The residents of Lille are proud of their city and look after it well: the architecture of the old town has been superbly restored, bringing out the extraordinary beauty of the 17th century buildings, with their typically Flemish style. You'll enjoy strolling along the lively cobbled streets with their cosy restaurants, where you can enjoy local dishes such as carbonnade à la bière or flamiche au maroilles. When it comes to shopping, remember to pick up some delicious vanilla waffles, some of the famous bêtises de Cambrai or bric-a-brac from Wazemmes market or the famous Braderie de Lille.
The belfry, an iconic northern landmark, will delight you will its unique bells. Then head for the Vieille Bourse of Lille, 24 town houses with famous caryatids, where chess players come to play in front of the square's second-hand booksellers. Over its history, Lille has been Flemish, Burgundian and Spanish, before coming under French control under Louis XIV; this eclecticism can be found everywhere in the city, making it a fascinating place to visit.
If you're interested in the Middle Ages, don't miss the Palais Rihour, a superb remnant of the residence of the Dukes of Burgundy. The Vauban Citadel is also well worth a visit, before going to see the flamboyant Gothic architecture of the Notre Dame de la Treille Cathedral. A visit to the Palais des Beaux-Arts de Lille museum is a must, with its phenomenal collection of works by Van Dyck, Rubens and Goya. Then jump feet-first into the 21st century by exploring the LaM museum in Villeneuve-d'Ascq, one of the few museums to house collections devoted to art brut, modern art and contemporary art. The maison Cavrois, a modernist gem by the architect Robert Mallet-Stevens, is testament to the winds of change that have swept through Lille since the industrial age.
Lille is located between Belgium and Paris and is easy to reach by high-speed train, via Lille Europe station or Lille Flandres station. Lille Lesquin airport is just 6 miles from the centre and the city can be reached via several motorways: A1, A22, A23, A27 and E42.