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Things to do in Lille

Things to do in  Lille

Welcome to Lille

The capital of the Hauts-de-France region, Lille’s mix of Gallic and Flemish sensibilities is visible in the Grand Place's striking architecture; the cobblestoned beauty of its Old Town (known as Vieille Lille); and culinary preferences, which skew towards carbonnade, mussels, and beer. Home to one of France’s largest student populations, Lille’s open and youthful energy is complemented by its wealth of culture: the Palais des Beaux Arts houses France’s second-largest art collection after the Louvre, while admiring modern and contemporary art at LaM is one of the top things to do in Lille.

Top 15 attractions in Lille

Lille Old Town (Vieux Lille)

Vieux-Lille—the city’s Old Town—is its most historic quarter, with notable Flemish-style architecture and major landmarks. The area, located just north of the city center, dates back centuries. Come for the history, architecture, and its gourmet food and drink offerings.More

Lille Town Hall and Belfry (Beffroi de l'Hôtel de Ville de Lille)

As the highest municipal building of France at 104 meters high, the Lille belfry, attached to the town hall (Beffroi de l'Hôtel de Ville de Lille), is certainly a must when in the north of France. Both the belfry and town hall are reminiscent of Flemish architecture with their typical triangular gables and red bricks – understandably, so, considering the border to Belgium is just a few kilometers away. The belfry was built in 1932 as part of the reconstruction of the town hall, which was, unfortunately, torn to pieces during the First World War. And although it is not in use anymore, the belfry contains a headlight that was once used to inform the population of imminent municipal gatherings. Because of how it dominates the city, the belfry offers unobstructed and unparalleled 360-degree views of Lille, and even surrounding areas on clear days. The city hall and its belfry have been a UNESCO World Heritage site since 2005.More

Hospice Comtesse Museum (Musée de l'Hospice Comtesse)

The Hospice Comtesse Museum is the city museum of Lille, housed in an old hospital founded by Jeanne, Countess of Flanders in the 13th century. You’ll find paintings, tapestries, wood sculptures, porcelain objects, and more on display.More

Lille Cathedral (Cathédrale Notre-Dame-de-la-Treille)

Notre Dame de la Treille Cathedral in Lille is a Roman Catholic church that took almost 150 years to complete. The building is known for its modern stained glass panels and impressive organ.More

Birthplace of Charles de Gaulle (Maison Natale de Charles de Gaulle)

Charles de Gaulle is one of the most celebrated Frenchmen of the past few centuries—and Lille’s Birthplace of Charles de Gaulle (Maison Natale de Charles de Gaulle) offers a glimpse into the early years of the French general and statesman. Visit his birthplace-turned-museum to see family keepsakes, documents, and other mementos.More

Lille Museum of Fine Arts (Palais des Beaux Arts de Lille)

With a collection spanning the centuries, the Palais des Beaux-Arts has something for everyone. Inside, you’ll find works from some of Europe’s most celebrated artists, including Raphael, Bosch, Goya, Monet, and many others.More

Grand Place

Lille’s main public square, the Grand Place—which also goes by the Place du Général de Gaulle—is a top gathering point in this northerly city. Grand Palace is ringed by many of the city’s historic buildings and attractions, including the Vieille Bourse, and located in Lille’s atmospheric Old Town (Vieux-Lille).More
La Piscine Museum (Musée d'Art et d’Industrie André Diligent)

La Piscine Museum (Musée d'Art et d’Industrie André Diligent)

Far from being a museum dedicated to pools, La Piscine Museum (Musée d'Art et d'Industrie André Diligent) in Roubaix is in fact an arts museum houses in a former indoor, Olympic-sized swimming pool. This somehow peculiar location was chosen because it features an outstanding art deco interior, having been built in 1927. The swimming pool remained in use until 1985, and was given a second life as an arts museum in 2000. The museum holds items that date back from 1835, most of which were collected from a textile factory that once stood next door. Elements of literature, science and fine arts were added to enhance the collection of historic textiles and to form an extensive exhibition dedicated to the fruitful alliance between applied arts and industry. Some of the most famous paintings and sculptures found at La Piscine include works from Rodin, Picasso, Claudel, Gérôme, Stark, van Dongen and other contemporaries – which, of course, are complimented by the architectural marvel that is La Piscine Museum.More
Lille Natural History Museum (Musée d'Histoire Naturelle de Lille)

Lille Natural History Museum (Musée d'Histoire Naturelle de Lille)

Opened in 1822, Lille's Natural History Museum (Musée d'Histoire Naturelle de Lille) is one of Lille’s oldest and is the only of its kind in Nord / Pas-de-Calais. The fact that the museum still stands to this day is nothing short of a miracle, seeing as it overcame two World Wars and yet continued adding items to its ever-expanding collections – that now comprises of over 200,000 specimens. It now focuses on two main themes, mineralogical and zoological. The former has tens of thousands of minerals and paleontological items, some of which date back 400 million years. The latter, on the other hand, contains 1,500 mammals, 1,000 reptiles and 100,000 insects to name a few, including several now-extinct species from around the world like the Iguanodon dinosaur, the Tasmanian Tiger and the Passenger Pigeon. Throughout its exhibitions the museum present the history of earth and life with various interactive displays and informative posters, encouraging visitors to care for the rapidly disappearing species and preserve the planet’s precious legacy.More
Le Fresnoy National Studio for Contemporary Arts (Le Fresnoy Studio National des Arts Contemporains)

Le Fresnoy National Studio for Contemporary Arts (Le Fresnoy Studio National des Arts Contemporains)

The Le Fresnoy National Studio for Contemporary Arts (Le Fresnoy Studio National des Arts Contemporains) located in the Lille suburbia acts as both a teaching establishment and a museum; its goal being to give northern France residents and visitors easy access to the arts of all forms (cinema, photography, applied arts, musique, living arts, etc.) in a state-of-the-art building. Its genesis is to integrate audiovisual techniques to its productions, making Le Fresnoy an exclusive place for locals to experiment with various practices – the museum creates over 50 pieces every year. In a nutshell, Le Fresnoy is kind of like “dance studio meets movie set”; every movement, every pain stroke is subject to technological embellishments. Because of its unique mission, the museum has welcomed several world-class art exhibitions over the years, and continues to be acclaimed by other museums around the world. The museum also houses a cinema and regular exhibitions aimed at children.More
Lille Métropole Museum of Modern, Contemporary and Outsider Art (LAM)

Lille Métropole Museum of Modern, Contemporary and Outsider Art (LAM)

Home to one of France’s most significant modern and contemporary art collections, Lille Métropole Museum of Modern, Contemporary and Outsider Art was established in 1983. Wander the museum’s expansive gallery spaces and collection and view highlights that include works by Picasso, Modigliani, Miró, and other modernist luminaries.More
Museum of the Gunners in Lille (Musée des Canonniers Sédentaires de Lille)

Museum of the Gunners in Lille (Musée des Canonniers Sédentaires de Lille)

A great museum for those interested in Lille’s military history, the Museum of the Gunners in Lille (Musée des Canonniers Sédentaires de Lille) explains the story of the Sainte Barbe Brotherhood (one of the oldest artillery units in Europe) and their implication in the defense of the city over the centuries. Indeed, Lille, because of its strategic and thus precarious position, required an effective militia as well as walled fortifications in order to survive – something that would later on be proved necessary, seeing as the city went from being Flemish, Bourguignone, Imperial and Spanish before becoming French, all in the matter of a few centuries. The museum’s exhibitions, presented in the former Urbanist convent, holds over 3,000 objects of various genres like artifacts, weapons like firearms and cannons (including the famous Gribeauval cannons that Napoleon Bonaparte offered to the canoneers himself), documents and equipment related to the city’s defense.More
Science Forum (Forum Departmental Des Sciences)

Science Forum (Forum Departmental Des Sciences)

The Science Forum (commonly known as Forum départemental des sciences de Villeneuve-d'Ascq by locals) is a museum dedicated to broadcasting the scientific and technical culture located in eastern Lille. It has a very specific, hands-on approach that strongly encourages visitors to make their own scientific experiments in order to fully grasp the power and extent of science in the most whimsical ways possible. The newest exhibition, which will be hosted until March 2016, focuses on nighttime; what happens after nightfall, as far as biology, astronomy, neurology and anthropology are concerned? What does a naturally dark sky looks like, away from the city’s bright lights? How does sleep actually work? On the other side of the museum is Enigma, a vast room where visitors get to become a detective for a couple of hours, questioning the scientific aspect of various situations, and ultimately coming up with several plausible answers. How does a magician escape jail? How could we live in a world without fuel? And although the museum’s exhibitions are clearly directed at children, they will also be very interesting for parents eager to learn about the world’s greatest scientific discoveries.More


Situated in the seaside resort town of Le Touquet, Aqualud is one of northern France’s largest water parks and a popular destination for families. Founded in 1985, and situated just steps from the beach, the park offers an array of water slides, pools, Jacuzzis, and other attractions in both indoor and outdoor areas.More
La Manufacture de Roubaix

La Manufacture de Roubaix

Plunge straight into Flander’s textile history at this historic manufacture located right outside of Lille. A professionally-trained guide explains visitors how textile is created from mere wool, how the different machines work, telling the story of these men and women who dedicated their lives to their craft. Seven 10-minute-long videos depict the ambiance of the manufacture, exploring different aspects of textile making. As a museum of its time, La Manufacture de Roubaix not only recounts the history of local textiles but also exploits the concepts of eco-friendly performances, local markets and innovative techniques, which are all essential to a sustainable production nowadays.More
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All about Lille

When to visit

The most popular time to visit Lille is in June and July, when the warm summer temperatures and sunlight make exploring the city’s picturesque, Flemish-inspired Old Town pleasant. That said, it’s also a good idea to aim for the shoulder season: Spring sees the arrival of the Lille 3000 Biennale, while September is host to the enormously popular Lille Flea Market, among the largest flea markets in France.

Getting around

Lille has a robust public transportation network comprising two metro lines, two tram lines, and dozens of bus routes. The city is served by the Lille Airport and two train stations—the regional Lille-Flandres Station and the international Lille-Europe station which, thanks to Eurostar services, connects the city with destinations including Paris, London, and Brussels. Much of Lille’s Old Town (Vieux-Lille) is best explored on foot or by bike.

Traveler tips

If you have time to spare during your Lille trip, it’s worth hopping on a quick train to the adjacent city of Roubaix, which was once the heart of France’s textile industry and has since been reborn as a cutting-edge arts destination. Head to La Piscine, a swimming pool turned into a museum of arts and industry, and visit Le Vestiaire, where dozens of independent fashion designers show off their wares.

People Also Ask

What is Lille most known for?

Lille is the capital of the Hauts-de-France region and is located near the Belgian border. It is a lively university city and cultural hub. It’s renowned for the Flemish-inspired architecture of its Old Town, its vibrant nightlife scene, and its boundary-pushing art museums.

How do I spend a day in Lille?

There’s much to do in vibrant Lille. Begin your day exploring its Old Town, Vieux Lille (including highlights like the UNESCO-listed Lille Town Hall) on foot. In the afternoon, visit an art museum such as the Lille Museum of Fine Arts before enjoying dinner and drinks out on the town.

What is there to do near Lille?

There’s plenty to do beyond Lille’s central Old Town. The Citadel is a major military landmark dating to the 17th century, while top museums—including La Piscine Museum and Lille Métropole Museum of Modern, Contemporary and Outsider Art—are located on the outskirts. Neighboring Roubaix boasts historical landmarks and cycling history, too.

Is Lille worth visiting?

Yes, Lille is absolutely worth visiting. The city is sizable for France, and its historic Old Town is packed with medieval landmarks and home to a UNESCO World Heritage Site. As a university city, Lille is also vibrant, with cutting-edge museums and top-rated restaurants.

Is Lille a nice city?

Yes, Lille is a very nice city. Its Old Town, Vieux Lille, is renowned for scenic cobblestone streets, Flemish-inspired medieval architecture, and highlights like the UNESCO-listed Town Hall. Its Michelin-starred restaurants, many leading art museums, shopping streets, and markets are further draws.

Is Lille good for tourists?

Yes, Lille is a great place for tourists, though compared to hubs like Paris and Lyon, it is an underrated destination. Visitors who make the trip will discover plenty to be impressed by, from Lille’s UNESCO site and medieval Old Town to its dynamic restaurant, shopping, and cultural scenes.


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