Lille is the fourth biggest city in France, with about 220,000 inhabitants. It is the main city in the region north of Paris and is close to the border with Belgium. Control of the city has changed many times, mainly as a result of marriages rather than invasions. It has been ruled by counts of Flanders, dukes of Burgundy, the Hapsburgs of Austria, and by the King of Spain. The French king Louis the Sixteenth besieged the city in 1667 and took it after nine days, after which it has remained part of France. Louis built a citadel here to strengthen its defences (this is still used by the army, and is only open to public visitors by special arrangement).
Typical meals from this region include moules frites (oysters in cream sauce, served with French fries), waterzoï (a fish soup) and potjevlesh. These can be enjoyed with a Belgian beer, such as Leffe.
Sightseeing & shopping
Euralille is a large indoor shopping centre, located near to the Eurostar train station. It includes over 140 shops on two levels.
Wazemmes street market takes place every Sunday morning.
The Braderie is a large street market in Old Lille, held on the first weekend in September (all day on Saturday and Sunday, ending at midnight on Sunday). It is Europe's largest flea market, with about 10,000 stalls and more than 1 million visitors.
La Vieille Bourse
La Vieille Bourse is the city's finest building, dating from about 1652. At that time Lille was part of the Netherlands: the two lions above the entrance gate are a symbol of this (in the centre you see the "fleur de lys", which is the city's emblem). Inside the cloister there are usually bookstalls. The stone engravings show a variety of interesting designs.