Here is what I learned about Lille:
- It literally means "the island." At one time, it was pretty much a big swamp/an island. The Cathedral was on the island. It was part of Belgium (not surprised), conquered by the Spanish, the Austrians, and is now part of France.
- There isn't a lot of green space here. In fact, per resident it has the least amount of green space per person in France. They just aren't tree huggers in Lille. And, cities make more money building houses. They won't make money off trees.
- The guillotine was last used to kill someone in France in 1977.
- The oldest brewery, Celestin, was built in 1740, and still exists today. I had a "triple blonde" with dinner, and it was very good.
- The city of Lille is about 240,000, but the metro area is 1.2 million.
- Most of the buildings are brick because there isn't a lot of stone in this area. There is a lot of clay around Lille to make the brick. When Spain was in rule, they changed a lot of brick to yellow and red after the colors of the Spanish flag. One part of the city was made by Belgians, who likes colored stone. The "white stone" in the city was made by the French. (Most buildings in Paris are white or gray).
- The metro system in Lille was the first automatic system (no driver) in the world, and they are quite proud of this.
After the walking tour, I had a private appointment at Spa Center Lille. Jacuzzi, sauna and steam room for 90 minutes. I thought being in the heat would be miserable today (because it was very sunny and warm), but the spa area was in the basement and it was nice and cool. It was heavenly! Dinner was a bit later in the old town. I can't go over how, at 10 p.m., it is still light outside. It really doesn't get dark until 10:30 p.m., so that is throwing me off a bit.
Tomorrow, it's a short flight from Paris to Porto, Portugal, where I will spend the next three days.