Lille, France

Lille, France

Lille is the capital of the historical region of French Flanders, the center of the northern region of Nord-Pas-de-Calais, a city with a Flemish accent near the border with Belgium. For centuries, the reason for the existence of Lille was textile production, which fell into a noticeable decline with the advent of synthetic fabrics on the market. However, the steel northern character of the city did not give up under the onslaught of new times (it was not for nothing that the iron general de Gaulle was born here): today Lille is one of the cultural capitals of France, an important commercial and trade hub, the center of French students and simply an amazingly beautiful and majestic city, moreover unanimously recognized as the most welcoming to visitors. Check ANDYEDUCATION.COM to learn more about the country of France.

How to get to Lille

Lille International Airport (Aéroport de Lille-Lesquin) is located at a distance of 10 km from the city center. Regular domestic flights (from Bordeaux, Marseille, Lyon, Rennes, Nice, Nantes, Strasbourg and Toulouse) and international flights land here: from Spain, Algeria, Morocco and Portugal.

There is no direct flight connection with Russian cities from Lille. It is most convenient to first arrive at Paris Charles de Gaulle Airport, from where you can get to Lille by train. High- speed TGV trains leave for Lille twice an hour from Paris Nord Station (Paris Nord), travel time is 1 hour. The fare is from 40 to 50 EUR, depending on the type of price and the period of travel.

The second option is to land at Brussels Airport, which also has a direct train connection to Lille: French TGV or Eurostar trains will take you here in just 40 minutes. Up to 20 trains run daily.

Lille can also be reached from other cities in France: Lyon (3 hours, 11 trains per day), Rennes (3 hours 50 minutes, 4 trains), Marseille (4 hours 30 minutes, 6 trains), Bordeaux (5 hours, 6 trains), Montpellier (5 hours, 5 trains) and Strasbourg (3 hours 20 minutes on the road).

There is also a railway connection with London: the train goes through the tunnel under the English Channel and covers the distance between the two cities in 1 hour and 20 minutes.

There are two train stations in Lille – Gare Lille Flandres and Gare Lille Europe. High-speed TGV trains and TER trains from Paris arrive at the Flemish Station. The Europa Station serves foreign destinations and receives trains from most French cities. Such a separation does not cause any inconvenience: the stations are located in the city center at a distance of 400 meters from each other.

Transport in the city

Transport in Lille is operated by the municipal company Transpole. Lille holds the palm in the implementation of the automatic subway. In 1983, the first VAL line, Véhicule Automatique Léger, was launched here. Today, the 2 lines of the Lille Metro cover a distance of 45 km and have 60 stations. The city also has two tram routes – T and R – and about 60 bus routes. For all types of transport there is a single ticket worth 1.60 EUR; it can be purchased at automatic kiosks at metro and tram stops or from the conductor on the bus. Don’t forget to validate your ticket. A booklet of 10 tickets costs 14 EUR, there is also a 24-hour pass for 4.80 EUR.

In Lille, it’s better not to try to drive as a hare: controllers use public transport, and the fine for ticketless travel is from 30 to 45 EUR. For aggravating circumstances (apparently, a cowardly attempt to escape from justice), they promise to be fined 155 EUR !

You can also explore Lille by bike, which can be rented from one of the city’s six Vélopole rental locations. Cost – about 2 EUR per day, 3-5 EUR – weekend (3 days). Electric bicycles are also offered for rent for 2-4 EUR / half an hour and 8-10 EUR per day.

The feature of Lille is riding segways, two-wheeled platforms with a high steering wheel. For half an hour of walking without spending physical energy, they ask for 25 EUR, 1 hour is estimated at 50 EUR, 1.5 hours – at 75 EUR. Segways are issued at the Champ de Mars, Station Oxygène and at the Flemish Station (Relais Oxygène). Before the first trip, you need to go through a short educational program on the basics of handling a car, as a result of which a permit is issued to drive a Segway, valid throughout France.

Cuisine and restaurants in Lille

The hospitality of the Lilles, which has become a byword, is directly embodied in the local cuisine: the portions here are good, and neither the original ingredients nor the time are spared for cooking dishes. Add to this scrupulous adherence to old Flemish recipes, and it becomes clear that Lille cuisine deserves the closest attention and direct tasting.

The three pillars of Lille’s gastronomy are Flemish-style carbonate (beef slices stewed in beer), waterzoi (waterzoï – poultry or fish covered in sour cream, garnished with finely chopped vegetables) and potevlesch (potjevleesch – jelly in a pot of different types of meat). Don’t miss the rabbit in plums and the famous Lille fried mussels, a must-have for the September Big Sale.

Lille and the Nord-Pas-de-Calais region are also famous for their numerous beers with a strong, full-bodied and aromatic taste. Among strong drinks, Genièvre grain vodka, infused with juniper, stands out.

Cheese fans are invited to carefully try Le Vieux Lille, popularly referred to as puant de Lille – “the stinking Lille”.

Those with a sweet tooth will appreciate vergeoise – light or brown beet sugar, as well as crème caramel, Lille waffles (the famous Meert brand is produced here – General de Gaulle’s favorite vanilla waffles) and babelutes (babeluttes de Lille) – caramels from everything the same sugar beet.

Shopping and stores

Lille has a huge number of shops of leading world brands, boutiques of famous designers and open-air markets. The historic center of the city (Le Vieux Lille) is given over to expensive clothing and footwear stores, antique and art galleries. Paintings and antiques can also be purchased at the Sunday morning market at the place du Concert, while young artists exhibit their paintings on Place des Archives.

In the center of Lille and on the pedestrian streets adjacent to it, there are malls and outlets of famous brands, such as Etam, Zara, H&M. Here is one of the largest bookstores in Europe – Le Furet du Nord (Great Square). In the train station area, go to the Euralille megamall with its many boutiques, restaurants and hypermarket.

The feature of Lille is riding segways, two-wheeled platforms with a high steering wheel. For half an hour of walking without spending physical energy, they ask for 25 EUR, 1 hour is estimated at 50 EUR, 1.5 hours – at 75 EUR.

The multinational Wazemmes quarter has perhaps the best French ethnic market, where you can buy interesting little things from all over the world, as well as spices, clothes and accessories. On the Place de la Nouvelle Aventure, in particular, on Sundays a specialized market for spices, incense, seasonings and aromatic herbs is arranged.

Fabourg des Modes street is home to young Lille fashion designers, and interesting wardrobe items are often found here.

In September, the Big Sale (La Grande Braderie) is held in Lille, and on the streets of the city at this time you can buy whatever your heart desires.

Entertainment and attractions in Lille

Riour Palace (Palais Rihour) is an architectural masterpiece of the 15th century, the former residence of the Dukes of Burgundy during their reign from Lille. The building was rebuilt several times, and today you can find features of a variety of styles here: from Gothic to Renaissance. Pay attention to the cozy chapel and the monumental staircase leading to it. The Tourist Office of Lille is also located here.

The Old Exchange (La Vieille Bourse) is deservedly considered one of the most beautiful buildings in the city with numerous decorations: porticos, pediments, caryatids and atlantes and stunning stucco in the Flemish Renaissance style. The city hall and the tower were erected at the beginning of the 20th century by the architect Emil Dubisson from the most modern material at that time – reinforced concrete. The pearl of the interior is a 105-meter hall, decorated with works of painting and applied art. The 104-meter-high Town Hall is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

In September, the Big Sale (La Grande Braderie) is held in Lille, and on the streets of the city at this time you can buy whatever your heart desires.

Away from the city center is a military citadel designed by the court architect of Louis XIV, the Marquis Vauban, a large-scale fortification project in the shape of a five-pointed star, a sort of medieval Pentagon.

Art lovers should visit the Palace of Fine Arts (Palais des Beaux-Arts) – one of the richest art collections in France is collected here: Rubens, Van Dyck, Goya, Delacroix, Rodin and Raphael. Thematic exhibitions are held regularly.

The House Museum of Charles de Gaulle tells about the life of an outstanding political figure; among the exhibits are personal belongings, family photographs and letters.

It will also be interesting to visit the Museum of Cannons – there are more than 3,000 exhibits of guns.

For a breath of fresh air, head to the Parc de la Citadelle (broken around a military citadel) and the zoo adjacent to it, to the beautiful English garden of Vauban (Jardin Vauban) with many paths, artificial grottoes, gazebos and cozy benches, to the Botanical Garden or to the Henri Matisse Park, as well as in the Jardin des Géants, created in 2009 with the latest in landscape science.

Lille, France

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