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The city hall
The city hall
Coat of arms of Roubaix
Coat of arms
Motto: Probitas et Industria
Roubaix is located in France
Coordinates: 50°42′N 3°10′E / 50.7°N 3.17°E / 50.7; 3.17Coordinates: 50°42′N 3°10′E / 50.7°N 3.17°E / 50.7; 3.17
Country France
Region Nord-Pas-de-Calais
Department Nord
Arrondissement Lille
Intercommunality European Metropole of Lille
Cantons 2 (Roubaix-1, Roubaix-2)
 • Mayor (2014–2020) Guillaume Delbar
Area1 13.23 km2 (5.11 sq mi)
Population (2013)2 96,984
 • Density 7,300/km2 (19,000/sq mi)
Demonym Roubaisian (English)
Roubaisien (French)
Time zone CET/CEST (UTC+1/+2)
INSEE/Postal code 59512 / 59100
Elevation 17–52 m (56–171 ft)
(avg. 32 m or 105 ft)
Website (French)

1 French Land Register data, which excludes lakes, ponds, glaciers > 1 km² (0.386 sq mi or 247 acres) and river estuaries.

2 Population without double counting: residents of multiple communes (e.g., students and military personnel) only counted once.

Roubaix (French pronunciation: ​[ʁu.bɛ]) is a working-class commune[1] in northern France, in the department of Nord. It is the second largest city in the French region of Nord-Pas-de-Calais ranked by population with about 100,000 inhabitants. Located between the cities of Lille and Tourcoing, Roubaix is the chef-lieu of two cantons.

Together with Lille, Tourcoing, Villeneuve-d'Ascq and 81 other communes, Roubaix gives structure to a metropolitan area inhabited by around 1.1 million people: the European Metropole of Lille. To a greater extent, Roubaix belongs to a vast conurbation formed with the Belgian cities of Menen, Mouscron, Kortrijk and Tournai, which gave birth to the first European Grouping of Territorial Cooperation in January 2008, Lille–Kortrijk–Tournai with an aggregate over 2 million inhabitants.

Remarkable buildings, old brick factories and warehouses abound in this once renowned city which was esteemed to be the worldwide textile capital at beginning of the 20th century,[2] following the 19th century industrial revolution and its economic rise. From that time, the city inherited one of the most unique architectural works in France and was designated Town of Art and History on December 13, 2000.[3]

Successive local governments have tried to address difficulties associated with deindustrialization (1970-1980) by attracting new industries, making the most of town's cultural credentials[4] (La Piscine Museum, Condition publique, Colisée, National Archives of the World of Work) and organising a strong student presence on different campuses, (EDHEC Business School, ENSAIT, ESAAT and the decentralisation of the Universities of Lille II and Lille III) since the Eighties.

Around three-fourth of the town's territory has been regularly assigned specific zoning designations as well as health and welfare plans since the implementation of the French urban policy in the early Eighties.[5] Nevertheless, Roubaix's high level of unemployment remains and the town is listed first among France's poorest cities.[4][6]



Roubaix is set on the eastern side of Lille and the southern side of Tourcoing, close to the Belgian border. As regards towns' boundaries, Roubaix is encompassed by seven cities which constitute its immediate neighbouring urban environment. These municipalities are namely: Tourcoing to the north and the northwest, Wattrelos to the northeast, Leers to the east, Lys-lez-Lannoy to the southeast, Hem to the south and Croix to the southwest and the west. Together with those municipalities and 21 other ones, Roubaix belongs to the land of Ferrain, a neighbourhood of the former Castellany of Lille.

Roubaix within the agglomeration of Lille

The Gare de Roubaix railway station offers connections to Antwerp, Lille, Ostend, Paris and Tourcoing. The city is also served by the Lille Metro.


The soft hollow plain upon which Roubaix lies, stretches on the axis of an east-west oriented syncline which rises to the south and the southeast towards the Paleozoic limestone of the Mélantois-Tournaisis faulted anticline.[7] This area consists predominantly of Holocene deposits of alluvial origin. It is flat and low, with an elevation drop of only 35 m (114 ft 10 in) over its 13.23 square kilometres (5.11 sq mi). The lowest altitude of this area stands at 17 m (55 ft 9 in), while its highest altitude is 52 m (170 ft 7 in) meters above the sea level.


The current city's name is most likely derived from two Frankish words: “raus” meaning reed and “baki” meaning brook.[8] Thence the sense of Roubaix can probably find its origin in the brook's banks of Riez de Favreuil or Trichon. The place was mentioned for the first time in a latinized form in the 9th century: Villa Rusbaci.[9][10] Thereafter, the following names were in use: 1047 and 1106 Rubais, 1122 Rosbays, 1166 Rusbais, 1156 and 1202 Robais, 1223 Roubais.[9][11]

Parallel to the official and usual name Roubaix, some translations are worth a mention. For instance, though the city has never belonged to the Flemish-speaking area, the seldom-heard renderings Robeke[12][13] and Roodebeeke[14] are documented for Roubaix. Furthermore, the Dutch Language Union established Robaais as its proper Dutch name.[15] Lastly, one can cite Rosbacum as the definite Latin transcription of Roubaix which has been in use since the 19th century, as recorded on dedication statements sealed in the first stones of the foundations of the City Hall laid in 1840 and the Church of Notre Dame laid in 1842.[16]


Ever since the Ministry of Culture endowed Roubaix with the Town of Art and History label,[3] the city has entered the 21st century by promoting its cultural standing as the inheritance of its industrial and social history.[4]

St. Martin's Church in Roubaix, Built for the first time in 881 AD and rebuilt in 1468.

Notable is La Piscine art gallery, which, as the name implies, is located in the old municipal swimming pool. Discobolos (international artist Wim Delvoye's) is the first work of modern art, ordered by the inhabitants, with the Comité de quartier de l'Hommelet, an association of citizens.

On 16 May 1967, Roubaix was the venue of the final live performance in the career of singer Jacques Brel. Filming location of Arnaud Desplechin's "A Christmas Tale" ("Un Conte de Noel"), a highly regarded 2008 comedy-drama.


The main French mail order houses were founded here (La Redoute and 3 Suisses).

Ankama Games has its head office in Roubaix.[17]

OVH has 6 datacentres in Roubaix.


Roubaix is the finish of the Paris–Roubaix cycling classic, one of the most prestigious[18] events on the cycling calendar. The 259.5-kilometre (161.2 mi) race from Compiègne to Roubaix includes almost 50 km (31 mi) of cobbles.

One of the longest distance walking races in the world also takes place each year in Roubaix. Since 1953 the televised 'Roubaix 28 hours' regularly sees elite endurance athletes from dozens of countries aiming to complete the longest distance possible within the 28 hour time limit. The current record is over 255 km (158 mi), with many each year completing more than 200 km (124 mi).

Notable people[edit]

Eugène Motte
Viviane Romance

International relations[edit]

Twin towns — Sister cities[edit]

Roubaix is twinned with:

See also[edit]



  1. ^ Pooley, Timothy (December 30, 1996). Chtimi: The Urban Vernaculars of Northern France. Applications in French Linguistics Series. Clevedon, UK: Multilingual Matters Ltd. pp. 15–44. ISBN 978-1-853-59345-1. Retrieved July 1, 2015. 
  2. ^ Vermeersch, Olivier (April 2013). "The Québec's deleguation attends CETI's official inauguration - La délégation Québécoise à l'inauguration officielle du CETI". La Revue du Textile - The Textile Journal (CTT Group). 130 #1 (HIGHTEX): 38. ISSN 0008-5170. Retrieved June 22, 2015. 
  3. ^ a b Tasca, Catherine (December 13, 2000). "Allocution de Catherine Tasca - Ville de Noisiel : Signature de la convention VILLE ET PAYS D’ART ET D’HISTOIRE". Ministère de la Culture et de la Communication. Retrieved June 22, 2015. 
  4. ^ a b c Kapferer, Jean-Noël (January 3, 2008). The New Strategic Brand Management: Creating and Sustaining Brand Equity Long Term. The New Strategic Brand Management. London, UK: Kogan Page. p. 128. ISBN 978-0-749-45085-4. 
  5. ^ Brévan, Claude (June 2002). "The URBAN Community Initiative" (PDF). Sainte-Denis, F: Interministerial Delegation for Urban Affairs. p. 57. ISBN 2-11-093 339-9. Retrieved June 30, 2015. 
  6. ^ Hussey, Andrew (April 14, 2012). "France: a divided nation goes to the polls". The Guardian. Retrieved June 30, 2015. 
  7. ^ Hack, Robert; Azzam, Rafig; Charlier, Robert (June 14, 2004). Engineering Geology for Infrastructure Planning in Europe: A European Perspective. Lecture Notes in Earth Sciences 104. Berlin, D: Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg. pp. 605–606. doi:10.1007/b93922. ISBN 978-3-540-21075-7. Retrieved July 3, 2015. 
  8. ^ Guinet, Louis (1982). Les emprunts gallo-romans au germanique (du Ier à la fin du Ve siècle). Bibliothèque française et romane. Série A, Manuels et études linguistiques ; 44. Paris, F: Klincksieck. pp. 32–33. 
  9. ^ a b Nègre, Ernest (1996) [1st pub. 1991]. Toponymie générale de la France, vol. 2. Geneva, CH: Librairie Droz. ISBN 978-2-600-00133-5. Retrieved October 16, 2013. 
  10. ^ Gastal, Pierre (2002). Sous le français, le gaulois: Histoire, vocabulaire, étymologie, toponymie. Méolans-Revel, F: Éditions Le Sureau. ISBN 978-2-911-32807-7. Retrieved June 22, 2015. 
  11. ^ Gysseling, Maurits (1960). "Toponymisch Woordenboek van België, Nederland, Luxemburg, Noord-Frankrijk en West-Duitsland (vóór 1226) door Maurits Gysseling (1960)". Centrum voor Teksteditie en Bronnenstudie. Retrieved June 17, 2015. 
  12. ^ Schuermans, Lodewijk Willem (1865). Algemeen Vlaamsch idioticon, Met Tijd en Vlijt. Leuven, B: Gebroeders Vanlinthout. p. 268. Retrieved June 22, 2015. 
  13. ^ Fortuné, Raymond (1899). Histoire du Hainaut français et du Cambresis. Paris, F: Editions Paul Lechevalier. p. 61. Retrieved June 22, 2015. 
  14. ^ Kolff, Gualtherus Johannes (October 28, 1914). "De Belgische Plaatsnamen.". Bataviaasch nieuwsblad (G.J. Kolff & Co.): 6. Retrieved June 23, 2015. 
  15. ^ "Buitenlandse Aardrijkskundige Namen". Retrieved April 29, 2014. 
  16. ^ Leuridan, Théodore (1862). Histoire des seigneurs et de la seigneurie de Roubaix. Roubaix: Imprimerie J. Reboux. Retrieved June 21, 2015. 
  17. ^ "MENTIONS LEGALES." Ankama Games. Retrieved on 30 October 2012. "75 boulevard d'Armentières BP 60403 59057 ROUBAIX Cedex 1 - France"
  18. ^ Cycling. "Paris-Roubaix 2011: race preview of 'the hell of the north'". Telegraph. Retrieved 2013-03-12. 
  19. ^ "British towns twinned with French towns". Archant Community Media Ltd. Retrieved 2013-07-11. 
  20. ^ "Skopje - Twin towns & Sister cities". Official portal of City of Skopje. © Grad Skopje - 2006 - 2013, Archived from the original on 2013-10-24. Retrieved 2013-11-04. 

External links[edit]