Lille in Northern France, a World Design Capital


Northern FranceCultural HeritageRemembrance TourismCities


Reading time: 0 minPublished on 4 January 2023

Historic Lille is renowned for superb french and flemish architecture, fine art and sublime cuisine, and its Recent transformation into a design destination.

Where is Lille?

An hour by high-speed train (TGV) to Paris, 90 minutes to London, and 35 minutes from Brussels, Lille is a metropolis where enriching destinations are never far away.

Diverse drawcards abound: from stone-paved streets and rich architecture in the old city (le Vieux-Lille), to Lille’s awe-inspiring Vielle Bourse, made up of 24 Flemish Renaissance houses and built around a courtyard. Visitors are equally enthralled by the Palais des Beaux-Arts collection (second only in scale to the Louvre), holding impressive collections from painters such as Rubens and Goya, sculpture by Rodin and Carpeaux as well as extensive Raphael drawing collections.

An easy 20 minutes from Lille, in Villeneuve d’Ascq, is the Lille Métropole Musée d’art moderne, d’art contemporain et d’art brut. It’s renowned for its fine collection of modern art (including Fernand Léger, Joan Miro, and Pablo Picasso among others).

Lille City Centre  Copyright Alexandre Traisne

Lille City Centre Copyright Alexandre Traisne

Lille awarded the World Design Capital 2020

France’s fourth largest city – once a hub of industry for textiles, machinery and chemical manufacturing – is attracting global attention of an entirely new kind in 2020. Having been awarded the prestigious title of World Design Capital for 2020, it is the first French city to receive this honour. Lille is standing proudly on the international design stage as it joins Seoul (South Korea), Helsinki (Finland), Cape Town (South Africa) and Taipei (Taiwan) as a World Design Capital.

Cao Fei_Asia One 2018 Inkjet print Copyright Cao Fei Cao Fei_Asia One 2018 Inkjet print Copyright Cao Fei

In 2020 this university town, with a student population of 115,000, close to 600 design companies and home to no fewer than 80 research centres, is a thriving hub for world-renowned urban designers. Lille’s galleries, warehouses, factories and cafés are ideal destinations for showcasing design excellence from every angle – whether that is urban design, industrial design or something different entirely.

RF Studio - Pod - credit Laurent Caron RF Studio - Pod - credit Laurent Caron

Eating out in Lille

Delicious food is never many unhurried footsteps away in Lille, whether in the ‘old town’ or its more modern hubs. Lovers of ‘bistronomy’ food (bistro meets gastronomy) will delight in the welcoming SOlange by former Top Chef contestant, Christophe Pirotais, whose pleasingly affordable menu is constructed around the local terroir.

Fans of one Michelin-star dining will delight in La Table by the talented Thibaut Gamba.

Or give Aromebase (8 rue des fossés) or Mozo (79 rue de la Monnaie) a try.

Grande Place in Lille Copyright VincentLecigne

Grande Place in Lille Copyright VincentLecigne

Where to stay in Lille

The boutique five-star Clarance Hotel in Vieux-Lille __occupies an 18th century townhouse and is home to a Michelin star restaurant. From the Clarance Hôtel, it’s also easy to access the old town’s numerous restaurants, bars and shops. It’s just seven minutes’ walk to Notre-Dame de la Treille (Lille’s cathedral). Whatever style of exploration travellers choose, a visit to Lille is bound to leave visitors enriched with rich memories of __art, culture, design and history.

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