Not far from Lille, situated in a beautiful town called Roubaix, you can find one of the most interesting museums in the area. It's a very old swimming pool which houses a good collection of sculptures and paintings, including one by Picasso. We could not resist going to the cafeteria on our way out, to eat the sweet waffles which are typical of the area.
Roubaix was named by the French Ministry of Culture city of history and art. In the year 1911, is was the European center of fabric. All Northern France is full of factories that make the best fabrics, clothes and costumes of the country. The climax came when the city hosted international exposure of cloth, and that was when the "hotel de ville", the lovely town hall opened. It is a work of architect Victor Laloux, constructed to the glory of the textile industry, because at this time of industrial expansion it was thought that the success of the city was going to last forever. But in the year 1914, during WWI, the city suffered, and the textile industry the most. It continued a bit, but in the 70's there was a crisis, and it was only 10 years ago that the city again became an economic center. But the structure remains, and today it is the seat of the city council. There is a part that became an art gallery and one that is a tourist information office.
The church of San Martin de Roubaix is the city's oldest church, in fact it's the oldest building, be it a home or historic building. The first church from the late ninth century was replaced by a building of three naves of which the 1511 bell tower can still seen. The industrial city grew very fast with the incredible development of the weaving sector and workers came every day to work in Roubaix. The architect Charles Leroy was asked in 1848 to enlarge the church so he conceived a building of five naves in gothic style, as you can see at the southern gate. The church of St. Martin Notre Dame has very beautiful works of art, stone sculptures of Tournai (a nearby city) and an altarpiece (the decorations around it depict St. John the Baptist and are fifteenth century).
It is the Grand Place as the locals call it. Roubaix's central square, reminiscent of the time when the city was an eldorado for all French workers. The weaving industry was in its golden age, and people came from all over the country in search of work and a better life. Now the square, after a long time spent being forgotten, having endured crisis, unemployment ... is once again being cared for and appreciated by people. There is a large esplanade that is used for concerts and festivals during the summer months, and you many cafes take full advantage in order to set up a terrace. The buildings around the square are beautiful old houses painted in bright colors, and you can also find the church of St. Martin and the huge city hall, which now includes an art gallery. If you are in Lille, you can reach the stop Roubaix Grand Place in just 15 minutes.