Saturday, 27 February 2016

Sunday, 21 February 2016

Lille, France

Lille, in northern France, is a city of around 230,000 people.  However, this rises to over 1 million once you include the suburban communities which lie outside the city boundaries, while the wider metropolitan area which extends over the border into Belgium is home to more than 2 million.

The public transport system

Lille's public transport system is provided by Transpole.

In the city centre, at street level, you will see plenty of buses.

Many of the buses are powered by gas rather than diesel, and many have three sets of doors.

The roof-mounted gas tanks are clearly visible in these views.


I noticed some two-door buses in Lille.

From what I saw, these appear to be used on services reaching further out of the city, into the surrounding suburban communities.

In Lille, one of the bus services operates under the "Citadine" name.  The Citadine service is a circular route through the inner areas of the city.

Buses operating clockwise around the circle are numbered C1, with the C2 number denoting buses running anti-clockwise.


Other named services are "Lianes", which are high-frequency trunk services.  There is also a service named "La Corolle", which operates as a circle through the outer suburbs.

As well as standard single-deckers, articulated buses are used on some services.

The articulated vehicles have three sets of doors.

Small buses operate a shuttle service through the streets of Lille's old town. 

These vehicles are also powered by gas.

The shuttle, named "Navette Vieux Lille" (literally shuttle old Lille in English) operates on a hail-and-ride basis stopping anywhere on demand.

The Navette Vieux Lille operates as a circular service, operating anti-clockwise only, starting and ending near the city's main square.


Since the 1980s, trams have enjoyed a renaissance in France with a number of new systems being opened since then.  At street level, you won't see trams in the centre of Lille.  Nevertheless, the city is one of a number of French cities where trams operate.  The Lille system is one of three French tramways which date from more than 100 years ago.  It is still known locally as "le Mongy", after its constructor Alfred Mongy.

In the city centre, the trams operate from an underground terminus beneath Lille Flandres railway station.

This image was taken at Lille Europe, adjacent to the new station served by high-speed trains.

Outside the city centre, the trams generally run on dedicated alignments alongside main roads.  The system comprises a single route from Lille which splits into two branches, to Tourcoing and Roubaix.

Lille also has a metro system, dating from 1983.  This generally operates underground, although there are some above-ground sections outside the city centre.  When it opened, it was one of the world's first fully automated, driverless metro systems.

Fares and ticketing

At the time of writing, the standard fare is €1.60 for any journey on the Transpole bus, tram or metro system.  Interchange is allowed, although a single ticket cannot be used for a round-trip.  Single tickets can be bought on board buses or from Transpole vending machines at tram and metro stations and at certain bus stops.  Tickets must be validated at the start of the journey.

Packs of 10 tickets are sold, at a discount, from Transpole vending machines and from retail outlets, but these are not sold on board buses.

A short trip "ZAP" ticket is available for €1.00.  This is valid for journeys of up to three stops on the tram and metro, or for any journey on the Navette Vieux Lille.  It cannot be used on any other bus.

All-day tickets for 1 day, or any number up to 7 consecutive days, are available.  Prices start from €4.80 for a 1-day ticket up to €16.50 for a ticket valid for 7 days.  In addition, an evening ticket is available for €2.20 giving unlimited travel after 19:00 until the end of service, on any evening.  Evening and all-day tickets are sold at Transpole vending machines as well as at retail outlets.  Bus drivers used to sell the evening ticket, but no longer do.

Sightseeing tours

A sightseeing tour of the city is provided by City Tour Lille.

In many other cities, double-deck buses are used on such tours.  In Lille, a coach operates the tour.  The coach does have a retractable roof.

Cycle hire

Lille is one of the growing number of cities to have introduced a public cycle hire scheme.

The Lille scheme operates as V'Lille (website only in French).

Cycle taxis

Finally, Lille has a fleet of cycle taxis (website only in French).

These operate in the city centre from 11:00 to 19:00, Mondays to Saturdays.  A fixed zonal tariff applies.

Cycle taxis also offer sightseeing tours of the city.

Images in this post were taken whilst I was passing through Lille on a small number of occasions in 2014 and 2015.