There is no lack of vibrant cities in France. In fact, even the little medieval city of Lille that many travelers would otherwise dismiss for boring – if they are not into history – has something bright and exciting to offer everyone. Lille’s historical winding…
There is no lack of vibrant cities in France. In fact, even the little medieval city of Lille that many travelers would otherwise dismiss for boring – if they are not into history – has something bright and exciting to offer everyone.
Lille’s historical winding streets are a treasure trove of wonderful centuries-old architecture. Medieval buildings and houses are plenty in the area and should delight any visitor who finds an immersion with history a treat. However, although the medieval theme is pretty much characteristic of Lille and makes up most of its charm, it is not the only reason why you should visit the city.
For one, it is also a place of interesting cultural experience where visitors get a taste of the fascinating mix of both French and Flemish influences. When you are in the area, you will notice that the city’s vibe is closer to that of Flanders than Paris – which, makes for a unique travel experience in the country of France.
Old Lille is a great place to start your exploration. It is rich in historical offerings and provides a perfect venue for those who want to gain a deeper insight into the city’s cultural evolution throughout the centuries. Have a pleasant stroll of the winding cobble streets and treat yourself to impressive architecture interspersed with charming shops and restaurants.
As you leisurely walk into the heart of the town’s old quarters, you will soon find yourself in front of the Flanders building, the Hospice Comtesse. This hospital dates back to 13th century and continued operating until 1939. It has since then been converted into a museum whose exhibits are certainly worth checking out. If you want to cool off for a bit, check out the lovely medicinal garden outside where you can just sit back, relax and enjoy the laid back atmosphere it provides.
If you want to see what life was like in Lille hundreds of years ago, you want to visit the city’s 10-hectare Open Air Museum. Explore the various real-life structures in the area such as thatched cottages, traditional farmhouses and seed barns. You can also find artisans at work in the museum’s craft shops. Pay attention to what they are doing and you just might pick up a thing or two from these clever craftsmen.
The Musee de Moulins is another interesting destination to discover especially for those who are fascinated by windmills and their technical characteristics. Here, you will get to see pivoting windmills at work which is usually a first for many city-dwelling visitors.
If you are looking for some visual treats, then your next visit should be Palais des Beaux. The building is already a masterpiece in itself and any architecture enthusiast will be content just checking the structure out. However, it is also home to Lille’s valuable art collection which is considered by many as second only to the Louvre in Paris. Inside, you will find a remarkable array of art work from the great masters such as Rubens, Raphael, and Donatello, among many others.
If you get thirsty after walking around the city, it is time to get a refreshing taste of the Lille’s famous Belgian beer. This beer is an attraction itself and considered to be the best Belgian beer in the world. So, you might want to note in your Lille itinerary that visiting the city’s bars is a must-do when exploring here.
Finally, if you happen to visit Lille during the first weekend of September, don’t miss the fun and revelry of Braderie de Lille. It is considered as Europe’s biggest flea market and is visited by millions annually. Experience controlled chaos with a carnival-like atmosphere where you’ll find hawkers, street performers and visitors scattered all over the city center and delightful items to take home as souvenirs.