Gallic relics providing evidence of an ancient settlement on Saint-André soil were unearthed during the construction of the Lille-Dunkerque railway. The suburb around Saint-André was developed along the road that connects Lille and Ypres. When the fortifications were constructed in Lille, this suburb was halved with one part being absorbed into the capital of Flanders. The more rural area outside the city walls became the current town of Saint-André, granted the status of ‘commune’ at the time of the French Revolution. Heavily industrialised for a long period, Saint-André is now extending outwards to reclaim the banks of the Deûle with a focus on environmental sustainability. Awarded three flowers by the ‘Floral Towns and Villages Committee’, Saint-André is regarded as a highly liveable town.
This former hunting lodge on Rue Vauban is classified as an Historic Monument. It was erected in 1760 for Charles Cornil, a wealthy horse merchant and advisor to the king. After buying a property in Saint-André, he restored the residence and then built the lodge.
A parish was established in 1225 and a church built, given the name of Saint André. This ageing church was demolished in 1784. Come the French Revolution, the rural area of Saint-André, which had been cut off from Lille by Vauban’s fortifications, became an independent town. In 1848, a church was built in the town centre although the rising population meant that it soon outgrew its congregation so a second church was built in 1884.
Dating from 1865, Château Vandame on Rue du Général Leclerc is listed in the ‘Remarkable Heritage’ inventory. It was built for a couple of Lille-based brewers, Mr and Mrs Vandame, who used the property as their country house. This was common practice among Lille’s captains of industry and Saint-André has several such châteaux in its borders. Purchased by the town and converted into a music school, Château Vandame is set in lush grounds with hundred-year-old trees making it a lovely spot for strolling.
Fête des Allumoirs : held every October, this lantern festival is celebrated across the greater Lille area. Similar to other local festivals that take place on the coast (St Martin’s and the ‘guénels’ – hollowed out sugar beets), there is a theory that all these rituals are in fact rooted in the ancient Celtic festival of Samhain. A competition is held every year to find the best lantern and prizes awarded to the winner. Children then lead a parade through the streets of the town collecting sweets as they go and the event is closed by a firework show.