Grand PlaceLille Centre Ville Laurent Javoy 8 Min
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Place du Général de Gaulle the beating heart of Lille

One of the city’s most emblematic landmarks, Place du Général de Gaulle leaves no one indifferent. This is no doubt due to the colorful facades that surround it and to its monuments steeped in history.

The origin of Grand Place

Designed exclusively for commerce to satisfy the population’s need for food, the Grand Place was first built in the Middle Ages. Built on a large marshy area, it underwent extensive drainage work to accommodate the grain market in the 14th century. The imposing Vieille Bourse (Old Stock Exchange), around which trading took place, bears witness to these exchanges and to the town’s wealth. Numerous commercial, religious and political establishments gradually moved in. Since 1944, the square has been named after General de Gaulle, in tribute to the Lille-born former head of state.

Why do we say Grand Place?

Originally, the square where all trade took place was huge. Although it evolved over the centuries, the most significant change took place in the 17th century, when the stock exchange was built, separating the Grand’Place from the Petite Place, now the Place du Théâtre.

A remarkable architecture

Lille’s Grand Place is an open-air stage for the evolution of architectural fashions, customs and influences. The city’s geographical position is visually apparent. Next to the Vieille Bourse, the rang du Beauregard bears witness to a Flemish influence, while the Grand-Garde, now the Théâtre du Nord, represents French-style architecture.

Several key figures women

Let’s start with the Column of the Goddess with the Bottle of Fire, a statue erected in 1845 to commemorate Lille’s resistance to Austrian soldiers in 1792. It was sculpted by Douais artist Théophile Bra, while the column was designed by architect Charles Benvignat. To the left, the three graces crowning the Voix du Nord building were created by Raymond Couvegnes. They symbolize three of the region’s provinces: on the left, Artois carrying a Newfoundland, in the center, Flanders holding a sheaf of wheat, and on the right, Hainaut letting a carrier pigeon escape.

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