- Region: Nord-Pas-de-Calais – borders Belgium
- Rich “Ch’ti” culture in the region – Ch’ti designates a native of Northern France
- Regional dialect, signature dish is mussels and French fries, local beers, maroilles is signature cheese.
- Other cities in Nord-Pas-de-Calais worth a visit include Dunkerque, Calais, Arras, Boulogne-sur-Mer, Valenciennes, and Roubaix.
City of Lille:
- Fourth largest metropolitan area in France, largest in Nord-Pas-de-Calais
- Population in the city : about 226,000
- Population in the Lille Métropole, including numerous suburban communities : about 1,091,400
- Weather: temperate oceanic climate; summers do not reach high temperatures, but winters can fall below zero temperatures. Precipitation is above average year round.
- Home of four major universities – large student population
- Home of Palais de Beaux Arts de Lille – second most expansive museum in France after the le Louvre
- “European Capital of Culture” of 2004
- Lively night life on Rue Solférino and throughout the city
- Jardin Vauban and Citadel public parks are blocks away from the University.
- Written by Elise Panko who studied in Lille Academic Year 2011-2012
Holidays and Celebrations
France consists of 22 regions which vary not only in landscape but traditions, customs, food, and dialects as well. Each region has a lot to offer and worth a visit to discover their hidden charms. Here are just a few holidays and celebrations that you should check out while you are in France!
La Fête des Rois (Epiphany of twelfth night) - January 6th: With this French holiday you are in for a treat! Delicious cakes called Galete de Roi are sold and shared through out all of France. The cake comes in two varieties, one with pommes (apples) and other with frangipane (almond paste). Hidden in the cake you will find a fève (usually a small plastic figure) The person that finds this becomes the king and will put on the crown that is provided with the cake.
La Chandeleur - February 2nd: On this day in France it is a tradition to eat crêpes. So find your self a French friend and try to make it a goal to get invited to someones house for some delicious galetes (savory crêpes) and/orcrêpes.
Carnivals in the spring: By the end of February and beginning of March you will see many Carnivals passing though France and the rest of Europe. One of the most famous is in Nice. However, something close to Lille is called Carnival de Dunkerque . This is a very famous carnival in the North. The tradition is for all the men to dress up as women. It is a day of festivities that is definitely worth a visit.
La Fête du Travail - May 1st: This is an international labor day. On this day it is a tradition to sell flowers. Don’t be surprised to see flower stands all throughout the streets
Summer brings many festivals. One in particular that stand out is La Fête de Musique. On this day you will not go without hearing music everywhere, people set out in the middle of any corner they can find and perform. Although the most famous is in Paris, Lille has many opportunities to enjoy this very charming French holiday.
La Toussaint - November 1st: France's version of All Saint's Day. Most schools and universities will have vacation around this time.
Advice when travelling in Lille and France
- You can rent a bike for a period of a week, a month, or a year.
- For train tickets, there are special reduced prices for people under the age of 26. You must apply for a card called Viva, and the applications are available in the Beaux Art and Lille-Flanders train stations.
- RyanAir is a very low-cost airline that flies all over Europe. There is a RyanAir airport in Charleroi, Belgium and is easily accessible from Lille by shuttle.
- For more Lille transportation information, visit the Lille Metropolitan Transport website.
- Written by Elena Woiciechowska who studied in Lille Academic Year 2011-2012