Destination Belgium: Why Not Choose… Charleroi?
The largest city in the Walloon region, Charleroi has transformed over time, to turn its industrial past into a culturally rich present. Its wonderful blend of Classicism, Art Nouveau and Art Deco have created a rich and varied heritage. The city even boasts a several little wonders on the UNESCO World Heritage List.
Charleroi: art in itself
Start your escape by strolling down the pretty pedestrianised streets of the city centre to discover its industrial past, which goes back 350 years. Stop in one of the city's many charming cafés, then head to Charleroi-South station to aspire its impressive forecourt.
If you love comics, this is the place for you. Charleroi is the Walloon capital of comics, the city where the famous Spirou, Lucky Luke, Boule & Bill and Gaston Lagaffe were born.
When it comes to architecture, Charleroi is a real treat, with its Art Nouveau style buildings: explore the city, admiring its many beautiful façades, such as those of the Maison Dorée or the Maison Lafleur. Next on your itinerary, discover the Charleroi Belfry, part of the City Hall. This UNESCO World Heritage Site stands 70m high, blending Classicism and Art Deco.
The city is also home to Europe's largest photography museum. Make sure you allow a good three hours to see its collection of 80,000 photographs.
Finally, to find out more about this old mining area, head for the Bois du Cazier coal mine, another UNESCO World Heritage Site. Here, you will find three large spaces devoted to local industry: the Mining Museum, the Glass Museum and the Industrial Museum.
Shopping and night-life
If you fancy some shopping, Charleroi won't disappoint: it has plenty of great spots.
Are you a fashion addict? Then visit Tess, the city's essential calling point for classic or modern brands. If you're a shopaholic, the Rive Gauche shopping centre, packed with shops for all tastes, is the place for you.
Got a thirst for a cocktail in a timeless atmosphere? You'll love Impasse Temps: this cosy cocktail bar is the perfect place to relax with friends. With its soft lighting and lounge music, the city centre bar on several floors also has a beautiful outdoor terrace.
If you're after a cultural outing, catch a play, dance show or concert at the Théâtre de l’Ancre.
Top 10 Must-Sees
Charleroi Belfry: an integral part of the city hall, blending Classicism and Art Deco, the belfry is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Standing 70m high, it is built from blue and white stone and bricks.
The Bois du Cazier: this old mine and UNESCO World Heritage Site contains three spaces: the mining Museum devoted to the tragedy of 8 August 1956, the Glass Museum with its superb collections, and the Industrial Museum looking back at Belgium's industrial revolution.
Eden: a major cultural centre in Charleroi, Eden offers a wide range of activities for all ages. It has theatre, concerts, exhibitions, a bar and many debates.
The Photography Museum: with its collection of 80,000 photographs, Charleroi's photography museum is the largest in Europe. You will need about three hours to see the museum, and you can also enjoy its large library, shop, café and grounds.
The Eau d'Heure lakes: a huge natural space between Charleroi, Philippeville and Beaumont, offering lots of activities for families, sports lovers or nature enthusiasts.
The Dam and the Eau d’Heure Skywalk: get a breath of fresh air while admiring Belgium's largest dam. For a breathtaking panorama, gaze through the glass floor of the skywalk.
The Neptune Caves: want to see an amazing natural site? These great underground caves, formed around 300 million years ago, are sure to impress. The perfect place for a romantic trip, with their charming play of light and sound.
The Théâtre de l’Ancre: ideal for a cultural top-up. It is a hub for contemporary creation and art in all its forms: theatre, dance, poetry, music…
The Saint-Christophe Church: this church on Place Charles II overlooks the city hall and the Charleroi belfry. Stop to admire its many stained glass windows, gilding and mosaics.
The Fine Arts Museum: this museum in the Palais des Beaux-Arts offers a whole host of sculptures, paintings, engravings and ceramics from ancient to contemporary times.
Charleroi has many culinary treasures, connected to its old mining industry, which demanded nourishing, cheap and tasty food. Be sure to sample the boudin noir à la Dupin, Charleroi's traditional black pudding flavoured with nutmeg, lard and cloves. Hatchisse, a ragout of pork, prunes, garlic and onions, is best eaten with brown bread. Finally, escavèche is a delicious cold dish made with trout or eel, which goes wonderfully with a glass of good white wine. Or for something sweeter, traditional Belgian waffles come in many forms: plain, sugared, topped with fruits and crème fraîche…
May: The village provençal
A Provençal market on Place de la Digue. A real feast for your taste buds… and your eyes!
June: The brocante des quais flea market
More than just a flea market: there are also events for the whole family, concerts and a big fireworks display to end the day.
June/July: The pottery festival
This weekend-long event is a showcase for artisans from around the European Union.
June/July: Rire sur la Ville
This comedy festival makes the city echo with laughter for a whole weekend.
July/August: The Quartier d'été festival
This summer festival offers a programme of events in a little oasis within the Reine Astrid park. Sand, water, and sun loungers so you can bask in the heat.
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