A great museum for those interested in Lille’s military history, Musée des Canonniers explains the story of the Sainte Barbe Brotherhood (one of the oldest artillery units in Europe) and their implication in the defense of the city over the centuries. Indeed, Lille, because of its strategic and thus precarious position, required an effective militia as well as walled fortifications in order to survive – something that would later on be proved necessary, seeing as the city went from being Flemish, Bourguignone, Imperial and Spanish before becoming French, all in the matter of a few centuries. The museum’s exhibitions, presented in the former Urbanist convent, holds over 3,000 objects of various genres like artifacts, weapons like firearms and cannons (including the famous Gribeauval cannons that Napoleon Bonaparte offered to the canoneers himself), documents and equipment related to the city’s defense.
Musée des Canonniers is located on rue des Canonniers in Lille, within walking distance from Gare Lille Flandres metro station. The museum is open from Monday to Saturday between 2 and 5PM, but it is closed from mid-December to February and on the first three weeks of August. Entry costs €5 per adult and is free for visitors younger than 15 years old.