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City Guide of Top Things to Do in Lille

Europe’s largest flea market, France’s tallest belfry – this dynamic city just 10 miles from the Belgian border certainly doesn’t do things by halves. As of 2016, Lille was named the capital of the newly-founded region of Hauts-de-France, a change that came about after the territorial reform of French Regions in 2014.

When visiting Lille, you soon see why. With its charming Old Town, impressive architecture, and large student population driving the historic area’s creative vibe, Lille should be at the top of everyone’s to-do list.

Tempted? Here’s a look at some of the best things to do in Lille.

The City of Lille

Perfect for a day trip, Lille offers more than 30 tourist sites and attractions. Travel around the city with free usage of Lille's metropolitan public transport network (metro, bus, tram) and free entry to must-see destinations across the city with Lille Lille City Pass.

Explore the 4th largest city in France in 75 minutes with Lille's City Tour, an open top bus tour of the city where you can relax and enjoy the sights with interesting audio and video commentary. To get a local perspective, join a walking tour of the city with professional tour guide and spot the old town’s main sights and monuments.

Old Town Explorations

When searching for things to do in Lille, the first stop for any visitor has to be the Vieux Lille, the Flemish-influenced Old Town. This stunning area contains the Grand Place or Place du Général de Gaulle, a medieval market square surrounded by historic buildings and the Column of the Goddess at its centre.

Make sure to stop at the Vieille Bourse, a seventeenth-century Renaissance masterpiece where booksellers, chess players and florists gather in the inner courtyard.

For panoramic views, climb the 104-metre belfry that dominates the city's skyline - rebuilt in 1932, the tower is now the tallest municipal structure in France and a listed UNESCO World Heritage site, along with the town hall.

Art Galleries in Lille

The city is a real treasure trove for the art enthusiast. In Lille, the likes of Picasso, Van Gogh and Monet rub shoulders in the Palais Beaux-Arts, one of the country’s most prestigious museums.

Just a short drive away, temporary exhibitions embody the history of art at the Louvre-Lens - the regional branch of its world-famous mother gallery. Of course, the student city is also teeming with young artists looking for their big break - the New Square Gallery is a champion of contemporary art from both internationally renowned artists and talented up-and-comers from the region.

Local Street Markets in Lille

No trip to Lille is complete until you’ve experienced the Braderie de Lille, the largest flea market in Europe. Every year on the first weekend in September, millions of visitors stroll along the boulevard's 10,000 vendors looking for antiques, records, books and other keepsakes at bargain prices.

The market has the atmosphere of a festival, with street food vendors lining the 62-miles of streets that the market occupies. Take a break from the crowds on rue Solferino, a lively street popular with students for its cheap eateries and many bars, pubs and clubs. Lillois are proud of their internationally famous pastry shop, Au Merveilleux, and the delicious meringue specialties it produces.

Learn to cook traditional homemade dishes of Lille you can take home with a hands-on cooking class.Discover French cuisine and learn how to prepare local dishes in a friendly atmosphere.

Ready to discover Lille? Book your crossing from Dover to Calais today!