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Situated in north-eastern France, not far from the Belgian border, Lille was once a major coal mining center. Nowadays, the city is better known for its fabulous Palace of Fine Arts, the finely-restored 17th century town center, and the bars and restaurants around Grand-Place - the heart of the city. Lille has also benefited from major rail upgrades, with the arrival of Eurostar services, and renovations to the train station Gare de Lille-Flandres - one of the most important rail hubs in northern France. Opened in 1842, the station is easily reachable from the city centre, and there should be a range of ways to do so.
If travelers need to travel to the train station from Lille city centre, there are a few ways to make the trip. Assuming travelers start their journey at Grand-Place, the best route will usually be to hop on the Lille metro. A driverless light rail network with good coverage of the city's central neighborhoods, the metro runs from Grand-Place (Rihour station) to the train station Gare de Lille-Flandres in just two minutes.
Those coming from Grand Palais can also take metro services, while travelers who are transiting from Eurostar services can walk from the Gare de Lille Europe, which is 200 meters north-east of the train station Gare de Lille-Flandres. LAM - the main modern art museum - is slightly further away. In that case, a combination of the 32 bus and metro line 6 would work. Finally, those heading to the station from Lille Airport can take Navette shuttles directly to their destination, or use a mix of buses and metro services.
The station at Lille is very well-situated for those coming from central areas, and transfer times will always be fairly short. Grand-Place is just a third of a mile (around 450 meters) from the Gare de Lille-Flandres, which means that metro connections will take just two minutes, and it will only take 5-10 minutes to walk to rail services. Grand Palais is two-thirds of a mile away (one kilometer), and metro links take 2-3 minutes. However, the metropole Museum of Modern Art (a major local attraction) is about six miles (nine miles) east of the city centre, and transfers will take 25-35 minutes via buses and metro trains. Those arriving by air will also have to travel further to reach the train station. Lille Lesquin Airport is eight miles (12 kilometers) south of the city itself. Navette shuttle buses will take 30 minutes to reach Gare de Lille-Flandres, while bus and metro combinations take 35-40 minutes in most cases.
Lille's tourist and travel authorities have worked hard to make metro and bus services more suitable for mobility-impaired travelers, so it should be possible to travel to a train from Lille city centre without major problems. There are elevators at all metro platforms, providing enhanced access to trains, while audio announcements make life easier for the visually impaired. Two-thirds of buses have wheelchair access ramps fitted, which may make bus transfers slightly less appealing. However, Navette services from the airport are all equipped with aids to assist those with limited mobility. At the station, everything is laid out with disabled travelers in mind, including toilets, ramps, escalators, and ticketing facilities. Dedicated staff can also be requested to provide extra help, via the Belgian national carrier SNCB. 48 hours prior notice will be needed to recruit a suitable staff member to provide assistance.
The Gare de Lille-Flandres is nestled in north-central Lille, not far away from a host of popular attractions. That's good news for anyone who has a couple of hours of spare time before their train departs, and is wondering what to do near the train station. Grand-Place is a good place to start, with the 17th century Bourse, book markets, public chess games, and the Theater du Nord. To the north, the Hospice Comtesse Museum provides a fascinating recreation of a 17th century convent, while there's often a major trade or art event to attend at the Grand Palais. Lille's metro network makes it easy to explore all of these central attractions without roaming too far away from the station. Affordable ZAP tickets are an excellent option, letting travelers visit three stops on the network, for less than the cost of a single fare.