Lille Local Customs

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    Interesting Building!
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  • Local Customs
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Most Recent Local Customs in Lille

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    La Citadelle de Lille

    by johngayton Updated Sep 30, 2013

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    One of Louis XIV's first tasks after capturing Lille from the Spanish in 1667 was to commission the building of the Citadel, intended to be a heavily fortified town to which the population could retreat in times of war. The contract was awarded to the Marquis de Vauban, who was to build several other fortifications in the area, and was a massive project. The 4 metre-thick walls have a circumference of over 3km and required an estimated 3 million stone blocks and 60 million bricks.

    The Citadel was designed as a pentagon (which was the inspiration for the US Dept of Defence's Pentagon) with each corner having its own pentagonal bastion which allowed every wall a covering view of its neighbour. As an additional defence the immediate surroundings were moated and a flood system of locks and sluices could submerge 1700 hectares up to a depth of 55 cm.

    It was tested in battle during the Spanish War Of Succession and was laid siege to in 1708. Without support from the rest of the French forces (who had been severely defeated at the Battle of Oudenarde) the Citadel withstood the siege for four months and only capitulated when it ran out of powder. The Marshal at the time, Boufflers, was appreciated by both his enemies and the French command. In respect the successionists gave him and his men free passage from the Citadel which was especially appreciated by Louis who treated the defeat almost as a victory.

    The Citadel is still an operational army base and so casual visits are not allowed. However there is a guided tour every Sunday afternoon from 3 until 5 but this must be booked through the tourist office. Outside of the Citadel is the city's main park and the 3 km walkway which parallels the moat and walls is popular as a jogging track.

    As a little addendum - I see that they now use Soay sheep to graze the tops of the walls. The reasoning behind this being that these little semi-feral animals are quite happy with nibbling even at the most precarious angles and so obviate the need for expensive specialist cutting machinery. As an added bonus the Soay contribute towards the micro-ecosystem atop the walls by pollen and seed transfer. Being a big fan of Soay it’s good to see the little fellers being appreciated elsewhere - as much as I appreciate them here on Lundy ;-)

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    Place de la Republique

    by johngayton Written Oct 31, 2012

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    When this square was constructed in 1858 it was originally called Place Napoleon III and the name changed after Napoleon fell from favour. Here you'll find the Palais des Beaux-Arts which houses works by, amongst many others, Claude Monet, Rembrandt, Van Gogh, Van Dyck and Brueghel. This opened in 1892 and is considered one of the finest collections in Europe - http://www.pba-lille.fr/

    Across from the Palais des Beaux-Arts is the 1865 Prefecture de Lille, another fine building, and in the centre of the square is the rather incongruous concrete "Amphitheatre" which is the entrance to the Metro station.

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    La Deûle

    by johngayton Written Oct 29, 2012

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    Lille is France's 3rd largest river port with La Deule connecting to Northern Europe via the rivers Scarpe and Scheldt and to the sea by the River Lys. The section that passes through the city is more of a canal than a river, having been straightened and dredged to allow passage of largish goods vessels. It is however quite prettily tree-lined and its waters also feed the moat around The Citadel - just a shame it was a dull, rainy, day as the autumnal colours were just starting to come through ;-(

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    Not The Norm!

    by johngayton Written Oct 29, 2012

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    Wandering around central Lille it comes across as a well-kept city with a friendly, relatively easy-going, population and so I was surprised by these couple of incidents of artless grafitti. The patisserie in the main pic, that of Luc Olivier, has been in the same family for four generations, over 125 years, and so why it should have been targetted I don't know.

    As to the colourful little train in the park next to The Citadel...:-(

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    A Street With Two No-Entry Signs?

    by johngayton Written Oct 29, 2012

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    This is something you don't see very often - a street in a major city centre totally devoid of traffic of any form, not even other pedestrians.

    OK this is totally gratuitous use of the pic but it's the sort of street scene I like and it does showcase the old town's architecture. And yes I did check at the other end to see if there was another sign - there wasn't.

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    La Voix du Nord Building

    by johngayton Written Oct 29, 2012

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    A fairly modern, but still striking, building on the Grand Place is that of the regional newspaper group La Voix du Nord (Voice of the North). This Art Deco, with definite Flemish Renaissance touches, edifice was built in the 1930's but for whom I haven't yet found out. It became the home of Voix just after the Second World War.

    La Voix du Nord started out as a clandestine newsletter in 1941 produced by the resistance group of the same name. The first edition, in April 1941, was of 65 copies and the newsletter declared itself as anti-collaborationist as well as anti-occupation. During the course of the war the journal's size, frequency and circulation varied according to circumstances with its largest print run being an amazing 15,000 copies on January 1st 1943.

    Of course the Germans attempted to close it, and the group behind it, throughout their occupation but the Voix refused to die. An estimated 530 people were variously arrested, tortured and sent to the concentration camps for their involvement but by the end of the war the paper was still going.

    After the war it became a legitimate publication and took over its present building from which it is still produced.

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    Lille's Oddbod Of A Cathedral

    by johngayton Written Oct 29, 2012

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    Lille only became a Bishopric in 1913 but in the 1850's the Catholic Church decided to build a major Basilica in the city, on the site of the former Chateau. Work commenced in 1854 on what was designed to be a sumptuous Gothic edifice dedicated to the city's patron saint, Notre Dame de la Trielle.

    However despite an encouraging start work progressed very slowly and even the appointment of the city's first bishop, Alexis-Armand Charost, failed to speed up the construction. In 1947 the building was still only about three-quarters complete and because funds were not available it was decided to erect a brickwork facade and abandon the original plans.

    in 1990 work recommenced but to a more contemporary design. The brickwork frontage was demolished and replaced with the concrete panels now extant. This still took another nine years and the Cathedral was eventually completed in 1999.

    I have it on good authority (the Lille Metropole website) that the panels are designed to catch the suns rays and glow orange but since it always rains there seems to be no eye-witness reports of this being so.

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    Getting Into The Old Town From The Grand Place

    by johngayton Written Oct 29, 2012

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    Lille's Old Town occupies the northeastern corner of the central area and is immediately adjacent to the Grand Place. The gateway from there is through the archway with the "Restaurant Alcide" signage (main pic). This takes you onto the interestingly-named street, Rue des Debris Saint-Etienne. This is so-called because it was built on, and with, the debris from the Church of St Etienne which was destroyed during the bombardment by the Austrian army during the siege of 1892. Following this street takes you past the modern-looking cathedral and into the heart of the old town.

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    La Nouvelle Bourse

    by johngayton Updated Oct 29, 2012

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    Whilst the new Opera was being constructed the city authorities decided that they needed a new Chamber of Commerce too and decided to use the same architect, Louis-Marie Cordonnier. M Cordonnier had cut his teeth on civic buildings with the town hall at Loos, which at the time was a separate township and has since become integrated as part of the Lille Metropolitan Area. The most striking feature of Loos' town hall, which was completed in 1884, is its towered belfry and clock. A similar feature became one of the characteristics of the new bourse which is located next to the opera on Place du Theatre.

    Work began in 1910 but due to the German occupation during World War I wasn't completed until 1921. It certainly was worth waiting for tho'.

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    La Vieille Bourse

    by johngayton Written Oct 29, 2012

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    The Old Stock Exchange (as the title translates) was in fact initially constructed as a marketplace adjoining the Grand Place. Preceding the public/private partnership which led to the construction of the Euralille project by about 330 years this wonderfully ornate building was designed by the city engineer, Julien Destree in 1651 and built in 1652-53, at which time the city was still under Spanish rule The building comprises 24 identical residences, the cost of which was born by 24 of the city's wealthiest merchants. The ground floor of the building was to be used as shops whilst the inner courtyard provided the open air marketplace.

    It became the Stock Exchange in 1701 when the city was back in French hands under the stewardship of Louis XIV and housed that institution until the inauguration of the new bourse in 1921.

    It was majorly renovated between 1989 and 98 with the ground floor now hosting some very upmarket shops and restaurants whilst the inner courtyard hosts a book market every afternoon Tuesdays to Sundays. Unfortunately it was morning when I passed and so the arcade leading to the courtyard wasn't open...maybe next time.

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    Lille Opera House

    by johngayton Updated Oct 27, 2012

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    Lille's original opera house was built on this spot in 1788, during the period that the city's wealth came from its textile trade. The building was destroyed by fire in 1903 and the city authorities decided to award the rebuilding contract by open competition. This was won by the local architect Louis-Marie Cordonnier, who was also responsible for the Nouvelle Bourse next door, and work began in 1907.

    The project was almost complete by July 1914, with only finishing touches required, but then WWI broke out and Lille was occupied by the Germans who used the Opera House for their own productions for the next four years.

    After the end of the war it took another 5 years, during which period the whole city centre was being remodelled, for the Opera House to be fully renovated and finally premiere its first French production.

    The Opera closed again in 1998 for major renovations and was reopened in 2003 in time for the Lille's year as European City of Culture in 2004 since when the theatre has gone from strength to strength.

    Unless attending a performance the building is only open to the public on three open days a year but tickets for performances aren't particularly expensive with the cheapest priced at 5 Euros (Oct 2012). On Wednesdays there's an early evening foyer performance which begins at 1800 and tickets for these are only 9 Euros.

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    Where It All Happens - Rue Faidherbe

    by johngayton Written Oct 26, 2012

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    This is the street that connects Gare Lille Flandres to the Place du General de Gaulle and in most circumstances is one of the city's main shopping streets lined with small shops, cafes and a couple of hotels. However when festivals organised by Lille 3000 take place the street is transformed into a fantasy land. Unfortunately construction was still underway when I visited but check out this webpage for what was coming up - www.fantastic2012.com

    The street was built in 1869/70 as the rue de la Gare, at the same time as construction begun on the main railway station, and was renamed in 1889 in honour of the French General, and former Governor of Senegal, Louis Faidherbe who was born in Lille in 1818.

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    The Ski Boot

    by johngayton Written Oct 17, 2012

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    Interesting Building!

    Pictured is the Tour Credit Lyonnaise which was built at the same time as the Lille Europe railway station which it sits on top of. The locals, somewhat derisively, call it "The Ski Boot" but the architect, Christian de Portzampac, points out that the lower section is designed to use the space above the railway lines, like a sort of bridge, and then the tower itself is just another office block.

    The building was completed in 1995, a year after the station, is 120m high and has 25 floors in total. Love it or hate it - but you can't help noticing it.

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    September - The Braderie

    by grayfo Updated Sep 21, 2010

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    The first weekend of September sees the annual Braderie (all day on Saturday and Sunday, ending at midnight on Sunday), the city centre is closed to traffic all weekend and the streets are lined with market stalls, antiques and junk stalls. It's a bustling, colourful and fun filled festival with pop, jazz and rock concerts. The locals empty out their attics and sell antiques, bric-a-brac and all sorts of items in the streets like a gigantic car boot/table top sale.

    And then there are the mussels. Dozens of cafés and pubs offer Moules et Frites for between 8 and 10 euros, or 12 euros including a glass of beer. There is fierce competition to create the largest mound of used mussel shells by the end of the weekend.

    September 2002

    City Centre

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    Beer

    by barryg23 Written Jul 19, 2007

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    France is known more for its excellent wines than its beers and in most French towns I'd be trying the wines but Lille is an exception. Thanks to its location close the Belgian border, there are some excellent beers available in the bars and restaurants of Lille. Almost every pub in the city had a good selection but a good place to get a taste of the different types of beers is Les Trois Brasseurs on Place de la Gare. The beer is well priced here and they offer a Palette de Degustation which lets you sample 4 types of beer: blonde, brun, blanche and ambre.

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