This blog is going to give you an overview of my day trip to Mons, Belgium, which is located in the French region of Belgium called Wallonia. I traveled to Mons with two other friends and we weren’t sure what to expect, but the minute that we stepped off our train we knew we were not in the Flemish region due to the landscape of French architecture. Our train ride took a little over an hour from Brussels, but if you haven’t gotten the gist yet, Belgium is very small and you get can get just about everywhere within the country in about 2.5 hours max.
As we made our way towards the city center, we immediately came upon a beautiful cathedral which was the Cathedral of Sainte-Waudru. You could see the beautiful belfry tower in the distance. We first went to the city center and then went to the tourist center. This was one of the nicest tour centers I have experienced. They were very informative. We also learned that since it was the first Sunday of the month it was FREE MUSEUM DAY!! Yay!
First, we went to climb the Belfry tower and tour its museum. Mons’s Belfry tower is the only one constructed in Belgium as a Baroque tower and is 87 meters tall. This was named a world heritage site by UNESCO in 1999. It contains 49 bells and was originally built in 1662 by Louis Ledoux. I highly suggest climbing this tower if you find yourself in Mons. It provides nice views of the city from all angles on the third floor.
La Maison Losseau
Then we went to the La Maison Losseau which is the house of lawyer, Leon Losseau. This is a 17th century house that was built by architect Paul Saintenoy. Attached to the house is now a museum which we found out was actually called an “interpretation center” so it cost three euros to go into with a student ID, but it was well worth it. This house is an example of a modern house in the pre-war period which was rare to find. The pre war period was considered from the years of 1899-1910. Also, if you go up to the door and it is locked you must ring the buzzer. This is certainly not like a normal museum, but it will save you time from walking back to the tourist center and inquiring why it is locked when their hours say it should be open. In certain museums in Mons, you must ring the buzzer first and the curator will meet you at the door. This is definitely a MUST SEE in Mons.
The word you see above is pronounced like “do-do” and it is the name of the famous festival that occurs every year 57 days after Easter on Trinity Sunday in Mons. It is so large that there is an entire museum dedicated to it and lucky for us it was included with the free museums. It was a very nice museum that included three floors of exhibits with historical experts and videos from the event. This festival has taken place since the middle ages and this is due to the plague that affected Mons in 1349. The city decided to partake in procession with the shrine of Waltrude to get rid of the plague, and when they did this, the plague went away. So the city has done this procession every year to keep the city in good health and spirit. There is also a segment of the festival with “The Game of Saint George” which is the battle of Saint George (the good) and a Dragon (the evil). Saint George always seems to win, haha, but the Doudou Museum is definitely somewhere I suggest going if you want to get a feel for the culture of Mons.
La Maison Van Gogh
The House of Van Gogh is very neat, but it is small and Van Gogh only lived in this house for a few months. It is where he lived when he got his inspiration to paint. He originally moved to this house to live with Pastor Franq in 1879 who was renting a part of the house from a miner and his family ( The Decrucq Family). It is located near a huge mine. The miners had a large impact on his painting career and they inspired him due to their hard labor.
There is a small exhibit inside the house as well as a video about Van Gogh’s time in this house and his early career. This is definitely a MUST SEE. I must admit I do think I appreciated this house so much more after I visited the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam, but this was still one of the highlights of my day in Mons.
~NOTE: The museum is closed on Monday.
Decorative Arts Museum Francois Duesberg
I wish I could tell you more about this museum, but it is actually considered to be an interpretation center. It cost five euros to enter, but I don’t know if I recommend it to anyone who is English speaking because the paper brochure they provide you is only in French and there are no signs or anything in English to tell you what you are looking at. The museum curator greeted us at the door (you must ring the doorbell) in a fancy bathrobe with matching pants and moccasin like shoes. It was very interesting, he couldn’t speak much english, but he was very grateful that we stopped by and he was excited to have Americans at his exhibit. We think he lived upstairs in an apartment above the museum. It is a museum full of beautiful antique clocks and tableware and they were gorgeous to see. Like I said, the items were cool, but we didn’t really learn anything because nothing was in english.
I hope you enjoyed learning about my day trip to Mons, Belgium! It is a very cool place, but I suggest going in the summer when you can visit the Beloeil Castle which is a beautiful Chateau just outside the city.
Have a great week!!!
P.S. “To travel is to live.” ~Hans Christian Anderson