Wallonia

Wallonia is the French-speaking, southern region of Belgium. It shares the bilingual capital, Brussels, with Flanders, the Dutch-speaking northern region. From the Ardennes mountains in the south to the rolling hills and the green and fertile plains dotted with quirky belfries, plenty of art and culture have sprung from Wallonia. The surrealist painter René Magritte was born in the Hainaut area, and you can see a fabulous collection of his work in Brussels at the Magritte Museum.

Namur is the capital of the region, and it boasts a fabulously curvaceous late Baroque cathedral. The Citadel of Namur offers a fine view of the city and its two rivers.

Liege is the economic and cultural centre of Wallonia, and is known for its top quality chocolate, and its waffles. The city also hosts many folk festivals, the 15th of August Festival being the biggest of these. Crowds gather to watch the processions and eat sausages, crepes or waffles, and drink plenty of beer: try the Wallonian ambrée ale. Don’t miss the bustling Batte market which stretches along the river every Sunday morning. Liege has a lively nightlife and hosts a popular jazz festival in springtime: Jazz à Liège. Have a wander round the 16th century Palace of the Prince-Bishops of Liege: this is a fascinating building which tells the story of Liège and its rulers.

Charleroi is a busy city with several interesting museums, including the Glass Museum, which looks at glassmaking as an industry and includes many beautiful examples of glassware. Catch an exhibition at the breathtakingly contemporary Museum of Photography, housed in a sympathetically converted, neo-gothic monastery.

Walloons know how to eat well, and all over Wallonia you’ll be able to try the specialities typical of this area, such as cougnou bread baked at Christmas, the strong herve cheese traditionally eaten with apple butter, and try some of the trappist beers which are brewed exclusively by monks.

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