The best way to describe the architecture of the new train station ‘Lille Europe’ is to say that when you walk towards the station in the rain, you just know before you even get there that the roof will be leaking. And sure enough, on the rainy day when I was there the roof was in fact leaking in several places. Every few minutes they played recorded announcements over the loudspeaker system, warning that the floors in some places might be wet and slippery.
This four-track station was planned in the 1980s and built in the 1990s for the purpose of allowing the EuroStar trains from London to make a quick stop in Lille, with no change of direction, before continuing on to Brussels or Paris.
Second photo: Appropriately, the ugly multi-lane speedway and viaduct that cuts across the top of the station is called Avenue Le Corbusier, named after the notorious architect and city-planner Le Corbusier (1887-1965).
Le Corbusier was one of those who advocated making cities fit for cars and thus unfit for people. Unfortunately he was very influential, like his contemporary Robert Moses in the United States.
As I wrote in one of my Zürich tips: “City planning to Le Corbusier consisted of tearing down historic city districts to make room for huge skyscrapers intertwined with huge freeways so the automobile could be the main form of transportation. In the second half of the twentieth century numerous cities throughout the world implemented his ideas, leading to the unlivable urban wastelands and high-rise slums that we all know today.”
(From my review of the Heidi Weber House by Le Corbusier on my Zürich page.)
Not surprisingly, it turns out that Le Corbusier was a Nazi-sympathizer and collaborated with the Vichy regime in France during the Second World War.
Third photo: Station Lille Europe from the north side, in the rain.
Fourth photo: In the station, looking down.
Fifth photo: Another strange thing about the architecture of this station is that the two tracks in this photo are open to view from the top and get lots of natural light, while the other two are hidden away in the cellar and have a dank and dusky feeling about them.
Address: 1, Place François Mitterrand
Directions: Location on OpenStreetMap
V’Lille bicycle station 82, Gare Lille Europe (299 Boulevard de Leeds)
Next: Train departures from Lille Europe
I booked my train trip from Frankfurt to Lille on the excellent Deutsche Bahn (German Railway) website. The plan was that I would take a German InterCityExpress train (ICE) from Frankfurt by way of Cologne to Brussels, change at Brussels North Station for Kortrijk and then change at Kortrijk for Lille Flandres.
If the German train service had been half as good as the website, that would have been a good plan, but of course the German ICE train was late so I missed my connection at Brussels North.
The information desks at Brussels North were of no use. The domestic information desk couldn’t help me because Lille is in France, not Belgium. The international information desk was closed (since there is not much international travel from Brussels North), and when it finally opened up they were quite baffled by my problem, since Lille is directly on the Belgian border and just barely qualifies as being international. One of their suggestions was to go to Brussels South Station and catch a TGV train to Lille Europe, which would have cost more and taken a lot longer than necessary.
Finally I figured out for myself that the trains to Kortrijk run once an hour, so I just loitered around until it was time for the next one. Changing at Kortrijk was no problem, so I arrived at the station Lille Flandres exactly an hour later than planned.
A quaint peculiarity of the train from Kortrijk to Lille is that it stops just short of the border at a place called Moeskroen (Mouscron in French), where the Belgian train crew gets off and a French train crew gets on. The French crew then runs the train for the remaining 20 km into Lille by way of Roubaix.
Second photo: Lille Flandres is an old station from the 19th century, and I had expected it to be more or less deserted, but in fact it was very crowded and lively when I arrived on a late Friday afternoon, with several trains arriving and departing and lots of cheerful young people on the platforms. (But I took this photo the next morning when it wasn’t so crowded.)
Third photo: The façade of the station Lille Flandres. This old station is still very much the main station of Lille, with over ten times as many train departures as the new station Lille Europe, which is just 500 meters away.
As of 2013, the old station Lille Flandres is being thoroughly modernized and rearranged so it will be able to handle even more trains and passengers in the near future.
Address: Place des Buisses, 59000 Lille
Directions: V’Lille bicycle station 25, Gare Lille Flandres
Next: Hotel Chopin
What struck me about the station Lille Europe is how few trains actually stop here. During the afternoon there are only two departures per hour on average, as opposed to twenty or more departures from the traditional terminus station Lille Flandres.
Apparently the only trains that stop here are through trains, for instance the EuroStar trains from Paris to London or Brussels to London, also the TGV trains from Brussels to various destinations in France.
Lille is NOT served by the Thalys trains, which go directly from Brussels to Paris by a different route.
Second photo: Access to the trains in Lille Europe.
Third photo: Departures from Lille Europe.
Fourth photo: The four tracks at Lille Europe are numbered 44, 46, 43 and 45. Perhaps someone can tell me why they chose these particular numbers, instead of (for instance) 1, 2, 3 and 4.
Fifth photo: Inside the station, looking down.
Address: 1, Place François Mitterrand
Directions: V’Lille bicycle station 82, Gare Lille Europe (299 Boulevard de Leeds)
Location on OpenStreetMap
Next: TGV from Lille to Paris
I just had a glimps of the Lille Eurostar station on my way to London; the stop is called LILLE EUROPE. Well, in Belgium half of the population still rever to Rijsel in stead of Lille.
On my way back I noticed many UK wine shoppers just were going to Lille for a quick Eurostar daytrip.
I first visited Lille by Eurostar directly from London with some friends from work, having taken advantage of an excellent promotional offer on day return tickets and we really enjoyed the train journey as part of the trip. It was a very comfortable and relaxing way of getting there and back and we found leaving from Waterloo Station and arriving directly in Lille, two hours later very convenient, as we had quite limited time in the city.
There is an on board café, where we bought drinks but we didn't try any of the food, as we had bought some snacks from the Marks & Spencers in Waterloo Station before we left.
I used it again, just before the service stopped running from Waterloo. It won't be as convenient for me any more but I hope I'll use it again anyway.
I have now travelled to Lille from St Pancras station, which is certainly very lovely to look at and the journey is faster too, but I do think it is a shame that for so much of the time in England the train runs through tunnels and besides, I like train travel so I'd much prefer to get a longer train trip for my money to having a shorter, faster one!
Eurostar is 1hr 30mins from St Pancras.
You spend 20-25 minutes in the tunnel.
Easy check in process, no restrictions on what you can take on train.
Passport control is quick, bag scanners like at airport, swipe your ticket and you're away.
Think you're allowed two suitcases per person and usual customs allowances on tobacco and alcohol etc.
No ticket checks on train, no food trolley (there's a buffet car though).
At Lille, station isn't the easiest to navigate. There's a main road (Ave Le Corbusier) which splits the station in two. This road leads to town.
You might also find yourself in the open space underneath this road. follow the direction of the road away form the station and you should end up near town.
Ps: Advance Eurostar tickets were £27.50 pp each way!!
The journey from London to Lille takes under two hours by train and hence Lille is a popular destination for people who fancy a weekend break or longer in France. Visitor numbers to Lille have increased hugely since the Eurostar first passed through in the 1990s. Lille is the first stop on the French side and, though many people continue to Paris and Brussels, more and more people are choosing Lille as a holiday destination.
Personally, I much prefer train travel to plane travel. It’s far more comfortable and I like the fact you can show up only 20 minutes before departure, not 2 hours as the airlines insist. We got a great deal on Eurostar: leaving London at 6am on a Saturday morning and returning at 9pm on the following night for about 55 pounds return.
Eurostar trains from London, Brussels and Paris stop at Lille Europe railway station. It's close to the centre and just 5 minutes walk from the other major rail station, Lille Flandres.
Convenience is the name of the game here, only 30 minutes check in is required, security is good though, all luggage is scanned.
Trains are large and comfortable and all seating is reserved.
Lille is very well connected to Paris, Bruselles ( Belgium ) & London by diorect superfast TGV ( or Eurostar )
Lille has two gare stations namely Lille Flanders & Lille Europe.
Lille also boasts o excellent Metro lines, bus system & tram lines also.
Eurostar goes directly to Lille from Waterloo, with a journey of just under 2 hours.
Alternatively, if you are arriving by ferry to Calais, you can get a fast train to Lille from Calais, and the journey time is around 35 minutes.
The easiest way to go to Lille is by TGV from Paris - one hour, convenient & cheap..
used to spend every two weekends in Paris or happened to me just to go for one evening in Paris and go back in the morning in my office in Lille:)
When you are taking the train to Lille, this station will be one of the two stations that you will be arriving at. The station is only a five to ten minute walk to the historical centre.
At Lille Flandres trains arrive from within France, including the TGV (high speed train) and from neighbouring countries. We arrived directly from Antwerp with the intercity (IC) in only 1.40 hours.
This station is quite close to the other station "Lille Europe" where the high speed train 'Eurostar' (between London and Brussels) has a stop.
Brussels-Lille: 40 minutes
London-Lille: 1.40 minutes
Paris-Lille: 1 hour
We caught the Eurostar train from London Waterloo to Lille.
It is so quick - only 1 hour and 40 minutes - and you are in the heart of Lille and ready for action!!
It is a relaxing way to travel. You only have to check in 30 mins before departure, so now hanging around in airports etc.
You can also catch the Eurostar from Paris to Lille, or from Brussels to Lille.
There are sometimes really cheap tickets available, so keep and eye out.
There are 2 train stations in Lille: Lille Flandres and Lille Europe. The second one is the biggest one from where the Eurostar to London leaves. From the first one, you can get to different cities in France or Belgium. Both are adjacent to one another and right into the city center, which makes the train the best option to come to Lille.
Not only the new station Lille Europe is worth seeing, also the old station Lille Flandres is wonderful. Most trains from Belgium and the North of France arrive here. It is only 10 minutes walking from Lille Europe, next to the large shopping mall and close to the city center. The metro has a stop under the station.