Lille’s bike sharing system V’Lille has been operational since September 2011. I tried it in October 2013 and found it very easy to use, just like Vélib’ in Paris and Vélo'v in Lyon.
The cost as of 2013 is € 1.40 for a 24-hour subscription, € 7.00 for seven days or
€ 36.00 for one year. For the first half hour of each journey there is no extra charge, but after that it costs one Euro for each additional half hour. You can subscribe online at http://www.vlille.fr/, which is what I did, or on the street at one of the V’Lille stations that has a computer with a card reader for credit or debit cards.
In a series of tips on my Paris page I have described in detail how the system works, so I won’t repeat it all here.
There are some differences between the systems in Paris and Lille, but they are of little concern to the short-term user. The main differences are:
• V’Lille does not give any extra minutes for riding a bike up to higher altitudes, for the simple reason that in Lille there aren’t any higher altitudes. Lille is completely flat.
• V’Lille is not run by a private company, as in Paris and Lyon, but by the public transport authority Transpole. Opinions differ as to whether this is a good idea, but presumably time will tell.
• The specially designed V’Lille bikes are not built in far-away Hungary, but by a local company in Lille, so as to support the local economy and provide local employment.
• V’Lille provides not only spontaneous short-term rentals on the street, but also long term rentals for people who want to keep the bike at home. (Paris does this too, but independently of Vélib’ under the name of Roue Libre.)
Second photo: One of my V’Lille bikes at station 14 : Champ de Mars.
Third and fourth photos: Station 25 : Gare Lille Flandres.
Fifth photo: A rainy day at station 82 : Gare Lille Europe.
The red and white Velo-Antwerpen bikes in Antwerp, Belgium.
Bern rollt, free bicycles in Bern, Switzerland.
Metropolradruhr in Dortmund, Germany.
DB Call-a-Bike in Dresden, Germany.
NextBike in Dresden, Germany.
StadtRAD in Hamburg, Germany.
NextBike in Hamburg, Germany.
NextBike in Hannover, Germany.
DB Call-a-Bike in Karlsruhe, Germany.
NextBike in Leipzig, Germany.
Vélo'v in Lyon, France.
Bike sharing system le vélo in Marseille, France.
BikeMi has come to Milan! in Milan, Italy.
Vélib’ in Paris, France.
Free bicycles from Züri rollt in Zürich, Switzerland.
Next: Cycling in Lille
Like the rest of France, Lille has a long tradition of bicycle racing but is still undeveloped when it comes to the use of bicycles as a means of daily transportation.
I was surprised to learn that only 2 % of journeys in Lille are done by bicycle, which is pitiful when you consider that even Frankfurt am Main has reached 15 %, not to mention places like Münster, Copenhagen or Groningen, where bicycles are the routine form of everyday transport.
Since Lille is flat and has a large student population, it certainly has the potential to increase its modal share of cycling, and the city administration has set a goal of 10 % to be reached by the year 2020.
A limiting factor is the climate. It really does rain a lot in Lille. On one of the days when I was there it rained constantly from morning to night, so hard that even I decided not to cycle because I didn’t want to go to the opera in wet shoes.
Still, the city government is doing what it can to reduce car traffic and promote cycling – too little too late, in my opinion, but better late than never.
Lille has an active bicycle society called A.D.A.V. Droit au Vélo which lobbies for improvements in everyday urban cycling.
In Lille I learned that there is now a verb in the French language called biper (first conjugation, je bipe, tu bipes, il bipe, nous bipons, vous bipez, ils bibent, etc.) meaning ‘to beep’.
All the Transpole buses in Lille and vicinity display the slogan; je bipe, je passe, meaning ‘I beep, I pass’. The point of this is that whatever kind of ticket you have, from a single ride to a yearly pass, you have to swipe it against the reader at the front of the bus so it makes an audible beep, which tells the driver that you have a valid ticket.
In Paris they now have the same system on the trams and buses, but their slogan is more prosaic: je monte, je valide = ‘I get on, I validate’.
Back in the 20th century the verb they used for this was composter, which confused the locals and amused us English speakers because it sounded to us as if they were consigning their tickets to the compost heap in the garden.
Second photo: On the front door of the buses they have a more complete slogan: ‘Validation obligatory. I beep, I pass.”
Third photo: Here on the side of the bus it says: ‘I get on at the front. I beep, I pass.’
Next: Railway station Lille Flandres
On an average day there are about twenty-five non-stop TGV trains (Train à Grande Vitesse = Train of High Speed) from Lille to Paris. Most of these leave from the traditional main station Lille Flandres, but mine left from the newer station Lille Europe because it was coming from Brussels with just a short stop in Lille.
This journey from Lille to Paris took one hour and nine minutes, non-stop. The normal price was listed as 59 Euros, but since I booked well ahead of time I only paid 15 Euros for a ticket category called “TGV Prem’s”, which cannot be exchanged or refunded. (But for that price, who cares?)
The system of price categories for the TGV trains is rather complicated and seems to be different for each train, depending on the time of day and the number of seats still available. Seat reservations are required and are included in the price.
I booked my ticket online at voyages-sncf.com and printed it out at home. Since the system could recognize that my computer was located in Germany, the whole ticket including all the fine print came out in German (third photo).
The fine print said among other things that I had to show my identity card or passport with the ticket, and that I had to board the train two minutes before the scheduled departure time.
We left Lille-Europe on time and arrived at Paris-Nord on time one hour and nine minutes later. The ride was smooth and uneventful.
Train of Great Speed (TGV) Paris-Strasbourg.
TGV trains from Metz to Paris
TGV trains from Frankfurt to Lyon
Lille's original, and main, train station is the Gare Lille Flandres - the "Flandres" bit was added after the opening of the Eurostar station. Construction began in 1869 and was completed in 1892. The stations frontage was that of the Gare du Nord in Paris which was dismantled and brought here, by train of course, where it was reassembled with the addition of a second storey and the clock.
The station is used mostly by the TER Nord Pas-de-Calais regional services around Flanders, including into Belgium and is the terminus of the Paris TGV, which has a journey time of only one hour.
As expected the station hosts all the facilities expected and has its own metro station as well as easy connections to the bus and tram system. It is centrally located, stangely enough at Place du Gare, and is a couple of minutes walk from the Grand Place and about 5 minutes from Gare Lille Europe.
Lille Europe railway station was built specifically as an intermediate station for Eurostar services between London and both Brussels and Paris. It was completed in 1994 at about the same time the Euralille shopping mall and some of the modern office developments in the area which were part of the overall project.
This is quite a large station with all the facilities one would expect of a major city terminus (including more than one information booth!!!) and has excellent public transport links to the tram, bus and metro for local on-travel.
As well as Eurostar the station is used by TGV services, with the exception of the Paris trains which run from Flandres, and some regional trains also stop there. Most regional services however arrive and depart from Gare Lille Flandres which is a well-signposted 5 minute walk away, following Ave Le Corbusier.
Lille-Flandres is the main station of the city of Lille, France. It is a terminus for SNCF Intercity and regional trains and was only given the name Flandres when the Lille-Europe station opened in 1993. The station was built by Léonce Reynaud and Sydney Dunnett for the CF du Nord, the station's construction started in 1869 and was completed in 1892.
The front of the station is the old front from the Gare du Nord of Paris and was dismantled then reassembled in Lille at the end of the 19th century. An extra storey and a large clock was added to the original design though and the Hotel des Voyageurs was added by Dunnet in 1887.
Place de la Gare,
We spent all dya Friday and Saturdya walking round Lille. it takes about 15 mins to walk from one side of Lille to the other. Don't be fooled thouhg, this doesn't mean it's small!! Because the streets are mostly quite small, you can spend days walking round the centre and not go down the same street twice!
Neither of us are big walkers, but it is FLAT everywhere and very pedestrian-friendly.
I imagine a bike hire (available at Station and Zoo) would be a great way to get around too, but we didn't do this.
I read there's a fantastic Metro system, but I can't imagine you'd ever use it unless you were travelling to the outskirts.
Another thing I can't recall seeing were any Taxi's. I'm sure they're there, but we didn't see any!
Lille is so small it really isn't worth using public transport, unless you are desperate to see the VAL totally automated subway...and if so, just buy a one euro (one journey) ticket from 'Lille-Europe' (where you'll come in on the Eurostar) to the Rihour station (one change, two stops) which brings you out near Grand Place which is on the Southern edge of the old town. The musee hospice comtesse is 10 minutes walk and the Palais des Beaux Arts 15 minutes in the opposite direction...most of the streets are all cobbly anyway so there's no buses/trams.
All the time we were there I didn't see a bus or tram (they do exist apparently!).
You can get to Lille a number of ways:
By Eurostar train from Brussels/ London
By Eurolines coach from Paris, London, Brussels or other regional towns (see www.eurolines.com for further details)
By car, ferry or Eurotunnel from the UK
By train from Brussels, Paris and other regional towns
By walking around Lille, you see far more.
Lille is in the details - as I have read somewhere else!
Most ICE, IC and local trains will depart from Lille Flandres station as well as some TGV. All Eurostar and some TGV services depart from Lille Europe, just a few minutes down the road.
Stayed over on a reunion of some old friends. 5 of us had 3 rooms - the Eurostar fare from London...more
Wonderful Lovely stay Much pleasure Very central to everything Loved it Lovely paintings Staff greatmore
This may have been my first experience of a Novotel, and I've been a fan ever since - Paris, London,...more