The city that made my heart beat is Liège. She is located in southeast of Belgium, this little absurd land. According to the size of the country, we consider Liège and her two thousands hundred inhabitants as a big city. But regarding the world, of course, things are different.
Being a tourist in Liège?
It might not be the most famous place for traditional tourism. At least, it is sure that it is not so well-know by people abroad like others cities as Bruges or Bruxelles. But according to me, Liège has nothing to envy to those popular cities. There are lots of many treasures hiding in the town: “Les marches de Bueren”a old stairs of more than 300 steps connecting two parts of the city, the Market place with all her pubs, restaurants and terraces, “Les coteaux de la Citadelle” those wonderful gardens giving you a breathless view of the valley, etc.
By the way, if you visit Liège for tourism, do not forget that you will be quiet close from Nederland and Germany. So you can be really fast in Maastricht, Aachen or Cologne, etc. and enjoy a trip in the Western Europe. You can also discover many of our local good beers (Curtius, Val-Dieu, etc.) with cheese and taste a little bit of Belgium style. Do not hesitate to savor a traditional French-fries with mayonnaise for the dinner.
This City is on fire!
But if you come with an open mind and if you forgot the Belgian weather, you will have the opportunity to discover a city that disserved her nickname: “La cité Ardente” – “The burning city”! This Nickname appeared for the first time around 1904 is coming from a chivalrous novel and the town completely earned it.
Follow the guide and you will quickly realize that Liège is a place of happiness, really welcoming where you will always find something to do and warm people. There is everything you can expect from a big city but in a town that has remained on a human scale. Here, the shopkeepers will like to have a friendly chat with you. It is easy to find a piece of history at every corner, be attentive! All the little museums can help you about that. The culture is everywhere under different shape, be curious it is not always obvious. Also, alternatives grow up everywhere in the shops, in the streets, in the nightlife, in schools and it is beautiful to see. And to move in the city you have many solutions: the yellow bus that offers quiet good connections inside and outside the city, biking is a good plan if you are not scared (you are not in the countryside) and of course to cross the center walking is highly enough!
The different part of the city
Like all the cities, Liège consists of several neighborhoods. It is a huge colorful puzzle that could look completely different if you try a repositioning of her delicate pieces. So do not jostle her, you will just need a little bit of time to understand and appreciate all those districts that all have a strong identity.
The center is full of stores, restaurants and pubs, where you can hangout during the day. And at nightfall the atmosphere stays amazing, you can have fun in the “Carré” (a kind of square made of streets full of pubs) that will be full of students. The Pot-au-Lait is also a traditional headquarter for the young and the less young people from every type of social group. If you want to taste the official alcohol of the city, the “Peket” join the other side of the center and reach “La Maison du Peket”. And if you go in this direction, do not miss the “Beerlovers” pub and the Market Square. In all those places you will meet the warming local people but also a lot of foreigners, some Erasmus, some expatriate workers, etc. They are always ready to have fun and party, maybe to prove that the city is really on fire.
If you continue in this direction, you will pass by the “Marche de Bueren” and maybe try the ascent. Than after the district of Saint-Léonard open you his arms. On Sunday morning the streets are full of people reaching the market, called “La Batte”, that stretches along the river “ La Meuse” cutting the city in two. During the week, you can buy your bread to a Turkish beaker and your vegetables in a local and organic grocery. If you are lucky you will discover the Portuguese club or the Chilean house and taste their traditional recipes.
In Pierreuse, you will not just walk in the streets, covered by pavers. You will climb them. There, a lot of no-profit associations moved into old charming and completely twisted houses of the area. Try to spend an evening to the “Casa Nicaragua”, dance all the night to the warm rhythms.
In Liège, we also have a free Republic inside of the city, the Republic of Outremeuse. To join her, you will need to cross the Meuse, but it is worth. Even if this part of the town doesn’t seem beautiful at the first look. But try to get yourself lost in those little streets; you will certainly fall under the charm. Here people come from everywhere, they have all ages and they love the Walloon traditions. If you feel strong enough come and join the 15th August festivities and you will understand it. Do not miss it. The Peket pump out in the streets.
Cross the river again and take the direction of Saint-Gilles and the Botanic Garden. It is an area full of young students freshly arrived in town who want to be closed from the center and all its pubs. There, you will also find some high massive old house full of character. And during the warm days, lots of people gather in the Botanic Garden to chill and enjoy the sun, with a sound of guitars in background. But the Botanic is not the only nice park in the city, “Saint-Léonard Park’s”, “La Boverie”, the gardens in the Coteaux, etc. you can find many green places to relax!
So come in Liège! You will always find something to do, warm and funny people to speak with, good things to drink and eat in all the different quarters of the town. The burning City will offer you many opportunities to discover her. But be careful the people from Liège like to party a lot! So be sure that you remember where are relax and green places, in case you would need a quiet day to recover from this atmosphere on fire.