The city of Lille is a real gem in Northern France. Just on the border with Belgium, Lille is unlike any other French city; the architecture in the old town reveals a strong Flemish influence, while the newer part of the city centre is an eclectic mix of old and new, French and Belgian styles.
Being so near to the UK, London to Lille sees the climate a little cooler that in the south of France, so the summer is the ideal time to explore this fascinating city. The old stock exchange, known in French as the Vieille Bourse, is one of the main buildings in the centre of Lille. Built in 1653, the old commercial exchange is still a lively part of life in Lille and is usually filled with second hand book sellers during the week. With some extraordinary vintage books, comics, magazines and prints on sale, both in French and, surprisingly, in English, the Vielle Bourse is a great place to go for a browse – you never know what you might find!
Place Rihour is a cultural hub in the city of Lille; the square is full of lively bars and restaurants, so you can relax with a local beer or a delicious Flemish delicacy such as Carbonade Flamande – a flavoursome beef and onion stew – after a morning looking round the main attraction, the impressive Rihour Palace, which dates back to the 15th century. For something a bit more modern, a wander round the square will take you to the 1920s opera house – in the summer months you can even enjoy some free entertainment as, occasionally, performances are shown outdoors on a big screen in the city centre.
Lille also has a number of museums and art galleries to appeal to lovers of culture. The city’s Fine Art Museum or Musee des beaux-arts is an internationally acclaimed gallery exhibiting European art from the 15th century to the 19th century. For something a little bit more up-to-date, Lille Art Moderne has some interesting contemporary pieces on offer, while “La Piscine”, a 20th century art gallery, housed in an old swimming pool, is a weird, but rather wonderful attraction, found in the nearby town of Roubaix.
If you’re interested in history, Lille is a convenient place to stay as it’s close to battlefields such as the Somme, the site of the major conflict during the First World War. A visit to the battle fields a profound and emotional experience, though it best done in the warmer weather as the area is rather exposed. La Coupole, an enormous World War II bunker, which is now home to a fascinating museum, is only a short drive from the centre of Lille and is also worth a visit if you’re interested in war history.
Just a short drive from the ports of Dunkirk and Calais, Lille is easily reached by coach. Travelling from London to Lille is quick and easy, and the latest generation of inter-continental coaches means that the journey is more comfortable and convenient than ever before. The new iDBUS service to Lille has plenty of leg room and features such as plugs and WiFi, so whether you want to work or play, you can do so en route to your summer city break in Lille. With iDBUS timetables running 4 coaches a day from London you can plan a trip around any of your plans.
Whether you’re looking for an exciting city break, a cultural feast, or are interested in the rich history of Northern France, Lille is the perfect place for a summer trip.