Lille (Dutch: Rijsel) is a medium-sized city in the Nord-Pas de Calais region of northern France with a very large student population. This city has a strong industrial background, but, after some difficult years, it is now known throughout France for its handsome city centre and its very active cultural life.


Place du Général-de-Gaulle

Lille is France's fifth largest metropolitan area. It is located to the country's north, on the Deûle River, near the border with Belgium.The whole metropolitan area of Lille, both on French and Belgian territory (Courtray, Tournai) was estimated in 2007 at around 1,885,000 inhabitants, ranking as one of the major metropolitan areas of Europe.

Get in

Most visitors will probably arrive by train due to the major international railway hub situated there. It is possible to land at the Charles de Gaulle Paris airport and then continue by train, but do not try this at the Ryanair's Paris airport (Beauvais) as there is no train connection at all and the only bus is back to Paris itself.

By plane

The Lille Lesquin International Airport is small but convenient for entering Lille or travelling on to nearby areas across the border in Belgium. Both major and budget airlines operate scheduled services. Unlike larger airports there is hardly any walking as the checkins are directly inside the entrance and the security gates are directly behind the checkins. However, there may be a walk from the gate area to the aeroplane if it is parked on the taxiway rather than at a jetway. A direct coach connects to central Lille (stops outside the main railway station) in 20 minutes, and runs once an hour costing 7 Euros (return ticket is 9 Euros). A taxi would cost about 20 Euros.

By train

Lille Flandres Station

Lille lies on the Brussels-Paris-London connection. TGV and Eurostar trains stop here. The journey to Brussels takes little more than 30 minutes, to Paris about an hour, and to London about an hour and 25 minutes following the new high speed train link to London St Pancras which opened in October 2007. Coming in by ferry from Calais, train connections run fairly regularly, though it can be hard to get accurate times online. The journey takes about an hour and a half. (SNCF website allows one to check train timetables) Lille is also linked by TGV (fast trains) to Lyon (3 hours), Nantes (4 hours), Strasbourg (3.20 hours) and Marseille (5 hours).

If you are traveling from London, Eurostar is the best option to reach Lille through the Channel Tunnel and it will take around an hour and a half from London St Pancras International Station to Lille by Eurostar. These Eurostar trains usually continue to Brussels.

Another option is to take the TER or the regional, slower moving trains, where a ticket can be purchased fairly cheaply to many locations throughout France and Belgium. The transit bureau for the Nord-Pas-de-Calais offers weekend "Trampoline" passes, where a round trip on TER trains between Lille and several Belgian cities can be purchased for a set price (between 20 and 40 Euro), and you can choose your own train times. Be careful though--depending on the train, cities may be referred to either their French or Dutch names, which can get confusing.

By bus

iDBUS, the French bus-branch of SNCF, and Eurolines run coach services between Paris, Brussels, London, Amsterdam and Lille. Arrival at Lille Europe Station.

Get around

By subway

Lille has two subway lines that connect the centre of the city with several suburbs. It also has many bus lines that go throughout the city and two lines of cable trains that go to Roubaix and Tourcoing which are other important cities of the region.


Palais Rihour

Lille has a very nice city centre, excellently suited for a city trip. Most of the sights can be combined in a walking tour.

Must see

La Vieille Bourse






As a student city, there are many schools and universities. You can attend bachelor, master degrees in Lille or ask for a student exchange.

For any foreign students wishing to come to Lille, the following website could come in handy : Web Site du Crous




The Meert pâtisserie

Food lovers will find hundreds of little patisseries selling more cakes then they knew existed, as well as a number of chocolate shops. Guillaume Vincent (12 Rue du Cure Saint Etienne), sells exquisitely decorated chocolates that, judging from their taste, must have about 90% cocoa solids.

One of the more popular and affordable (but greasy) eating options are the multitude of kebab shops around the city. For a few Euro, you can get a hearty sandwich with shaved chicken or lamb with a side of frites. A local speciality is the kebab with "Fricandelles," or sausages that are native to this region. These are a great (and more local) alternative to a fast food chain for a quick bite.

Delicious stuffed waffles to be enjoyed at Meert (probably the most beautiful pâtisserie in France) on the Rue Esquermoise right next to the Grand-Place (place du Général de Gaulle) (Station: Rihour on Line 1), as well as at the new location at the Piscine (Museum of Arts and Industry) of Roubaix (Station : Gare Jean Lebas on Line 2)



More expensive






Go next

Courtray and Tournai: Belgian cities close to the French border, part of the metropolitan area of Lille. Easily reachable by train via cheaper special tickets, named Trampoline offers.

This article is issued from Wikivoyage - version of the Friday, March 04, 2016. The text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share Alike but additional terms may apply for the media files.