Vauban's Citadelle - the river is top
On the edge of the city centre, this
massive star-shaped fort was built in a rush between 1667
and 1670 - for three years, all other building projects in
the Lille area were banned, while all available workmen and
materials were pressed into service, building what became
regarded as a masterpiece of military engineering - the
"Queen of Citadelles".
It was started as soon as French king Louis
XIV had captured Lille and the northern region, as part
of a chain of forts to secure France's border against the
Spanish empire in the Netherlands.
Louis XIV's military engineer Vauban
channelled the nearby river Deule into moats that around the
Four centuries later - a green
playground in the heart of Lille
Today the green wooded park area around the Citadelle
extends over 50 hectares. Called the Bois de Boulogne, it is
popular with joggers and families out for a stroll in the
park or a visit to the Zoo.
Most of the walls that once surrounded the old town of
Lille were demolished in the late 19th century - leaving the
Citadelle as a reminder of Lille's strategic significance as
a border city.
In the gardens around the Citadelle, you'll find
Lille's really well-run city zoo - playing its part in
conservation by breeding rare and endangered species in
captivity, without capturing specimens from the wild. Since
1991, it has been transformed into a modern zoo where
numerous births show it is succeeding in its aim of giving
its animals a spacious living environment where they can
feel at home.
Guided tours start at the 'Porte Royale', a fine stone
gateway bearing the sun-symbol of Louis XIV, and a fresco
representing the arts that flourished under his
Lille Zoo is popular with families
New additions include a 14-year-old 2.7 tonne White
Rhinoceros "Christian", born in captivity in a Dutch
zoo; some Zebras and Ostriches in the new African Park.
Male zebra "Harry" joined "Thelma" and
"Louise" in the African Park, making breeding
possible. More developments are planned for the 21st
century. Each of these are endangered species, under
threat in their natural environment.
Lille Zoo's latest zebra, "Harry"
Lille Zoo's new giant turtle, installed in the Tropical
House Feb. 2002.
If you're on the south side of town, you'll enjoy a
walk in the Jardin des Plantes.
Open to the public since 1948, it has a stylish
greenhouse displaying tropical plants from South America -
housed in an all-year round tropical heatwave (see
Lille's Botanical Gardens and
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Locations: CITADELLE, ZOO and
BOIS DE BOULOGNE: Bus line no.14, get off at "le Parc de
Loisirs de la Citadelle" near the Champ de Mars
A1 autoroute towards "Dunkerque", take exit "Vauban";
follow signs to "Citadelle".
From A22 autoroute, take exit "Lille Centre", follow
signs to "Vauban Citadelle". look for "Champ de Mars" car
From Lille city
(scenic, but a bit of a walk from the station) or
Zoo information &
Parc Zoologique - Avenue Mathias Delobel - 59800
Entrance FREE: no admission for dogs or bikes.
Tél.: 00 33 3 28 520 700 - Fax: 00 33 3 20 57 38 08
Zoo email & web site:
JARDIN DES PLANTES: From
Lille city centre, take
the Metro to
Porte de Douai.
Lille Office de Tourisme
Tel: 00 33 3 20 21 94 21
See the city (well,, the green suburbs anyway...)
the Metro which rises out
of its central tunnels taking you towards the Botanical
Gradens and the Zoo
capture of the Lille area