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Aug 21 2013

Discovering Lille

I was in Lille for a few days at the end of May.  When I got there, I intended to relax but I just couldn’t resist the temptation to get out there and explore a little.  I’m glad I did because I got see and enjoy the beauty and quirkiness as well as learn a bit more about French culture.  In previous posts, I discussed my trip down memory lane in Arras while I was in Lille and the unusual cathedral that took a very long time to complete.  The thing is, it’s really quick, easy, and relatively cheap to get from London to Lille with the Eurostar which makes it a perfect getaway for a few days.  Here are some other ideas of things you can do should you decide to go.

Vieux Lille

Vieux Lille is a beautiful part of the city.  It’s a great place to just wander around, soak up the atmosphere, marvel at the old buildings and beautiful architecture, do a spot of shopping at one of the many boutiques, and enjoy a coffee and a delicious pastry or cake at a café or salon de thé.  Well, you are in France after all!

Vieux Lille

If you want to find out more about the history of Vieux Lille, you could go on a walking tour.  This is  a great of finding out a lot of information about a place quickly.  It also helps to bring a place to life and it gives a different perspective.

Museums

There are loads of museums in and around Lille.  Whether or not you are a museum buff, you might be tempted to go to at least one.  I was glad I did.

In Lille

I went to Charles de Gaulle’s Birthplace and Museum and The Hospice Comtesse Museum.  Charles de Gaulle’s Birthplace and Museum is interesting because you learn about Charles de Gaulle and get to wander around the house that belonged to his grandparents.  The Hospice Comtesse Museum is included in the walking tour around Lille and it looks quite grand actually.  It was the first hospital in Lille.

Museums in Lille

Outside of Lille

The two museums I visited outside of Lille were La Piscine in Roubaix, which you can get to via the metro, and La Louvre Lens in Lens.

Roubaix La Piscine

I would say that La Piscine is a must if you love art deco buildings, quirky things, and different types of art.  It’s actually a museum of art and industry, which is housed in the most beautiful art deco building.  It is one of those places where you will just want to keep taking photographs.  It used to be a swimming pool which was constructed in the early 1930s by a local architect.  There’s a great mix of sculptures, paintings, textiles, and decorative art so you’re bound to find something of interest.  The pieces are displayed as if they were in someone’s grand home rather than in a museum.  It’s a very relaxing place to be and wander around.

La Louvre Lens

Then there’s La Louvre Lens Museum.  This is a bit more of hike because you have to get a train from Gare Lille Flanders to Lens.  It’s about a 40 minute journey.  Then you need to take one of the free Navette buses to get to the Louvre Lens, which is about a 10 minute journey.  Admission to the main exhibition is free until the end of the year (2013).  However, there is a charge for the temporary exhibition.  This is a very different building to La Piscine and La Louvre in Paris because it’s purpose-built.  What I particularly liked about this museum was the theme of time, which was present throughout – the way the exhibition was laid out, our understanding of time, how we use time, it’s influence upon us and our environment, and its importance in our lives.  It also made me realise how important art is in French culture.  It wasn’t holiday time, yet there were vast numbers of people, of all ages – in groups, on their own, with a partner or friend.

Go for a walk along the canal

Go for a pleasant walk along Canal de la Deule, which will take you to a small island, the Citadel of Lille.  It has an operational army base so you can only see it from the outside.  However, you can enjoy its beautiful park, the largest in Lille, which brings you back to nature and will make you forget that you are in a city, at least for a few minutes anyway.

Citadel of Lille

If that isn’t enough greenery for you, there’s another park just a hop, skip, and a jump away on the other side of the canal called the Vauban Garden.

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Have your say

There are so many other places to go in and around Lille.  What would be your suggestion?

Disclaimer

I would like to thank Lille Tourism for giving me a complimentary City Pass as well as tickets to travel in and around Lille during my stay.

About the author

Teresa Keane

Teresa has been to almost 60 countries. She started travelling independently at the age of 38 when she gave up her job, rented out her house, put her possessions in storage and spent a year travelling the world. It changed her life. She now creates, publishes, & promotes online travel content and is an experienced freelance trainer & EFL teacher.

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