A city at the crossroads of several European capitals (Brussels, London, Paris), Lille has asserted itself as a true cultural centre since its success as European Capital of Culture in 2004. Rich in heritage—notably a renovated industrial heritage—Lille is part of the network of Cities and Countries of Art and History. Divento invites you to discover its formidable cultural dynamism in three days!
By Lise Hostyn
Start your first day by visiting the Hospice Comtesse. Located at the corner of rue de la Monnaie and rue Comtesse, this former hospice is a real architectural and artistic gem. The Hospice Comtesse is worth a visit for its architecture as well as for its art collections. You will be dazzled by its architectural charm, particularly that of the inner courtyard, which is a combination of 3 centuries of architecture: from Flemish baroque to French classicism. As you walk from room to room, you will discover carved furniture, Flemish paintings, gold and silverware, crockery and also temporary exhibitions.
A few steps away, you can visit the attractive Cathedral of Notre-Drame-de-la-Treille, one of the city's most important monuments. Its neo-Gothic style and impressive contemporary façade that looks completely different from the rest will sure make an impression. Welcoming many tourists, the cathedral also offers exhibitions and various cultural and musical events throughout the year.
Five minutes away, the Lille Opera, built at the beginning of the 20th century, offers a programme that is both sophisticated and accessible to all. Located in the heart of the city, the architecture of the Lille Opera is sumptuous. Its imposing facade, highlighted by a vast staircase and very wide steps, is one of the unmissable photo memories of Lille. This façade is also used every year for a video show: the Video Mapping Festival. You will discover operas of course, but also dance shows, concerts or Happy Days. Perfect for music lovers!
End this first day by visiting the Saint-Maurice church, located in rue Pierre Mauroy, a stone's throw from Lille Flandres station. The Saint-Maurice church is one of the largest and most beautiful churches in the north, built in a gothic style. You won't be disappointed by the interior either!
For this second day, head for the old ramparts of Lille when the city was fortified, the Porte de Paris. At first a discreet gate, used to access a leprosarium under the name of Porte des Malades, it became a major and majestic gate thanks to Louis XIV under the name of Porte de Paris. And for several centuries, it was an unavoidable and privileged passage for all travellers wishing to enter Lille from Paris. What strikes visitors at first sight is the massive appearance of the gate with only a small opening in the middle, which gives it a very military look. The Porte de Paris is also very popular with Mapping artists!
Continue your journey by walking eight minutes to one of Lille's joys: the Palais des Beaux-Arts. With 22,000 m2 of floor space, including 12,000 m2 of exhibition space, the museum offers nearly 2,000 works from a collection of over 70,000 pieces. Sculptures, paintings, ceramics, relief drawings, prints, coins, medals, seals... the diversity of the works will knock your socks off!
If you are in the mood for a theatrical evening, take a look at the programme of the Théâtre Sébastopol because it is one of the most famous French theatres. With its acoustics and its 1,450 seats, it is also one of the largest theatres in the city. Don't miss the opportunity to see a show in this magical place!
For this last day, the unmissable La Piscine Museum in Roubaix is definitely the place to go in the region. This swimming pool converted into a museum is a masterpiece of Art Deco. Its pool has been transformed into a sculpture garden and its shower cubicles have been converted into showcases, making it a place that is as grand as it is unusual. Enlarged in 2018, the museum continues to attract thousands of visitors who come to admire its collections. Ceramics, earthenware, decorative arts, textiles, paintings and sculptures are all on display. A must-see!
End your stay with a visit to the LaM, Lille Métropole Museum of modern art, contemporary art and art brut. If you like modern art, this place is guaranteed to make your day. After four years of renovation and expansion, this museum has more than 4,500 works on display. What's more, this place is a really 'alive': between permanent collections and temporary exhibitions, the LaM draws particular energy from its library, its café-restaurant, its auditorium and its many workshops for a varied public. It's the perfect place to end a cultural weekend in Lille.