go to content go to search box go to global site navigation

Lille

History

Lille owes its name – once spelled L’Isle – to the fact that it was founded, back in the 11th century, on an island in the River Deûle. In 1667 the city was captured by French forces led personally by Louis XIV, who promptly set about fortifying his prize. Long the centre of France’s textile industry, the miserable conditions in which its ‘labouring classes’ lived were exposed by Victor Hugo in the 1850s. Lille’s textile industry has declined but the city has shown renewed vigour and self-confidence since the TGV came to town in 1993, followed a year later by the Eurostar from London.