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The Great War (1914-1918) Forum

Is there much to do in Lille?


BelgianExile
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Hi,

I'm probably going to go up to Lille at the weekend - I've not seen round the Seclin museum as yet. Is there much to see around Lille apart from this? I don't know the area at all really.

Any suggestions welcomed.

Thanks.

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The Palais des Beaux Art is certainly worth a visit.

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There is a fort just outside the centre - sorry, can't remember the name, and a permanent second hand book sale in the courtyard of a large building in the centre.

Several restaurant are open 24 hour per day, although they charge extra between midnight and 6 a.m.

A very nice city.

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The Musee des Beaux Arts is worth a visit for the basement which contains the relief models of all the fortified towns in that part of the world. If I remember correctly the models were built for the French king by Vauban. Ypres is one of the towns included

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As above they are well worth a visit stunning in fact ,includes Gravelines and about 10 models all in all detail is superb ,the citadel is well worth a visit and most impressive .

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The battlefields of Neuve Chappelle, Aubers Ridge, Festubert and Fromelles are all within a few miles of Lille, including about 200 pillboxes still in existence. And Loos is only a short journey to the south.

Keith

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There is the Citadel in Lille, Vauban's masterpiece. Used by the Germans during WW1 and the British after the war. There's a walk around the walls which takes in various marked execution sites of French resistants (Trulin, Jacquet and others). For those with an interest in British SAD, the Ramparts were the site of the last three executions undertaken by the British army in early 1919. It's not marked but they took place on the same site as those of the Jacquet cell.

Just along the canal bordering the Champ de Mars is a bridge, le pont Ramponeau, erected in honour of Napoleon and his victories. As you look at it you can ponder which one of the three occupying German armies (1870, 1914 or 1945) has chiselled out all of his wins over the Prussians.

As others have noted there is the truly remarkable monument to the carrier pigeons used by the French during WW1. The monument is engraved with all of their battle honours. This is at the entry to the Champ de Mars, near the Citadel. A monument to the Jacquet cell is nearby.

Then there is the birthplace of France's most distinguished WW1 PoW, Charles de Gaulle in Rue Princesse. It contains the bullet-riddled car he was in when the attempt was made on his life, an event which inspired 'The Day of the Jackal'.

At the bottom of Rue Nationale there is Birdwood Square, complete with commemorative plaque, named in honour of Birdy who relieved Lille in October 1918.

As well as the Palais de Beaux Arts (the best provincial art gallery in France), there is the remarkable Piscine at Roubaix.

Afterwards relax in Meert's tea-room where de Gaulle, as a child, spent his pocket-money. If you want something stronger try the Bar Carnot, at the bottom of the Boulevard Carnot. It is a riot of Art Nouveau tiling dating from 1913 and is a listed building. My own favourite is Le Point Central around the corner from the Bar Carnot.

The standard of eating out in Lille has declined rapidly over the last few years, but try the Gré du Vin in Place des Ognions in Vieux Lille. Open for lunch only.

If you are there on a Friday evening try La Ducasse on rue Solferino. Friday night is accordion night. So-so food, great beer, wonderful ambiance. A working knowledge of 'La Vie en Rose' and 'Je Ne Regrette Rien' will ensure that you get the best from the evening.

Not WW1 but will appeal to every Brit is the house of René Bricoux, the cellist in the orchestra of the Titanic. He lived in a building in Place Lion d'Or, now occupied by a branch of Nicolas, the wine retailer. René left here one morning in April 1912, carrying his case and his cello, caught the train for Cherbourg in order to board the Titanic. The rest, as they say, is British cultural history

Enjoy.

Edited by Hedley Malloch
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