The city of Lille is located in the northern most tip of France and is one of the closest major French cities to the United Kingdom. As the fourth biggest city in France Lille has a population of just over 1million people and has for centuries been ruled by different leaders and has many different cultural influences in the buildings it contains.
As a part of occupied France during the Second World War, Lille has a number of different war museums, and is also just at the end of the Eurostar line, straight out of Waterloo.
The city also has its own airport, although it is rarely busy because of its close proximity to both the airports in Paris and Brussels. Sitting on the river Deûle, the city hosts the third largest river port in the country, and ships over 7 million tonnes of industry each year both through France and internationally to Holland and Belgium.
Places to visit when hiring a car in Lille
One of the best ways to explore both the town of Lille and the beautiful surrounding areas is to hire a car, which you can pick up from the airport, train station or in the town itself.
Le Vieille Bourse
Le Vieille Bourse was the French chamber of Commerce until 1910 and is a stunning building of Flemish origin. The Old Stock Exchange, as the direct translation suggests was the hub of French business activity and is a wonderful place to relax and watch the locals playing chess, selling and reading books and selling flowers in the squares either side.
The main square in Lille, the Grande Place is the place to go to see the 17th century Vieille Bourse. The Grande Place is often home to a big wheel, giving a fantastic view of the city and the surrounding areas. With cafes and restaurants surrounding the square it’s a wonderful place to visit, people watch and the chill out.
Particularly worth visiting in the weeks leading up to Christmas when the excellent Christmas market is in town.
Parc de Zoologique
If you like visiting Zoos then this is a must see. Free to get in, this small zoo is a wonderful place to walk around one afternoon, taking in the various animals and enjoying the scenery. The reptile house get’s particularly good reviews.
Musee d’Art Moderne
Located nearly four miles from the centre of Lille, this is a fantastic museum for fans of art. Featuring an abstract design from the outside, the building is huge and features paintings from artists all over the globe.
Worth visiting the first Sunday of each month when entry is free.
Palais des Beaux-Arts
World renowned, the Palais des Beaux-Arts is the place to go to see fine arts. Featuring collections from the 15th century to the present day, the museum takes you on a walk through the ages. You can buy a ticket, which is valid all day, allowing you to come and go as you please. Information is available in English.
The city of Ypres is one of the most famous First World War cities in France and is located close to Lille. Reduced to ruins throughout both World Wars, the town is steeped in history, particularly the stunning Cloth Hall.
The Menin Gate in Ypres is a particularly harrowing place to visit, and at 8pm each night the Last Post ios played at the gate, which was constructed in memory of the nearly 55,000 men who died in the Salient and have no actual war grave. The gate features the name of every single missing soldier.
The location of some of the most famous battles in the World Wars, the region of Flanders in Belgium has many war memorials, battle grounds and areas of interest for anyone with an interest in the World Wars.
Hiring a car in Lille
You must be over 21 to hire a car in Lille, and the French drive on the right hand side of the road.