A GUARANTEED CHANGE OF SCENE
As you move from one district to the other, atmospheres will change and you will discover architectural treasures: avant-garde buildings around the Lille-Europe railway station, Flemish houses and rich homes along the Grand Boulevard which defined the shape of the city, “industrial castles” erected in the 19th century, Spanish architecture, Haussmann-style façades, Art Nouveau, Art Deco, picturesque villages and a new town, all making a dazzlingly diverse and extraordinarily rich heritage! But nature also has its place in Greater Lille. Roubaix’s Barbieux park with its hundred-year-old trees is the largest urban green space north of Paris. The Villa Cavrois in Croix, which was built between 1929 and 1932 by Mallet-Stevens, epitomises the essence of modern art and techniques. Finally, the garden surrounding Vauban’s “Queen of Citadels” reminds Louis XIV.
A UNIQUE LIFESTYLE
The ideal place to meet and share, with its restaurants, tables arranged outside cafés, bars and night clubs that can be either classic or original, but are always full of life. Guests very often mix tables as well as stories and discussions. Typical meals such as “carbonnades” and “potjevleesh”, tasty cheeses or traditional beers… These treasures can be savoured in hundred-year-old “estaminets” (traditional pubs) as well as in the trendiest places where the French Cuisine combines local meals and dishes from all over the world. Among the “guardians of the temple”, some thirty experienced chefs, founders of the “Club des Tables et Toques du Nord-Pas de Calais” keep an eye on quality. The people of Lille love sharing their typically French “art de vivre” to which they add their own lifestyle: a friendly Flemish atmosphere to be enjoyed without moderation!
CULTURE FOR ALL, ANYWHERE AND AT ANY TIME
In the european metropolis of Lille, cultural life is surprising and exciting, following the pace of exhibitions, concerts, festivals and ovations! In the intimacy of small venues or at the opera house, culture is everywhere and takes on countless forms. With the “Fabriques Culturelles” (cultural workshops), the most unlikely places – disused factories, freight railway stations – have been turned into “Maisons Folies” and other cultural facilities everywhere in the region. Room is made everywhere for drama, dance and imagination. Every year, an international arts festival spreads over the border in the Lille-Kortrijk-Tournai Eurometropolis. Together, the five structures of the Next Festival reinvent a new approach to stage arts. In April 2014, the “Festival de l’Entorse” in the Greater Lille area will invite everyone to wear flippers, spread their sail and explore the fantasy worlds of nautical and aerial sports. Museums are no less unusual. In Roubaix, an Art Deco swimming-pool has become one of France’s most beautiful museums. In Lille, Goya, Delacroix and Rodin make the Palais des Beaux-Arts a magnificent place. In Tourcoing, the museum got a facelift to host the works of Eugène Leroy. And not far from Lille, the Louvre-Lens Museum, set in the heart of the former mining area, has been enchanting hundreds of thousands of visitors since its opening in 2012.
History has left its traces everywhere in the area. The four belfries of Loos, Lille, Armentières and Comines are listed as UNESCO Heritage sites ; they tower over the scenery like true secular steeples and symbolize liberties bestowed upon towns. The Lille citadel built by Vauban in 1671 and the Porte de Paris (Gate of Paris) are evocative of the contours of the city under the reign of Louis XIV. Nor is there shortage of outstanding religious buildings with the Hospice Comtesse in Lille, Saint-Joseph and Saint-Christophe churches in Roubaix and Tourcoing and the Notre-Dame hospital in Seclin.
Industry has left its marks on the area and on its people. Factories, also called “industrial castles”, are architectural masterpieces that nowadays house high-tech businesses as well as the National
Archives of the Labour World in Roubaix. Yesterday’s industrial disputes have built a propensity to solidarity and entrepreneurial spirit in men and women alike.
From their past, Lille and its greater area have maintained a trading tradition which includes markets, fairs and fine shops. In the heart of Lille, get ready for hours of strolling and window-shopping in front of the best-known stores. Each neighbourhood has its own speciality: you can find luxury or vintage items in the Vieux Lille, or indulge in trendy, design and cosmopolitan shopping just about everywhere.
And don’t forget to look for great deals in Roubaix, where you will find the best brands at the best prices in 170 factory outlets. Both cities also put great emphasis on creation: young stylists who create unique, haute couture-inspired items work together in the “Maisons de Mode” (Houses of fashion). Both the underground and tramway will directly take you there.
A FUN&LOVING PLACE
The european metropolis of Lille is a land dedicated to fun and celebrations! Parades, carnivals and fairs have always brought families and friends together. Under the steeples, catch “louches” (ladles) in Comines, “Nieulles” (biscuits) in Armentières and “Berlouffes” (rag dolls) in Wattrelos. “Allumoirs” (paper lanterns) are celebrated in many villages and Lille becomes the capital of bargain-hunting during its huge and renowned flea market called the “braderie”. In Roubaix, a crowd of artists gather in the aisles of the Braderie de l’Art in early December for 48 hours of creation! With their undeniable sense of hospitality, the people of Lille love to initiate visitors to their traditions, whether they do so to the sound of street brass bands or in museums which, as in Roubaix at the “Manufacture des Flandres” or in Wattrelos at the museum “Arts et Traditions Populaire”.
Forests, paths and canals are only a few minutes away from city centres. Hikers and cyclists love the “plat pays” (as this area of Flanders is known) for its plains, towpaths and little roads in the country which offer one or two-hour strolls or rides, starting from Villeneuve d’Ascq, Santes, Comines, Marcq-en-Baroeul or Wambrechies… In Houplin-Ancoisne, the “Jardin Mosaïc” (mosaic garden) successfully mixes nature and culture. Some international artists and landscape gardeners met there a few years ago to propose a set of magical atmospheres in culture-mixing gardens. The 270 acres of the Parc du Héron, the “Musée de Plein Air” (outdoor museum), or the “village du Septentrion” (northern village) in Marcq-en-Baroeul almost reach the heart of the city.
THE EUROPEAN METROPOLIS OF LILLE, SPORT
A land of cycling known for its “Paris-Roubaix”competition, one of the world’s most demanding and famous races, the european metropolis Lille will host the can’t-miss event for Eurofootball fans. The football games will take place in the Pierre Mauroy stadium in Villeneuve d’Ascq from the 11 th of Juny 2016 to the 1 st of July 2016.
This new 50,000-seat arena, made unique thanks to its removable roof and pitch hosted the national rugby championship semifinals in May 2014 as well as the Eurobasket semi-finals / finals, in September 2015.
This will be the perfect opportunity to discover Lille fun-loving people as well as its sports hot spots (Roubaix’s new covered velodrome, the Lille Metropole Stadium…).