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  Over 30 tourist venues included  
 
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  A 50mn bus tour  
 

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Visit of the Belfry
104 metres height to overview the city.
 

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Old Lille
Every Saturday at 10.15 am, an English guided tour.
 
 

 

 

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 The Goddess

Place du Général de Gaulle (Grand Place)

 

Standing in the centre of the Grand Place, this column commemorates Lille's resistance to the Austrian siege in September 1792. In her right hand, the bronze Goddess holds a linstock used to light the fuses on cannons. Her left hand points to an inscription engraved on the base: the courageous response of the Mayor of Lille, André, refusing to surrender the besieged city. The National Convention also paid tribute to the victory, proclaiming that “Lille had fully deserved its place in our country”. The monument was designed by architect Charles Benvignat and was erected in 1845. The Goddess’ sculptor was Théophile Bra, from Douai, who also created two bas-reliefs on the Arc de Triomphe in Paris.

 
 The Grand Garde
La Grand Garde de Lille

Place du Général de Gaulle (Grand Place)

 

Built in 1717 by Thomas Joseph Gombert, it symbolized the King of France’s royal presence in the centre of the recently annexed city. The building was in fact used to house soldiers from the sentry guard. Significantly, it introduced a new style of classical architecture to a Flemish city built of brick and stone.

On the triangular pediment we can see the sun of Louis XIV, and, on either side, the coats of arms of France and Lille.

It is currently the headquarters of the “Théâtre du Nord”, directed by Stuart Seide.

 
 The Opera House
L\'Opéra de Lille

Place du Théâtre

In 1907, following the fire at the theatre, the Lille architect Louis-Marie Cordonnier was given the task of building an Opera House in the style of those built by Charles Garnier in Paris and Monte Carlo.

Built just before the First World War, it was inaugurated first by the Germans in 1914, then a second time by the French in 1923.

On the pediment above the facade is Apollo surrounded by his muses; this is the work of sculptor Hippolyte Lefebvre. On the left, the allegory of Music is by Amédée Cordonnier, while on the right that of Tragedy is by Hector Lemaire. Reopened in December 2003 after six years of restoration, the interior contains a monumental staircase and a sumptuous décor in the Louis XVI style made of marble, stucco, bronze, gold and sparkling crystals.

The Italian-style auditorium is one of the last built in France and can hold 1136 spectators. 

Apart from scheduled performances, the Opera House may be visited during three “open day” sessions organised each season.

 
 The Chamber of Commerce
Beffroi de la CCI

Place du Théâtre

Founded in 1701 by Louis XIV, this institution had its seat in various places in the city until industrial growth required a new building to be erected. It is situated at the beginning of Boulevard Carnot, which was opened in 1909 by engineer Alfred Mongy to connect Lille to Roubaix and Tourcoing.

As with the Opera House, the chosen architect was Louis-Marie Cordonnier from Lille, who had just finished building the Amsterdam Stock Exchange. Here, he used a neo-regionalist style inspired by the Beauregard row (1687) just opposite.

The belfry, 76 metres high, symbolises the power of the merchant cities.

 
 Beauregard Row
Rang du Beauregard

Place du Théâtre

In 1667 the Lille City Council wanted to create uniformity in new buildings to ensure that they were in harmony with existing buildings, particularly the “Vieille Bourse”. Rules were imposed on owners; new buildings had to be aligned with their neighbours and follow a standard blueprint design of three floors over a huge cellar with an attic above. Only stone and brick were authorised.

With its simple lines dominated by a vertical momentum and its discreet decoration of cartouches with angels’ heads, scrolls and cornucopias, the group of houses built in 1687 by Simon Vollant represents a synthesis of 17th Century French style and local tradition. A few cannon balls can be seen stuck in the facades, a reminder of the siege of Lille by the Austrians in 1792.

 
 
 Notre-Dame de la Treille Cathedral
Notre Dame de la Treille

Place Gilleson

In 1854, the idea of building an imposing basilica on this site dedicated to the Virgin Mary was born. Lille had been known for its miraculous statue of the Virgin protected by an iron trellis (hence the name “Notre-Dame de la Treille” – Our Lady of the Trellis) since the Middle Ages.

The 13th century Gothic style, with the cathedrals of Reims, Amiens and Chartres used as examples, was imposed on the architects. The initial project was massive: 132 metres long, with spires reaching up to over 115 metres. However, wars and financial difficulties soon put an end to these plans. With the creation of the bishopric of Lille in 1913, the basilica became a cathedral, but the project, although reduced to more modest proportions, began to drag on and the cathedral remained unfinished.

It was not until the 1990s that public funding allowed for the completion of the main facade, which was inaugurated in 1999. Designed by the Lille architect Pierre-Louis Carlier, it is the product of great technical prowess and was made possible by the collaboration of Peter Rice (engineer for the Sydney Opera House and the Pompidou Centre in Paris). The central section is composed of a 30 metres high ogive covered with 110 sheets of white marble 28 millimetres thick, and supported by a metal structure. From the inside, this translucent veil reveals a surprising orange-pink colour.

At the top, the glass rose window based on the theme of the Resurrection is the work of the painter Ladislas Kijno. The iron doorway is by the Jewish sculptor Georges Jeanclos.

The cathedral is open:
Monday - Saturday: 10 am - 12 pm / 2 pm - 6 pm (open all day on Thursday and until 7 pm in the Summer),
Sunday: 10 am - 1 pm / 3 pm  - 6 pm (until 7 pm in the Summer).

To visit the cathedral's website (available only in French), please click here.

 
 The Town Hall and its belfry

Place Roger Salengro

Designed by the architect Emile Dubuisson, the town hall's size and the ingenious nature of its layout give it an impressive appearance. Built between 1924 and 1932 under Mayor Roger Salengro, it combines the heritage of local traditions (triangular gables, use of different colours, mullioned or basket-handle windows) and modernity (seen through the use of concrete for the structure and décor).

The building is centred around a 143 metres long gallery which is divided into three aisles by two series of columns with Art Nouveau motifs. More generally, the major aspects of the décor have Art Deco influences.

The staircases, corridors and council rooms are adorned with a fine collection of contemporary art. A fresco by the Icelandic artist Erro tells the eventful history of the city in comic strip form.

The belfry was built between 1929 and 1931 and inaugurated in 1932. It was the first building in France over 100 metres high to be made entirely of reinforced concrete. At 104 metres, it is the highest belfry in the region. Designed to be a true “Flanders skyscraper”, it is both a symbol of communal freedom and a landmark for the entire Lille Metropolitan area. At its base are sculptures of the giants who founded the city, Lydéric and Phinaert. It has been listed as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO since September 2005, along with 22 other belfries in Northern France.

Visit the Belfry, more information: click here!

 
 The Old Paris Gate
Porte de Paris

Place Simon Vollant

 

This Triumphal Arch was built on the ramparts (no longer in existence) from 1685 to 1692 to celebrate Louis XIV's conquest of Lille in 1667. It replaced the original Porte des Malades (Sick-Quarter Gate) which had formed a part of the city wall since the Middle Ages.

Simon Vollant, architect of the Citadel alongside Vauban, developed a sculpted décor which expressed the Sun King’s power and magnificence. At the top, Victory, sitting amongst trophies of arms and flags, places a crown of laurels on the head of Louis XIV, which is carved in a medallion. On the right, in a niche, is Hercules, who with his club symbolises strength. To the left is Mars, the god of war.

 
 
 The Citadel

Avenue du 43ème Régiment d’Infanterie

This fort was built between 1667 and 1670 by Sébastien le Prestre, marquis de Vauban, on the orders of Louis XIV, who had just conquered the city. It formed part of the “Pré Carré”, a double line of strongholds stretching from the North Sea to the Meuse to protect the borders.

It is a true city within a city, surrounded by bastions which form a five-pointed star. Known as the “Queen of Citadels”, Vauban himself said that it was the finest and most accomplished citadel in the kingdom. It is a masterpiece of fortification, urban art and French architecture.

The Lille Citadel is still occupied by the army and may only be visited as part of a guided tour organised by the Tourist Office.

 
 The P'tit Quinquin statue

Square Foch - rue Nationale

Alexandre Desrousseaux composed L’canchon dormoire (literally Lullaby) in Lille in 1853, and this lullaby became famous under the name “P’tit Quinquin”. Using the local dialect, it tells the touching story of a poor lace-maker from the Saint-Sauveur district who is trying to get her baby Narcisse to sleep.

The monument in the Square Foch is a recent replica of the original, which is on display at the Town Hall. It is the work of sculptor Eugène Desplechin (1902).

 
 The Coilliot House
Maison Coilliot

14 rue de Fleurus

A magnificent example of Art nouveau architecture, this house was designed by Hector Guimard, who is best known for the entrances to the Paris metro stations. It was created for ceramic artist Coilliot who wanted to show off his own artistic expertise, which explains the enamel work on this unique façade.

Not open to the public.

 
 Euralille

Designed at the end of the 1980’s by Dutch urban designer and architect Rem Koolhaas, the Euralille district is centred around the Lille Europe TGV high speed train station (architect: Jean-Marie Duthilleul). The futuristic lines of this "new part of town” have become a symbol of the city's change from an industrial capital to a metropolitan area based on the service sector.

Transparency is the motto for the various buildings which make up the district. Glass, in combination with other raw materials, particularly concrete and steel, has been heavily used.

The main buildings were designed by the most prestigious names in contemporary architecture: Christian de Portzamparc for the Crédit Lyonnais tower, Claude Vasconi for the Lilleurope tower, and Jean Nouvel for the Euralille shopping centre. Rem Koolhaas also designed the Lille Grand Palais, a vast ellipse that houses a convention centre, exhibition centre and auditorium under one roof.

The Le Corbusier viaduct (by architect François Deslaugiers) offers a view of the Parc Matisse. This 8-hectare garden, created by landscape designer Gilles Clément, leads to the Porte de Roubaix (1620). In its centre, an inaccessible 2500 m² island set on a 7 metres high foundation has remained untouched by man.

In the Place François Mitterrand, between the Lille Europe station and the shopping centre, the giant, multicoloured tulips by Japanese artist Yayoi Kusama are a lasting reminder of Lille's 2004 status as European Capital of Culture.

 

 

maison Folie de Wazemmes: 70 rue des Sarrazins

maison Folie de Moulins: 47-49 rue d’Arras

 

For Lille's 2004 European Capital of Culture year, 12 “Maisons Folie” were created throughout the Nord-Pas de Calais region and in Belgium.

These newly redesigned venues in former industrial buildings in the heart of each district, are used by artists, associations and inhabitants as places where people can meet, create and exchange ideas. They offer exhibition areas, rehearsal rooms, artists’ residences, auditoriums, etc.

In Lille, abandoned industrial buildings were renovated to house the two “Maisons Folie”. The Wazemmes district's "Maison Folie" was a former spinning mill, to which was added a contemporary wing by the Dutch architectural group NOX, on the lines of a waving metallic shell. The former factory’s vaulted brick basement now houses oriental baths. In the Moulins district, a former brewery and malt factory was used. Its buildings, arranged around a central courtyard, bear witness to the attention given to architectural detail on 19th century industrial buildings.