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It belonged to his maternal grandparents, and his family was well-off, although it had lost its land in the Revolution almost a century before.With the help of family keepsakes and contemporary memorabilia the house is now a museum doing a good job of recreating a 19th-century bourgeois home.A simply enormous museum, Palais des Beaux Arts is behind only the Louvre for size.It’s in a lovely Belle Époque summer palace from the end of the 19th century, and you may need as long as half a day to get the most out of the museum and its art from the 1400s up to the 1900s.The verdant sculpture park is good for a stroll too, with contributions from Jacques Lipchitz, Eugène Dodeigne, Picasso and Calder.After conquering Lille in 1667 Louis XIV wasted little time reinforcing the city’s fortifications.

After more than 350 years La Vieille Bourse still a fixture of daily life in Lille; people come to play chess in the courtyard, and beneath the arcades there’s a daily flower and book market.The capital of the northern Hauts-de-France region, Lille has a reputation as a hard-working industrial city, and has a fabulous historical centre.Until it was invaded by Louis XIV in 1667 Lille was actually Flemish, and this heritage is clear in the city’s architecture.That classic Flemish style has also been adopted by more modern structures, like the art deco Voix du Nord building next-door, which was built in 1936 and has a high crow-stepped gable.At the heart of the square is the Colonne de la Déesse, put up in the 19th century to honour the city’s part in repelling the Habsburg Empire in the Siege of Lille in 1792.

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