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Star of the north

Lille, capital city of the Nord department in northern France, is no longer a dirty old textile town, but an up and coming star of the north. Thanks to recent massive investment, the old city has cleaned up its act. In a makeover worthy of Trinny and Susannah, it has dusted and polished its buildings and its reputation and now presents a clean and very attractive face to a world which is increasingly keen to see it. The Eurostar service, running into the city from England, is a great help in opening up the delights of Lille to foreign visitors, be they investors, property seekers or simply tourists, and modern day Lille has something to offer all of them.

A historic city with a lively heart

Lille has a long and fascinating story to tell, involving periods spent under Spanish rule, times of involvement with the French Resistance, and times of heavy industry. All of which have mixed together to create the Lille that we see today. Harking back to the Spanish days, Lille still has a festival with a parade of giants, and for those for whom the Resistance movement still has resonance, the Grand Place is overlooked by the Voix de Nord building which housed the leading newspaper of the French Resistance.

Fashionable for shopping

Lille is currently one of France's most fashionable and popular shopping centres, with many visitors coming from both Britain and Belgium simply to shop 'til they drop! The pedestrianised centre is ideal for serious shopping, and some of the major French fashion designers have outlets here... great fun if you have the cash! For those who don't have that sort of money at their fingertips, there is still the joy of window shopping... or make for the old town where there are numerous cheap and cheerful curiosity shops and small affordable boutiques.

Culture and cuisine...

If you want to take in a little French culture followed by a little French food and wine, then Lille is a very good place to start. Voted European capital of culture (along with the Italian city of Genoa) in 2004, the city has a good complement of museums and art exhibitions, and almost an embarrassment of excellent restaurants and cafés where you can sample the local fare and enjoy a glass or two of wine.

Don't forget the beaches

In a rush to enjoy all the big city culture of Lille, don't forget that it lies close to some very lovely beaches. Dunkirk, famous for the rescue of Allied forces in the second world war, is well within reach. It is worth a visit both in terms of its historical importance and also in its own right as a beautiful part of the French coast. Pause for a moment to remember the heroic battles fought here, then allow yourself to enjoy the lovely clean sandy beaches and pretty dunes which are typical of this part of the coast.

Sports on offer

If you are of a sporty disposition, Dunkirk and the sea offers many possibilities, including swimming, sailing and windsurfing, and returning closer to Lille you can find golf, tennis, horse-riding and any other sporting and leisure activities.

How to get there

One of the great things about Lille is its accessibility from the UK. You can fly to Lille with Air France from Heathrow, or take a ferry to Calais or to Dunkirk. Travelling by road you will find the city off the A25 motorway, or perhaps you might prefer to take Eurostar from St Pancras to Lille. Should you wish to travel further into France you will find that Lille has excellent TGV links all over the country, making it an excellent base.

Property prices and availability in and around Lille

Property in Lille is steadily increasing in value, but has not yet reached a point where it is as costly as property in comparable British cities. This fact renders it a great investment opportunity, and current continued interest in the area from both foreign and French buyers should keep prices on the move in the foreseeable future.

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Lille AT A GLANCE

WHERE IS Lille?

Lille is located in the far north of France, close to the Belgian border. It lies in the north of the Nord department.

Lille Property Map

IN THE REGION OF NORD-PAS-DE-CALAIS

Nord-Pas-de-Calais Guide

Nord-Pas-de-Calais Property Map

IN THE DEPARTMENT OF NORD

Nord Guide

  Nord Map


Population: 226,800


Access: By air: Fly from Heathrow to Lille with Air France. By boat: Take a ferry to Calais or Dunkirk. By rail: Eurostar runs into Lille from St Pancras, and there are TGV links from the city to all over France. By road: The city lies on the A25 motorway.


Economy: The city is hugely economically successful, with diverse industries and an important geographical position.


Interesting fact: Lille was the birthplace of France's great president, General Charles de Gaulle.

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