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Visiting Lille-Flanders Railroad Station, Lille, France: fine, late 19th century neo-classicism

Updated on June 28, 2012
Flag of France
Flag of France | Source
Lille, France, vintage postcard No. 4
Lille, France, vintage postcard No. 4 | Source
Lille-Flanders station, Lille, Nord department
Lille-Flanders station, Lille, Nord department | Source
Lille-Flanders station, illuminated
Lille-Flanders station, illuminated | Source
Lille-Flanders station frontage
Lille-Flanders station frontage | Source
Map location of Lille, France
Map location of Lille, France | Source

A stately frontage; and what's in a name?

This building in Lille, in France's Nord deparment, was erected between 1869 and 1892.

Some history and features

Its architects were Léonce Reynaud (1) and Sydney Dunnett (2).

Its prominent, principal façade is executed in a stately, Neo-classical style, with prominent, symmetrical arching. Interestingly, materials from the Gare du Nord , Paris, were transported to Lille and used on the building. (Lille-Flanders railroad station looks now the way the Paris Gare du Nord looked in the 19th century!)

Regarding the name 'Lille-Flanders' (French: Lille-Flandres ) station, it is significant in a number of ways.

Firstly, the name differentiates it from Lille-Europe station, which receives the larger and faster TGV (French: Train à grande-vitesse ; 'high speed train').

In addition, the spelling of Lille-Flandres is significant. Because although in Belgium one of the country's constituent states is known as Flanders (Dutch: Vlaanderen ), its spelling in French used in Belgium, is different from the one used in France, which denotes a wider area: in Belgium, the singular is used: la Flandre . But in northern France, of which Lille is one of the chief cities, the plural is used: les Flandres . So it can be said that Brussels is the capital of Flanders (Dutch: Vlaanderen ; French: la Flandre ); but Lille is the capital of Flanders (French: les Flandres ) in the wider sense of the term. And by the way, all a French person visiting Belgium has to do to betray his or her origin is to say: les Flandres , when referring to a part of Belgium!

So: all roads are said to lead to Rome and in Flanders (les Flandres ?) all railroads seem to lead to Lille-Flanders station.

June 28, 2012

Notes

(1) Other well-known buildings for which Architect Reynaud was responsible included Héaux de Bréhat lighthouse.

(2) Architect Dunnett also designed the railroad station at Tourcoing. At Lille-Flanders, as it is now called, Architect Dunnett was responsible, among other areas of the complex, for adding the Hôtel des Voyageurs .

Also worth seeing

In Lille itself, other noted buildings include: the Birthplace Museum of General Charles de Gaulle; the belfry of the Chamber of Commerce; the 17th century, former Stock Exchange; the tall belfry of the City Hall; the former Rihour Palace (now a tourist information centre) and many others.

Armentières (distance: 18 kilometres) has a Flemish Renaissance Town Hall and belfry.

...

How to get there: Brussels Airlines flies from New York to Brussels Airport (Brussel Nationaal / Bruxelles-National ), from where car rental is available. Brussels is the nearest large airport to Lille (distance: 129 kilometres). Please check with the airline or your travel agent for up to date information. Please refer to appropriate consular sources for any special border crossing arrangements which may apply to citizens of certain nationalities.

MJFenn is an independent travel writer based in Ontario, Canada

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