Serving as a former merchant hub of French Flanders, Lille is the culturally-rich capital of the Hauts-de-France region. It boasts outstanding museums and world-class art galleries, as well as one of France’s most striking cathedrals.
Things to do in Lille
Established at the request of Napoleon I, the Palais des Beaux-Arts de Lille is one of France’s oldest and largest art museums home to a staggering collection of antiquities, old masters and contemporary works. Highlights include prominent paintings by Van Gogh, Monet and El Greco, as well as sculptural works by Rodin.
Spend an afternoon exploring the Hospice Comtesse Museum, which is set within a 17th-century hospice in Lille’s Old Town. Admire the barrel-vaulted ceiling of the old ward that’s now decorated with paintings, tapestries and period furnishings, then explore the charming chapel of the Augustine nuns and the medicinal garden.
A short train ride north of Lille takes you to Roubaix, where the fascinating La Piscine museum of art and industry is located within an Art Deco swimming pool complex. It was remodelled as a museum in 2000, with its central pool reflecting the ancient textiles, ceramic works, sculptures and industrial designs on display.
Visit the Basilica of Notre Dame de la Treille, Lille’s striking cathedral, which combines Gothic architectural elements in its contemporary design. It’s famed for the stained-glass rose above its entrance and features a museum of sacred art that exhibits the cathedral’s ancient Way of the Cross.
Getting around Lille
Lille Lesquin International Airport is around 15 minutes’ drive south of the city centre, which is around 1.5 hour’s train journey from Paris. Subways, buses and trains comprise the city’s public transport system, while many of Lille’s sights are within walking distance of one another.