Lying close to the Belgian border, Lille is a cosmopolitan city with strong Flemish roots and stands at the crossroads between France, the Lowlands and – since the arrival of the Eurostar in 1994 – England. No town in France has suffered more sieges down the centuries, but Lille wears its influences on its sleeves and the picturesque Grand Place is reminiscent of Brussels or Amsterdam.
Known as Rijsel in Flemish, Lille is also a bustling metropolitan centre that has coped well with the decline of local industry since the 1960s. It is famed for its bars and bistros, referred to locally as 'estaminets', and has a thriving cultural scene, as well as one of France's frontline art museums. Lille plays host to the biggest flea market in Europe, attracting around two million visitors each year on the first weekend of September.
Grand Stade Lille Métropole
UEFA capacity: 50,095
Record attendance: 45,497
Tenants: LOSC Lille
Opened: August 2012
• Located in the suburb of Villeneuve d'Ascq, 6km south-east of Lille city centre.
• AS Nancy Lorraine's Djamel Bakar scored the first goal at the venue on 17 August 2012, and although Salomon Kalou earned LOSC a point, Les Dogues mustered a solitary win in their first five home games there.
• The stadium's first taste of international sport came on 17 November 2012 when France's rugby union side defeated Argentina 39-22.
• The arena's retractable roof can be opened or closed in 30 minutes, while half of the pitch can be raised above the other for use in music performances and other sports.
• Constructed by the company behind the Millau Viaduct in Aveyron, the capacity is more than double that of LOSC's previous homes, the Stade Grimonprez-Jooris and the Stade Lille Métropole.