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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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© 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:
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.
Eurolines offers connections to several cities within Europe.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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:
|Citotel Nordotel||48 rue du faubourg d'arras||Hotel||77|
|Hotel Stars Lille||Angle Bvd de Valmy Rue Entre-deux-ville, Villeneuve-d'ascq||Hotel||70|
|La Verdiere||1839 Rue de Lille 59262 Sainghin en Melantois||Guesthouse||-|
|Le Jardin d'Alix||45 bis Avenue de la Marne Lille Tourcoing||Guesthouse||78|
|Inter-Hotel du Parc des Expositions||53-57 rue Christophe Colomb||Hostel||73|
|Mister Bed Lille Lomme||Rue du grand but LOMME||Hotel||71|
|Kyriad Lille Lomme||110rue du grand but||Hotel||-|
|Hostel Gastama||109/115 rue de Saint Andre||HOSTEL||-|
|Good Night Hotel||45 rue Jean Baptiste||Hotel||-|
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.
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.
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.
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Ask Cleminou a question about Lille
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!
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