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Saturday, 22 July 2017

Spring Trip 2017 - Lille - day one

I left the Waterloo tour in Brussels for a stay in Lille.

In the seventeenth century, Lille was part of the Spanish Netherlands; in 1667 during the War of Devolution it was lost to French forces led by Marshal Turenne. The city surrendered in September 1667 following a siege conducted by Vauban. Under the Treaty of Aix-La-Chapelle of 2nd May 1668, Lille became part of France.

Louis XIV ordered Vauban to fortify the city.

Vauban's Lille, the Citadel (bottom left) and bastioned city walls

The Citadel is HQ of 43rd Infantry Regiment 
Most of the city walls were demolished in the 1890's. Access to the Citadel is severely restricted, just a couple of hours on Sunday afternoon which have to be prebooked through the Tourism Office so I was unable to visit, again. However, the wooded surrounds are open so I saw a lot of the exterior.

The Tourism Office gave me a street map. The guide said that all of the walls had been demolished but two gates remained, the Porte de Gand and the Porte de Roubaix. On reading the map I could see there was more.

First - the Porte de Paris. In 1685, Louis ordered a local architect Simon Vollant to design and construct a new gate into the city, in the form of a triumphal arch.

A very grand and imposing entrance to the city, over the drawbridge and through the gate

I am not sure how this would relate to the Vauban's wall. It is freestanding, like an island, I could not see any stonework that suggested it was part of or connected to the defences.

Next, not far from the gate is the Noble Tour, the only remaining tower of the 65 towers that were part of the medieval city walls.
During the 14th and 15th centuries, Lille was part of the lands of the Dukes of Burgundy. In 1402, Duke Philippe II decided to fortify the city against the French  and had new walls built. These took 20 years. This tower was the only one used by Vauban. He had it restored and used as a powder supply depot which suggests to me that the tower was a very strong and substantial building.

The tower is now a Memorial to the Resistance and to those deported.
Also in this area is the Fort de Reduit. The walls are gone but these lovely buildings are used as the recruitment centre for the French Armed Forces.

Vauban designed, this was originally called Fort Saint-sauveur and can be seen on the map as the free standing small fort between two bastions on the right near the Porte Des Malades.

Back in the city centre, this beautiful building is another by Simon Vollant
Here ended day one. Beer was required.

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