Background information | Contact details | Zoo | Lille City Pass

Green Lille: Citadelle,
Zoo, Bois de Boulogne, Jardin des Plantes


Vauban's Citadelle - the river is top right

Military stronghold
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 fort.

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.

Lille Zoological Gardens
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 reign.

Crowds at Lille Zoo
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: zebra
Lille Zoo's latest zebra, "Harry"
Lille Zoo's new turtle
Lille Zoo's new giant turtle, installed in the Tropical House Feb. 2002.

Botanical Gardens
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 picture below).


Lille's Botanical Gardens and Equatorial Greenhouse

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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 car park.
Directions: From 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 park.
From Lille city centre, take the Metro (scenic, but a bit of a walk from the station) or just walk..
Zoo information & bookings:
Parc Zoologique - Avenue Mathias Delobel - 59800 Lille
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:
zoolille@nordnet.fr - http://www.nordnet.fr/zoolille
Botanical gardens:
JARDIN DES PLANTES: From Lille city centre, take the Metro to Porte de Douai.
More information:
Lille Office de Tourisme
Tel: 00 33 3 20 21 94 21


See the city (well,, the green suburbs anyway...)
Take the Metro which rises out of its central tunnels taking you towards the Botanical Gradens and the Zoo
Background Information

Vauban's Fortifications
French capture of the Lille area

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