20 Unmissable Attractions in Lille

Grand Place, Lille © Laurent Ghesquière/ OTCL Lille
Grand Place, Lille © Laurent Ghesquière/ OTCL Lille
Photo of Sylvia Edwards Davis
Writer1 July 2017

The friendly and bustling city of Lille has so much to offer visitors and tourists including historical landmarks, museums, heritage sites, shopping, art, great hotels, and restaurants. All of that much enhanced by the legendary warm welcome of its people, here are some of the must-see places to check out while in Lille.

La Grande Place

The emblematic Grande Place is the beating heart of the city and a favourite meeting point for visitors and locals alike. A perfect place to people watch while perched in one of the cafés around the square.

La Grande Place, Lille, France

La Grande Place | © Laurent Ghesquière/Courtesy of OTCL Lille

La Citadelle

The star-shaped military fortress from the 17th century is still an active army base to this day. A visit to the Citadelle is a perfect way to learn about Lille’s history and understand why it became such a critical crossroads for trade and a strategic hot spot in wartime. Group tours are arranged by the Tourism Office.

Citadelle de Lille, Avenue du 43e régiment d’infanterie, Lille, France, +33 04 43 05 12 90

La Vieille Bourse

One of the most iconic buildings in the city, the old stock exchange is a historical monument that is actually a collection of 24 identical houses built in the 17th century around a striking courtyard.

Vieille Bourse, Place Charles de Gaulle, 59000 Lille, France, +33 891 56 20 04

Vieille Bourse | Courtesy of OTC Lille

Birthplace of Charles de Gaulle

Lille’s native hero Charles de Gaulle is probably mostly known as the leader of the France Libre during the Second World War and as a long-serving president of the French Republic. Today, his home is a museum in his honour that retells the story of his formative years and offers a glimpse into life in Lille in the early 20th century.

Maison Natale Charles de Gaulle, 9 Rue Princesse, Lille, France, +33 3 28 38 12 05

© Laurent Ghesquière/Courtesy of OTCL Lille

Christmas Markets

A magical time to visit Lille is during the month of December when the city dons its garlands and fairy lights for its famous Christmas market. Dozens of chalets offer delicious local treats, gingerbread, vin chaud, regional specialties, and arts and crafts.

La grande roue de Noël sur la Grand Place de Lille (Nord). | ©Velvet/WikiCommons

Hospice Comtesse Museum

A converted 17th-century hospice bears witness to history through the stories of the soldiers and civilians that passed through over the years. The Musée de l’Hospice Comtesse even features a beautiful garden growing the medicinal herbs and plants used to treat patients in their care. The exhibits in the grand building are complemented with priceless works of art that add an extra layer of interest to the visit.

Musée de l’Hospice Comtesse, 32 Rue de la Monnaie Lille, France, +33 3 28 36 84 00

Braderie de Lille

Around the first Sunday in September, the entire city dresses up for the Braderie de Lille, a gigantic open-air flea market that turns into one huge festival. An opportunity to bag a bargain, find an antique treasure, and enjoy one of the many events and concerts timed around the Braderie.

Braderie de Lille | © OTCL Lille / Laurent Ghesquiére

La Maison Meert

Sweet-tooth paradise found. Meert is home of the authentic Gaufre Fourrée de Lille, a delicate, thin-waffle sandwich filled with vanilla cream that was a favourite of royalty and President de Gaulle. Lots of sweet treats and pastries on offer as well as a selection of their signature chocolates.

Maison Meert, 27 Rue Esquermoise, Lille, France, +33 03 20 57 07 44

Artillery Museum

Museum
Map View
Canon de deux livres à l'état d'ébauche. Fonte de fer, an II. Inv. 1994-826.
Canon de deux livres à l'état d'ébauche. Fonte de fer, an II. Inv. 1994-826. | © Ash Crow/Wikimedia Commons
This museum is fascinating for military and history buffs alike. Named Musée de Cannoniers Sédentaires de Lille (stationary cannoners), the exhibits feature 3,000 objects and a multitude of documents, armament, and materials used to defend the city.

La Piscine de Roubaix

Located just 14 km (8.7 miles) from Lille, the famous-art space La Piscine, or Musée d’Art et d’iIndustrie André-Diligent, occupies a former art-déco swimming pool converted into a sensational art museum featuring an important collection of fine and decorative arts.

Musée d’Art et d’Industrie André Diligent, 23 Rue de la Espérance, Roubaix, France, + 33 3 20 69 23 60

Wazemmes Market

Market
Map View
Le dimanche à Wazemmes
Le dimanche à Wazemmes | © Frédérique Voisin-Demery/Flickr
The buzzing-covered market in the lively Wazemmes District is a prime spot to pick up some foodie supplies and find out more about the regional specialties. It also serves as a fabulous perch to people watch and catch a glimpse of local life.

Lille's Cathedral

Cathedral
Map View
Lille Cathedral, the Basilica of Notre Dame de la Treille
Lille Cathedral, the Basilica of Notre Dame de la Treille | © Ad Meskens/Wikimedia Commons
Construction of the neo-Gothic Basilica of Notre Dame de la Treille began in 1854. It took its name from a mythical 12th century statue of the Virgin Mary. The cathedral is a national monument and the seat of the Bishop of Lille.