Hotels in Lille, France
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Lille –Stylish Franco-Flemish City at the Crossroads of Europe
Situated just minutes from the Belgian border, Lille offers visitors French flair with a Flemish influence. Most of the historical buildings here have a strong regional influence and owe little, if anything, to Haussmann and the Parisian central planners. After a period of decline, following the deindustrialisation of recent decades, the city has now reinvented itself as a vibrant student and cultural centre and offers renovated buildings and institutions, great nightlife and a convenient position which is incredibly easy to reach from London, Paris and Brussels.
Nightlife, City Life and Wandering the Urban Streets
Lille is certainly not short of unique places of interest, but is perhaps better known simply as a place to kick back and enjoy the simple pleasure of absorbing the local atmosphere. It is one of the top cities in France to study and has a large student population. This goes some way to explaining its reputation as a great nightlife destination. Visitors staying at one of the city centre hotels will only have to step out the door to be presented with some great bars, cafes and other spots were they can simply post themselves and enjoy the universal “sport” of people watching. Just head for Place Charles de Gaulle and its surrounding alleyways and you’ll find more great spots you could possibly enjoy on one visit. The city is also known for its excellent restaurants, where diners get to choose between more traditional French fare and restaurants with a strong Belgian influence offering Moules-frites, a simple and tasty meal of mussels and chips. In fact, seafood is especially popular in Lille and it is considered one of the best cities in France for this type of cuisine.
Views from Lille Belfry over a City of Attractions
Lille has a fantastic array of attractions and activities for all visitors. These are now very accessible after the renovations and regeneration experienced over the last couple of decades. One of the most popular is the Lille Belfry, an exquisitely restored tower at City Hall. It offers guests a bird’s eye view of the city and even has an elevator installed, though stairs still need to be negotiated to reach it. Art lovers won’t want to miss a visit to the Palais des Beaux Arts. Those staying at one of the hotels in downtown area won’t have far to walk to get to this exquisite building, whose beauty is surpassed only by the collection inside, which includes Old Masters and also more contemporary works. Both families and history buffs should head just west of the city. This area contains the Lille Zoological Park - which offers free admission to some visitors and is especially well-known for its tropical species, as well as Parc Les Poussins, a popular amusement park. Right next door is the Citadel of Lille, considered one of the best preserved 17th century pentagonal citadels anywhere in the world. Those attending football games and large rock concerts will need to head out to Pierre Mauroy Stadium which is near Lille Airport.
A Sombre Silence in the Battlefields
History buffs, and those looking for an escape from the hubbub of the city, might consider heading out of Lille on a tour of nearby battlefields. This region saw some of the fiercest fighting of World War I and has a number of cemeteries, monuments and battlefields that continue to see a steady stream of visitors paying their respects, even as the years pass. Best known among these is Ypres, which is some 25 miles away and over the border in Belgium. Volunteer buglers still play the Last Post every evening at 8pm at Menin Gate, and have been doing so since 1928. On a more uplifting note, the original site of the famous “Christmas Truce” can be visited in the nearby Ploegsteert Sector Battlefield. This is where Allied and German troops set aside their differences in a remarkable and unsanctioned truce to celebrate Christmas 1914 together. Arms were laid down temporarily and tentative steps were taken to socialise and barter cigarettes and other goods, culminating in a football match in no man’s land between Allied and German troops. This incredible event inspired similar informal truces elsewhere on the Western Front. A visit to this site is often the highlight of battlefield tours perhaps on account of its uplifting message in a region where so many lost their lives.
Looking to the Future in Euralille
Considering its position, at a significant European crossroads, it should perhaps come as no surprise to learn that Lille is one of France’s most European and outward looking cities. In fact, it created the futuristic neighbourhood of Euralille in the 1980’s as a way to demonstrate its commitment to these values. The design of the buildings looks very much to the future, rather than the past. It could be said that the area looks a bit like what Paris’ La Defence district would be like had it been designed entirely by architect Le Corbusier. In keeping with the visions of the future, it is located adjacent to the high speed TGV station and is worth a visit, if only to get an idea of where recent designers believe things are headed in the not too distant future. Aside from futuristic architecture, the area is also known for its shopping, hotels, offices, and residential units. The idea was very much to create a “city within a city”.