France Travel Planner by Tom Brosnahan & Jane Fisher   Guide to Lille, France
The fourth-largest metropolitan area in France is a historic, cultural, industrial and university city right on the border with Belgium.

Colonne de la Déesse, Grand' Place, Lille, France
Colonne de la Déesse, in
the Grand' Place, Lille.




Lille, the largest city in northern France and the country's fourth-largest metropolitan conurbation (after Paris, Marseille and Lyon) is the capital of the Hauts-de-France region and prefecture of the Département du Nord.

Indeed, the conurbation is known as the Métropole Européene de Lille (MEL, the European Metropolis of Lille).

Called Rijsel in Dutch, Lille is ony a few kilometers from the Belgian border. It's a major river port, highway and railway junction, a business and industrial center, a university town, and—last but certainly not least—the birthplace of General Charles de Gaulle, president of France's Fifth Republic.

People have been living here for more than 4000 years. The city itself dates from the year 640, after which it was conquered by Vikings, Magyars, the Romans, various medieval counts and monarchs, the Holy Roman Empire, the Spanish Habsburgs and, most recently, Imperial Germany and Nazi Germany.

Through it all, Lille has retained its importance. Besides General de Gaulle, Lille was the birthplace of lisle cloth, the fabric woven of a fine, smooth, tight thread spun from long-staple cotton. Textiles and mining made Lille a wealthy city, but since their decline in the mid-1900s, Lille has looked to service industries for its wealth: construction, commerce, transportation, education and health.

Finding Your Way

Most visitors are interested in Lille-Centre, the historic city center with its monumental buildings,and particularly in Vieux Lille, the oldest part, with its narrow streets, museums, restaurants and shops (map).

The very heart of Lille-Centre is the Place du Charles-de-Gaulle, known locally as the Grand'Place. At its center is the tall Column of the Goddess (La Colonne de la Déesse), commemorating the victorious lifting of the Austrian siege in 1792.

Lille's two main train stations, Gare de Little-Flandres and Gare de Lille-Europe are only a 10- to 15-minute walk east of the Grand' Place (map).

Where to Stay

Unless you have business in Lille, you'll probably be passing through. Lille has plenty to see and do for a short visit, and numerous possibilities for lodgings, even right on the Grande' Place. More...

Hotels in Lille

Restaurants in Lille

What to See & Do

Lille Transportation

Transport in France

Tourist Information



Northern France


Paris Girls Secret Society, a novel: three girls, so many secrets...


La Grande-Place, Lille, France

Place Charles de Gaulle (La Grand' Place),
with the Column of the Goddess at its center.

Paris Girls Secret Society, a novel

FTP on Facebook    
Pinterest    Twitter