Lille Tourist Attractions

Close to the border with Belgium in the Hauts-de-France region of Northern France, Lille makes for a great city break destination. Historic Lille blossomed thanks to its trade with neighbouring countries - it was once one of Europe's mercantile centers. The beautifully decorated Flemish buildings in central Lille still bear witness to this period and many other Flemish influences can be detected in the traditional cuisine and culture of the city. Vieux Lille, or the Old Town, is full of 17th-century brick-built townhouses that speak of the city's rich mercantile past. Cobbled pedestrian streets lined by boutiques and designer shops, cafes and restaurants, and the large central square, the Grand Place, have turned Lille into a favourite with tourists looking for a romantic get-away.

Lille City Pass

The Tourism Office issues the Lille City Pass, a 24, 48 and 72 hour city pass that gives passholders free access to many tourist attractions such as museums and art collections, and also makes free public transport available within city limits: by bus, Metro train and tram. More than 30 attractions are accessible for free with a Lille City Pass, including the Fine Arts Museum of Lille, the Museum of Charles de Gaulle's birth place and Piscinae-Museum of Art and Industry, located in Roubaix, a short drive away from Lille.

Lille City Tour

In around 75 minutes you'll get to see the main sites Lille has to offer. Riding in a comfortable minibus is a great way to discover this elegant, charming city. Included in the tour are Lille Opera House, Chamber of Commerce (Vieille Bourse), Town Hall with its impressive belfry, and Beauregard Row at Place du Théâtre. Your minibus will also go past the Citadel and Old Paris Gate. Built between 1667 and 1670, the Citadel, dubbed the 'Queen of Citadels' that protected the Flemish border, is constructed of no fewer than 60 million bricks. Located near the Champ de Mars, the Citadel is one of Lille's main tourist sites. Meeting point for the tour is Lille Tourist Office at Palais Rihour, Place Rihour.

Discover Lille from the Seat of a Convertible 2CV

A slightly longer tour at 1.5 hours, this fun excursion in a Citroen 2CV couldn't be more 'French' if it came with a string of onions, a flask of Bordeaux and a baguette. What could be more iconic and French than a 2CV convertible? Lean back in the vintage upholstery and enjoy every turn and twist of the road, let the Flemish wind ruffle your hair, when the roof's rolled back and the weather's fine. Feel every stone in your bones, when the 2CV negotiates the narrow cobbled streets of Old Town.

Lille Town Hall and Belfry

The ticket for this tour is valid for a whole day, so you can do other stuff first, before taking a deep breath, climbing 100 steps and taking the Town Hall Belfry by storm. It's the highest viewpoint in the city, offering spectacular panoramic aspects 104 metres above street level. The lovely building's Belfry also allows you to see the Stade Pierre-Mayroy stadium, Grand Place with the Column of the Goddess, the 'mountains' of Flanders and River Lys Valley.

Fort De Réduis

As one of Europe's foremost mercantile centers, Lille was fortified for many centuries. Fort De Réduis is a remnant of these fortifications, which include the Citadel, Porte de Paris, Porte de Gand and Porte de Roubaix. When Louis XIV conquered the city in 1667, the Marquis of Vauban decided that Lille should become the central stronghold of the French kingdom. In 1673 he ordered the construction of Fort Saint Sauveur, later called Fort du Réduit. Built like a smaller version of a citadel, the Fort boasts its own chapel at its centre and houses engineering services. You can get there on a self-guided tour by taking Metro line 2, using the Grand Palais stop and walking the rest to Rue du Réduit.

Lille 'Noble' Tour

Boasting walls that are 3 meters thick in places, the tower was built during the 100 Year's War during Philip the Bold's time, who was Duke of Burgundy and in need of protection against the French armies. The tower was the highest of the 65 towers in the fortified walls that encircled Lille. But to no avail: Lille fell to the French in 1667 and the Marquis of Vauban, their leader, ordered the tower to be converted into a half-buried powder supply depot. The very much less threatening tower later became a Monument to the Resistance. Use Metro line 2 and Lille Grand Palais stop for this self-guided tour with a Lille City Pass.

Lille Citadel

The Marqui of Vauban lead the construction work on the order of Louis XIV, when the French conquered Lille. Measuring an astonishing 2,200 metres in circumference, the Citadel of Lille stands right on the frontier of Flanders, and was part of the double line of strongholds meant to protect Gravelines, Dunkirk and Maubeuge/Rocroi. It was part of the famous 'Pré Carré', designed on Vauban's orders to include 28 fortified towns that were meant to protect the life and lavish lifestyle of the Sun King. Take bus line 12 or Metro line 1 to the Champ de Mars stop and walk to Avenue du 43ème régiment d'infanterie from there.

Le Grand Huit Bike Tour of Lille

Why not discover Lille from the saddle of an old Dutch bike or modern scooter? Le Grand Hui (+33 (0) 359 579 400) runs tours that are informative as well as great fun. A guide explains how to use the scooters and basics for bike rides in the city. About 12 stops are included, giving you a chance to listen to the guide's comments and take photographs of both modern and historic sights. Tickets for the tour cost just under 20.00 euros per person. Tours run on Saturdays at 14.00 and last for up to 1 hour and 45 minutes. You meet in front of Lille Tourist Office.

Like Beer? Try Échappée Bière Tours

There are various tours on offer that provide beer lovers with an insight into craft-beer making and traditional brewing (tel +33 6 87 03 88 29, ). You can choose if you'd like transportation to be included in your tour.

Lille's Sweet Heart: Nougat Tour

If you love nougat, this is the tour for you! Open only from 10.00 to 13.00 from Mondays to Fridays, the Confiserie du Pré Catelan knows all there is to know about sweet manufacture and likes to pass on some of their expert knowledge to visitors (tel +33 3 20 55 55 75, Tours are available by appointment only.

Other great sights to visit include the Palais Beaux-Arts (Lille's fine arts museum), the Museum Louvre-Lens, the Eglise Saint-Maurice and Cathédrale Notre-Dame de la Treille. It's impossible to see it all on a short city break, but luckily, TGV high-speed trains and Eurostar as well as many budget flights can take you to Lille again and again to see it all!

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