Lille: Top 10
(continuer en français) – Published: October 8, 2022
It was not until 1667 that the French army of Louis XIV conquered Lille and part of Flanders, which was Spanish at the time. The city kept part of its ancient identity while converting to French fashions. A commercial and then industrial city, Lille regenerated itself with the tertiary sector, highlighting its rich architectural heritage.
Lille’s Grand’Place remains the focal point of festive activity in Lille. Whether it is for the Braderie, the Christmas Market or various celebrations, the Grand’Place naturally serves as a venue for large gatherings. With its beautiful old facades and ever-expanding terraces, it is a place of daily life in Lille, between the modern city and the Vieux-Lille.
02. Vieille Bourse
The Old Stock Exchange is located on the Grand’Place, it dates from 1653 and attests to the importance of commercial activity in the large Flanders cities before the French conquest. The cities were then the places where agricultural products and then all sorts of goods converged. Fortunes were made and reinvested in the stock market.
03. Chamber of Commerce
Standing between the facades of the Grand’Place, the 76-metre, 250-foot belfry of the Chamber of Commerce is in keeping with the regional tradition, although it was only built at the beginning of the 20th century. Illustrating the regional economic dynamism, a stock exchange existed until 1990 and the generalization of electronic trading.
04. The Opera House
The building was rebuilt at the beginning of the 20th century after the fire of the previous theatre. Inspired by the Paris Opera House and the Italian theatres, it is a meeting place for the local bourgeoisie and contributes to the prestige of the city. Since the middle of the last century, the Opera has struggled to find its audience and has experienced recurrent financial difficulties.
The picturesque district of Old Lille is located in the north of the city centre, the Grand’Place being at its extremity and making it an ideal access point. Progressively impoverished until the 1980s, urban renovations led to rapid gentrification. Mixing Flemish Mannerist style with French classicism, the houses are harmoniously blended.
06. Hospice Comtesse
The old hospital is named after the Countess of Flanders who founded it in the Middle Ages. The present buildings date mainly from the 17th century, a period of prosperity for the city. It is now the museum of art and history of the city of Lille, while presenting part of the living conditions of the old hospital, including the pharmacy and the medicinal plant garden.
07. Birthplace of General de Gaulle
Although he grew up in Paris, General de Gaulle was born in Lille in the home of his maternal grandparents. He returned there constantly, either for holidays and family gatherings, or to spend part of his schooling there. The large bourgeois house has recently been renovated and is presented in the same condition as the future French president knew it.
08. Porte de Paris
Both a triumphal arch and a gateway to the fortified city wall, the Porte de Paris dates from the expansion of the city to the south following the French conquest. Now isolated and placed in the centre of a circular plaza, the gate benefits from a monumental setting without completely losing its military appearance, with a drawbridge leading to a narrow opening.
09. City Hall
You would expect to see it on the Grand’Place, that is where it used to be. The version that was rebuilt after the destruction of the First World War is located in a district that was undergoing major restructuring. The 104-metre, 340-foot belfry was built in reinforced concrete in the Art Deco style of the time, and is open to the public, with a view that extends beyond the city limits.
With more than a million inhabitants, the Lille agglomeration dominates the north of France and is part of a European environment of large metropolises. In order to gain new strength, the Euralille district was launched in the 1990s, based on a high-speed rail hub linking Paris, Brussels and London.
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Centre-Val de Loire
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