|South West of Brussels: Hainaut Province
Brussels – > Beloeil – Tournai – Mons – Nivelles – Waterloo -> Brussels – a 157 miles trip
|Beloeil (Highway E19)
The castle belongs to the family of the princes of Ligne since the 14th century. It has wonderful gardens, a 15acre basin designed by a disciple of Le Notre. Inside, the castle has a museum like collection of fine furniture, tapestries, family portraits and memorabilia.
Tournai (via Stambruges to E42 )
A city already important in the roman times and later under King Clovis was an important tapestry – weaving center in the 15th and 16th century. The Romanesque cathedral is one of the most imposing and original buildings in Europe. Inside the church look for the treasury containing the silver and gold reliquary of Nicolas de Verdun. The town has a nice main square with the oldest belfry in Belgium just around the corner. The Fine Art Museum was built by Victor Horta.
Mons was developed around a castle and a monastery in the 7th century. A magnificent church in Brabant Gothic style houses the 18th c. Golden Chariot which annually carries de reliquary of St Waudru through the streets of the city. The procession ends with the pageant of the battle of the Lumecon, between St George and the Dragon. Guess who wins¦ A beautiful baroque Belfry stands on the highest point of the city from where there are great views of the surrounding countryside and the ruins of the castle of the Counts of Hainaut as well as an 11th c. Chapel.
Just outside Mons, visit a coal mining industrial archeological site le Grand Hornu. A remarkable complex in neo classical style where the workplace and homes are integrated. It is now a museum, check with the local tourist office in Mons for special exhibits that are regularly organized in this spectacular space.
Nivelles (E42 leads into E19)
This very old town goes back to Carolingian times.The most important monument to visit is St, Gertrude’ Collegiate church. A very impressive Romanesque abbey church consecrated in the 12thcentury by Henry III (yes of France). The size and simplicity inside and outside are striking. The archeological basement consists of the ruins of 5other churches, from the 7th to 10thcentury, which preceded the Romanesque one.
Waterloo (E19 to belt around Brussels, then follow directions to Antwerp and get off at N5 to Waterloo). This is the famous battlefield where Napoleon was defeated by the combined forces of Wellington and Blucher.
|South of Brussels: Namur Province
Brussels – Namur – Annevoie – Maredsous – Dinant – Freyr – Veves – Celles – Brussels (97 miles)
Namur (E 411)
Namur strategic position on the Meuse and Sambre made it the ideal military site. The imposing citadel still stands and can be visited. In the charming and busy town you will also find an archeological museum that houses a beautiful treasury of Hugo d’Oignies, composed of delicate 13th century metal work in gold and silver. The satirical irreverent artist Felicien Rops, native of Namur has a museum devoted tohis work, well worth a stop.
On the way to Dinant stay on the west bank of the Meuse (N 92) and visit the gardens of Annevoie. Surrounding an elegant house of the 17th and 18th century these are a combination of traditional French and romantic Italian styles and famous for their fountains, canals, cascades and other creative uses of the water of the natural springs.
Take the yellow road5km south west of Annevoievisit de abbey of Maredsous where you can taste monk’s beer and cheese.
Another of those cities that was always at war with its rival neighbors. The very imposing citadel must have made the citizens feel safe. Perched on a rock it overlooks the river.
Just outside of Dinant (follow the Meuseriver) Freyr is a beautiful castle in Renaissance Mosan and Louis XV style,surrounded by gardens designed by the counts Beaufort Spontin , again with inspiration from Le Notre in the 17th century . It also has an excellent view of the Meuse and the rocks on the other bank. Cross the Meuse to Furfooz via the Walzin Castle.
Cross the Meuse direction Furfooz ( N 910) to one of the bestpreservedmedieval castles in Belgium standing imposingly in a bucolic setting.
Continue on N 910 to Celles a beautiful village with a Romanesque church ofthe 11th century in pure Mosan style. Pay attention to the tombstone of theBeauforts in black Dinant marble.
At the door of the Ardennes, one-hour drive from Brussels, the Caves of Han are among the largest, most renowned and beautiful caves in Europe and thoroughly deserve their 3-star rating in the Michelin guide: entry aboard a 100-year-old tram, multilingual guided tours, sound and light show and exit along the underground river. The Caves are situated in beautiful natural surroundings, which host a Wildlife Reserve where European wild species roam in their natural environment.
Next to the world-famous Caves of Han, a Wildlife Reserve extends over 250 hectares of pure nature, where several European wildlife species roam in their natural environment : deer, boars, wolves, lynx, European bisons and many others. The Reserve is visited in safari-car or by foot.
|East of Brussels: Liege Province
Liege -Spa – Francorchamps – Malmedy – Stavelot – Reinhardstein – Eupen -Liege (78 miles)
Liege is a historical city on the river Meuse, dating back to Charlemagne. With a wonderful central location, it is only one hour from Brussels by train or car and just two hours by Thalys from Paris to the new Liege-Guillemins Station designed by the architect Santiago Calatrava.
This town gave its name to all spas in the world. The waters have been famous since Roman times. Crowned heads such as Queen Margot, Queen Christine of Sweden, Peter the Great and also our own King Leopold II come here to drink and bathe in the waters, soak in mud baths and walk in the beautiful forests. Spa is also home to the oldest casino in the world, construction began in 1763 by the prince-bishop of Liege.
Today, the Pearl of the Ardennes is a place to enjoy outdoor theater performances in the summer, music festivals and the surrounding forests offer ideal hiking and biking paths.
The world famous Spa-Francorchamps Formula I Race Track calls this forest town home. With advance notice, you can even live out your childhood fantasy of becoming a formula 1 driver and take a spin on the track.
This Ardenne village is most famous for its annual lent carnival. In the St. Sebastian church you can admire a 13th century reliquary of St. Remaclus.
This charming town is set in a hollow surrounded by steep wooded hills. Continue toReinhardstein castle, an imposing fortress resuscitated from its ruins according to 17th century drawings. At onetime the family Metternich was owner of this castle.
This stretch of the N68 highway from Malmedy to Eupen is one of the most beautiful in Belgium, going right through the HAUTES FAGNES natural reserve. In the park the SIGNAL DE BOTRANGE marks the highest point in Belgium (2.277 ft). On a clear day you can see as far as the city of Aachen in Germany from the top.
From Eupen you can go back to Liege or on to Brussels.
|South East of Brussels: Luxembourg Province
Bouillon – Orval – Bastogne – Nadrin – La Roche en Ardennes
The city of Bouillon goes back to the first crusades when Godefroid of BOUILLON went to Jerusalem. To pay for the travel expenses he had to sell his castle, whose existence dates back to the 10th century, to the Prince Bishops of Liege. From one of the towers there is a sweeping view of the meandering Semois river .
The small city of Bouillon is a pleasant spot to stay and from where you can take lovely hiking trips in the beautiful forests all around.
This Benedictine abbey was founded in 1070, and later, during the 12th century, it became one of the most famous Cistercian monasteries in Europe. The monks still brew beer and make their own cheese today.
It was here that the Germans made a last attempt at an offensive with Antwerp as their target. The allies rebuffed the attack in one of the bloodiest battles of the war known as the Battle of the Bulge. The MARDASSON is the monument honoring the American soldiers who fought and died here.
NADRIN & La Roche en Ardennes
Two pleasant holiday villages in the Belgian Ardennes with great inns and delicious restaurants.