About as far north in France as you can get, Lille has numerous influences from neighboring Belgium. The architecture in the beautiful Grand Place has a distinct look of Flanders. The most beautiful of these buildings, the Vieille Bourse, the old stock exchange building, was built in the mid-17th century when Lille was part of the Spanish Netherlands, adorned with garlands and chubby cherubs in Flemish Renaissance style.
Vibrant, and full of young people attending the several universities, the city itself has only a few hundred thousand people, but the metropolitan area includes about 1 million. That means a sizable enough gay scene to attract the boys from Paris and London (only a couple of hours away) as well as the locals.
From the many downtown cafes with heated terraces, you can watch the world go by throughout the year. For full-service restaurants head for the pedestrian-only back streets in the Palais des Congres area. Lille’s Vieux Lille, or Old Town, is the gay neighborhood with bars and clubs clustered around the rue Royale and the rue de la Barre. The main cruising area is also at the end of rue de la Barre. Lesbian and Gay Pride Lille takes place in June. In September La Braderie is a giant two-day and night street marketplace, with a party atmosphere and people from all over the country and beyond.
Lille Lesquin International Airport is about 5 miles from the center of the city. Shuttle buses and taxis are standing by to take you to your hotel. The shuttles can be boarded just opposite the arrivals hall, for a trip of 20 minutes, costing 7 euros one way (9 euros round trip).
An important crossroads in the high-speed rail network, Lille is on the Eurostar line to London and also the French TGV network to Paris, Brussels and major French cities such as Marseille, Lyon, and Toulouse. The city's two railway stations are next door to one another: Lille-Europe station (Gare de Lille-Europe), serving mostly high-speed trains and international services (Eurostar); and Lille-Flandres station (Gare de Lille-Flandres), primarily for regular-speed regional trains. See SNCF, the French national rail service, for information in English.
Downtown Lille has a well-regarded system of buses, trams, and driverless metro trains. See Transpole for information, in English. You might want to rent a car to see the other towns and villages of this fascinating region.
Currency and Money
France is part of the Euro Zone, so the euro is the accepted currency. There are plenty of ATMs in the downtown area.
Têtu is the national gay magazine, packed with interesting features and profiles. It’s also one of the slickest gay magazines ever produced.
The Office de Tourisme de Lille, is the official site for what's happening in the city.
For map locations and website links to area businesses, see our gay Lille listings pages.