When people think of France, they usually think of Paris—and while there's no doubt the City of Love is beautiful, there is more to France than this particular city.
For instance, Lille is welcoming, cozy, and one of the finest cities in the country.
This posh city is located in the northernmost part of France and is close to popular destinations like Belgium and London.
It's the perfect place for a weekend getaway or a winter holiday.
It is highly underrated and offers a blend of culture, fun, and food.
There’s a lot one can do to keep themselves entertained here.
It is known for its luxurious couture brands, so most people come here for shopping.
There are also lots of lovely hotels and fancy restaurants.
If you're after great food, excellent shopping, architecture, museums, and galleries, consider the charming city of Lille.
These are the best things to do in Lille, France:
Go Sightseeing at the Grand Place
La Grand'Place or the Grand Place is one of the most famous tourist attractions in Lille.
This public place is always bustling with locals and tourists from all around the world.
It usually serves as a venue for events, such as Christmas markets and various French ceremonies.
The top attraction here is the statue of a goddess known as the Colonne de la Déesse.
It's located in the center of the Grand Place and was built to commemorate the Siege of Lille by the Austrians in 1972.
This open area was dedicated to commerce in the mid-century, and the Vieille Bourse or the Old Stock Exchange is the deluxe symbol.
The Vieille Bourse represents the intricate Flemish architecture and is one of France's oldest stock exchange buildings.
Opposite that, there is a beautiful garden in the open square made for the public.
The plaza is surrounded by Belgian-style buildings.
Tourists often start their tours of the city at this location.
Meet the Animals at Zoo de Lille
Located inside the 3.5-hectare Parc de la Citadelle, Zoo de Lille is quaint yet extremely well-maintained and hygienic.
The entrance fee is relatively cheap, and visitors can see lots of exotic animals inside the zoo.
It has 450 different animals from over 70 species.
The zoo is a part of the International Conservation Program for endangered species.
The compounds surrounding the animals are huge and natural-looking.
The park is divided into seven basic areas based on geographic location.
There are zebras and rhinos in Les Terres d'Afrique, while the American zone contains alpacas and tapirs.
There are red pandas, lots of exotic birds, reptiles, monkeys, and more.
It is the perfect place to visit if you are traveling with kids.
Say Your Prayers at Lille Cathedral
France is known for its intricate cathedrals.
One such decorative church is located in Place Gilleson, Lille.
The construction of this aesthetic principle church began around 1857, while its white marble facade was completed years later in 1999.
The cathedral has eight chapels designed in the Victorian-Gothic style.
Each chapel features scenes from the lives of Jesus, the Virgin Mary, and the saints.
Lille Cathedral is marked as a national monument because of its divine history and over-the-top design.
You can easily reach this church by train.
You can come here to pray or simply witness this church's remarkable interiors.
Inside, you'll find a tall church organ and vast 20th-century stained glasses, including an asymmetrical rose window.
Take a Walk at the Beautiful Vauban Garden
The garden in Boulevard Vauban is a mid-19th-century masterpiece.
It comprises a cave, a waterfall, and pleasant beach and oak paths.
Vauban Garden was constructed in 1863 and houses over 20,000 species of flora and fauna.
There are gentle, green lawns around pools.
The gardens have vast ancient trees and flower beds.
The place is filled with nature and is perfect if you are planning to go for a leisurely walk or want to be connected closely with nature.
The garden is picturesque, and the waterfalls are mesmerizing.
It would stun one to see such natural views in the city.
In addition, Vauban Garden is also decorated with statues of prominent French figures.
Gaze at the Art at the Lille Museum of Fine Arts
The French are best known for their fine arts and architecture.
If you are amused by the French culture, you must take a trip to the Lille Museum of Fine Arts, located in the 19th-century building of the Place de la Republique.
This museum is the second biggest fine arts museum in France and features a vast number of artistic displays.
The museum's magnificent collection includes works from the Middle Ages and modern times.
There is also a collection of art from the Renaissance period.
Besides those art forms, there are Russian paintings, European paintings by Rubens and Goya, and French paintings and sculptures from the 19th century.
The museum holds various events and exhibitions throughout the year.
Catch a Glimpse of the Citadelle de Lille
This pentagon-shaped site was constructed by the famous 19th-century French architect Sébastien Le Prestre de Vauban.
It was built after the French annexed Lille in the year of 1667.
Visitors are restricted inside the Citadelle de Lille; however, one can walk through the outside area of the fortress and have a glance at its beauty and history.
The fortress comprises around 60 million bricks, and its earthwork details are known to be some of the best and most beautiful in France.
It was named a historical monument in 1934 and is still occupied by inhabitants.
The site can be viewed from the inside only through tours organized by the city's tourism office.
Visit the Place Rihour
The Place Rihour is crowded all year round and conducts festive events at all times of the year.
As the winter season sets in, the place is decorated with Christmas lights and ornaments.
During this time, its streets are filled with stores that sell Christmas gifts and delicious baked foods.
The Christmas markets of Place Rihour offer the perfect opportunity for shopping, sightseeing, and enjoying delicious food.
You can also shop for handmade arts and crafts, packed and sent from Spain, Russia, Canada, and Poland.
Among the Place Rihour's specialties are its red wine and crispy gingerbread cookies.
There is also a monument here that depicts Lille's war history.
Climb the Belfry of the Town Hall
The Belfry of the Town Hall was constructed in 1932 and is one of the highest bell towers in France.
It is around 100 meters tall and is identified as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The building was built in the old district of Saint-Sauveur.
The bell tower is inspired by neo-Flemish architecture, made entirely of red bricks, and features a concrete carved stone way.
The site is served by Mario de Lille Metro, and the public can climb the staircase that leads to the top.
The Belfry of the Town Hall hosts a number of modern, present-day works that represent the decorations of various municipal halls.
You can spot the bell tower all the way from the North Sea.
Party All Night at the Braderie de Lille
The Braderie de Lille is an annual street flea market that opens on the first weekend of the month of September.
It was started back in the 12th century and is one of the city's treasured traditions.
Every year, more than three million visitors come here to shop at the flea market, eat food, and have the time of their lives.
The event includes a carnival, music, and other live concerts, along with restaurants that are open all night.
Adults and teenagers from around the country come here to party all night.
One must definitively plan their trip to the city around this time, as it is exciting to be surrounded by tons of people that come together to party and visit Lille's attractions.
Travel Back in Time at Old Lille
You might have guessed by its name that this place must be located in the heart of the older parts of the city of Lille.
Time has stopped here, and one can visually see what the city looked like back in ancient times.
It is called Vieux-Lille in French, meaning "Old Lille."
You can identify the city's original Flemish roots, including the famous red-brick buildings, while you walk down the tapered, improvised streets.
The city has more of a Belgium touch than French, due to its closeness to Belgium.
There are lots of things to explore here.
You can hire a professional guide that will walk you through the entire site and provide you with detailed information on the importance of each monument you stumble across.
Go on a Trip to the Stunning Place du Theatre
The Place du Theatre is Lille's finest must-see site.
It is the path of the first district of Paris in France.
The Vielle Bourse joins the Place du Theatre and is located to the north of Grand Palace and the other two squares.
The important sites here are the Opera de Lille and the Chambre de Commerce et d'Industrie du Grand Lille.
The Opera de Lille is remarkable and is a prominent part of the square.
The bell tower of the Chambre de Commerce et d'Industrie du Grand Lille can be viewed from various parts of the city.
The inside of the theater is luxurious, splendid, and embellished with dazzling jewels.
Have a Wild Night at Le Latina Café
When you travel to a new destination, it can be fun to enjoy a night of partying after a long day of sightseeing.
One best way to do so is to visit Le Latina Café, located at 24 Rue Massena.
The cafe is for people with wild hearts who are always ready for crazy adventures.
It is the most hyped cafe in the city and is a must-try.
This is the place where tourists and locals come to drink, party, and eat.
If you come to Lille and you don't visit this cafe, can you even say you've been to Lille?
There are plenty of fancy restaurants and hotels nearby the cafe in case you are tired and want to call it a day.
Enjoy a Shopping Spree on the Streets of Lille
You can't end your trip to Lille without going on a shopping spree.
It's a must to at least shop for souvenirs to remind you of your trip to the city.
The streets of Lille are known for their branded stores and boutiques.
You could drive to Rue de la Grande Chaussee to shop for goods from top-end brands.
On top of that, there are also many streets that offer affordable brands, perfect for those shopping on a budget.
Other Things to Do Nearby
Visit the Grand Villa Cavrois
In the nearby suburb of Croix, Villa Cavrois is one of the finest works of the famous architect Robert Mallet-Stevens.
Tourists come to this mansion all the time just to see the artist's work in real life.
It was built for the industrialist Paul Cavrois and was completed in 1932.
Visitors can sight the fine artisanship and modern details that make this mansion a true masterpiece.
One can also notice the reconditioned rooms keeping the original dimensions, lighting, and artwork, along with all the furniture that got refurbished.
It is the most fascinating site to visit.
It was bought by the city and was named a historical monument.
It took 13 years for the place to be completely reconstructed.
Spot Different Types of Art at La Piscine
In Roubaix, 20 minutes away from Lille, La Piscine is an art and history museum.
La Piscine was built between 1927 and 1932.
It used to be a swimming pool and is now a literal swimming pool of art and a must-visit spot for art fanatics.
The museum exhibits ornaments, such as paintings and white-washed and colored sculptures and drawings.
There is also a wide range of registered arts that include texture, fabric, furniture and fashion.
The paintings are dated from the 19th to 20th centuries.
There is a room that has a botanical garden filled with plants used to make fabric.
The museum holds around 15 exhibitions each year.
La Piscine is a fabulous reconstruction of the swimming pool and a beautiful place to visit.