Standing on the banks of the Deûle River close to France's northernmost border with Belgium, the city of Lille dates back to the tenth century when the Counts of Flanders built a castle on an 'island' of dry land entirely surrounded by marshes. Over the next two centuries L'isla ('the island') grew from a settlement into a city with an estimated ten thousand inhabitants and rose to prominence as a centre of trade and industry, gaining prosperity initially from textile production and later from coal and mining.
Lille's prosperity endured until the nineteen-eighties, when traditional industries began to decline. Consequently Lille embarked on an extensive programme of urban regeneration, embracing its wealth of historic buildings, landmarks and architecture and adding new public parks, galleries, museums, entertainment venues and shops.
The introduction of a high-speed rail service to Paris, itself connected to Britain by the new Channel Tunnel, in the 1990s cemented Lille's transformation into a desirable destination for visitors; an easily accessible, friendly and handsome city rich in culture, history and attractions.
Today, visitors can discover Lille's beautiful Flemish-influenced 'old town', admire the stunning central Grande Place and its surrounding historic buildings, be inspired by artworks both classical and modern in galleries such as the Musee des Beaux Arts or Musee d'Art Moderne or simply relax in one of Lille's many attractive parks and gardens.