We can understand the widespread urge of many people to escape the European autumn with a trip to warmer climates, but there is much to be said for a trip that doesn’t include long hours at an airport. A drive across the channel, for instance, will not mean that you can ditch the winter coat, but it will broaden horizons and relax in equal measure.
One city to take in on your next trip to mainland Europe could be Liège in the Western, French-speaking Ardennes region in Belgium. Close to the Netherlands and Germany, it’s a great stopover on any European road trip and well worth a couple of days’ exploration.
A university city, it offers that cosy student town feel as well as typically European architectural history in the shapes of castles, churches and government buildings. One is the Chateau de Jehay, built in the Renaissance period and stuffed with lovely details from that era – the furniture has been preserved beautifully, and the gardens with their waterfalls and statues make for some great walks.
The Museum of Walloon Art is a great tip for art aficionados. It is dedicated to artists from the francophone region of Belgium and shows off work from the 16th century onwards, all the way up to today. Children younger than 12 get in free, and entry is for all on the first Sunday of every month. The Museum of Modern & Contemporary Art is another great hangout, specialising as it name indicates on paintings and sculptures from the last 150 years.
If you’re into your modern architectures, have a look at the main railway station in Liège, which sports an impressively complex and slick structure of white beams arching over the top of the train tracks.
To get to Liège and experience its cosy, unique atmosphere and sights, you can take a P&O Ferry from Hull to Zeebrugge, from where you can start your little European road trip – with Liège as your first pit stop!
Image credit: Philippe Teuwen