Lille is another city that requires more than a day to explore. Its rich history is now mixed with well over 100,000 students. This insures a little something for everyone’s taste and budget.
We started, as always, at the Office de Tourisme. The helpful staff pointed us toward the favorite center of all Lillois, and off we went. There it was, the Grande-Place du Général de Gaulle, a glorious plaza to begin exploring.
Beautiful brick and stone buildings from the 17th to the 20th century surround the square, and in the center the statue of a Goddess commemorates Lille’s resistance to the Austrian siege in 1792. The founder of the Fifth Republic, de Gaulle was born in Lille in 1890, and his home at rue Princesse number 9 is now a museum.
The Old Stock Exchange is a striking sight, a Flemish baroque-style design built from 1652 to 1653, and comprised of 24 houses around an arched courtyard. Today, you still see the traders’ names above their “seats”; where booksellers now market their wares, and chess players outfox their opponents. A slight drizzle has begun, so we take advantage of the change in weather and find a little café, where we can watch the rhythmic bustle over a flavorful cup of coffee.
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