Top French Cities - Lille at a glance

Press release

For more information, visit the Lille Tourism & Convention Bureau at

City region: Hauts-de-France

Population & what they are called: 233,897 inhabitants (1.2 million in the greater metropolitan area) (2014 census), called Lillois

Access from Paris:

  • by road: about 2 h 25 min (140 miles) via the A1 autoroute du Nord

  • by train: about 1 h by TGV from the Gare du Nord, and about 50 min by direct TGV from Paris CDG airport

Famous native daughters & sons:

  • Louis Pasteur, microbiologist, founder of the Pasteur Institute of Lille

  • Charles de Gaulle, general, former President of France

  • Nicolas Hulot, journalist, ecologist, writer and current Minister of Ecology

Most distinctive and/or unique fact or trait (or little known fact):

  • With over 100,000 students – many of them from abroad – Lille is France’s third largest university complex.

  • As France’s fourth largest metropolitan area, Lille is an international crossroads, a dynamic financial center and city notable for its welcoming living environment, well-preserved heritage and active artistic and cultural life. In 2004, Lille was designated the European Capital of Culture.

Notable sites:

  • Vieux Lille – a showcase of the city's historic French and Flemish architecture, including the Notre-Dame de la Treille cathedral

  • Vieille Bourse – the Old Stock Exchange, built on the Grand Place in the mid-17th century in the richly ornamented Flemish Renaissance style

  • Citadelle – massive Vauban fortress from the 17th century and considered a masterpiece of fortification, urban art and French architecture

Top annual events:

  • La Grande Braderie – the largest flea market in Europe that kicks off in the first week of September (

  • Latitudes Contemporaines – a festival of contemporary dance (

  • NEXT Festival – a celebration of contemporary theatre and performances (

Most notable museums:

  • Musée du Palais des Beaux-Arts – home to France's second largest art collection (

  • Musée d'Art Moderne, d'Art Contemporain et d'Art Brut (LaM) – renowned museum and sculpture park full of masterworks by modern and contemporary artist (

  • La Piscine Musée d'Art et d'Industrie – a showcases of fine and applied arts in a former art-deco municipal swimming pool (

Culinary specialties:

  • carbonnade flamande – small beef chunks stewed in beer and often sprinkled with gingerbread

  • petit salé lillois – a traditional potjevleesch, like a potted meat, made from lean ham

  • babeluttes de Lille – toffee flavored with vergeoise (beet sugar)

Local wines & spirits:

  • genièvre – also called jenever or Duch gin, a juniper-flavored traditional eau de vie typically drunk in small restaurant-cafes called estaminets

  • beer – this is the center of French beer country, so local micro-breweries have plenty of the typically strong-flavored beers with high alcohol content


  • Marché de Wazemmes – one of the largest markets in France, with everything from fruit and vegetables to furniture and electronics

  • Euralille shopping centre – has over 130 shops

  • retails chains – Lille is the birth city of several big retail stores like Auchan, Decathlon, Leroy Merlin and Castorama

Most popular night spots:

  • Gare Saint Sauveur – a former train station rehabilitated as a bar, cinema and space for exhibitions, concerts, clubbing events and more

  • Le Bar Paralléle – a local dive bar with lots of space, long hours and a DJ on the weekend

  • La Boulangerie Bar – small but extremely popular bar with sodas, wines, beers and nice appetizers too

Local population’s favorite activities (or hangouts):

  • Parc de Loisirs de la Citadelle – Lille’s largest park, largest green area and a great place for the whole family

  • maisons Folie – used by artists, associations and passersby as places to meet, create and exchange ideas (

  • Parc Matisse – a central park and a great place to pause with family for a picnic, a stroll or some sports

Local industries:

  • Euratechnologie – a former textile factory that has become a temple of the digital economy

  • Eurasanté – the largest university/hospital complex in Europe, devoted to the health and biotechnology sectors

  • insurance – France's second largest insurance center, with six head offices, including AG2R - La Mondiale and Lloyd Continental

In Pop Culture:

  • Hanna – the 2011 thriller with Eric Bana and Cate Blanchett about a girl raised to be the perfect assassin

  • Witness (Die Zeugen) – a 2014-2017 German TV thriller mini-series set in a small village in France

  • A House in Flanders, by Michael Jenkins – an account of a shy and solitary 14-year-old boy sent to spend the summer with ͚the aunts in Flanders.


Marion Fourestier
Atout France-The France Tourism Development Agency
New York, 10022
United States