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Once an industrial city, Lille has reinvented itself as a cultural and business hub, with a metropolitan area that straddles the France/Belgium border along the Deûle River. Streets within the beautifully restored city center are lined with Neoclassical and Gothic Revival architecture. Add a sizzling dining scene and a fashionista's selection of boutiques and stores, and it's the perfect city escape.
With evidence of civilization that dates back 4,000 years, the city's historic buildings reflect various eras of French and Flemish history from the Middle Ages on, and include the La Vieille Bourse (1653) and Opéra de Lille (1923).
The art collection at the renowned Palais des des Beaux-Arts de Lille includes pieces from the 15th to 20th centuries. There is also a lively performing arts and theater scene to discover.
There is a longstanding culinary tradition in this city, offering everything from fine dining to gourmet street food, including a specialty in classic French and Belgian patisseries or pastries, cakes, chocolates, and waffles.
From shopping malls full of the latest designer clothes to open-air markets and chic boutiques, there is something for everyone's budget and taste.
The city's nightlife is busy and varied, including dance clubs and live music venues, bars and cocktail lounges, with a strong youthful component due to the large university student population.
With its seasonal climate, most tourists choose to visit the city from spring through fall, or April to October, when average temperatures range between 60 and 75 degrees.
Lille Airport (LIL) has convenient connections throughout Europe and within France. There is direct bus service that runs to the downtown area at EUR7.
Lille is a major European train hub, with many connections anywhere within the continent, including a 1-hour direct trip to and from Charles de Gaulle airport in Paris.
Lille has highway connections throughout France and northern Europe, including Autoroute A27 to Liège and eventually Germany, and Autoroute A1 to Paris.
FlixBus and OUIBUS are two of the major bus companies providing connections from Lille throughout Europe.
Stay in the historic Brueghel Hotel, with its beautifully ornate exterior and modern furnishings, located in the heart of the city. The Hotel Kanaï offers spacious rooms in a pedestrian-only area of the historic city center.
Vieux-Lille - this is the Old Town, where you will find architectural gems like the Notre Dame de la Treille church and opera house, along with boutique and souvenir shopping, and multiple dining options.
Lille-Centre - the more modern heart of the city is where you will find a busy district of theaters, restaurants, and nightlife venues.
Wazemmes - this area southwest of the downtown is home to a casual dining and nightlife scene, along with the huge indoor/outdoor Marche de Wazemmes flea market at Place Nouvelle Aventure.
Transpole provides buses, trams, and train system both under and above ground, providing extensive service throughout the city and suburbs. Fares start at EUR1.60, with a 10-ride card available for EUR14.
Taxis are plentiful throughout the downtown area. Fares start at EUR5, increasing by EUR1.90 for every 0.60 miles.
Driving is feasible in the city, although parking is at a premium in some areas. A compact rental starts at about EUR27.
Rue de Béthune in the old city is lined with small shops and boutiques. The ultramodern Euralille shopping mall is located on Avenue Willy Brandt, east of downtown.
Carrefour can be found in the city. A quart of milk costs about EUR1.10, and a dozen eggs will cost roughly EUR2.75.
Méert has been serving kings and commoners delicious waffles - or gaufres - made with vanilla from Madagascar since 1761, starting at EUR3. Enjoy the intriguing Flemish fusion dishes at La Petite Table, starting at EUR1.