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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
I'd like to get the opinion of British forumers on Lille. When I visited that French city twice a few years ago it reminded me a lot of a British city. I say a British city but I really only know London and Brighton, however, I've seen other major British cities on TV (or the Tele, as you say), as well as countless times here on skyscrapercity.

As I see other pics of Lille (France) here, as well as on Virtual Earth, I can't help think how British it looks in some parts. Now don't be too strict on what is British.

It's probably more correct to say Lille looks very Belgian, and I do find that to be the case. But I think it's safe to stretch it by saying it looks British and Dutch, as well. What is most British and Dutch-looking to me about Lille is how they have small but long, private (or co-op?) gardens behind apartments and attached houses like you see in many British and Dutch cities, instead of the more typical courtyard of Paris and cities further south (and beyond in Southern Europe). The preference for 2 to 3 story buildings and row houses is another reason, while in most French cities 5-7 stories is much more common. Then you have the extensive use of brick, especially brownish or reddish. Finally, even the streets and their general layout is very British and Dutch looking in layout/intersections in several areas of the city.

By the way, I found many similarities in Dutch cities to British cities that if I was forced to match the Netherlands, UK, France and Germany together I would match the Netherlands with the UK and France with Germany, rather than Germany to the Netherlands, and I only mean architecturally, not in the more cultural sense.

What do think? Before you judge, just look at these 3 bird's eye views of 3 French cities. Notice their use of couryards and higher buildings.




Ok, now this is Lille, near the Belgian border and very near the English channel, too! Some of these may be of the Greater Lille area.

Even in the City Centre, Lille seems quite British. In fact, in the City Centre it looks more British than Dutch to me. Here in this central area, Lille looks more like London than Paris!

Here it takes on a more Dutch look, maybe.

And now here are some shots by forumer Stef VDD he posted on another thread.








1,374 Posts
Discussion Starter · #3 ·
I agree with you, but I can also see a little French mixed in.

Yes, it looks like the 18th c. French style and 19th c. Empire style did not spare some of Lille's civic/institutional and some major privately-owned buildings (e.g. major banks).

In this website I read about the following styles found in Lille, which are the styles that make it very unique in France:

Flemish style

Flamboyant Flemish style

Franco-lillois (French Lillois)

But inevitably also:

18th c. French style

19th c. Empire Style (French)

More recent ones:



As for the rowhouses in the more residential parts of Lille and especially in Greater Lille, the website from where I show the above styles is referring to those rowhouses as maisons du Nord (North houses). When seen on street level they are not as Dutch or British-looking (like the town houses or terraced houses of the UK), but they seem more alike to something you'd find in Brussels (rather than Amsterdam or London). However, it's their rowhouse layout, 2-3 stories, with their own private, long, garden, that reminds me a lot of what I saw in London, Brighton and Amsterdam, and in the case of London and Amsterdam, the use of brown and reddish brick..

Or even this more recent, suburban ones, which remind me of what I would see in some Amsterdam or London suburbs:

I don't know of any other metro region in France other than the Lille metro region where you find rowhouses where the door leads only to your house AND in exchange for the living space you loose with a long, thin garden behind, you get all 2 or 3 stories of the house. Elsewhere in France, I usually see an apartment building where the door leads to the whole apartment building and you occupy only one floor and you get a street or courtyard view or both. And in more suburban parts, there may be both attached or detached houses but if attached it's usually not a true row for the length of street with clearly partitioned gardens like in British townhouses. It would be more like 2 or 3 houses attached but that's it.

Goddess of Winter
2,537 Posts

I don't know if you're all aware, but the city of Lille is now on Google Street View.

Having looked and taken a tour of Lille's streets, I can honestly say that it's the most "British" looking city I've ever seen outside of the British Isles.

I hope none of you French forumers take offence to that; in fact, consider it a compliment!
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