Flanders is the predominantly Dutch-speaking region in the north of Belgium, which surrounds the bilingual capital of Brussels. Hearty soups and meaty stews are traditional fare in Flanders, along with the eponymous moules frites, you’ll also find rabbit dishes and, if you're very brave, you could try some anguilles au vert: eels in a green sauce.
The colourful, typical Flemish medieval houses and the picturesque canals of Bruges have earned the city centre a place on the Unesco World Heritage list. The city is brimming with architectural treasures and its many museums contain fine collections of art. The Groeningemuseum covers six centuries of Flemish painting, with several masterpieces by van Eyck, who lived and worked in Bruges. If you’re with the family, the kids are sure to love Choco Story, the chocolate museum, where you can discover all about the chocolate making process in Belgium.
Antwerp is the world’s diamond capital: it is here that many jewellers source their diamonds. Stop by the Diamond Museum to admire some impressive rocks, see some stunning vintage jewellery and learn how the diamond industry operates. Antwerp is also big on fashion: after you’ve done a bit of shopping, you can see some fabulous couture in the city’s museums.
Discover the car-free centre of Ghent by horse-drawn carriage; or cycling is also a great way to get around. This city has a beautiful medieval city centre, but Ghent is also a vibrant place where the quality of life is great. The Saint Bavo Cathedral contains van Eyck’s masterpiece known as the Ghent Alterpiece. The Patershol quarter is stuffed with restaurants, where you can try the traditional, hearty Flemish stews such as the beef-based stoverij.
The coastal city of Ostend has an attractive wide sandy beach, with an esplanade: take a stroll and enjoy the sea air. Discover Fort Napoleon, which the Emperor built in 1811 as a precaution against attack from the English. These days you’ll find an elegant restaurant inside, and even the English will receive a warm welcome here.
De gare à gare