some of those fortifications can still be found today. In 2004, it was designated as a European Culture Capital.

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Sights and Activities

Paris Gate and Town Hall

Paris Gate and Town Hall

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  • Vieux Lille - Old Lille is centred around the Place du Général de Gaulle with the impressive Vieille Bourse, a trading exchange built in the mid-1600s. Nearby is the Opera House, impressive inside and out, which you can visit during scheduled performances or during open days.
  • Notre Dame de la Treille is the seat of the Catholic church in Lille. The church was started in 1854 but not completed until 1999. The church is a mix of modern and gothic, with a very modern looking front facade.
  • The Citadel of Lille is a pentagon-shaped citadel that was part of the city wall of Lille. It was built in 1668, part of a massive fortification by the Marquis de Vauban, who fortified 28 cities in France for Louis XIV to keep out the Spanish. The citadel in Lille was dubbed "Queen of the citadels" (Reine des citadelles) by Vauban, and it is one of the most notable citadels designed by Vauban. The citadel was part of a double line of fortified towns of Gravelines, Dunkirk and Maubeuge-Rocroi, called the pré carré ("square field"). Today it is home to the French military.
  • The Town Hall and the Belfry was designed by the architect Emile Dubuisson. The town hall was built in the 1930s, and the belfry (clock tower) was the first building in Paris to be over 100 metres in height, and today is a Lille-Lesquin International Airport is located 10 kilometres from Lille city centre. There are few flights. The main destinations include Algiers, Lyon, Bordeaux, Marseille, Nantes, Toulouse, Strasbourg, Clermont-Ferrand, Casablanca, Marrakech, Girona, Porto and seasonal flights to Ajaccio and Bastia on Corsica (summer season). A Shuttle service from the airport to the city centre to the Euralille shopping centre. The ride takes 20 minutes. Tickets cost €5 one way ticket and €8 return.

By Train

Entrance to Lille Europe Train Station

Entrance to Lille Europe Train Station

© All Rights Reserved GregW

Lille is an important stop on the TGV and Eurostar network, linking London, Brussels, Paris and the rest of Europe. As such, it is easy to get to by Train. Lille Europe Station has Eurostar service to London and Brussels, and direct TGV service to Roissy Airport, Paris and major French cities. London is 80 minutes, Paris is 90 minutes and Brussels is 36 minutes away.

Lille Flandres Station has local TER regional trains and other direct TGV service to Paris.

Other French stations are:

  • Lyon - 3 hours, 11 direct TGVs a day;
  • Strasbourg - 3 hours and 20 minutes;
  • Rennes - 3 hours and 50 minutes, 4 direct TGVs a day;
  • Marseille - 4 hours and 30 minutes, 6 direct TGVs a day;
  • Bordeaux - 5 hours, 6 direct TGVs a day;
  • Montpellier - 5 hours, 5 direct TGVs a day.

Train tickets can be found at SNCF (internal France), Eurostar (London or Brussels) and TER for local trains.

By Car

Lille is on six different motorways. The A1 goes to Paris. The A22 leads to the E17 to Ghent, Antwerp and Amsterdam. The A23 goes to Valenciennes. The A25 goes to Dunkirk and the A26 to Calais. The A27 leads to the E42 leading to Brussels.

By Bus

Eurolines offers connections to several cities within Europe.

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Getting Around

By Car

Traffic can be bad in the medieval centre of Lille, where narrow, winding streets can quickly get clogged during rush hour. However, in general the city is well sign-posted and it isn't too hard to get around. There are public parking with 20,000 parking spaces as well as several multistory car parks in the city centre, in addition to on-street pay-and-display ticket parking. Parking varies from between €1.30 to €1.60 an hour, depending on the location.

By Public Transport

Transpole provides services in city on 2 subways, 2 tram lines and over 60 bus routes. A daily pass costs €4. Individual tickets cost €1.40 with 10 tickets for €11.

By Foot

The centre of Lille is very compact and a majority of the sites are within walking distance from each other. The city is relatively flat, so walking is easy.

By Bike

Since September 2011, Lille is now one of the few French cities with its own public bicycle sharing system, called V'lille (website only in French at the moment). Each V'lille station is equipped with an automatic rental terminal and has stands for dozens of bicycles. Maps showing the locations of the city's V'lille stations are available at all kiosks. In order to use the system, users need to take out a subscription, which allows the subscriber an unlimited number of rentals. Subscriptions can be purchased at €1.40 per day, €7/week or €36/year. With a subscription, bike rental is free for the first half hour. A trip that lasts longer than 30 minutes incurs a charge of €1 for each subsequent 30-minute period. You can get a 24 hour or a week subscription at any kiosk and you will need €200 on your creditcard to use as a deposit (not cashed unless the bike is damaged, stolen, lost or not returned for more than 24 hours.

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Eat

  • Coq Hardi - Place Nouvelle Aventure, 59000 Lille, France, 03 20 85 26 58. Lunch at 'Coq Hardi' is busy and satisfying. The young waiting staff give the restaurant a fun and light atmosphere. If you get the chance, try the Andouille poêlée sauce moutarde for a good traditional French dish.
  • Aux Moules - 34 Rue de Béthune, 59800 Lille, France, 03 20 57 12 46. Down Rue de Bethune, 'Aux Moules' is agreeable and reasonably priced, and although in danger of being a tourist trap, it succeeds in delivering good food in a lively and casual atmosphere.
  • Quai du Wault - 59800 Lille, France, 03 20 30 16 11. For somewhere aside from the bustle, head to the Quai du Wault and enter the restaurant of the same name. The food and service are of high quality and at a good price that certainly won't break the bank. If you are a cheese lover try the maroilles dishes. Another must is the interesting variation of a hamburger.

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Drink

Lille is a big university city, and like most university cities, lots of bars with cheap drinks can be found. There are many bars and clubs along rue Solférino, rue Masséna and the surrounding streets, with drink deals during a happy hour early in the evening. You can also try the bars in the Wazemmes neighborhood, especially around place de la Nouvelle Aventure where the Wazemmes Market takes place, for a bit more relaxed drink. And of course the Vieux Lille, especially around rue Royale where you can find all sorts of different bars, it's usually a bit more pricey than Solférino but the atmosphere is different.

Here are a few suggestions:

  • La Capsule - voted one of the best beer bar in France by ratebeer.com, it is definitely a bar worth visiting if you love beer! They usually serve seasonal beers, with 10 on tap that rotate often and around 120 different bottles. The staff is also really helpful and friendly. Located in the Vieux Lille neighborhood. 25 rue des Trois Mollettes, 59000 Lille (+33(0)3 20 42 14 75)
  • Cafe Relax - Wazemmes denizens young and old drop by this ungentrified café de quartier (neighbourhood café) for an espresso or a strong Belgian beer – and to run into friends. A great place to get a feel for this ethnically mixed, working-class part of town. Feel free to buy edibles at the nearby Wazemmes market and eat them here with a beer. Local groups perform live from about 9:00pm to midnight on Friday and Saturday and 7:30pm to 10:30pm on Sunday. Located in the Wazemmes neighborhood. 48 Place de la Nouvelle Adventure, 59000 Lille (+33(0)3 20 54 67 34)
  • Café Oz - Large Aussie bar in centre of town with Sports screens and lively atmosphere on evenings and weekends. Outside seating available, drinks are on the pricey side although arrive early evening for 2 for 1 cocktails. Located in the Vieux Lille neighborhood. 33, Place des Bettignies, 59000 Lille (+33(0)3 20 55 15 15)
  • Velvet - Rock music fans, this is the place for you! This vintage pub with a nightclub atmosphere will seduce you with its many cocktails, and a decent choice of tap beer, that you can enjoy inside and outside. Located in the Solférino area. 119, rue Solférino, 59000 Lille
  • Le Carré des Halles - An institution of the Lille nightlife, this bar offers an eclectic atmosphere every day, from 4:00pm to 2:00am There's a choice of 15 draft beers and about forty bottles. Every other Tuesday you can listen to local live music and every Thursday is metal night with live concerts and metal music. Located in the Solférino area. 3 rue des Primeurs, 59000 Lille (+33(0)3 20 54 61 23)
  • Le Biplan - Le Biplan is not really a bar, it's more of a concert hall, but a very small one, in the cellar of the organization. With its wide program of live music, theater, and even games night, the Biplan has something for everybody! Have a drink, sit and enjoy the show! Located in the Wazemmes neighborhood. 19 Rue Colbert 59000 Lille, France (+33(0)3 20 12 91 11)

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Sleep

Budget

PropertyAddressTypePopularity
Citotel Nordotel48 rue du faubourg d'arrasHotel74
Hotel Stars LilleAngle Bvd de Valmy Rue Entre-deux-ville, Villeneuve-d'ascqHotel70
La Verdiere1839 Rue de Lille 59262 Sainghin en MelantoisGuesthouse-
Le Jardin d'Alix45 bis Avenue de la Marne Lille TourcoingGuesthouse79
Inter-Hotel du Parc des Expositions53-57 rue Christophe ColombHostel73
Mister Bed Lille LommeRue du grand but LOMMEHotel71
Kyriad Lille Lomme110rue du grand butHotel-
Hostel Gastama109/115 rue de Saint AndreHOSTEL-
Good Night Hotel45 rue Jean BaptisteHotel-

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Learn

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Keep Connected

Internet

France is one of the best connected countries in the world, with data speed for upload/download ranked among the top 5 in the world. Most hotels and hostels would have in-house facilities to provide free internet access. Many major cities also have initiatives put in place to provide free wi-fi connection in public spaces. Alternatively there are internet cafés available in most cities/towns at a reasonable rate. Some private businesses, such as local cafés (or even the Starbuck's chain), may also provide wi-fi connectivity - keep an eye out for the signs by the shop windows/doors. Also look for the @ symbol prominently displayed, which indicates internet availability. However, with most homes now wired for the internet, cyber cafés are increasingly hard to find, especially outside the major cities.

Phone

See also: International Telephone Calls

To dial an international number from France, the IDD is 00, followed by the country code that you wish to dial, the area code and the phone number.
To call France from abroad, start with the international direct dialing (IDD) code from the country you're in, followed by French country code 33, the area code (drop the first zero in front of the area code), and the phone number. French telephone numbers are rarely given without the area code. The telephone number, including the area code, is made up of 10 digits. They are written in a set of 5 pairs of digits (i.e. 01 xx xx xx xx xx).
In France, the area code designations are: 01 - Paris Area ("Région Ile-de-France"), 02 - northwest, 03 - northeast, 04 - southeast, 05 - southwest, 06 - mobile phone providers. From 2010 onwards, 07 will also be assigned to mobile phone providers in order to cater for the surging demands for mobile phones.

Emergency numbers are 15 (medical aid), 17 (police station) and 18 (fire/rescue). You can also use the European emergency number 112 (perhaps a better choice if you don't speak French). These calls are free and accessible from virtually any phone, including locked cellphones.

France uses the GSM standard of cellular phones (900 MHz and 1800 MHz bands) used in most of the world outside of the U.S. There are several companies (Orange, SFR, Free, Bouygues Télécom and some others MVNOs like Virgin Mobile) offering wireless service. The country is almost totally covered but you may have difficulties using your mobile phone in rural or mountainous areas. If you stay for some time, it may be advisable to buy a pre-paid cell phone card that you can use in any phone that supports the GSM standard on the 900/1800 MHz bands. Then incoming calls and SMSes are free.

Post

La Poste in France is also referred to as the PTT (short for postes, télégraphes et téléphones). The mailboxes are painted bright yellow and often there is a slot for local city mail and another slot for "outside mail". Normally there is a queue in the post office, but most of the post offices have the self service machine installed which is quite easy to operate. Nowadays many of the tabac and even some of the souvenir shops also sell postage stamps. Normally an overseas postcard costs almost as much as sending a letter. Mails sent in France also have a zip code. The first two numbers represent the administrative department (e.g. in Paris' case that would be 75).

Post offices are generally open from 8:00am to 7:00pm Monday through Friday, and 8:00am to noon on Saturdays. Apart from the basic job of mailing letters, most of the post offices do some banking activities also and some even have photocopy machines and cyber cafes for internet access.

For international package services, you might also check options with companies like DHL, UPS or TNT, which have competitive services and prices and might be faster in most cases.

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Quick Facts

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Coordinates
  • Latitude: 50.6371834
  • Longitude: 3.0630174

Contributors

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Lille Travel Helpers

  • Cleminou

    I have been a student in Lille for 6 years now and I know the city by heart, I was an ISEP ambassador for foreign students at my university and I also host on couchsurfing, so I know very well what new people need to know about the city, what you can do there and whatnot :) I would be more than happy to share my knowledge with anyone in need!

    Ask Cleminou a question about Lille

This is version 45. Last edited at 7:05 on Sep 20, 13 by Utrecht. 28 articles link to this page.

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