Overview of Lille

Lille is the capital of Flanders, A city for the young and the young at heart

Just 25 years ago, Lille (Rijsel in Flemish) was a sad, run-down town with an ailing textile industry.

Since then local business has taken the town in hand and Lille has renovated itself to the point of chic, got itself onto the Eurostar train route and has filled its streets with designer shops, boutiques and countless gastronomic restaurants.

And all of this is packaged in a town of cobbled streets, quaint gabled architecture and beautiful buildings.

What’s more, no less than five motorways converge at Lille, it has its own airport and the high speed TGV train gets there in just 2 hours from London. The message is clear ‘welcome’.

In fact, tourists are so welcome that retailers have developed a ‘help-the-tourist’ programme. A group of helpers called ‘The Stewards’ dress in bright yellow jackets and patrol the busy areas in search of tourists in need. They answer questions, give directions, give out free maps of the city and generally act as friendly guides.

Lille is especially rife with activity, from street peanut vendors to the colourful markets and the spectacular range of designer wear from factory shopping and discounted haut couture.

In one small region you have a mix of Flemish and European style, culture and cuisine, historical monuments that talk of the past and offer modern shopping complexes that nod expectantly at the future.

The town’s achievement climaxed with the coveted award of the Cultural Capital of Europe in 2004.

It all combines to make Lille an ideal short break destination.