City summary: Lille

Press release


The people of Lille are proud of their reputation for friendliness. That doubling down on something good is common to many things in this fourth-largest metropolitan area in the country. The historic old town is a gorgeous showcase of French and Flemish architecture. The local fine arts museum has the second largest collection of art in the country. As a major international crossroads, Lille was designated the European Capital of Culture in 2004. Even the annual flea market is the largest in Europe. All of that wrapped in a rich culinary scene that includes great local craft beers.

Fun Facts

  • 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.

Significant Site

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

Extraordinary Exhibit

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

Delectable Delights

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

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

Legendary Local

Nicolas Hulot: journalist, ecologist, writer and the current Minister of Ecology

Also in the Area

  • Musée Louvre-Lens: objects from the Louvre collections are lent, on a medium- or long-term basis, to this art museum

  • Musée de la Bataille de Fromelles: a moving journey in the footsteps of real soldiers who fought in World War I

  • Citadelle d’Arras: a 17th-century fort built by Vauban in the town of Arras, which was never directly involved in any heavy fighting

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

For more about what to see and do in and around Lille, including on the “Lose your bearings in architecture” itinerary, visit


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