10 Incredible Things To See & Do in Lille
Palais des Beaux-Arts de Lille | ©phgaillard2001/Flickr
Palais des Beaux-Arts de Lille
Large French museum
Palais des Beaux-Arts de Lille is one of the oldest art museums in France, first established in 18-09 on the orders of Napoleon I. The museum has the second largest collection of works in France, outside of the Louvre; it includes works by Rembrandt, El Greco, Goya, Delacroix, Raphael, and many, many more. The art spans across many different mediums, as well as periods, with pieces from the 17th-20th centuries, middle ages, and Renaissance period. With so much to see, it may be helpful to take a guided tour. However, if you like to enjoy art in solitude, there are headsets available that will deliver all the information you need, directly to your ears. Palais des Beaux-Arts de Lille features a café, bookstore, library, and gift shop, and offers occasional workshops and lectures.
Opening Hours: 2:00pm-6:00pm Monday, 10:00am-6:00pm Wednesday-Sunday
Watch out for: fun cultural events
Address and Telephone: 18 Rue de Valmy Lille, FR, +33 3 20 13 98 80
Lille Cathedral | ©Christophe Goessen/Flickr
Roman Catholic Church
A beloved national French monument, the Lille Cathedral, also known as the Basilica of Notre Dame de la Treille, was first constructed in 1854. The 13th century Gothic-style structure was dedicated to a statue of the Virgin Mary that has been protected by an iron trellis, which is how the church got its name. Although the cathedral was erected in the mid-19th century, it went unfinished due to funding, and was just recently completed in the 1990s. Lille Cathedral is so beautiful in its architecture and interior that it is often a place for special events. The church hosts art exhibitions, featuring works of, and about, significant religious figures. There are also conferences, concerts, and holiday celebrations that take place throughout the year.
Opening Hours: 10:00am-6:30pm Monday-Sunday
Watch out for: special mass times
Address and Telephone: Place Gilleson Lille, FR
Hospice Comtesse Museum | ©Bruno Parmentier/Flickr
Hospice Comtesse Museum
Founded in 1237, the Hospice Comtesse Museum was a hospital that provided care for the sick and terminally ill from the 15th to 18th centuries. It was established by Joan, the Countess of Flanders, and now houses Flemish art and furnishings, significant to the history of the culture. The historic pieces include everything from commissioned regal paintings and detailed sculptures, to the simple Delft tiling that lines the kitchen floor. The museum itself is an architectural beauty, as is the on-site chapel and pharmacy; the medicinal garden and courtyard are both areas of natural beauty and interesting history. By seeing things as simple as ceramics and silverware, visitors can really get a clear picture as to how people used to live. From providing healthcare centuries ago to providing knowledge of the past know, the Hospice Comtesse Museum has always been dedicated to helping others.
Opening Hours: 10:00am-6:00pm Monday & Wednesday-Sunday
Watch out for: guided tours
Address and Telephone: 32 Rue de la Monnaie Lille, FR, +33 3 28 36 84 00
LaM | ©antoine pasquier-desvignes/Flickr
The Lille Métropole Museum of Modern, Contemporary and Outsider Art, or LaM for short, is a modern art museum that houses nearly 5,000 pieces of incredible art. It is currently the only museum in Europe to showcase modern, contemporary, and outsider art all under one roof. Works vary in medium, but include drawings, paintings, sculptures, photographs, and mixed media. The LaM currently displays works from great artsists, such as Pablo Picasso, Georges Braque, and Joan Miró. Explore all of the fantastic works displayed along the walls, then pop out to the garden to see some of the outdoor sculptures. The LaM offers guided tours so that you can learn more about each artist and their works; for even more information, check out the extensive library!
Opening Hours: 10:00am-6:00pm Tuesday-Sunday
Watch out for: special events and workshops
Address and Telephone: 1 Allée du Musée Lille, FR, +33 3 20 19 68 99
Musée d’Historie Naturelle de Lille | ©Guillaume DELEBARRE/Flickr
Musée d’Historie Naturelle de Lille
Natural history museum
Visit Musée d’Historie Naturelle de Lille to explore the history of the world! The history museum features exhibits on every part of the world, including the ocean and its inhabitants, space and stars, animals, insects, geology, and humans. There are so many fascinating things to learn that you can discover a lot just by wandering around — however, for more specific knowledge, take a guided tour and absorb all there is to known about the past and present of the world we live in. If you’d like a more hands-on experience, attend one of the many workshops available, both for youth and adults. Some are artistic, such as drawing and modeling, while others are educational, with topics like anatomy and fossils. Be sure to check out a few of their rotating exhibitions before they’re gone!
Opening Hours: 9:00am-Noon then 2:00pm-5:00pm Monday & Wednesday & Friday-Saturday, 10:00am-5:00pm Sunday
Watch out for: special events
Address and Telephone: 19 Rue de Bruxelles Lille, FR, +33 3 28 55 30 80
Vauban Garden | ©Antoine SIPOS/Flickr
Beautiful green garden
Although Vauban Garden was created by the head gardener of Paris, the public park is the perfect example of the English countryside. The garden was established in 1863, and is home to over 20,000 species of flora and fauna, including trees that over 100 years old. The park is adorned with statues of prominent Frenchman and Lille natives, and also features a goat house that has been conformed into a marionette playhouse for children. Vauban is open to pets, so bring your dog and watch him run around the grass, which spans over three hectares. Vauban Garden is a beautiful park, so stop by with the whole family to enjoy a pleasant walk, fun picnic, game of Frisbee, and more.
Opening Hours: 9:00am-5:00pm Monday-Saturday
Watch out for: artists sketching
Address and Telephone: Boulevard Vauban Lille, FR, +33 3 28 36 13 50
Zebras at Parc Zoologique | ©G Morel/Flickr
Sitting on 3.5 hectares of land is the Parc Zoologique de Lille. This city zoo houses nearly 350 animal inhabitants, attracting over 1 million visitors each year. There are seven animal houses for people to explore, each with their own species. Some include the aviary, ‘The Tropical House,’ ‘The Valley of the Monkeys,’ ‘Lands of America,’ and ‘Lands of Africa.’ You can see everything from zebras and pandas to peacocks and snakes. Entry to the zoo is free, so you and your entire family are able to enjoy it without worrying about the cost. Parc Zoologique is the perfect place for kids, and it’s often visited by school groups. Internships and other learning opportunities are available for older children, and are a great way to spread awareness about animals and conservation. Do your best to stop by during the summer months to attend ‘Breakfasts at the Zoo,’ a special behind-the-scenes tour that includes hot drinks and yummy pastries!
Opening Hours: 10:00am-5:00pm Monday-Sunday
Watch out for: annual holiday closure
Address and Telephone: Avenue Mathias Delobel Lille, FR, +33 3 28 52 07 00
La Gare Saint Sauveur | ©Bruno Parmentier/Flickr
La Gare Saint Sauveur
Great multipurpose facility
Opened in 1848, La Gare Saint Sauveur was a bustling railway station that brought goods in and out of the city. After decades of lively and successful activity, the station came to a close in the early 2000s. Since then, the city has slowly transformed the 20-acre space into a thriving city center, complete with a restaurant and bar, and movie theatre. However, there is still so much space that has gone undeveloped. While the city works on occupying the rest of the space, La Gare Saint Sauveur is used as a venue for concerts, weddings, and other special events. It is most notably the location for Lille 3000, a French art and culture festival. Cities from around the world participate in celebrating, and showcasing, their culture through art. It only takes place every three years, so be sure that you don’t miss the next one! And just in case you do, La Gare Saint Sauveur is still a great place to go and be a part of the community.
Opening Hours: Noon-7:00pm Wednesday-Sunday
Watch out for: construction
Address and Telephone: Boulevard Jean Baptiste Lebas Lille, FR, +33 3 20 31 30 00
Foyer of Opéra de Lille | ©Bruno Parmentier/Flickr
Opéra de Lille
Historic music hall
Built to replace its 18th century predecessor, which burned down in 1903, Opéra de Lille opened its doors in 1923. Germans occupied the neo-classical structure during World War I, and they took over most of the furnishings and interior items, before relinquishing it back to the city four years later. The music hall is designed with grand splendor, featuring a magnificent staircase, fireplace, foyer, and stage. Much of the opera house is adorned with sculptures, elegant lighting, beautiful paintings, and ornaments of gold. Enjoy a classy night out on the town by dressing up and attending a show. The orchestra is fantastic, and there is such a variety of performances that take place, you’re guaranteed to find something that amazes you. After the show, go for dinner or dessert at a nearby restaurant. Opéra de Lille is located in the city square, so there is so much to do and see in the area!
Opening Hours: Noon-7:00pm Tuesday-Saturday
Watch out for: special hours and prices for shows and performances
Address and Telephone: 2 Rue des Bons Enfants Lille, FR, +33 3 62 21 21 21
Chapel at Le Musée de Plein Air | ©Bruno Parmentier/Flickr
Le Musée de Plein Air
Le Musée de Plein Air, or The Open Air Museum, is the site of a historic village community from the 17th and 18th centuries. The Rural Heritage Association saved it from demolition back in the 1990s, and it has since been reconstructed as a living museum. Each with their own unique architectural history, explore the 20 buildings that were once vital staples of the community, including a medical house with medicinal plants and pharmaceutical objects, a craft workshop, a communal bake house, a chapel, and more. There are free, guided tours every Sunday, although the museum is also open during the week for you to explore. Surrounded by so many beautiful gardens, the museum is frequently used as a venue for concerts, festivals, and other special events. Be sure to look into attending a workshop on woodworking, baking bread, construction, gardening, and many others.
Opening Hours: 10:00am-6:00pm Wednesday-Saturday, 10:00am-7:00pm Sunday
Watch out for: great for families!
Address and Telephone: 143 Rue Colbert Lille, FR, +33 3 61 26 97 44
By: Shyla Watson