La Vieille Bourse.
The houses form a square around an open-air courtyard. They were built to give protection from the elements to merchants, who up till then had to work outside. There are arcades, which provided protection from rain, and the houses themselves blocked the wind.
It was built during the Spanish rule and with King Philippe IV’s consent, in 1651.
Today the building is still used for commercial purposes. Different stores, cafés, chocolate shops, and ice cream parlors are found on the ground floor facing the outside.
Pick any one of the four arches, one on each side of the building, leading into the courtyard to discover a used book market. While there are plenty of old books worth perusing, don’t miss the old postcards and old franc coins.
One of the four arches.
I spent a good two hours there once enjoying looking at old photographs of Lille and the other cities in the Nord-Pas-de-Calais.
People checking out cool, old books, postcards, and coins.
If you’re lucky, you may even witness some chess games, as there are a game boards available. Or perhaps you can even play, but I’m not good enough.
Check it out:
La Vieille Bourse
Place du Général de Gaulle
Open afternoons on Tuesday – Sunday