Lille

Born from the ancient marshes that gave its name (from the Latin "insula" for island), Lille is the 10th largest city in France and sports a distinct Flemish flavor, thanks to its close proximity to Belgium. Devastated during the two world wars, Lille suffered further setbacks from decline of regional coal, mining and textile industries. But there's been a revival thanks to the opening of the Channel Tunnel and the arrival of the Eurostar train linking Lille with Paris (1 hr), London (1½ hrs), and Brussels (35 min). Extensive urban renovation added parks, shopping areas, art museums, restaurants, and a concert hall. The positive change is reflected in the residents, who've earned a reputation of courtesy and optimism.

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