Birthplace of General de Gaulle and capital of the Hauts-de-France region, visiting Lille is an unmissable French destination for a few days of sightseeing.
Located in the center of major European cities such as London, Paris, Amsterdam and Brussels, Lille has an ideal geographical situation.
Indeed, renowned for its great street market, its history, its atmosphere as well as its architecture, Lille is a tourist destination to remember!
Visiting Lille is to have the guarantee of a trip rich in culture and relaxation. From its red bricks, through its small cobbled streets and charming squares, the capital of Flanders will warmly welcome you for a few unforgettable days.
You want to visit Lille for a weekend or more? Here are my top 14 activities not to miss for a successful stay in Lille!
Practical information to organize your trip to visit Lille
To visit Lille in the best conditions, here are my advices about the weather in Lille, the different ways to get there and the transports on the spot. In short, the practical information for a smooth trip.
With an oceanic climate, comparable to London, Lille has a temperate weather. Indeed, with scattered rains, Lille’s autumns are wet, winters are cold but springs and summers are mild.
Nevertheless, it is necessary to bring something to cover yourself in case of a sudden change of weather. To visit Lille, I advise you to go there from May to September, and for those who prefer more heat the months of July and August are ideal. On the other hand, the coldest and rainiest months are from November to February.
Plane: Located 10km from the center, the Lille-Lesquin airport is served by more than 60 French and international cities located in about 15 different countries. Look here.
If you decide to come by plane, shuttles are available to take you to the city center in about 20 minutes. With an average price of 170€ to get to Lille by plane (depending of course on the season and when you buy your tickets), the flight time from Paris is 45min, from Nice 1h40, from Toulouse 1h40 and from Nantes 1h15.
Train: Lille is well served thanks to its proximity to major cities. Indeed, 1h from Paris, 40min from Brussels, 1h15 from London and 2h30 from Amsterdam, you can get there by train with ease. See here.
To get to Lille from Paris, TGV and TER trains drop you off at the Lille Flandres train station for an average price of 60€, which varies according to the season and the time of your reservation.
From European cities, TGV and Thalys trains drop you off at Lille Europe Station. These two downtown Lille stations are well served and allow easy access to the city upon arrival via streetcar and bus.
Bus: With many bus routes available, you can visit Lille thanks to companies such as Flixbus, Ouibus or Blablacar. For a departure from Paris, the journey will take about 2-3 hours for an average price of 30-40€. Ouibus also allows you to go to Lille by bus from Spain, the Netherlands and France.Netherlands and Belgium. Look here.
Car rental: You can also choose to rent a car once you arrive on site, I advise you the site Ouicar or Rentalcars.
Once on site, the transport network of Lille will allow you to move wherever you want. Indeed, with a tramway, buses, two metro lines as well as V’Lille (self-service bicycles in Lille),
On site, you will find two metro lines, a tramway, buses and self-service bicycles (V’Lille), which means that there are many choices to get around with ease.
Lille also has OuiGo trains that allow easy access to Lille at a very affordable price. It will be easy to move around with this means of transportation, it starts running from 5:20am to 12:30pm on weekdays and until 1:30am on Saturdays.
After having seen the practical information to visit Lille in a smooth and pleasant way, here are the visits and ideas of activities to make your stay in Lille a stay up to your expectations. So what to do in Lille? Here are my top 14 must-sees.
Want to discover or rediscover France off the beaten track? I suggest you my free Ebook “Rediscovering France” 2021! You’ll find a lot of good addresses as well as beautiful places little known by tourists!
Visit Lille with the City Pass Lille
The City Pass Lille is offered to you (24h, 48h or 72H) to move around unlimitedly and for free wherever you want and enjoy free entries in various sites and activities of the city.
As you will have understood, the City Pass Lille is an “all inclusive” package (entrance to tourist sites, transportation, multiple activities, etc.) for a successful vacation, starting at 25€ per person.
Indeed, it will allow you to benefit from a free entrance to about thirty tourist sites and activities in Lille, unlimited use of transportation (bus, streetcar and metro) as well as discounts in many restaurants and stores in Lille.
So, to enjoy a stress-free stay, I advise you to opt for the Lille City Pass.
What to do in Lille: my top 14 must-sees
Visit Lille and the Grand’Place
In the center of Lille you will find the General de Gaulle square, better known as the Grand’Place.
This epicenter of Lille, formerly a meeting place for gatherings and trade fairs, is guarded by 4 female statues: in the center the Goddess (built in 1842) and three women representing different parts of the region (Flanders, Hainaut and Artois) which are at the top of the building of the Voix Du Nord.
A square full of history and offering many activities in the atmosphere of Lille, the Grand’Place is THE place to be for inhabitants and tourists.
Located in the center of Lille, you will find the Vieille Bourse between the Place du Théâtre and the Grand’Place. The Vieille Bourse is a Flamant style monument dating from the Renaissance.
Built in 1653, it is one of the most beautiful monuments of Lille. Composed of 24 Flemish houses and a charming interior courtyard, the Vieille Bourse hosts today many cultural events all year round. throughout the year (dance classes, literary events, tango dancing, etc.).
You can’t visit Lille without feeling the special atmosphere that reigns there.
The belfry of the city hall
The highest belfry of Hauts-de-France, from the top of its 104 meters, the belfry of the city hall symbolizes the Nordic freedom. Classified as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, it is open every day of the week from 10am to 5pm. You can book your free ticket here.
Housing a sublime collection of contemporary works and exhibiting a fresco by Erro, you will witness the history of Lille through breathtaking colors and works.
The little extra: you just have to climb to the top to enjoy an exceptional panorama on Lille and the surrounding cities.
You can’t visit Lille without going to see the Palais des Beaux-Arts. Indeed, located on the Place de la République, it is a museum rich in collections of Flemish, European but also Dutch artworks.
The greatest artists are exposed in this impressive building of the XIXth century (Delacroix, Rodin, Carpeaux, Courbet, etc.). The Palace of Fine Arts is open from Wednesday to Sunday from 10 am to 6 pm and offers guided tours on request.
Thanks to its lively and diversified architecture, its pastel-colored buildings, its bricks and stones, the Old Lille offers you the possibility to stop time in the cobbled streets full of nostalgia.
Indeed, allow yourself a stroll through art galleries, stores, restaurants and trendy bars! The walk is well worth it.
There is a 2-hour guided walking tour of Lille for only 11€. Check it out here.
About 20 minutes from the city, LaM is a museum of modern art that brings together a collection of prestigious works (contemporary art, modern art, art brut).
In addition to a wealth of works, LaM is located in a beautiful building of Mr. Simounet in the middle of an artistic park. For an artistic, cultural and bucolic stroll, LaM will delight you at all levels. LaM is open every day from 1 to 6 pm except on Mondays.
Former medieval hospital founded by the Countess of Flanders in 1237, it is in the heart of Old Lille. Today it houses a museum of art collections (carpets, furniture, paintings, etc.) and is designed in a rich red brick architecture.
In addition to its heritage-filled rooms, the Hospice Comtesse houses an impressive medicinal garden. So if you don’t know what to do in Lille on a rainy day, go there and enjoy a guided tour to discover its history.
Visit Lille with thehe Wazemmes market
The largest and most famous covered market in Lille since 1869, the Wazemmes market opens its stalls every Tuesday, Thursday and Sunday from 7am to 2pm.
Located on the Place de l’Église, it is a traditional and typical market. Indeed, you will find there all the products that it is food, textiles, bazaars, objects of brocante, flowers, etc.
In short, an atmosphere and an alchemy that you will not find elsewhere! Between colors, smells, noises and greedy pauses, it is an obligatory stage for a stay in Lille
Nestled in a park attesting to the beautiful nature of Lille, the Citadel of Lille was built in the 17th century by the Marquis of Vauban under the order of Louis XIV.
With a star shape encircled by five bastions, it is the place of the most beautiful walks in Lille.
Between history, nature and culture, the Citadel of Lille is the representation of the power of the Sun King. The “Queen of Citadels” will surprise you with its grandeur and beauty.
With many churches as impressive as each other, Lille has nothing to envy to other French cities.
Indeed, I advise you to visit the two following churches, which are, for me, the most remarkable: The Cathedral Notre-Dame de la Treille dating from the 13th century and offering a Gothic style, and the Church Saint-Maurice with a neo-Gothic style and exceptional stained glass windows
Visit Lille with thehe birthplace of Charles de Gaulle
Discover the private mansion where General Charles de Gaulle, a native of Lille, lived throughout his childhood. This bourgeois building dating from the 19th century is a place of history.
Birthplace of General de Gaulle, the house is classified as a historical monument and is full of memories of the latter. You can visit it from Wednesday to Saturday from 10am to 5pm (closed between 12pm and 2pm).
The rue de Béthune is the most commercial street of Lille. Indeed, if you want to store during your stay in Lille, this is the place to go.
Between department stores, small stores, bars, restaurants, cinema, ice cream sellers, etc., the rue de Béthune is a lively and pleasant pedestrian street for a shopping trip
Beers and culinary specialties of Lille
What to do in Lille from a culinary point of view? A lot of things! Indeed, between Lille’s culinary specialties, Flemish cuisine and local beers, you will have something to delight your taste buds.
The specialities not to be missed: the Maroilles pie, the Potievleesch, the Welsh, the mussels and French fries typical of the big market and to refresh you the excellent Belgian and Lille beers that you will find in the numerous bars of the city.
After this top 14 of the unmissable in…
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