10 largest cities in France




Lille is a city in northern France, prefecture of the Nord department and capital of the Hauts-de-France region. With 232,787 intramural inhabitants at the last census in 2017, Lille is the tenth most populous municipality in France, but also the main municipality of the European metropolis of Lille, which brings together 94 other municipalities including Roubaix, Tourcoing and Villeneuve-d ' Ascq and has nearly 1.2 million inhabitants.

In its French part, its urban unit and its 1,037,939 inhabitants make Lille the fourth largest agglomeration in France behind Paris, Lyon and Marseille, while the 1,182,127 inhabitants of its urban area make it the sixth in the country behind these same cities. , as well as Toulouse and Bordeaux. More broadly, it belongs to a vast conurbation formed with the Belgian cities of Mouscron, Kortrijk, Tournai and Menin, which in January 2008 gave birth to the Lille-Kortrijk-Tournai Eurometropolis, the first European Grouping of Territorial Cooperation (EGTC), which totals more than 2.1 million inhabitants. It also exerts an important influence on a territory of more than 3.8 million inhabitants called “metropolitan area of ​​Lille”, highly urbanized and dense, including in particular the old mining basin of Nord-Pas-de-Calais and the agglomerations. from Arras and Cambrai.

Important cultural center at the crossroads of Picardy and Flemish areas, its name in Old French (L'Isle) and in Latin (Insula) comes from its supposed primitive location near an island in the marshes of the Deûle valley where it was founded. The origin of its name in French Flemish, and in West Flemish would follow from the translation of the Latin name Insula in Middle Dutch ter ijs (s) el. The name Rijsel is only used in the Flemish region of Belgium, the Dutch using the name “Lille”.


Even today in France nicknamed the “Capital of Flanders”, Lille and its surroundings belong to the historic region of Romanesque Flanders, a former territory of the county of Flanders not forming part of the linguistic area of ​​West Flemish. A garrison town (as evidenced by its Citadel), Lille has had an eventful history from the Middle Ages to the French Revolution. Very often besieged during its history, it belonged successively to the kingdom of France, the Burgundian state, the Holy Roman Empire and the Spanish Netherlands before being definitively attached to the France of Louis XIV at the following the war of succession of Spain at the same time as all the territory composing the historic province of French Flanders. Lille was still besieged in 1792 during the Franco-Austrian war, in 1914 and in 1940. It was severely tested by the two world wars of the twentieth century during which it was occupied and suffered destruction.

Merchant city since its origins, manufacturing since the sixteenth century, the industrial revolution made it a great industrial capital, mainly around the textile and mechanical industries. Their decline, from the 1960s onwards, opened up a long period of crisis and it was not until the 1990s that the conversion to the tertiary sector and the rehabilitation of disaster areas gave the city another face. The creation of the automatic metro in 1983, the construction of the new Euralille business district from 1988 (today the 3rd in France behind La Défense and Lyon Part-Dieu), the arrival of the TGV in 1993 and the Eurostar in 1994 placing Lille at the heart of the great European capitals, the development of its international airport, annual events such as the Braderie de Lille which takes place at the beginning of September (two to three million visitors), the development of a student and university center (today, with more than 110,000 students, the 3rd in France behind Paris and Lyon), the City of Art and History ranking in 2004 and the events in Lille 2004 (European capital of culture) and Lille 3000 are the main symbols of this renewal. In 2020, the European Metropolis of Lille will be “the world capital of design”.