This town lies on the confluence of the Deûle and the Marque rivers and is named after the latter of the two. During the most recent archaeological digs, a number of relics from the Neolithic to the Late Merovingian period were unearthed. Marquette has become a fascinating historical site thanks to the vast graveyards, mausoleums, Roman buildings, abbey ruins and other vestiges discovered. Just some of the wealth of ancient treasures preserved thanks to their immediate proximity to the Deûle and the Marque rivers. In the Middle Ages, Joan, Countess of Flanders and Hainaut from 1205 to 1244, founded one of the largest Cistercian monasteries for women in France. The industrial era saw major firms set up shop in the area, such as Les Grands Moulins de Paris, Kuhlman, Decauville, large major malt houses, Massey Fergusson and others. Today, Marquette is a lively town with a host of activities put on all year round.
Come and admire Notre-Dame-de-Lourdes Church following its 2003 renovation and its Merovingian and Cistercian vestiges. The church is today mostly used to host archaeological exhibitions, such as the display of relics dug up from the site of the Cistercian abbey. This collection was extended with Gallo-Roman and Merovingian discoveries.
Cistercian Abbey site
Marquette-lez-Lille entered into the French history books when Joan of Flanders founded a Cistercian abbey here in 1226. This Flanders abbey is one of the largest in France and harbours the tombs of Joan and her first husband, Ferdinand of Portugal.
The town hall
Originally a brick-and-stone château commissioned in the late 19th century by Mr Desprets, a miller and founder of a mill of the same name and the last miller of Saint Pierre mill in Lille. The private residence was repurposed as a town hall on 16 April 1930. An effigy of Joan of Flanders standing 4.5 metres tall and weighing 80 kilos can be seen in the Michel Delebarre ceremonial hall. The English formal garden set around the building was planted at the turn of the 20th century and is crossed by a path and a pond. The children’s play area is open to the public.
The former premises of the Grands Moulins de Paris
Built around 1920 close to the waterways and railways, these large mills were in operation until 1986. They were listed on the Historic Monuments of France inventory on 30 May 2001. A jewel in the local industry’s crown, this former mill in the Flemish Revival style spread over five floors can be seen for miles around.
Saint Roch Chapel
This chapel was built in honour of Saint Roch, the patron saint of second-hand dealers, roast cooks, wool carders and pavers (amongst other things!), invoked against contagious diseases afflicting humans and cattle.
Deûle Valley Tourist Tramway
The AMITRAM association runs tourist trams offering an original way to visit the Deûle riverside. The vehicles dating from the early 1900s are listed as Historic Monuments. The vintage trams are even available for private hire for weddings and other special occasions. Runs April to September. Trams operate from 2pm to 6 pm every 20 min. on Sundays. Groups can ride the tram on weekdays from April to September. Two departure points: Le Vent de Bise in Wambrechies (right bank, opposite the distillery) and on Rue de la Deule in Marquette.
Domaine du Vert Bois
This superb park planted with a variety of species is a lovely place for families and runners alike and offers a host of recreational activities (mini golf, picnic area and children’s playground). Free admission all year round.
Fête des Chapons : this festival – celebrated during the ‘water festival’ – commemorates poverty. During this municipal carnival, the town effigy is brought out by the ‘brotherhood of the city of capons’, on Sunday. The traditional parade ends with the handing out of ‘chapons’ (brioche buns in the shape of capons).