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.
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
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:)
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 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
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
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 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 best way to travel into Lille is by train. Since Lille is very central between Brussels, London, and Paris, it only takes a few hours from all these locations by TGV. From Paris, one need take a train from the Gare du Nord. From London and Brussels you need to take the TGV main trains.
The best way to get around Lille is by riding the metro. The metro is cheap, easy, and fast. It is a much smaller and less complex system than that of Paris, London, or New York for example. There are only two lines. To ride the metro you must buy and compost a ticket before you board. I would suggest buying day passes for the metro if you'll be hopping on and off frequently. These cost much less than if you had to buy a seperate ticket each time. You can buy these on any of the automated machines in the metro stations.
The bus system is also well used and organized in Lille, but I found it more confusing than the Metro. And of course there is always a lot of walking involved, my favorite form of transportation. :)
The photo shows a few of the main attractions in Lille and the map of the centre ville.
I arrived to the airport of Lille (http://www.lille.aeroport.fr/) but as I said before, if you're in UK, France, Belgium, the Netherlands, Luxembourg...) you can arrive by one of the modern high-speed trains. Remember that Lille is in the center of a very dense population area, with a very useful net of transports.
The best way to get to Lille is probably by train. The Eurostar from Waterloo International in London and from Gare du Nord in Paris come to Lille. The old train station is close to the Eurolille station. Trains serve both stations. Lesquin Airport (obviously in Lesquin) is close to Lille but poorly served. Before the advent of the Channel Tunnel, there were flights to LHR, but no more. A flight to Algeria, some to Nice, and a few far away French cities and that's it.
Parking in Lille is not too difficult. It's a bit hard to find in the city center, but not impossible.
From London, the Eurostar from Waterloo Station. Fares start at £79 return or even sometimes as low as £40 return during promotional periods.
I walked and walked and walked. The city center is within walking distance of the Eurostar station.
It could not be easier to reach Calais. With up to 60 car ferry and catamaran services daily, you can turn up and sail from Dover to Calais at any time of the day. Crossings on P&O Stena Line and SeaFrance superferries take from 75 to 90 minutes and 45 minutes on Hoverspeed's superseacats. Access roads from the port link directly onto the Autoroute network and the port is just a five minute drive into the town centre by car or by bus, which meets all ferry arrivals.
Alternatively travel to Calais on the frequent Eurotunnel services from Folkestone. The Eurotunnel Terminal is to the west of Calais at Coquelles and next to the huge Cite Europe shopping centre. The terminal also has a direct link to the Autoroute network and Calais town centre is a short drive.
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.
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!!