LIEGE. This alluring Belgian city, also the birthplace of Charlemagne, sits on the Meuse River and is only an hour by train from Brussels. Ideal for a day trip, weekend getaway, or part of a more in-depth Wallonia itinerary, Liege doesn’t attract as much attention as some other Belgian cities, but it’s well worth the trip. Here’s a sampling of the many things to explore in Liege, Belgium.
The architecture in Old Town Liege is breathtakingly beautiful. The center of town takes on a modern vibe in many ways, but you could close your eyes and imagine that you’ve stepped back into medieval times, or at least the 17th or 18th century. Wander around with your camera ready to shoot, because you won’t be able to stop oohing and aahing and taking photos of the majestic buildings and cobblestone alleys. I certainly couldn’t. Make it a point to see the historic Prince-Bishops’ Palace – the dominant building on bustling Place St. Lambert – which houses the provincial government and law courts.
The Liege-Guillemins Train Station is at the opposite end of Liege’s architecture spectrum. Designed by famed Spanish architect and engineer Santiago Calatrava –– also responsible for the World Trade Center Transportation Hub in New York City and countless other iconic structures around the globe –– this modern Liege station is made of concrete, glass, and steel. The Liege-Guillemins provides easy access to and from Brussels, France, Germany, the Netherlands, and Luxembourg, so if you’re traveling around Europe (like I was), there’s a pretty good chance you’ll use this station. Don’t ignore the view from the station, either.
Meatballs in rabbit sauce (no rabbit involved) might not be food that strikes a chord when you think of dining in Belgium, but at Amon Nanesse – La Maison du Peket, this is the dish to eat. I traveled with my friend Danielle from the Style and Beauty Doctor, and since we had heard so much about the Le Boulet, she had to have them, and I had a taste. Oh my –– these meatballs are so different from any I’d ever tasted, yet so delectable. I’m accustomed to Italian meatballs, but these had a sweet, flavorful sauce that set them apart from the Swedish meatballs we had eaten in Stockholm just days earlier. Basically, I’m saying, if you go to Liege, go to Amon Nanesse and order the meatballs. And did I mention the accompanying frites? Yum. You’ll thank me later.
And while you’re at La Maison du Peket….Peket is the local alcoholic beverage to try while you’re staying in Liege, and the House of Peket is the place to do it.Made with juniper berries, the eau de vie or the region’s version of gin is often enjoyed on the rocks, sometimes flavored with fruit, or mixed with Coca-Cola.
Place du Marche is at the heart of Liege. Meander through this lively town center where you’ll stumble upon a bevy of bars, restaurants, and taverns. In summer, locals sit outside with their food and drink, conversing and people-watching. The area is also busy late in the evening, as gay bars, nightclubs, and cabarets come to life.
Liege waffles are more dessert-like than Brussels waffles, so these doughy pastries will surely satisfy. In fact, if the caramelized sugar and hint of vanilla don’t hit the spot, tell me why! I tasted a delectable Liege waffle at Liege’s outdoor market (up next). It was doughy, sugary, and downright delicious.
Marché de la Batte is said to be the largest outdoor market in Europe. Staged along the Meuse from 8 a.m. until 2:30 p.m. every Sunday, La Batte draws thousands of visitors. Browse the stalls and stands and observe Walloons selling their wares, and take in the local culture at the same time. Marché de la Batte is a must during the warm weather months.
Montagne de Bueren is a 374-step stairway, and I’d be lying if I said that I climbed all the way to the top. Rather than putting my legs to work on those stairs, I meandered and caught some beautiful pictures of the area, then opted for a fun photo session near the base. I might have missed out, though, because the view of the city from the top is supposedly spectacular. But in all honestly, in the 30 minutes or so that I spent at the bottom, I didn’t see many others attempting the climb either. It’s no coincidence that The Huffington Post awarded Montagne de Bueren the number one spot for extreme staircases. Maybe I’ll have the energy on my next trip to Lieg
This list skims the surface – there’s so much to do in this Belgian city. Have you visited Liege? What did you do on your trip?
Liege train station facade photo by Andrew Russeth via Flickr.
Many thanks to Bruxelles-Wallonia Tourism for sponsoring a portion of my trip to Liege.