Most travelers heading to Belgium will head straight to Brussels and won’t see much more of the country afterward. That’s a bit of a shame, as the rest of Belgium has so much to offer. It’s like going to the beach without jumping in.
You need to explore some more!
I’ve visited Belgium many times already and I am still discovering new regions… one of my most recent discoveries was Brabant Wallon.
Brabant Wallon is a region just South of Brussels, and with a distance so close to the capital of Belgium, it is the perfect spot to explore.
A great tip would be to rent a car and do a 2-4 day road trip around Brussels. Depending on the time you have and how much you would like to explore, you might be able to extend or shorten your trip as it fits in your schedule.
In the video above and in the additional article and video here, we’ll show you all the amazing things you could do in Brabant Wallon while visiting.
Are you ready?
Travel tips for Louvain-la-Neuve, Brabant Wallon
Hergé (Tintin) Museum
I’m sure you know the comic The Adventures of Tintin, right? Isn’t that guy and his stories famous all over the world? Do you know the name of its creator?
His name is Hergé and he has his own museum called the Hergé Museum in Louvain-la-Neuve. This is the first European museum which was dedicated to a comic artist. The building itself lies in a nice little park and has a cool modern design.
Hergé created far more than just Tintin, and you can find lots of his work in the museum. There are more than 800 photographs, documents, objects and 80 original plates, which have been brought together under the roof of the museum.
History of Louvain-la-Neuve
The city of Louvain-la-Neuve itself is also very interesting. It’s definitely not the typical Belgian town you would expect. There are no old historical buildings, though there are many roads which have the typical windy shape of old European cities.
Louvain-la-Neuve is a new city, which was built from the ground, up in 1971. Why? The big and popular university in Leuven, further North in the Flemish part of Belgium, wanted to get rid of the French-speaking students. Here’s a bit of background information: you might know that Belgium has three different overall regions with three different languages. In the South they speak French, in a small region in the East they speak German and in the North they speak Flemish. Flemish is similar to Dutch, but don’t call it Dutch to the locals… you might not get a positive reaction from them. It is a very strong dialect of Dutch, which actually makes it quite different when you hear locals speaking Flemish.
Regardless of what language you speak, most people in Belgium get along nicely however, things might be a little different when it comes to politics. That’s exactly what happened at the University of Leuven. So what did you do in the sixties, when you were a French-speaking student in Leuven? Well, you looked for a wide open space and simply created your own university and city. You would do that, right? Well, that’s what happened in Belgium and that is exactly why Louvain-la-Neuve was founded.
Louvain-la-Neuve was built to have a university for the French-speaking students in Belgium. The creators were smarter than just to build one university in the open space. In their plans, they integrated an entire city, surrounding the university.
That’s crazy, right?
Sadly, these changes all took place in the 70ies, which meant the city lacked that special charm that many other Belgian cities have today. However, it’s still worth it to see Louvain-la-Neuve. It’s positioned in a nice little valley, which inspired the planners to build the city on top of the modern infrastructure. That way the entire city center would be a pedestrian area and the streets and train tracks would run beneath it. What a brilliant solution.
What to do in Louvain-la-Neuve
Play Disc Golf
Do you know what that is? I had never heard of it before, but it’s so much fun. You rent a special kind of frisbee at the tourist office and then head to the lake, South-West of the city. On the left side of the lake, you’ll see a residential area with an abundance of green space around it. That’s where you’ll find the disco golf parkour, which runs along the lake and around the residential area.
At the disc golf stations you’ll find several “holes”, like at a golf course, however, the holes are metal baskets. There is a starting point where you’ll try to fly your frisbee into a designated basket. Depending on the distance of the course, the number of throws it takes to get to the basket might differ. Five throws is a pair and you count your score similarly to golf (with plus and minuses). If that’s too confusing, just head there with some friends and try to get the frisbee in the basket before your opponents do.
Visit the Museum L
This museum shows a wide array of artwork, objects from different civilizations and scientific inventions. While I was visiting, they were in the middle of planning their big re-opening so while I wasn’t able to see that much, the concept sounds fascinating. The idea to create a dialogue between arts and sciences, between cultures, between eras and between objects, allowing us to experience the complexity and beauty of the world and break out of a narrow vision of reality… mindblowing.
The Museum L is a tiny bit outside of the city but is still just a 10-minute walk away. It’s not too far away from the Disco Golf course either, so you could combine both if you have the time.
And on the way back to the city, you could stop and try…
It’s always the perfect time to do some beer tasting! The Brasse-Temps bar belongs to the Dubuisson brewery, which is one of the oldest breweries in Belgium. The Brasse-Temps bar also has its own little brewery cellar, where they still create new beers regularly. Do you love beer and especially Belgian beer? Try out their tasting offer (about 5 Euro), where you’ll receive 5 different beers in small glasses so that you can figure out which one you enjoy most. You can choose to sit inside at the bar or outside in the square beneath the big tree.
Now after the break, are you ready for a special event? Head to…
The night of Choir at Villers Abbey
This is an event you should definitely try to attend, but watch out, it’s only once a year. Villers Abbey itself is worth a trip, but that’s what you are going to see and read about in the second article here. Villers Abbey is an ancient Cistercian abbey located in the town of Villers-la-Ville, which is now a huge neat looking ruin.
Once a year they host The Night of the Choir at Villers Abbey. There are six different stages with six different choirs performing throughout the night.
It all starts just before sunset at around 6:00 PM the different choirs begin to perform on their stage in the ruins.
The event is on the Friday and Saturday attracting around 7,000 people each day. It’s a good idea to purchase your tickets early, they should cost around €46. It is also a good idea to arrive early to get a parking spot, which is not too far away from the performance stage.
The atmosphere is unique as the music dances between the ruins. The later it gets, the more the atmosphere completely changes. When it gets dark, that’s when the ruins become illuminated in different colors and that alone is worth experiencing.
There are also several food trucks and bars positioned around the premises so that you won’t get hungry or thirsty.
The organizers also provides chairs, but you’ll have to fetch those yourself and take them with you from stage to stage. I really liked that, as it was up to you, whether you prefer to stand and listen or to sit down and relax.
Find more info about Brabant Wallon on www.waterlooandbeyond.be.