From late April to early May a few acres of woodlands on the edge of Halle's Wood (Hallerbos in Flemish or Bois de Halle in French) are covered by a splendid carpet of wild bluebell hyacinths. If you are in or near Brussels during this period make sure to have it on your "to do" list. Possibly one of Belgium's best kept secrets, the flower fields offer one of the most amazing natural spectacle you will encounter in the Benelux, rivalling the world-famous gardens at Keukenhof near Amsterdam. The advantage is that these sumptuous flowerbeds in the outskirt of Brussels are all natural (it's not a man-made garden) and access is free of charge. The drawback is that you'll need your own wheels.
Halle's Wood was once part of the Sonian Forest, Europe's largest beech forest, stretching over the southern part of Brussels. Like for its bigger sister, beech is the dominant species of tree and the gently undulating landscape gives it a particularly pleasant atmosphere. The forest itself is beautiful enough to deserve a visit on its own. Needless to say that the millions of purple-blue bell-shaped liliaceae spreading in all directions, as far as the eye can see, make the scenery simply breathtaking.
The place is suprisingly popular with Japanese expats. Some days half of the visitors are Japanese. Perhaps this is because of the poetic sounding of the Japanese translation of Halle's Wood: Haru no Mori (ハルの森), which can also mean "The Forest of Spring" - a very apt phonetic ambiguity.
How to get there
The wood is located just at the boundary of Flanders and Wallonia. Although officially part of the Flemish town of Halle, access is through the Walloon village of Wauthier-Braine, between Waterloo and Braine-l'Alleud. The only way to reach the wood is by car. Take the Brussels Ring Road (R0) in direction of Charleroi and Paris. If you are coming from the eastern side (Woluwe, Auderghem, Waterloo) make sure not to continue straight to the E19 but exit at Ittre in direction of Ghent. Take exit 22 (Tubize-Waterloo) following directions for Wauthier-Braine (first exit after Ittre if you are coming from Waterloo, or first exit after Halle if you are coming from the north).
Pass under the motorway bridge towards the village of Wauthier-Braine. Keep driving for about 1 km on the main road. On the left-hand side you will reach a horse riding school housed in a white farm with an orange roof. Turn left towards the farm, then left again at the junction behind the farm and follow the narrow street (Chemin du Bois de Halle) until the wood's entrance. There will certainly be many other cars parked on the edge of the wood, so you can't miss it.
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