According to topschoolsintheusa.com, Lille as the Flemish and Dutch call the city is probably the most Flemish city in France. This is not surprising since it has belonged to the county of Flanders for centuries and it was founded by the Flemish count Boudewijn V of Flanders. The influences of the Netherlands are still clearly visible here in, for example, the architecture of the city. For example, you will still come across Dutch inscriptions on some buildings. Lille is only a few kilometers from the Belgian border and the metropolitan area of the city is on both sides of the border.
Lille is a perfect weekend destination close to home. I can assure you that the city won’t give you any of its secrets in one weekend. Although the center of the city is not very big and quite compact, the various sights are at some distance from each other. The sights below are just a small selection of the highlights of the city.
Top 10 things to do in Lille
#1. Place du Général-de-Gaulle/Grande Place
The Grand Place of Lille is the main square of the city and connects the different districts of the city. under the square is a large parking garage. This square is home to some of the city’s most beautiful buildings, such as the old stock exchange building Vieille Bourse. In the middle of the square is the La Colonne de la Déesse. A fountain containing a high pedestal with a statue of a Goddess. In the summer months, the entire square is full of cozy terraces. During the Christmas period there is a large Ferris wheel and roasted chestnuts are sold.
#2. Palais des Beaux-Arts
The Museum of Fine Arts in Lille is, after the Louvre, the museum with the largest collection in France. the permanent collection of this museum includes works by Rubens, Breughel, Monet, Manet, Donatello, Raphael and Rodin. In addition, large exhibitions are regularly held. The museum is divided into different sections that take you through almost all rooms of this beautiful building. The various works of art are displayed here in a beautiful and well-arranged way. This gives you a good idea of how painting has developed over the centuries.
#3. Citadel of Lille
On the edge of the center of Lille in the Bois de la Deûle is the Citadel of Lille. This is one of the few citadels still in use by the French army. Because of this it is not possible to visit the citadel. However, the park that surrounds the citadel is and you can walk through and along the old defenses of the city. The park is completely enclosed by the River Deule. In the park there is next to a large parking lot Zoo de Lille and a small amusement park.
#4. Kathedraal Notre-Dame de la Treille
Lille Cathedral, better known as Notre-Dame de Treille Cathedral, is located in the old part of the city. The construction of this neo-Gothic church started in the middle of the nineteenth century, but was only finally completed in 1999. The cathedral is the headquarters of the Archdiocese of Lille. The cathedral stands out for its special architecture. It is partly built in the neo-Gothic and partly in a modern style. It is especially the western facade of the building that is striking. This facade consists of an iron pointed arch construction covered with marble tiles. A 6.5 meter rose window has been built into the top of the pointed arch.
#5. Charles de Gaulle
The famous French soldier and politician Charles de Gaulle was born in Lille and is honored here in many ways. For example, the house where he was born has a museum devoted to the life of Charles de Gaulle. In addition, the large central square in the city is named after him and there is a large statue of him. Charles de Gaulle fought in the First World War at the battle of Verdun and was the leader of the French army in exile. Some sources mention that he was the founder of the French Resistance. Charles de Gaulle was president of the Fifth Republic of France from 1958 to 1969.
Just outside the old center of Lille is the business center Euralille. This modern district was partly designed by the Dutchman Remco Koolhaas. In Euralille you can find next to a large indoor shopping center, a metro station, a train station and some beautifully designed office buildings. The Euralille shopping center is particularly large, with more than 120 shops spread over four floors. Because of the beautiful design of the building you never really realize that you are walking in an immense center. Euralille is about a ten minute walk from the Grand Place but you can also take the metro there.
#7. Musée d’art et d’industrie (La Piscine) La Piscine
is located just outside Lille in the city of Roubaix, but should not be missed during a visit to the city. La Piscine is located in the old municipal swimming pool of Roubaix. This beautiful Art Deco building is worth a visit alone. Various exhibitions of various well-known and lesser-known artists are continuously held here. The swimming pool in the main room of the museum has been left intact, which creates special lighting effects.
#8. Zoo de Lille/ Parc Zoologique de Lille
Near the citadel of Lille in the bois de la citadelle is the Zoo de Lille. This zoo is owned by the city of Lille and can therefore be visited for free. About 300 animals live here, divided into 70 different animal species. Some smaller cats and some special monkey species live in the zoo. It is one of the most popular zoos in France and attracts more than one million visitors every year. It is the perfect place to relax for those who want to escape the bustle of the center of Lille. The zoo is closed from the second Sunday in December to the second Sunday in February.
#9. Hospice Comtesse Museum
The Hospice Comtesse museum is now located in the former hospital of Lille. This is the historical museum of Lille. The downstairs rooms of the museum are still partly furnished with furniture from the time when the hospital was still run by nuns. There is even a small chapel to be seen. Upstairs, the history of the city of Lille and the Counts of Flanders is told. Here you will find, among other things, the city keys of Lille and a beautiful old globe. Exhibitions are regularly held in the annex of the museum.
#10. The Museum of Natural Sciences
Just outside the old center of Lille in the former student district of the city is the Museum of Natural Sciences. This beautiful old museum has a collection that dates back more than 150 years and includes several stuffed dinosaurs. The museum is divided into four parts, of which the Zoology Museum and the Geological Museum are the most eye-catching. The museum is normally open every day except Tuesday. The museum is closed every day between 12:00 and 14:00.