Lille Tourist Activities
Lille Airport is located very nearby the city centre of Lille, and is an airport serving the northern areas of France, as well as nearby cities in Belgium, since that Lille is found at the borders of this country and France. The airport is also well known as the Lille-Lesquin Airport, and is allocated the official code of LIL. Although many passengers of the airport are professionals and business-orientated persons, there are many tourists who use the airport as well, and there are a number of Lille attractions of interest nearby. Lille has a lovely zoo, many wonderful museums to explore, and several other sights worth the visit. Many different tours are available as well, and are thoroughly enjoyed by all who participate.
The Lille Airport is a very important gateway to the city, handling over a million passengers per annum, and is ranked as the twelfth busiest airport in the country. It is also the forth busiest in regards to cargo traffic. Lille is the principle city of the Lille-Métropole and the capital city of the Nord-Pas de Calais region. The metropolitan of Lille consists of both French and Belgium territories, and is estimated to have well over a million and a half inhabitants, which ranks it as one of the major metropolitan areas of Europe. It also has Euralille, which is one of the largest business centres in France. Similar to most other French cities, Lille attractions are plentiful, some modern and others ancient, and it has a wonderful city centre and very active cultural life. The old quarter of the city, known as the Vieux Lille is especially popular, with quiet cobblestone streets and a wide variety of gourmet restaurants and stylish designer shops. The older part of the city certainly adds a Flemish aspect to the character of Lille, while the red brick buildings offer a more Belgian feel to the experience. Within Vieux Lille, are many of the more visited tourist sights, for example, the Musée de l’Hospice Comtesse and the Cathedrale Notre Dame De la Treille.
The main square of the city is known as the Place du Général-de-Gaulle, or as the ‘Grand’place’, and features a number of lovely historic houses and a beautiful fountain and statue. Lille attractions include the Palais Rihour, or the Rihour Palace, found at 42 Place Rihour, which is the remains of a palace built by the Dukes of Burgundy. It was also classified as a historical monument in 1875. The original palace had four wings and was an impressive structure, but over the years, it was considerably damaged by several fires. The building that remains feels mainly Gothic, and features mullioned windows and the Conclave Hall (chapel), and an old guard room, which is now the tourist office for the city.
Other historic sites include the Porte de Paris and the Notre-Dame de la Treille Cathedral. The Porte de Paris is one of Lille’s three city gates, and was built by Simon Vollant between 1685 and 1692, in honour of King Louis XIV, who captured the city for the French. The gate was also part of Lille’s ramparts and its Arc de Triomphe, similar to the one found in Paris. The Porte de Paris is nearby to the town hall and the belfry, and it features figures of Mars and Hercules and a drawbridge which crosses the moat garden. The belfry of the town hall was built in 1932, and it has steps which can be climbed for lovely views of the city from the top. It stands 104 metres tall. The cathedral of Lille is a popular attraction and an example of a modern architectural sight. It is dedicated to the Virgin Mary, and is found at 12 Rue Jean Moulin, off rue de la Monnaie. The Notre-Dame de la Treille Cathedral began as a basilica in 1854 in 13th-century Gothic style. It took a long time to complete, with many interruptions by wars and other issues surrounding finance, as it was only in 1999 that it was finally built to perfection. The central marble section is particularly impressive.
Some of the most popular museums in Lille include the Musée des Beaux-Arts, the Musée de l’Hospice Comtesse, the Musée d’Art et d’Industrie de Roubaix, the Musée des Moulins, the Open-Air Museum and the LAM, the Lille Art Modern Museum. The museum first mentioned is located in a striking 19th-century building, and houses one of the finest collections of art works in all of France. Its size is topped only by the Louvre. Although its theme is mainly paintings, it also features collections of ceramics, relief maps and a selection of 18th-century models of fortified cities. Further art collections can be seen at the Hospice Comtesse Museum. The building of this museum is of particular interest, as it is one of the few remaining Flanders buildings, and was a hospital from 1237 until 1939. Paintings, tapestries, sculptures and porcelain from the region are displayed in the old hospital ward. The Musée des Moulins is something a little different, as it is devoted to windmills, and boasts two preserved pivoting windmills. Its information depicts the history of windmill technology. The windmills of the museum are in working condition, and happily grind corn for its spectators. The museum is found on the highway to Roubaix. The Open Air Museum is a recreation of a local village, and covers an area of ten hectares. The buildings include traditional farmhouses, seed barns, thatched cottages and rural craft workshops, where actual traditional skills are demonstrated.
For the kids of Lille, attractions include the Natural History Museum and the Lille Zoo, which is filled with animals of all sorts, from little baby goats to the impressive white rhino. 75% of the zoo’s animals are those which are threatened by extinction in their natural habitats. The zoo is just ten minutes from Lille city centre. The Natural History Museum of Lille has been in existence since 1822, and has thousands of specimens and a large variety of interesting displays. The museum is both fun and educational.
Sight-seeing tours in Lille are very popular, and some of the favourites include the Belgian Battlefield Day Tours and the Lille City Sightseeing Tour. Tourists can also purchase the Lille City Pass, which allows free access to 27 tourist and cultural sites. Further details are available from the tourist information desk at the airport, or from the tourist information offices in the city.