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Eupedia Belgium Guide


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Day trips from Belgium

Belgium is a relatively small country. One can drive out of it in one hour from almost anywhere, and not even half an hour from most cities. The train is also a good way to get out of the country for the day. Lille, for instance, is only 35 minutes away from Brussels by TGV.

Although located in other countries today, Lille, Maastricht and Luxembourg were historically and culturally part of Belgium (Spanish/Austrian Netherlands). Lille is the capital of French Flanders and was once an integral part of the County of Flanders until its annexation to France by Louis XIV. French people living between Lille and Dunkirk have Flemish surnames and some can still speak Flemish despite 350 years of Francisation. Culturally the whole of Nord-Pas-de-Calais is more Belgian than French.

Maastricht and Luxembourg were part of Belgium when Belgium gained its independence in 1830 (=> see Belgian history). They were ceded back to the Netherlands in 1839 in exchange for the recognition of the independence of Belgium. Luxembourg got a separate independence in 1890. Aachen, though never Belgian, shares an intimate history with nearby Liège, cradle of the Carolingian dynasty. Liège (Lüttich) remained German until 1792.


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France

Lille
Lille, Nord-Pas-de-Calais
must-see Lille is the largest city in northern France after Paris. Originally a Flemish city, its Renaissance atmosphere from the Low Countries contrasts with the newer French buildings.

Arras
Arras, Nord-Pas-de-Calais
very good Capital of the Pas-de-Calais, Arras stands out by its taditional Flemish architecture that wouldn't be out of place in Ghent or Antwerp.

Douai
Douai, Nord-Pas-de-Calais
very good A major textile centre in the Renaissance, Douai has a quaint feeling representative of French Flanders. It is known for its Gayant Festival.

Cambrai
Cambrai, Nord-Pas-de-Calais
very good Cambrai is a historically important city in the former Southern Netherlands.

Charleville-Mézières
Charleville-Mézières, Champagne-Ardenne
very good Home of Arthur Rimbaud, the twin cities of Charleville and Mézières will surprise visitors with its Ducal Square, the model for the Place des Vosges in Paris.

Sedan
Sedan, Champagne-Ardenne
very good Sedan possesses one of the largest medieval fortress in Europe. It was here that the Franco-Prussian War ended on a German victory.

Givet
Givet, Champagne-Ardenne (© Uolir - Fotolia.com)
very good A small town on the Meuse River at the border of Belgium. Topped by a citadel and built in the Mosan stone and brick style, it bears striking resemblance to Walloon cities such as Namur, Huy or Liège.

good Dunkirk
good Valenciennes

Netherlands

Maastricht
Mosan architecture, Maastricht (© Eupedia.com)
must-see City of the famous treaty creating the European Union, Maastricht is perhaps the second most attractive Dutch city after Amsterdam, though the two share little in common.

Middelburg
Townhall of Middelburg (© Eupedia.com)
very good Middelburg is the capital of the maritime province of Zeeland. Its Gothic town hall is one of the most breathtaking in the Benelux.

Veere
Marina, Veere
very good Veere is a delightful historical village on the Scheldt River. It receives 2,500 times its population in tourists each year.

Dordrecht
Marina in Dordrecht (© Jan Kranendonk | Dreamstime.com)
very good Built on the unsteady grounds of an island on the Maas River, Dordrecht's old town is characterised by surprisingly tilting façades.

Rotterdam
Townhall of Rotterdam (© Peter van Vuuren | iStockphoto.com)
very good Europe's largest and busiest port, Rotterdam is mostly an industrial city, but boasts some excellent museums and a bustling nightlife.

Breda
Grote Kerk & Grote Markt, Breda (© Eupedia.com)
very good Breda gave the world Mentos "scotch mints". Its 12th-century Beguinage is the oldest in the Low Counties.

's Hertogenbosch
St. John's Cathedral, 's Hertogenbosch
very good The walled city of Den Bosch is renowned for its cathedral and its modern, avant-gardiste architecture.

good Tilburg

Germany

Monschau
Monschau
must-see Sitting right across the Belgian border, concealed in a forested valley, Monschau is one of the Rhineland's best kept secrets, a jewel of timber-framed architecture protected by medieval ramparts.

Aachen
Aachen
outstanding The capital of Charlemagne's empire, Aachen is still dominated by its medieval past. Its main sights, the Aachener Dom, was built in 786, making it one of the oldest buildings still in use in Northern Europe. It is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Bad Münstereifel
Bad Münstereifel
outstanding Bad Münstereifel is an appealing historical spa town tucked in the Eifel mountains, and is one of the rare towns in regions (along with Monschau) to have preserved its ramparts.

Trier
Trier
outstanding Once the capital of the Western Roman Empire and the largest city north of the Alps, Trier is now a provincial city at the boundary of Luxembourg. With a Roman city gate, an ancient basilica, timber-framed houses and a superb Baroque palace, few German cities have so much to offer per square metre.

Cologne
Cologne
very good Founded over 2,000 years ago by the Romans, Cologne is the largest city in the Rhineland, famous for its Kölsch beer, its Eau de Cologne, and of course its breathtaking black cathedral, which took over 600 years to complete.

Luxembourg

Luxembourg City
Luxembourg City
must-see One of Europe's main banking and financial centre, Luxembourg City enjoys the EU's 2nd highest GDP per capita after central London. The beautifully preserved old town is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It also boasts the most Michelin stars per capita of any city in the world.


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