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Flanders

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Flanders is the Dutch-speaking northern part of Belgium. It is wedged between the North Sea and the Netherlands in the North and Wallonia and France in the South. This region has an immense historical and cultural wealth which is made visible through its buildings, its works of art and its festivals. Every turn of a corner will bring you something new.

flanders Travel Guide :

Flanders

Regions

Flanders

Cities

  • Antwerp The second biggest city of Flanders. It boasts the biggest port.
  • Bruges "Venice of the north". A very nice town with lots of canals. Very close to the sea.
  • Brussels Technically it's not in Flanders, but it's in the Flemish community and surrounded by Flanders. And it houses the Flemish governmental buildings making it Flanders' capital.
  • Ghent A more medieval city located approximatively in the center of Flanders
  • Hasselt
  • Ypres / Ieper This city got very famous during the second world war. It still has many landmarks (see also Flanders Fields Country.
  • KortrijkKortrijk A rather small provincial city in the south of West-Flanders, close to France.
  • Leuven An old town with a very old university. It's habited mainly by students that go back home in the weekend.
  • Mechelen
  • OostendeOostende is relatively big coast city.

The historical Flanders is a bit bigger and contains cities that are now in France and in The Netherlands, like:

  • Calais (FR)
  • DunkerqueDunkerque (FR), also known as Duinkerken in Flemish.
  • Lille (FR), also known as Rijssel in Flemish.
Flanders

Understand

Nowadays, Flanders is one of the three federal regions of Belgium (the other two being Wallonia and Brussels). This means that it has its own government, a parliament and separate laws. Oddly enough the capital of Flanders is Brussels, lying in another federal region. But Flanders has travelled a long historic road before arriving at its present situation.

Flanders

Get in

Flanders

By Plane

Flanders has 3 airports: First of all the national airport of ZaventemZaventem (close to Brussels)
Then there are several smaller airports: Deurne (Antwerp) and OostendeOostende (at the coast)

Flanders

By Boat

There are several ports at the coast to enter by boat and on the ScheldeSchelde you can find several small ports too.
From the english coast (Dover f.e.) there are regular ferries to different cities.

Flanders

By Car

The E19 goes through Flanders, also the E40 crosses the region.

Flanders

By Train

Big cities in neighbouring countries (Paris, Amsterdam, London ...) have connections to bigger cities in Flanders. From there you can change train and reach every city in Flanders.

Flanders

Other means

By bicycle or on foot. As we are in the European Union there are no borders and you can enter. Several places have nature parks and allow you to walk in and out (often following old-smugglers routes).

Flanders

Get around

Flanders

By car

All roads (highways, main roads, ...) are free in Flanders. Some tunnels can ask for a fee to pass it (fe. Liefkenshoektunnel in Antwerp) Roads are pretty good and signalisation is pretty good too. Older cities can appear to be a maze of one-way streets. Often it is better to park your car in a parking and continue on foot. Towns are not big in general.

Flanders

Public Transportations

The national train-company is called NMBS. Trains will get you to most cities.
In cities you will find busses, trams and metro from De Lijn (The Line). The same ticket is valid for 90 minutes for one zone. You can buy multiple-ride tickets (Lijnkaart), this is cheaper than buying a ticket per ride. These tickets are valid in every flemish city.
In Hasselt public transportation are free!

Flanders

By Bike

Flanders has a vast net of special roads for bicycles. Get a map in a tourists office, because sometimes they can be hard to find. In general cycling can be very pleasant, though don't expect to find many places where you can repair your bike.

Flanders

Talk

The official language of Flanders is Dutch, although English, French and German are widely understood. A typical Fleming will always try to speak the foreigner's language but he really appreciates a foreigner speaking some words of his native tongue Flemish, as the variety of Dutch spoken in Flanders is usually called, differs slightly from Dutch spoken in the Netherlands. There are typical words, phrases and expressions that are not used in the North, and the accent is quite distinct too. (One of the most obvious is the soft g-sound as opposed to the harsh sound heard in the Netherlands.) Although it is the same language, you might be surprised to see Dutch television programs subtitled in Flanders and vice versa. Generally the older generation speaks better French (a long time ago only French was used in administration and industry), and the younger generation better English (there is more contact with the English language through music, computers and internet).

Flanders

See

Flanders

Do

Flanders

Eat

Flanders

Drink

Flanders

Music Festivals

There are many music festivals organised throughout the summer. The bigger ones happen in a small village, because there is lots of space and not many neighbours to complain about the noise.
Some of the famous ones are:

  • Pukkelpop (Near Hasselt) is still an independent festival organised by youth movements. They figure big names but try to have alternative groups too.
  • Rock Werchter (Near Leuven), owned by Clearchannel features all big commercial bands.
  • Maanrock (in Mechelen) is one of the larger free festivals. It's inside the city.
  • Marktrock (in Leuven) has many different stages with different kinds of music all over the city. Most music is popular music, though there are many small bands playing there. The main stage is the only stage not to be free. Every time you enter you pay a small fee (5 euro in 2003).
  • Sfinks (Near Antwerp) is a world music festival. It has a really nice atmosphere. There is a lot of side animation, like a big market.
  • Pole-Pole
  • Openluchttheater Rivierenhof (Near Antwerp) isn't really a festival, though it has big bands all through the summer. Usually they "pick up" artists that have a few days without a gig.
  • Couleur Café
  • Werchter Classic (Near Leuven) boasts classic rock bands, but has been featuring artists that had their break-through only recently. It's mostly a re-use of the Rock Werchter facilities.
  • Graspop (Metal music), Rythm 'n Blues, Dranouter (Folk music), Cactus festival, Rock Ternat, Rock@Edegem ... (there are too many to sum up)

The festivals organised in towns are often free and very nice. They stay away from commercial music and have good bands playing combined with small local bands. Flanders has some nice music bands with some internation fame(dEus, Das Pop, Zita Swoon, ...)

Flanders

Cafes

Every citty, village, habited place has a cafe. You will find every style of café and if you have a problem this is the prime location to get help.

Flanders

Stay safe

Flanders is very safe. You will find that people are usually very helpful. In towns, you should off course beware of usual things (pickpockets in tourist places, some towns have bad neighbourhoods, ...)

Flanders

Get out

If you visit Flanders it would be very logical to also visit the Walloons. Though there is a different mentality, you will find that they are Belgians just like the Flemish (lots of beer and good food).

Paris is pretty close, so are London and Amsterdam. These destinations can be reached by train easily. The waddeneilanden in The Netherlands are also not too far.

Flanders

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