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Lille's Old Town and Cathedral

Explore the Old Town's shops, markets , restaurants & architecture
Lille Cathedral

Thirty years ago a group of Lille citizens set out to rescue what was a near derelict slum area threatened with demolition and redevelopment. Today restoration and the revival of trade has brought out the charm of the old buildings, where people like Mozart stayed......

A Sunday morning stroll
On Sundays, when most of Lille's shops are shut, the Old Town (Vielle Ville) is buzzing with people going for a stroll.

They might be buying ingredients for Sunday dinner in the markets, flowers for the table, or fresh-baked bread; browsing in the hundreds of interesting small shops with fashions, furnishings, gifts, antiques, art - or sitting to enjoy a coffee or a glass of something in a cafe, chatting and reading the Sunday newspapers.....

1. The Place du Concert has a market three times a week, and is surrounded by lively cafes and restaurants.
2. the Rue de la Grande Chaussée is one on the oldest streets in Lille. Now lined with fashionable shops, it was once where boatmen hauled their barges past rocky rapids on the River Deule.
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This design won 3rd Prize in a public competition for architects held in 1854 - the winner was similarly ambitious, and took nearly 150 years to be completed.

France's most recently completed cathedral
Before the Revolution, the church of St-Pierre in the middle of Lille's Old Town was home to the shrine of 'Notre Dame de Treille' - a statue of the Virgin Mary which was credited with many medieval miracles and, by order of the Countess of Flanders, was paraded through the streets of Lille in the annual festival.

In 1793 the church was destroyed - but the sacred statue was hidden, and brought out again when Napoleon made an agreement with the Catholic Church in 1802.

By 1854, Lille had grown to a much bigger city: it has a new railway to Paris, thiving cotton mills, and a growing population that justified having its own bishop, with a cathedral church.

1. In 1947, a temporary front of brick and breeze-blocks. 2. The new facade finished in 1999. 3. Inside, the light shines through translucent sheets of marble, and the stained glass window by contemporary artist Kijno.

France's most recently completed cathedral
A competition was held to choose the best design. Work started on the ambitious project, and by 1913 the part-finished cathedral was being used by the new Bishop of Lille.But it was perhaps too ambitious: due to wars and economic troubles, little progress was made. It was decided to create a fine modern facade to complete the building as it stood - about half-built - in time to celebrate the Millennium in 2000.

Background information
The Church in Nord Pas-de-Calais
French Revolution 1789

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Cathédral Notre-Dame de la Treille, 12 rue Jean Moulin, 59800 LILLE
In central Lille, 10 mins walk from Rihour Metro
Information/ reservations:
Tel/fax: 00 33 3 20 31 59 12 (answer machine service)




River Trips © Copyright 2001 Invicta Media. Last updated 19th February 2001