France Regions

Lille, France

An underrated gem and France’s 4th biggest city.

Located in northern France on the river Deule, the city of Lille was founded in the Middle Ages, with a charter dating back to 1066.

The County of Flanders, which first appeared in written documents in the 9th century, was formed after the Treaties of Verdun (843). Lille became one of its capitals and centers of commerce.

The main square in Lille, France.
The main square in Lille, France.

The tragic death of Charles the Reckless (the last Duke of Burgundy) in 1477 put a sudden end to the splendors of the court at Lille. Years later, Louis XIV had to use all his power and determination to annex the city to France once and for all in 1667, during the war of devolution.

During the French Revolution, the city was besieged by the Austrians (1792) who were on their way to Paris to free the king. The Austrians did not succeed in their task and Louis XVI was executed in Paris on January 21st, 1793.

In the 19th century, the city became a major industrial capital; the city expanded rapidly and annexed five nearby towns. During this time the city grew to 120,000 inhabitants.

Being so close to Belgium, Lille endured heavy bombardment during WWI and WWII.

Today, with 220,000 inhabitants, the city is part of an urban community of 87 towns, with more than 1 million people in the region. The city earned a 2004 nomination as a “European Capital of Culture” by the EC.

Despite early Protestant revolts from pro-Calvinists, the city has retained its cathedral. Other sites include the botanical garden and probably the world’s biggest flea market, the first weekend in September, drawing traders from all over Europe.

The Eurostar stops in Lille which means easy access to London, Brussels and Paris.

Lille – Places to See
  • A Walk in the old town between Palais Rihour and llot Comtesse.
  • Charles De Gaulle’s birthplace
  • Sunday market at Wazemmes

For further reading we recommend: Welcome to Lille, France’s most underrated city

About the Nord-Pas-De-Calais Region

Located on France’s northern border with Belgium is the Nord-Pas-De-Calais region. Nord-De-Pas-Calais was featured prominently in both WWI and WWII. The vast network of memorials and museums attest to this fact.

The capital of Nord-Pas-De-Calais is Picardy. The region is just a few hours via train from Paris.

When visiting be sure to enjoy the fine selection of locally brewed beers. Yes, France makes great beer too, although this fact is usually lost when compared with France’s neighbors to the north and east. As with many areas of Europe, Nord-Pas-De-Calais has it’s share of Roman ruins.

The city of Lille is the last stop on the Eurostar before England. Many a weary traveler has missed the train station in Paris only to wake up, luckily, in Lille.

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