Please sign in to post.

Louvre Lens and Lille

Hello everyone,
Every Christmas in the last few years I've picked a place in France to visit that I've not yet accomplished. This year I'm going to Nord-Pas-de-Calais and plan on using Lille as my base (before I get the ---just stay in Paris people, rest assured that I've seen Paris many, many times and am just doing something different).

Has anyone visited the Louvre Lens? The website says the museum is accessible from the Gare de Lens via a shuttle and 20-min path. Anyone have any encounters with this? Anyone visit from Lille? Thoughts? Impressions? Lunch suggestions?

Thanks!

Posted by
14444 posts

Yes, there is the Louvre in Lens, which I have not yet visited, but the town of Lens I've been to in all the visits to the Nord Pas-de-Calais area. It's best to get a rental car if you intend on visiting towns like Lens, Douai, Frevent, St Pol. or the beach towns...very nice and interesting too. Only in the summer time I've been there, even then I don't believe I saw any Americans in Arras centre ville and especially in the small towns and villages. That is going to be "something different." "They" say that even in the summer the Nord Pas-de-Calais area is the coldest in France, I wouldn't say that, Brittany is the coldest, Nord Pas-de-Calais I would say is the second coldest.

Posted by
1328 posts

Thanks so much for your kind reply. No worries about being the only American in town, I lived in a small city in the "Centre" region for a year after my undergrad and I'm fluent in French (actually a French teacher here in the states). I'm also from northwest Illinois, so cold is not a problem. I really look forward to exploring this region.

Posted by
14444 posts

Bravo! Fluent in French...un prof. extraordinaire. I wish that were the case with me on the language.

You also know that seeing that northern French area in the winter season, you're in Germinal country. Historically, I find northern France, ie from the Somme to the Belgian border , or Amiens to Lille (urban centers) absolutely fascinating.

Posted by
1928 posts

I have visited Lille a few days before Christmas in 2015 and I really liked the place. It`s a combination of a bit of Paris and a Flemish town as it is easy to explain as Lille was once actually Flemish and named Rijsel. Around the two main squares there is a maze of charming streets with numerous shops and little restaurants inviting to look around.

Interesting to visit is Palais des Beaux-Arts, the birth place of Charles de Gaulle and think too La Piscine in nearby Roubaix but still have to visit this museum. More info see: www.lilletourism.com/ and also if you look for Lille or Northern France using the search function here on top of the page.

Residents of Nord-Pas-de-Calais speak a variety of French and are also known as Ch’ti. As a kind of introduction you can view the movie: Bienvenue chez les Ch’tis.

Posted by
1328 posts

Wil, thanks for your thoughtful message. Lots of great suggestion! I actually just showed BIENVENUE CHEZ LES C'HTIS to my students in French 4 this semester. They absolutely loved it! Linguistically I'm impressed how they even made the movie funny with English subtitles!

Posted by
7055 posts

The art museum in Lille is worth most of a day, if that's your thing. That is, more time than "satellite" Louvre Lens. Supposedly "Apres le Diner" by Courbet was James Ensor's favorite painting when he was a student. Some train buffs want to see the elderly, automated subway trains you'll use to get to the Lille Palais de Beaux Arts. The two big Lille railroad stations are connected by a loooong passageway, no need for bus or subway, like in Paris. The New York Times had a big article a few years ago about Flemish food in Lille, France.

Posted by
1328 posts

Tim, thanks so much for the pointers! Art is definitely my "bag." Can't wait!

Posted by
1928 posts

Well I am used viewing subtitled movies, but with the Dutch version it is a funny movie too.

In Tournai east of Lille there is a little but nice Musée des Beaux Arts and houses in a purpose made museum by the Belgian architect Victor Horta. www.tournai.be/decouvrir-tournai/musees/musee-des-beaux-arts.html Btw Tournai is worth to spend a few hours.

If you like Henri Matisse there is a museum in his birthplace Le Cateau-Cambrésis. I visited Le Cateau a few years back for historical reasons and still regret skipping the museum. But think it is certainly worth checking out. http://museematisse.lenord.fr/fr/Accueil/tabid/40/Default.aspx
On the way you can have a stop in fortified Le Quesnoy, one of the projects by military engineer Vauban like the citadel in Lille during the reign of Louis XIV, in case it will interests you too..

Posted by
7055 posts

I looked up an old university-travel brochure I got a few years ago: "New Artistic Jewels of France". The material below is from that brochure, NOT a personal travel report. (My comments about the Lille Palais de Beaux Arts were first-hand reporting.) The tour operator is listed as International Seminar Design, Inc.

Lille Métropole Museum of Modern Contemporary and Outsider Art (LaM),
Musée de La Piscine (Pool Museum)-Roubaix
National Studio of Contemporary Arts, Le Fresnoy.
Louvre-Lens
Centre Pompidou-Metz
Cathedral of Saint Etienne-Metz (windows by Chagall and others)
Museum of Fine Arts and Ecole de Nancy Museum (Art Nouveau)-Nancy