Discover the young and cultural city of Lille, whose Flemish influence can be seen not only in its architecture but also in the irrepressibly cheerful nature of its residents. At just an hour from London, Lille is the capital of the northern France region, lying on the border with the Flemish part of Belgium.
The Braderie de Lille is the biggest fleamarket in Europe and includes all kinds of fringe events and gatherings. Among the many boutiques and shops in Lille you'll find Europe's largest bookshop, the Furet du Nord, which has over 7,000 square metres of bookworm heaven, and often hosts cultural gatherings, debates and lectures.
The central square in Lille is named after General de Gaulle who was born in Lille. Admire the distinctly Flemish-influenced façades as you stroll among the arcades and galleries, and through the courtyard of the Vieille Bourse, a real gem of 17th century Flemish architecture.
Head to the Hôtel de Ville, with its belfry which at 104 metres is the tallest in Europe. If you're feeling strong, climb to top where you'll be rewarded with a magnificent view. After such exertion it's definitely time to sample the local fare: moules-frites and beer are in order.
The Palace of Fine Arts has the richest collection of any museum in France after the Louvre. It has a particularly fine collection of paintings by the Dutch old masters such as Rubens and Van Dyck. If you're visiting Lille with the family, the children will love the Lille Zoological Park which breeds endangered species, and has a rare white rhino called Christian. The Lille hot air balloon race is a fun event for families or with friends, you could even take to the skies yourself and find out what the fuss is all about.
As dusk descends on this university city, join the students and discover the buzzing nightlife in Lille with its many bars and clubs.
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