Brussels and beyond - Director Magazine

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Brussels and beyond - Director Magazine

May 2007BRUSSELSANDBEYONDA CULTURAL CALENDAR25 FUN THINGS TO DO INBRUSSELS WIN VIPTICKETS TO THE BELGIANGRAND PRIX GOLF INWALLONIA THE ART OFLIVING LUXURY HOTELSGASTRONOMY BREAKSA SPECIAL SUPPLEMENT INASSOCIATION WITH


ContentsBRUSSELS AND BEYONDFor more information on Brussels and the South of Belgiumplease contact the Belgian Tourist Office-Brussels and Walloniaon 020 7531 0390 or visit www.belgiumtheplaceto.beBelgium. Is there a country in the world aboutwhich so many people have so many preconceptions?Boring, industrial, a country stuffed full of “Eurocrats”and cartoon characters. And yet there is so much more tothe country. Brussels itself, far from being full ofEurocrats is more accurately described as the “capital ofEuropeans”, choc full of fashion, fine food and culture.In this supplement, we’ve uncovered a wealth ofinteresting stuff to do and see in southern Belgium, fromplaying a round on the world-class golf courses ofWallonia (possibly my favourite real place name of alltime), to some serious retail therapy on Avenue Louise,the fashion hub of Brussels. There are also thrills andspills at the revamped Spa-Francorchamps grand prixcircuit which, this year, welcomes back the F1 circus forthe Belgian Grand Prix. See page 12 for details of how towin a luxury, all-inclusive break to this year’s event,including a chance to be part of the action in the pit lane.Whatever you’re looking for in a holidaydestination—from the bustle and glamour of a big city, toa rural food retreat or a golf and spa break—southernBelgium has something for everyone. Check it out andchange those preconceptions.Richard Cree, Editor3 RESTAURANTSSome of the hottest places to eat in Brussels4 DATES FOR THE DIARYYour “what’s on” guide to southern Belgium7 PROFILEBelgian beer ambassador Marc Stroobandt on why beer matters8 LIVINGWhy Wallonia claims to be the heart of “Latin Europe”11 SIX OF THE BESTLive it up in a luxury hotel12 COMPETITIONWin an incredible trip to the Belgian Grand Prix14 25 THINGS TO DO IN BRUSSELSInsider tips on getting the most from the capital18 ARCHITECTUREBrussels has an Art Nouveau heritage to savour20 FOOD AND DRINKPrepare for a gastronomic adventure22 GOLFThe courses in Wallonia may be its best-kept secretVisit the After Hours website at www.afterhoursmagazine.co.uk>Editor Richard Cree >Art Director John Poile >Designer Gary Lonergan >Sub Editor Kevin Rozario >Picture Editor Jane Moss >Group EditorJoanna Higgins >Contributors Amy Duff, Emma E Forrest, Andie Jones, Sarah Hanson, Tina Nielsen, Raúl Peschiera, David Woodward>Advertising Director Jo Appleyard >Advertising Manager Claire Henderson >Client Sales Manager Fiona O’Mahony >Sales Executives AstridFahie >Production Manager Lisa Robertson >Production Controller Jim Campbell >Publishing Director Tom Nash >Chief Operating OfficerAndrew Main WilsonPublished by Director Publications Ltd for the Institute of Directors, 116 Pall Mall, London, SW1Y 5ED.Opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect IoD policy. The IoD accepts no responsibility for views expressed by contributors.Editorial 020 7766 8950 director-ed@iod.com Advertising 020 7766 8900 director-ads@iod.comProduction 020 7766 8960 production@iod.com Subscriptions 020 7766 8866© All rights reserved. Reproduction in whole or part without written permission is strictly prohibited. Colour transparencies, manuscripts or disks submitted to the magazine are sent at owner’s risk;neither the company nor its agents accept any responsibility for loss or damage. Unsolicited material should be accompanied by a stamped self-addressed envelope.(THIS PAGE) OPT: EXPEDO (COVER) OPT: JEANMART/OPT: JON MARTIN2 BRUSSELS AND BEYOND 2 MAY 2007


CALENDARDates for your diaryMay26 June to 21 October Europeans Look atEuropeans, BrusselsA portrait of the inhabitants of Europe incomic strip form, drawing on European comicstrip creativity since 1957.27 June to 29 July Musical Month in StHubert (Province of Luxembourg)50th Juillet Musical, with jazz and classicalmusic concerts in and around St Hubert. Oneof the most important summer festivals inthe Province of Luxembourg.29 June to 1st July Couleur Café, Tour &Taxi, BrusselsA highly atmospheric, multicultural musicfestival on the magnificent Tour & Taxis site.Apart from stage performances, cultures fromall over the world come together in theGlobal Village.25-27 May Brussels Jazz Marathon12th international jazz marathon with over135 free concerts and 450 musicians atvarious venues across Brussels, including theGrand Place.28 May Imperial laps at WaterlooDifferent laps with various degrees indifficulty take you through the battle field.Classical bicycle touring on the road, sportsand family mountain biking, orientation bike.Several thousands of participants of all ages,professionals and amateurs take partevery year.June16 June to 15 August Durbuy Music Festival(Province of Luxembourg)With eight evening performances of classicalmusic and recitals in the Church of Durbuy(officially the smallest town in the world).July14 July to 14 September 31st SummerFestival of the Meuse, WalloniaThe 31st Summer Festival of the Meusespotlights the architectural riches and thevariety of the Meuse Valley. A musical scorefills the valley during the summer months,reverberating through the entire region. It’salso a great excuse to discover the castlesand other charming places in the region.1 June-28 September Roller Parade,Brussels & WalloniaFree 20 km roller parades throughout thestreets of Namur (Thursdays), Brussels(Fridays) and Mons (Saturdays).New Design hotel opening Autumn 2007Opening in Brussels in the autumn, the Dominican Hotel is part of the coalition ofhotels known as Design Hotels.Tucked behind La Monnaie, the Opera House, just offthe Grand Place, the hotel was designed by Dutch maestros FGStijl.The design makesheavy use of sweeping archways to remind guests that in the 15th century this siteonce housed a Dominican abbey.The history lesson continues with the integrationinto the hotel design of the façade of a house once owned by French painter Jacques-Louis David. The 150 rooms are all individually designed and laid out around acourtyard, which it’s claimed gives the shared spaces a feeling of “dramatic intimacy”.There’s also a brasserie, fitness room and sauna. www.dominican.beGETTY IMAGES/OPT:J JEANMART4 BRUSSELS AND BEYOND 2 MAY 2007


WHAT’S ONOPT:J JEANMART/OPT:KOUPRIANOFF18-22 July Francofolies music festival, Spa(Province of Liege)An annual musical event over five days with ahost of Belgian and French talent.19-22 July Ciney Antiques, NamurThe traditional antiques fair of Ciney attractsdozens of exhibitors and thousands ofvisitors every year.20 July The Sabbath of the “Macralles” & theBlueberry Festival, Vielsam (Eastern Cantons)One of the most authentic folk events in theArdennes, with toothless witches with noseslike nutcrackers, magic spells and a cauldronof blueberry brew.There is also a craft marketand fireworks.26 - 29 July Proximus 24 Hours of Spa,(Province of Liege)This 24-hour endurance race solely for GTcars takes place on the Spa-Francorchampsracing track and is one of the major motorsport events of the Belgian calendar.August5-16 August Celebrations for the 15th ofAugust, Outremeuse, LiegeThree days of festivities, including fleamarkets, folk dancing and opportunities totaste Peket gin and delicious “bouquettes”,pancakes typical of this part of Liege.10-19 August European Rhythms Festival,BrusselsWith several stages, this festival showcasesyoung European bands playing traditionalmusic. A warm and welcoming celebrationthat’s sociable, free and diverse.15 August 25th International BathtubRegatta, Dinant (Province of Namur)Surely the most entertaining boat race onearth. Over 250 participants make up a flotillaof vessels made out of bathtubs.18 August to 16 March 2008 ExhibitionLeonardo Da Vinci, Koekelberg Basilica, BrusselsA huge exhibition dedicated to the life andwork of Da Vinci, with original documents,scale models, notebooks and inventions.18-19 August International Festival of StreetArtists, Chassepierre (Province of Namur)This is the 34th year of this bubbly, colourfulevent, with all manner of street theatre, musicand puppetry from across Europe, Argentina,the US and Australia.18-19 August Fiesta Latina, BrusselsThe Place du Châtelain will host a trip intothe heart of the Caribbean with concerts,dances, lanterns, sunny food and beveragessuch as Caipirinhas and Mojitos.23-25 August7th Nuit des Choeurs Festival, Villers la Ville(Province of Walloon Brabant).A series of prom concerts in the floodlit ruinsof the 12th century Cistercian Villers Abbeyfeaturing international choral groups.24-26 August Ducasse, Ath (Province ofHainaut)Thousands of people take part in thisceremony dating back to the 15th century. Aprocession of giants and floats takes placeover two days, culminating in a hot airballoon festival on Sunday.25-26 August Temploux Market (Province ofNamur)The largest market in Belgium, with over1,500 exhibitors of antiques and secondhanditems.The first day is reserved for collectorsand buyers of comics. It culminates onSunday with the Coxa Nostar, a meeting ofaircooled VWs. A feast for bargain hunters.MAY 2007 2 AFTERHOURS 5


October3 October to 3 February 2008 Europalia,BrusselsThe major cultural event of the year, thisfestival combines visual arts, music, theatreand dance and gathers all 27 countries in theEU. A reflection of the entire Europeanculture and those of its member states.Theperfect way to enjoy the Year of Europe.12-14 October Superbiker, Jules TachenyCircuit, Mettet (Province of Namur)The largest SuperMoto event in the worldwith Superbiker and Starbiker events and aFreestyle show.2007 set to be abumper year forTintin fansThe after-dinner games and jokes aboutnaming famous Belgians quickly descend tolists of fictional heroes. And top of this list isusually Tintin. But for all the jokes, Belgiansare quite proud of the youthful cartoonreporter.This year is a big Tintin anniversary,as it’s the centenary of the birth of his creatorHergé, (1907 to 1983), whose real name wasGeorges Rémi or “RG”.There’s a series of events and activitiesrunning throughout the year, including arecently unveiled giant Tintin fresco insideBrussels’ Gare du Midi station; 25commemorative stamps are due to beunveiled in November by the Belgian Post;and a special Tintin flea market will be held inJuly at the Place du Jeu de Balle market.There are also reports that Spielberg’s liveaction Tintin film will finally go into preproductionthis year, after several years ofspeculation, while work is also due to beginthis year on a new Hergé museum inLouvain-La-Neuve, although it’s not expectedto open for two years.For more information visit www.tintin.comSeptember9 September to 2008 This is our StoryA key exhibition for Year of Europe, this willretrace the progress of the integration of theEuropean countries into the EU. A wholeprogramme in itself and something to refreshour collective memories.14-16 September Belgium Formula 1 GrandPrix, Spa-Francorchamps (Province of Liege)See page 12 for a chance to win VIP tickets tothis exciting weekend race.16 September Festival of the Pumpkin, andof curious and forgotten vegetables, (Noduwez)This is an unusual festival, with prizes for thelargest and “best dressed” pumpkin. Otherattractions include a craft fair, tastings of allthings pumpkin and a sale of rare seeds.DECEMBER1 DecemberChristmasmarkets inBrussels andacross Walloniaopen13-14 October 47th Ciney Antiquités and Fleamarket, NamurOne of the largest antique fairs and fleamarkets in Belgium with over 400 exhibitorsfrom Belgium, France, the UK, Germany andHolland displaying their wares in two massivehalls as well as on outside stalls.14 October ING Brussels MarathonFor those able to finish, this takes in the heartof the city, starting at the Cinquantenaire andfinishing at the Grand Place.November1-30 November Hors Piste, the EuropeanCircus Festival, Celebrate 50 years of the Treatyof Rome with circus creations from Europe.BITC:O VAN DE KERCHOVE/GETTY IMAGES/BITC:JL VANDEWIELE6 BRUSSELS AND BEYOND 2 MAY 2007


BEERBEER NECESSITIESMaster beer sommelier MarcStroobandt wants us to take beerseriously. Tina Nielsen finds out whyOPT:STROOBANDTMARC STROOBANDT gaveup law for beer. Trying tomake ends meet whileattending law school inBrussels he took a job at thespeciality beer bar next tohis house. “The landlordinstilled in me an interestand through his bar I came into contact with alot of breweries and brewers. I was able to dodifferent courses about Belgian beers and itended up becoming my passion,” he says.Stroobandt has adopted a wine buff’sapproach to beer. He has devised a colourbasedsystem, similar to wine, dividing beersinto blond, white, amber, dark and flavoured.As with wine, he also thinks of beers in termsof locale, because the type of beer a brewerproduces in Belgium depends on the region. InBrussels, for example, Lambic beer is brewedtraditionally. The beer is fermentedspontaneously with no yeast added. The naturalbacteria start a fermentation and the beer is thenmatured in oak barrels for at least a year. “This ishow beer used to be made all over the world,”says Stroobandt. “You mix your grains and waterand wait and see what happens.”Like many wine aficionados, he also finds itimpossible to point to a favourite. “It dependson the time of the year, what mood I’m in andwhat I’m eating,” he says. With more than 450different brands of Belgian beer, it’s a difficultquestion, even for a master.It is 25 years since Stroobandt decided tofollow his passion and a decade since thisMaster Beer Sommelier started educating theBritish on Belgian beer. Stroobandt rates Britishbeer highly and says he would like to teachBelgians more about it. “In Belgium, with ourbeer we are overexposed to flavour, so Britishbeers taste bland. Belgians come to the UK andsay ‘why do they drink this? It’s so bland’. Youhave to learn to appreciate the subtle flavours.”Today, Belgian universities offer “beerdegrees”, but Stroobandt learnt the tradethrough curiosity, and he still goes on breweryHow to taste beerthe Stroobandt way1 Check the colour It tells you about the flavour.2 Look at the appearance If it is cloudy, thatindicates that it is unfiltered.3 Smell it Half of taste is determined by ournose, so have a good sniff.The smell also determinesthe glass it is served in. A beer that is created withsmell in mind should be served in a round glass.4 Determine the “feel” of the beer Take asip and judge how strong it is and assess its bodyand character. In the UK, people are obsessed withalcohol volume to measure how strong a beer is. InBelgium the strength is just part of the flavour.5 Finally, taste the beer It is called the slurptest.Take a sip and suck in air—slurping intensifiesthe flavour. Look for three basic flavours always inbeer: bitter, sweet and sour. But also look for moresubtle flavours, such as fruits or herbs.courses. “I try to keep in contact with thebrewmasters and keep up with new ideas.” Hesays breweries come up with new products allthe time, citing the Champagne beer, BiéreBrut, as an example. “They brew the beer inBelgium and then transport it to theChampagne region, where it is re-fermentedwith champagne yeast and finished off likechampagne,” he says.Over the past few years, Stroobandt says hehas seen a rising interest in beer and he isdetermined to move it up the social ladder. “Iwould really like to see beer regarded with thesame respect as wine,” he says. “A lot of peoplefeel intimidated in a restaurant. They feel theyhave to drink wine, although they fancy a beer.”But habits are changing. “A lot of restaurantsnow have a beer list and sommeliers are happierto talk about beer. But there is a lot to do. It isabout discovering new dimensions to beer andbreaking the cultural conventions.”MAY 2007 2 AFTERHOURS 7


LIVINGTHE THRILL OF THE PLACEIt may not be well known as a first-choice holiday destination, but there’s more to Belgium than youthink. As Raúl Peschiera discovers, with a keen sense of “the art of living” the south of the country iseager to shout about its Latin European mentality and way of life. Illustration by Adrian ValenciaAholiday in Belgium was the sort of thing parentswould threaten their children with if they didn’tpipe down on the long motorway drive out ofCalais. For many Brits, Belgium is a country whosenational dish is the waffle and which offers a landscapereminiscent of an airport parking lot in the rain. Like taking apicnic on a Milton Keynes roundabout, why would anyonechoose to go to Belgium?But head down a little further south and you enterWallonia, a place so at odds with our image of Belgium thateven its name sounds as if you are making it up. Headingtowards the Ardennes valley, you’ll find rolling hills plumpwith forests and villages boasting such good food andconviviality they can rival your favourite Tuscan trattoria. Andthat’s the point. Visitors as far back as Victor Hugo have,upon discovering Wallonia, waxed lyrical of this oftenforgotten part of Europe, even though, according to FrancoiseScheepers, director of the Belgian Tourist Office Brussels &Wallonia in London, southern Belgium’s culture is moreMediterranean than Northern Europe.“As a French-speaking people, southern Belgians are LatinEuropeans as much as the French or the Italians,” says8 BRUSSELS AND BEYOND 2 MAY 2007


Scheepers. “Belgium’s standard of living, including ourhedonism for good living, gourmet food and drinks, has morein common with Mediterranean countries in southern Europe.Although we are located in northern Europe, we have a veryMediterranean mentality and way of life. The only thingsmissing are the sandy beaches and palm trees.”Clearly Latin Europe’s “Big Three”—France, Italy andSpain—dominate perceptions of Latin European culture. Addto this the fact that Belgium’s industrial hub lies in theFlemish-speaking north and dominates the nation’sinternational trade and it is easy to see how chronicallyoverlooked the French-speaking southern half has been.Even if you mention that Wallonia has some of the finestgolf courses in Europe, forest-trimmed lakes, dramatic cliffsplunging to rushing riverbanks and enchanting chateaux,overlooking some of the most arresting views in Europe,getting people to change their ideas about Belgium is as easyas convincing them that a magical land lies at the back oftheir wardrobe. This love for good life extended far enough toinspire Belgian chef Nico Schuerman, who trained at theprestigious CREPAC School in Belgium and at 16 was theyoungest-ever chef de partie at London’s Savoy Hotel.“The big difference between the Flemish and Walloons isnot so much the language but a completely different mentality,”said Schuerman. “The Walloons come from a different culture.They enjoy drinking, eating and partying. Belgians are verysocial people; in a bar or on a train in Belgium, you can’t sitdown without the person next to you talking to you.”While they love having a good time, Schuerman adds thatit’s important for visitors to adapt to a more social culture tofully appreciate the country. “Unlike in France, the culture isnot in your face; you have to look for it. It’s like a village. Youhave to talk to people to find out where to go.”With such a social and communicative culture, he adds,Belgians are also naturally entrepreneurs. As a case in point,after working across Europe and Australia, Schuerman startedhis own brand of Belgian cuisine at his restaurant Chambar inVancouver, Canada. The restaurant, he says, combines theintense attention to detail of traditional haute cuisine with hisown creative drive to create something unique. “You want toMAY 2007 2 AFTERHOURS 9


LIVINGSix easy ways to spot a Latin EuropeanThey love good foodForget the cut-price menu du jour, a meal with Latin Europeansis a tour de force requiring more cutlery than you havefingers and a forest of glasses.They love to be in groupsWhen they’re looking for a good time (and when are they not)they like a crowd. Where tables are pushed together and the staff knoweveryone’s first names, there they are.They don’t shy away from musicRather than a drunken croaking karaoke of “My Way”, they’ll bringinstruments and sing for their supper, with rousing songs, wheremountains, myths and maidens bring tears to the eyes of locals.Everyone is familySo don’t be surprised if a group of Latin Europeans invites you to jointhem, treats you to a meal, fills you with drink and teaches you songs.They are not shyWhether you’re in town for a weekend or have just purchases that prettywhitewashed house in the village, they’ll invite you over, introduce theirfamily and ask if you will join them at a party tomorrow.They love conversationA Latin European will talk about anything. Whether it is aboutnational elections or how to fix a leaking sprocket, they demonstrate abewildering show of verve and passion.twist something a little bit and be more original—but what Ilearnt in Belgium is how to push the boundaries of cuisineand treat food very seriously,” he says.No wonder southern Belgians find themselves alightingfrequently on the phrase “l’art de vivre”, since they appear soimbued with the good things in life, including good weather,that they let those willing to head south find out forthemselves how a little time in Wallonia can be a revelation.This “l’art de vivre” has as much to do with the geographyof the country as it does with the people’s love for good foodand drink. Perhaps the most telling description of whatdefines this “l’art” is that when you are in Wallonia, the localsare eager to share the largesse that their country has tooffer—whether it’s sampling the local cuisine at Tchantches inLiege, where regulars’ beer glasses hang from the ceiling, orplaying the third nine at the Royal Golf Course du Hainautnear Mons, there is a certain uninhibited generosity.This generosity has a base in Wallonia’s village culture, butfor Jean Galler, founder of Galler, one of Belgium’s leadingchocolatiers, his passion is inextricably joined with the drive tointroduce to people new and different tastes. “Our box ofchocolates is like Belgium—it has a lot of diversity,” says“TheWalloonscomefrom adifferentculture.They areintoenjoyingdrinking,eatingandpartying.Belgiansare verysocialpeople”Galler. “I try and open new ways of mixing taste. Two yearsago I launched a praline with spiced curry, last year I launchedchocolates with rosemary and violet chocolates and this yearits chocolates with nori, used in sushi.”Far from playing it safe, Galler constantly reaches for newculinary pleasures. Whether it’s in the food or hospitality,Belgians share a magnanimous spirit. “Everybody’s differentand although we have tastes in common, about 50 per cent ofour tastes are unique to us,” says Galler. “I think that it is oneof the beautiful things in gastronomy.”With its combination of generosity and creativity, Gallerembodies Belgium’s l’art de vivre. When you’ve indulged intoo much art—or chocolate—you can visit Spa, the town thatwas the mother to all health treatment centres andrevitalising waters. With the same tradition that wowed Plinythe Elder in the 1st century, Thermes de Spa is a Mecca forspa seekers, with pools, hammams and jacuzzis.With so much to offer in such little space, southernBelgium has every chance of becoming another Britishholiday hotspot—and while the locals may not turn jaded,having a look before one of the last hidden gems of Europe isbrought to light looks like a good idea.10 BRUSSELS AND BEYOND 2 MAY 2007


WHERE TO STAYTHE GOOD LIFEThe Royal Windsor Hotel,BrusselsThe worlds of fashion and interiors have beenconverging for a long time. With Brusselsgetting a reputation as a European fashioncentre, it makes sense that hotel interiors inthe city should reflect that.The Royal WindsorHotel has asked 12 leading fashion designersto each design a room. Its collection of“fashion rooms” offers a striking take on thedesign hotel concept. Each room reflects thesignature style of its designer—from an archlymodern, very masculine room by Jean-PaulKnott (right) to the Italianate splendour of theNina Meert room. If fashion’s not your thing,check out the impressive Royal Suite instead.www.royalwindsorbrussels.comFor those travellers seeking a stylish,luxury destination, there are plenty ofplaces on offer in southern Belgium.Richard Cree checks in to some topnotchhotelsHostellerie Lafarque,PepinsterThe picturesque town of Pepinster in theVesdre Valley is where the Vesdre and Hoëgnerivers meet. Here you can wander lazilythrough the sort of countryside that, inneighbouring France, would be packed withBrits.The Hostellerie Lafarque is a charmingcountry inn, set in lovely grounds. Most of therooms have balconies and there’s also a greatrestaurant, offering seasonal and localproduce, including vegetables from thehotel’s garden. www.hostellerie-lafarque.comChâteau de Namur,NamurOne building rises above the rest in thecapital of Wallonia, and that’s Château deNamur. An historic château, this hotel isunlikely to win awards for design, but takeone of the larger suites and you will enjoystunning views over the town and valley.There’s also plenty of fine dining to be had,again based around local, seasonal specialties.www.chateaudenamur.comMANOIRE DE LEBIOLESRocco Forte Hotel Amigo,BrusselsDo others do luxury hotels as well as RoccoForte? Yes, several people do. But there’s nodoubting that the master hotelier is on top ofhis game with this recently renovated gemright by the Grand Place. If you’re in the moodto splash out, then head for the top floor andthe Blaton Suite—named after the hotel’sfounder—which has a fantastic 60sq mrooftop terrace (above), with great viewsacross the city. All the rooms feature printsfrom Belgian Surrealist masters René Magritteand Marcel Broodthaers. www.hotelamigo.comAuberge du Moulin Hideux,NoirefontaineWhile in the countryside, spend time relaxingin the depths of the Ardennes Forest. Aubergedu Moulin Hideux (above) is located in theSemois Valley and although it’s set in a 17thcentury mill, it comes with modern amenitiessuch as an indoor swimming pool and tenniscourt.There are only 12 rooms and suites, sothere’s little chance of bumping into crowds,and the restaurant offers a modern take onclassic local food, including wonderfulArdennes game during the hunting season.www.moulinhideux.beManoir de LébiolesSpaHidden in the depths of the beautifulArdennes Forest, Manoir de Lébioles is theclassic fairytale castle. It offers privacy andluxury in equal measure and, despite beingsurrounded by 300 hectares of woodland, isstill in the town of Spa; the town that, thanksto its refreshing and medicinal waters has lentits name to luxury hotels all over the world.With a new spa centre due this year, theemphasis is on discreet relaxation, with ahigh-quality restaurant and 10 individuallydesigned suites. www.manoirdelebioles.comMAY 2007 2 AFTERHOURS 11


Unpredictable, exciting and loved by drivers and fans,as Richard Cree discovers, it’s no surprise that theworld of F1 is glad to see the Belgian Grand Prix andSpa-Francorchamps back on the racing calendarTHE FAST SHOWWhatever sport you follow, there’s alwayssomeone ready to claim “things aren’twhat they used to be”. For Formula 1,the complaints focus on the increasingamounts of money spent by the big teams, and thetechnical complexity of the cars—seen by some asreducing the role of the driver—and a general lack ofexcitement andunpredictability.Thanks to thearrival—and hugesuccess—of youngBritish newcomer,Lewis Hamilton,such naysayers arebeing given less of ahearing. But evenwhen F1 did get abit repetitive, thecynics had to admitthat one circuitstood apart from therest as a beacon ofunpredictability—Belgium’s Spa-Francorchampscircuit. Whether it’s Michael Schumacher’s 1998 clashwith David Coulthard—after which the Germanallegedly stormed into the McLaren garage toconfront the square-jawed Scot—or the more regularoccurrence of half the circuit being bathed in sunshinewhile another part is experiencing a downpour, theBelgian Grand Prix has always had fans and driverson the edge of their seats.Originally built in 1921 as a 14km circuit, the firstsingle-seater race at Spa took place in 1925. Sincethen it has been more or less a regular feature of theF1 season, apart from a period in the 1970s when itwas considered too dangerous. It emerged again inthe early 1980s as a 7km circuit and soon reestablisheditself in the hearts of F1 fans.The roll call of winners at Spa reads like a Who’sWho of motor racing, with great drivers from Fangioto Schumacher having won here. Perhaps predictably,Schumacher has more wins at Spa than anyone—withsix wins to his name—although it was KimiRaikkonen in the McLaren who took the chequeredflag at the last Belgian Grand Prix to be held, in 2005.The BelgianGrand Prix is ahighlight of theF1 calendar.Kimi Raikkonentook thechequered flagat Spa in 2005(above). Thisyear, youngBritish hopefulLewis Hamilton(above right)will aim tofollow JackieStewart andothers (belowand far left)12 BRUSSELS AND BEYOND 2 MAY 2007


Win a VIP tripto the BelgianGrand PrixCOMPETITIONIt’s your chance to rub shoulders with the stars of Formula 1. After Hours,inassociation with the Belgian Tourist Office-Brussels & Wallonia, is offering one luckyreader the chance to win a fabulous all-inclusive weekend for two at the 2007Belgian Grand Prix.The weekend is the perfect combination of relaxation and excitement andbegins with a Channel crossing, courtesy of Eurotunnel. Then it’s on to the 18thcentury splendour and luxury of a suite at the Chateau des Thermes Hotel and Sparesort in Chaudfontaine, famous for its relaxing treatments.The hotel is only a short hop from the Spa-Francorchamps circuit, which this yearwelcomes back the Belgian Grand Prix. Here the winner will enjoy Raidillongrandstand tickets, complete with full hospitality. As an Eau Rouge VIP guest, you’llnot only enjoy the finest in local food and drink, you’ll also have access to thefamous Eau Rouge for the entire three days, including access to the “pitwalk” andpaddock. This is your chance to mix it with the stars of modern motor racing andtaste the glamour of the F1 lifestyle for yourself. To enter the competition, answerthe following question:ALAMY/REX/GETTYThis September sees the return of Belgian GrandPrix, after renovations to the circuit during 2006.What will happen this year is as difficult to predict asever. There’s always a fair chance of rain—indeed atone time it rained at every Belgian Grand Prix for 20years in a row. Although it’s too early to call, withLewis Hamilton’s current form, there’s a fair chance aBritish driver will again make a good showing. It hascertainly been a happy hunting ground for Britishdrivers in the past, with Jim Clark winning four in arow from 1962 to 1965 (in which year John Surteestook the flag). Jackie Stewart, John Watson, NigelMansell, Damon Hill and David Coulthard have allwon the race.Excitement will not be in short supply. As MichaelSchumacher told Eurosport in 2004: “[Spa] retainsthe characteristics of the old and new style of tracks,and is different from modern race tracks. Althoughtoday’s [cars] make it easier to negotiate, it’s still achallenge. Piloting the perfect trajectory here,especially in certain places, gives you the chills.”The Belgian Grand Prix is from 14-16 September, 2007The last Belgian Grand Prix was won by:A. Michael SchumacherB. Kimi RaikkonenC. David CoulthardTo answer the question, go to www.belgiumtheplaceto.be and click on the specialAfter Hours Reader Exclusive Grand Prix Competition link , or send your answer ona postcard with your name, address and telephone number to:After Hours Grand Prix CompetitionBelgian Tourist Office-Brussels & Wallonia,217 Marsh Wall, London, E14 9FJ.The closing date for entries is Friday 1 June, 2007.This competition is open to all members of the IoD resident in the UK, except nationals of Belgiumand Luxembourg. It is not open to employees of the IoD or the Belgian Tourist Office-Brussels &Wallonia, nor to any other relevant or associated company. The prize is not transferable, norrefundable, and no cash or credit alternatives will be offered.


BRUSSELS1 Test your metalRegardless of how much you travel, the Atomium isone of the most bizarre structures you’ll ever see.The102-metre high structure, in the shape of a cubiccrystal molecule, was built for the 1958 Brussels WorldFair, with escalators to deliver visitors between thedifferent exhibitions in the nine spheres.Therefurbished building, reopened last year, now houses achic new café and restaurant (with great views) in thetop sphere.€9 adults (free for under-12s). Square de l’Atomium, 1020Brussels, 00 32 2 475 47 77. www.atomium.be2 Revel in Punch & Judy, Euro-styleTucked away down an alleyway off the touristy Ruedes Bouchers, Toone is a puppet theatre with a historythat dates back to 1830. By day the theatre’s woodenactors dangle from the ceiling in the atmospheric bar,and every evening they come to life in noisyrenditions of such classics as the Hunchback of NotreDame, Romeo and Juliet or the Passion.€10 adults, €7 under-26. Impasse Ste Petronile, 66 Rue duMarché-aux-Herbes, 1000 Brussels. 00 32 2 511 71 37.www.toone.be3 Try some retail therapyA majestic former royal depot built at the start of the20th century, Tour & Taxis was used as a warehouseuntil 1987, before being restored and transformed intoa glamorous urban centre, with offices and an internalstreet of trendy design shops and restaurants,including the stylish gourmet Tasso café.Tour & Taxis, Avenue du Port 86c, 1000 Brussels. 00 32 2420 60 69. www.tourtaxis.comALAMYmore to Brussels than Eurocratsand the obvious tourist stops. Here,Emma E Forrest presents an “Insider’sGuide” to the Belgian capital25There’sfun things to do inBRUSSELS14 BRUSSELS AND BEYOND 2 MAY 2007


BRUSSELS5 Use some pedal powerThanks to a new eco-friendly initiative by the citycouncil, you can borrow a bike for as little as €1.50 aweek to cycle around town, working off those waffles.Visit www.cyclocity.be (the site is not in English).6 Be a culture vultureYou need to book ahead for a performance at theopulent La Monnaie Opera House.The lavish operas,recitals and dance productions will impress CoventGarden season ticket holders, while novices will revelin the romantic atmosphere and regal foyer bars.Place de la Monnaie, 1000 Brussels, 00 32 70 23 39 39.www.lamonnaie.be7 Drink like a BelgianAn Art Nouveau institution, the Falstaff is a greatcafé/bar to start to work your way through specialitybeers and to try out Belgian specialities, includingcheese croquettes and tomate-crevettes: tasty beeftomatoes stuffed with tangy grey shrimps. Or try theVIP bar at the Belga Queen.Falstaff 19-25 Rue Henri Maus, 00 32 2 511 8789,www.falstaff-brussels.be; Belga Queen, Rue du Fosséaux Loups 32,1000 Brussels. 00 32 2 217 21 87.www.belgaqueen.beBITC VIA OPT/ALAMY/OPT: JON MARTIN/ OPT: JP REMY—LE FORNEAU4 Take a tour to get your bearingsForget the bus and take a tram, dating back to themid-1930s, for a spin around the city. As you cruisethough city municipalities such as Woluwe, Etterbeekand Ixelles, and past the major sights of the city toLaeken, home to the Royal Palace, your guide willreveal hidden treasures and offer up intriguinganecdotes. After a stop at the Jubilee Park at Heysel,return via Jette, Koekelberg, Forest and Saint-Gilles.10am-1.45pm, Sundays (April-October).€12 per adult,€6 for under-12s. Commentary in French, but also inEnglish for groups of 25 people (minimum) on request.Musée du Transport Urbain Bruxellois, 364b Avenue deTervuren, Woluwe St Pierre, 1150 Brussels.8 Eat like a BelgianDespite its rich food heritage and traditions, Brusselsis not scared to try something new, and Le Fourneau,a tapas-style restaurant run by Evan Triantopoulos, isjust that. While staying true to local tradition, usinglocal and seasonal ingredients, Le Fourneau adds atwist, with bar-style seating, an open kitchen and amenu of small dishes separated into “principals”(basic dishes),“indispensables” (side dishes) and“extras” (stand-out specials).Le Fourneau, Place Sainte-Catherine 8, 1000 Brussels00 32 2 513 10 02.


9 Try the silent treatmentHoused within the majestic Bozar Centre for Fine Arts,the Film Museum was added in the 1960s, with anentrance in the Rue Baron Horta. In addition to ascreening room containing 100 seats showing classicand cult films, an exhibition space was created forpresenting the early history of film. A cosy cinema forsilent films, accompanied by the piano, is also housedin the building.Rue Ravenstein 23, 1000 Brussels, 00 32 2 507 82 00,www.bozar.be10 Eat with a fungal inflectionCafé des Spores is an elegant bistro that celebratesthe mushroom in all its forms. Choose from the dailyspecials chalked up on the board, and then get thesommelier to choose the perfect wine to match.Thisplace has excellent food, a relaxed atmosphere andfriendly service.Chaussée d’Alsemberg 103, 1060 Brussels,00 32 2 534 13 03.11 Get animatedA temple to what they call the “ninth art”, the CartoonMuseum is a spectacular 4,000 sq m space that gives acomprehensive overview of the history of the comicstrip. Apart from the eye-catching originals by the likesof Tintin creator Hergé, the museum is worth visitingfor its location: the beautiful Waucquez Warehouses,considered to be one of the masterpieces of BelgianArt Nouveau architect Victor Horta.€6.20 adults (€2.50 under-12s). Rue des Sables 20, 1000Brussels, 00 32 2 219 1980. www.cbbd.be12 Switch off your iPodThere’s more to musical instruments than your FenderStratocaster and the Musée des Instruments deMusique houses no fewer than 1,500 instruments foryou to see and hear.There are 90 themes to discoveras you weave through the four floors of the beautifullyrestored Art Nouveau former department store, from ahistorical tour to a guide to the development ofkeyboards and mechanical instruments.€5 adults (€4 under-26). Musical Instruments Museum(MIM), Rue Montagne de la Cour 2, 1000 Brussels,00 32 2 545 01 30, www.mim.fgov.be13 Improve your dress senseAs all fashionistas know, Brussels is a hotbed of worldclassfashion talent, thanks to avant-garde designersincluding Veronique Branquinho, Raf Simons, OlivierTheyskens and Martin Margiela.The series of ModeDesign Brussels walks takes you on a tour of thefashion hotspots, including the trendy St Gery area,upmarket Avenue Louise and the Galeries St Hubert.www.modedesignbrussels.be14 Check out the dish of the dayAccording to locals, L’Ultime Atome, the trendy bar inthe Matongé district, has the best-looking waiters inBrussels.You can visit to unwind after a day of amblingaround town with a glass of wine or a freshly madebanana milkshake. Feeling peckish? Sample theirhomemade ice creams, a sandwich made with organicbread or a slice of cake baked in their kitchen.L’Ultime Atome, 14 Rue Saint Boniface, 1050 Brussels,00 32 2 511 13 67. www.ultime-atome.com15 Forget your diet for the dayButtery brown, sugar “speculoos” biscuits are one ofBelgium’s culinary specialities, served small with coffeeor created large in wooden moulds.You won’t find abetter example than Biscuiterie Dandoy, a family firmthat has been making these biscuits for generations.31 Rue au Beurre, 1000, Brusselswww.biscuiteriedandoy.be16 Discover Belgian chocolatePierre Marcolini is a Belgian artisan who has elevatedchocolate-making to an art form. He dreams up daringcombinations of flavours for his exotic confectionsand breathtaking sculptural pastries, using only thefinest cocoa beans from Venezuela, Madagascar,Ecuador and Mexico.Marcolini’s flagship store is at 1 Rue des Minimes, PlaceSablon, 1000 Brussels. 00 32 2 514 12 06.www.marcolini.beALAMY/BITC VIA OPT (2)16 BRUSSELS AND BEYOND 2 MAY 2007


BRUSSELSALAMY/EYEVINE17 Pay homage to HortaThe city is littered with sensational buildings in the ArtNouveau style, but architecture fans will want to visitthe house of Victor Horta, the most prominentarchitect of the movement in Belgium. See his workinside and out, from the ornate exterior to the newlyrestoredfurnishings of his home and its salon,boudoir, garden, bedroom, bathroom and studio.€7 adults (€3.50 under-26). Horta Museum, 25 RueAméricaine, 1060 Brussels. 00 32 2 543 04 90.www.hortamuseum.be18 Stock up on influential designsOne of Belgium’s most celebrated fashion designers,Olivier Strelli has been a cornerstone of the flourishingBrussels fashion scene since he opened his firstboutique in 1978. He’s dressed most of the big stars,including the Rolling Stones. Now it’s your turn.72 Av Louise 1050 Brussels 00 32 2 512 56 07www.strelli.be19 Plan a serious gastronomic eveningYou’ll need to reserve at least two months in advancefor a table at the elegant family-run, two Michelin starrestaurant Comme Chez Soi. Foodies should book theHost’s Table, where they can watch the master chefsperforming in the kitchen. Expect to salivate overdishes such as grilled John Dory with thyme, mixedking crab and crustacean coulis with coriander, orsuckling pig with fresh morels and broad beans.Comme Chez Soi, Place Rouppe 23, 1000 Brussels,00 32 2 512 29 21. www.commechezsoi.be20 Take the praline testLearn how chocolate goes from bean to mouth withthe exhibitions and chocolate-making demonstrationsat the Museum of Cocoa and Chocolate, a compactbut tasty museum in a listed building just off thecentral Grand Place.€5 adults (free for under-12s). 9-11 Rue de la Tête d’Or,1000 Brussels, 00 32 2 514 20 48, www.mucc.be21 Test the watersThe town’s port area before the river was filled in thelate 19th century, Place St Catherine is now a vibrantsquare specialising in seafood restaurants. LeFourneau is one of the most exciting places to eat,with imaginative dishes including king crab cannelloniand asparagus grilled with orange butter.8 Place Sainte-Catherine, 1000 Brussels, 00 32 2 513 1002.22 Don’t break the bankBrussels’ answer to TKMaxx, Dod is a great place torake for bargain designer clothes and accessories withup to 50 per cent off. As well as the five-storeyflagship, there are stores specialising in children’sclothes, lingerie and menswear, all on the same road.Dod, 64 Rue du Bailli 1050 Brussels, 00 32 2 640 3898.www.dod.be23 Hone your bargaining skillsPick up a deal or two on crockery and crystal in theSablons area.It’s €37 for 30 pieces at Côté Vaisselle at 14, RueBodenbroeck or priced by the kilo at La Vaisselle au Kiloat 8, Rue Bodenbroek 1000 Brussels.24 Meet a surrealist masterThe former home of Belgian artist René Magritte iswhere he and fellow Surrealists used to hang out. Paya visit for a lesson in the movement’s history and tosee the lamp-post that stars in his famous The Empireof Lights painting.€7 adults. 135 Rue Esseghem, 1090 Brussels. 00 32 2 42826 26, www.magrittemuseum.be.25 Make an avant-garde statementA one-stop shop for discovering the best of Belgianfashion designers, Stijl stocks collections from DriesVan Noten, Xavier Delcour, Olivier Theyskens and AnnDemeulemeester amongst others.Rue Antoine Dansaert 74, 1000 Brussels.00 32 2 512 03 13.MAY 2007 2 AFTERHOURS 17


18 BRUSSELS AND BEYOND 2 MAY 2007AXIOM/EVALDRE OPT REMY/JEEP NOVAK/MARCEL VANHULST


FANS OF ARCHITECTURE will find fewcities with as much to offer asBrussels, especially for those keen onArt Nouveau. For one of the city’smost famous architects, Victor Horta,was also the first to take what hadpreviously been an interior style andtranslate it into a new school ofarchitecture. For those keen onwalking, a tour of the city revealsseveral of his buildings still standing,with some open to the public,including his old house (mainpicture, left) now home to theHorta Museum.Other Art Nouveau delights inthe city include the Old EnglandBuilding (bottom, left) and the Ruede L’Arbre Bénit (bottom, far left).Several other buildings are still ineveryday use, including the UltiemeHallucinatie Café (top right), whiledoorways all over the city showplenty of Art Nouveau flourishes.4CORNERS/JOHN WARBURTON LEE (2)CLASSICS NOUVEAUMAY 2007 2 AFTERHOURS 19


REGIONAL FOODA DINING BREEDWith theglitteringMichelinstars toprove it,Belgians arefirst-ratefoodiesand theydemand thevery best, asTina NielsendiscoversMention Belgian food and drink and thoughtsimmediately turn to mussels, chocolate and beer.They may be the country’s most famous exports,but they are not representative of Belgiangastronomy. Locals regard Belgian cuisine to be as good asFrance’s—but in German-sized portions.“Good food and gastronomy is a national obsession inBelgium,” says Massimo Ciraolo, co-owner and chef at ChezMassimo in Tilleur, near Liège (www.chezmassimo.be).“We love simple, popular restaurants but also the refinedvenues that pioneer fusion cuisine. Belgians will travel 100miles to eat a speciality in a specific restaurant,” he says.A typical feature of Belgian cuisine is the use of fruits,such as apples, plums and grapes. Each region has its ownspeciality, ranging from river trout to game, chicken to localpastries. Brussels is renowned for its mussels and chips, whileHesbaye in the south is known for its use of beetroot andcarrot. The Ardennes region, popular for its abundance offresh trout and freshwater lobster, also offers excellent wildboar, stag and roebuck, in season.Belgium has more Michelin stars per inhabitant thanFrance. Not that the coveted stars mean that much. As Ciraoloexplains: “In Belgium we don’t care about Michelin stars;word of mouth is the ultimate guide for Belgians these days.”Ciraolo emphasises the famous generosity in restaurants.“A croque-monsieur would never come on a plate without arich crudité salad, whereas in France any additional décor onthe plate is considered a side dish and charged accordingly.”Belgium is a nation of demanding diners, and theywelcome gourmet visitors with equally high standards.Restaurants know the expectations and the food always takescentre stage. “A place with a nice ambience cannot survive ifthe food isn’t up to it, but a modest place with pleasantservice and good food will prosper,” says Ciraolo. He cites LaMarée, a rustic and simple family-run Brussels fish restaurantwith high-quality food, as a good example. Or Le Fourneau,also in Brussels, which showcases modern fusion food,currently a popular trend in Belgium. Both establishments,although very different, are popular because they focus onquality food and good service.Unsurprisingly, to go with the food, beer tops the list.Marc Stroobandt, a master beer sommelier at Specialty BeerMerchants, explains that there are two types of bars inBelgium. “The normal pub will have a variety of about 30different beers. Every pub has that wide selection. Then youhave the specialist beer bars, which you will find in everytown and village. These places have from 200 to 2,000different beers.” The Delirium Café in Brussels stocks an20 BRUSSELS AND BEYOND 2 MAY 2007


OPT AVANTAGE/ABL/OPT: JON MARTIN/OPT: JEAN-FRANÇOIS MARECHAL (2007)impressive 2,007 different kinds of beer and every year it addsanother one.To get the best beer experience in Belgium, Stroobandtsays visitors should ask the bartender for recommendations.Unlike the UK, in Belgium there are high standards forcatering staff who are trained thoroughly to advise customers.“They are passionate and knowledgeable. In Belgium, thecatering industry is a career and you are less likely to seestudents working behind the bar,” he says. “People in their60s and 70s work in bars and restaurants. They learn thetrade and they are proud of it.”Traditionally Belgian beer is paired with another localproduct that Belgium is less well known for—cheese. Belgiumproduces around 400 different cheeses and a common sight inthe speciality beer bars is locals enjoying a cheese platter withtheir beer. “What surprisespeople is that we tend to drinka lot of blond and white beerswith cheese. People are usedto having red wine and portwith cheese, but these coverup the flavour of cheese, whilea blond or white beer cutsthrough the flavour.”In Belgium, cheese andbeer work hand in hand, a factrecognised by many brewerieswhich have joined forces withcheese factories, making beersto match specific cheeses. Themonasteries that makeTrappist beers also producecheeses. Among them are theAbbey of Orval in thesouthernmost part of Belgium“Belgians willdrive a hundredmiles to eat aspeciality ina specificrestaurant”and Chimay, which makes fourkinds of cheeses.Those into their beer canjoin a brewery tour. Stroobandtsays one of the best is theCantillon Brewery in Brussels,10 minutes from the Eurostarterminal. “This is a LambicGueuze brewery, famous forusing traditional brewing methods such as spontaneousfermentation.” Visitors can wander round the brewery andmuseum and learn about the oldest way of making beer.But beer is not the only Belgian drink. Using a selection ofBelgian malts and tap water from the Ardennes, distillerEtienne Bouillon has produced a Belgian whisky. Hailing fromthe town of Liège, Bouillon learnt the craft from Scottishmaster distiller Jim MacEwan. The whisky will be availablefrom October. Another unexpected addition to a growing listof famous Belgian exports.Massimo Ciraolo (above) says that goodfood and gastronomy is a national pastime.Below, Brussels is famous for its mussels,while Walloon game (bottom) is a localfavourite during the seasonRestaurants to visitBrussels■ Comme Chez SoiOne of Belgium’s most famous restaurants, itis seen by many as one of the world’s bestFrench restaurants. It may have fallen out withthe Michelin inspectors, but it remains a firmBrussels favourite. www.commechezsoi.be■ Aux Armes de BruxellesBrussels cuisine at its best, including musselsand frites. One of the best eateries in the citycentre, a stone’s throw from the Grand Place.www.armebrux.be■ Sea Grill BrusselsFeaturing a well supplied lobster bar, Sea GrillBrussels is a personal favourite of MassimoCiraolo, who says head chef Yves Mattagne is“one of the best”. www2.resto.be/seagrillSANGLIER DES ARDENNESDurbuyLe Sanglier des ArdennesAmong the best known eateries in Belgium,Le Sanglier des Ardennes in Durbuy (theworld’s smallest town) is renowned for animpressive wine cellar and outstanding foodto match.www.sanglier-des-ardennes.beFauvillersLe Château de StrainchampsLocated in the heart of the Ardennes, LeChâteau de Strainchamps is more than arestaurant.The castle has eight bedroomsavailable for those who want to spend a littlelonger exploring the area.The menu includesregional delicacies such as smoked ham,alongside a range meat and fish dishes.www.chateaudestrainchamps.comHuyRestaurant Li CwerneuChef Arabelle Meirlaen is well-known inBelgium, as is her restaurant in Huy. Her use ofthe best local ingredients has made her foodan unmissable experience for visitors.www.licwerneu.beUseful websites:www.cantillon.bewww.deliriumcafe.bewww.belgianwhisky.comwww.specialitybeermerchants.comMAY 2007 2 AFTERHOURS 21


Drive south of Brussels to discover dozensof superb golf courses hidden in thewooded Walloon terrain. Andie Jones teesoff at five of the bestSWINGING SOUTHWhen it comes to golf, few enthusiasts would putBelgium in their list of favourite places to play.The country’s courses are still largelyundiscovered by UK golfers, despite thepresence of around 50 high quality 18-hole courses, withanother five planned. The best known are Royal Golf Club desFagnes and Royal Waterloo, which hosted the PGA BelgianOpen in the 1980s and 1990s.Belgium has 78 golf clubs and only 47,000 members. So,unlike the UK, it is possible to play most courses at theweekends with ease. But it’s worth noting that courses expectyou to have a handicap certificate (some clubs, especially theroyal clubs, only allow golfers with a handicap of 21 or less)and you will definitely need basic liability insurance.Royal Golf Club des FagnesRoyal Golf Club des Fagnes, named after the high woodedmoor and nature preserve, is situated in eastern Belgium, inthe Liège province, near the administrative capital of the samename. At the heart of the deep forests of the Ardennes, thecourse lies on the outskirts of thefamous thermal resort of Spa, alsoknown for its motor racing. Spa is 67miles from Brussels and 17 miles fromLiege. The Royal Golf Club des Fagnes isa par 72 course and ranked among the100 best in mainland Europe.Extending over gently slopingwooded hills, the Tom Simpson design isa true classic. The club itself nestles inunspoilt hills overlooking Spa and thecourse undulates as it winds its waythrough the trees. The Royal Golf Clubdes Fagnes has hosted numerous BelgianOpen International events and isundoubtedly one of the most beautifulcourses in the country.Although hilly in places, the layoutoffers a balanced mix of flat andundulating holes with several 100-yearoldtrees, impeccable fairways andperfect greens, protected by too manybunkers for my liking.Golf du Mont GarniThis 18-hole championship golf coursewas built in 1987 on a 300-acre estateand is the work of Irish architect TomMcAuley. He has managed to preservethe site’s original character, which isheavily wooded but opens out onto thegreat agricultural plains of the NorthHainaut province.The play here is between fields andwoods on a course comprising threeloops of six holes that bring you back to the clubhouse eachtime. The terrain is fairly flat overall but well defended, asusual, by numerous bunkers and some water hazards. TheMont Garni Golf Club also has a compact six-hole course forbeginners and a driving range with 20 tees, eight of which arecovered. The highlight for me is the walk up the 18th past thelake with the clubhouse in the background. No matter whattime of year, it is an impressive sight.The clubhouse, which welcomes non-members, was builtin 1911 in an Anglo-Norman style and is stunning. It housesa pro shop, changing rooms, a fantastic restaurant, bar,spacious lounge with a fireplace and an excellent view overthe course, plus a south-facing terrace for the warmersummer evenings.OPT: JP REMY22 BRUSSELS AND BEYOND 2 MAY 2007


GOLFGolf Club d’HulencourtEstablished in 1988, this open parkland course was designedby French architect Jean-Emmanuel Rossi and is described asamong the best new courses in the country. Built on a 17thcentury estate, the immaculately kept undulating fairways andgreens offer players a feeling of comfort from the first tee. Butthe water hazards and bunkers strategically positionedtogether, coupled with the frequent windy conditions, givethis inland course the characteristics of a links, and will offera challenging round to all.HENRI CHAPELLERoyal Waterloo Golf Club“La Marache” (par 72) is a parkland championship course,designed by Fred Hawtree in 1960, which had its greensentirely renovated in 2004 by his son, to comply with USGAspecifications. Majestic and noble in every respect, the frontnine plays more open but gives way to a back nine thatweaves its way through beautiful mature woodlands. Thiselite course is one of the best in Europe and has hosted theBelgian Open on several occasions.Built in 1980 by Paul Rolin, “Le Lion” course (par 72)lies alongside the battlefield of Waterloo. Some of the holesprovide a splendid view of the famous “Butte de Lion” (themonument that commemorates the battle). The course,more recently, had the honour of hosting the LaurentPerrier Open. The undulating tree-lined course has a trulydemanding opening three holes after which it opens up alittle bit, allowing the more courageous golfer to unwrapthe “Big Dog”.Other Royal courses worth a visit include Royal Golf Clubdu Sart Tilman (Liege, Tom Simpson 1938) and Royal GolfClub du Hainaut (Tom Simpson 1933).Golf & Country Club Henri-ChapelleThe perfect place for both beginners and more experiencedgolfers, this gorgeous, hilly club offers “La Chapelle”, a sixhole, par three beginner’s course; “Le Charlemagne”, anintermediate nine-hole course; and the 18-hole “Les Viviers”(par 72). Les Viviers is named after its abundance of waterhazards, which combine with very hilly fairways to make thisa demanding but very rewarding course. All those hills mayleave you short of breath, but if they don’t, the spectacularviews of the surrounding region probably will.WaterlooWhere toplay in WalloniaRoyal Golf Clubdu Château Royald’ArdenneNamurGolf du BercuitWaterlooRoyal Golf Clubdes FagnesLiège – SpaGolf de FalnuéeNamurFive NationsGolf ClubDurbuy – Marcheen-FamenneInternationalGomzé Golf ClubLiège - SpaGolf La BruyèreWaterlooThere are many other Walloon courses in addition to the fivementioned here. As well as the two additional Royal coursesmentioned, you should also include in your schedule a trip toFive Nations Golf Club (Gary player 1990); and SeptFontaines Golf Club (Jean-Emmanuel Rossi 1987).Belgium may be famous for lace making, a love of beerand fabulous restaurants found throughout the country. Butperhaps it should also be known for its well-kept andmanicured golf clubs, built to test both amateur andprofessional alike. But ‘hush’, let’s keep that our secret.MonsBrusselsGolf club deLouvain-la-NeuveWaterlooClub de GolfMergelhofLiège – SpaGolf du MontGarniMonsGolf Club dePierpontWaterlooGolf de RigenéeWaterlooRougemont -Golf de NamurNamurRoyal Golf Clubdu Sart-TilmanLiège – SpaMarcheen-FamenneGolf du Châteaude la BawetteWaterlooGolf de DurbuyDurbuy – Marcheen-FamenneGolf de l’EmpereurWaterlooGolf & CountryClub Henri-ChapelleLiège – SpaGolf Clubd’HulencourtWaterlooNamurRoyal Golf Clubdu HainautMonsGolf Club desSept FontainesWaterlooGolf Châteaude la TournetteWaterlooRoyal WaterlooGolf ClubWaterlooLiègeSpaDurbuyMAY 2007 2 AFTERHOURS 23

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