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Lille and its districts (in northern France) have a style of their own - somewhere between Flemish and baroque. Since the 17th century Lille has been enlarged three times, giving the town its present day look, which is that of a fairly new town. Eurostar trains stop at Lille, so it's an easy destination to visit.
Classified as a city of 'Art et Histoire' since 2004, Lille has conserved a large number of buildings and monuments, both secular and religious, which remain as signs of its illustrious past.
These include the Citadelle park and fortress, a beautiful example of 17th century military architecture, designed by Vauban; the Vieille Bourse, a reminder of the Spanish occupation of the region as well as the marriage of the French and Flemish cultures; the Grand Place, focal point of life in Lille, with its 'Déesse' statue, symbolising the resistance against the Austrians in 1792; the Porte de Paris; and also the rue de la Monnaie where coins were minted so many years ago.
The Opera House in the Place du Theatre is another important landmark. The first theatre on this spot was destroyed by fire in 1903. It was rebuilt in Louis XVI style by Louis Cordonnier who also designed the Chmber of Commerce. It is beautifully decorated both inside and out with amongst others, sculptures of Apollo and the Muses.
There is a Christmas Market in Place Rihour each day between late November and late December . There are usually about 80 different stalls. A Big Wheel is set up in Grand'Place (Place du General de Gaulle).
All the conviviality of the people of Lille can be found in their regional food. Tasty and hearty, it is the product of an outstanding region, proudly upheld Flemish traditions and a touch of the French “art of living”.
Amongst the many culinary specialities, three strange-sounding dishes embody all that is special about Lille cuisine. Carbonnade flamande (small chunks of beef stewed in beer), waterzoï (poultry or fish in a creamy sauce, served with baby vegetables) and potjevleesch (literally “small potted meat”, a white meat terrine in jelly). There is also rabbit with prunes for lovers of sweet-and-savoury dishes, and the famous “moules-frites”, a culinary symbol of the great September “Braderie”!
Most of the shops are open Monday through Saturday, from 10:00a.m. to 7:00p.m., and are closed on Sundays (except for the 3 Sundays before Christmas and the first Sunday of the summer and winter sales).
From its rich merchant past, Lille has retained a real commercial tradition. Here, shopping is a reflection of the northern towns: lively and friendly. Each district has its own special feature, and the variety of shops is enough to satisfy every budget and every desire.
Old Lille with its narrow, cobblestone streets lined with pretty Flemish houses, is the ideal place to find the great names in luxury goods, fashion and design. There are plenty of antique shops and art galleries, and a pleasant market in the Place du Concert every Sunday morning.
In the centre and pedestrian streets, you will find the department stores and international chain stores. On the Grand Place, the Furet du Nord is one of the biggest bookshops in Europe !
In the warmth of the night the beauty of Flanders takes on a festive dimension. Bars, discos, cabarets, cinemas...etc. Opportunities to have a good time and to entertain yourself are everywhere.
Take advantage of the free parking in and around the city centre during the whole month of August. The City of Lille has a non-paying street parking policy in summer, so visitors and residents alike can make the most of their trips to the city centre.