The Belgium Capital of Brussels is a city buzzing with life. Cosmopolitan but with a historic heart, Brussels is home to some world famous sights and some quirky surprises.
Begin with a coach tour of the city making stops along the way to capture the sights and scenery on camera. See one of Europe’s most famous landmarks the Atomium; built for the 1958 world fair, this space age structure was only intended to stand for a year but its popularity ensured it remains still gleaming over half a century later.
Moving on you’ll see the elegant Royal Palace and the European Parliament, the political heart of Europe. Arriving at the old town, leave the coach to begin a walk through the labyrinth of narrow streets. Experience the bustle of butcher’s street and admire the sophisticated shops in St Hubert Arcade, the world’s first covered shopping gallery.
The centre piece of the old town is the spectacular grand place, with its Gothic renaissance and baroque façades; this is one of the finest squares in the world. Just a short distance away is one of Brussels’s more amusing sights the Manneken Pis. At just two feet tall, this cheeky cherub is guaranteed to raise a smile, but he’s not had an easy life, often vandalised or stolen – in 1745 he was even kidnapped by the English.
Next, if you wish, purchase some lunch. Why not experience the Belgium café culture and relax over some mouth-watering cuisine. Or perhaps you prefer to try some of that famous Belgium beer? On your way back there’s just time for a little more sightseeing, as you’ll pass the Koekelberg Basilica, the largest art-deco building in the world.
So if you’ve always wanted to visit the Belgium capital of Brussels, why not take the opportunity to spend a full day exploring this wonderful city?
The best London activities for art and music lovers
Whether you’re a classical music fan, jazz enthusiast, museum lover or fashion fanatic, there’s a variety of choices to fit your tastes and broaden your horizons in London.
To help you plan your upcoming trip, we’ve put together a list of the very best things to see and do across the city, particularly if you’re an art and music lover!
London Fashion Weekend
Discover the latest fashions at catwalk shows, find the perfect addition to your wardrobe and enjoy a range of events during London Fashion Weekend at Saatchi Gallery.
The Lord Mayor’s show
Watch the elaborate parade featuring everything from vibrant samba dancing to military marching bands, as the city of London celebrates its newly chosen mayor with an 800-year-old tradition.
Wonderlab: The Statoil Gallery
Get hands on in the Science Museum’s new permanent interactive gallery with immersive exhibits, artworks and live shows in seven different themed zones.
Openfest at Barbican
Explore the Barbican’s mix of free events and activities from pop-up performances to interactive installations, and ticketed events such as movie screenings, gigs and contemporary dance.
The Winton Gallery
Opening on 8 December 2016, the Winton Gallery is an exciting new maths gallery exploring how mathematicians, their tools and ideas have helped to shape the modern world.
Museum of London
Learn the story of the world’s greatest city and its people from prehistoric times to the present day at the Museum of London.
See Glee Star Amber Riley as she makes her West End debut in the Tony Award-winning musical at the Savoy theatre.
BFI London Film Festival
Catch screenings of the finest new British and international movies, spot actors on the red carpet, and get involved in workshops.
Bluesfest at the O2 arena
Enjoy performances from some of the world’s biggest names in blues, rock and soul music at London’s O2 arena.
No Man’s Land
Catch two of Britain’s greatest actors Sir Ian McKellen and Sir Patrick Stewart in a limited-run production of Harold Pinter’s compelling dark comic play: No Man’s Land.
Trace Caravaggio’s revolutionary impact on the evolution of European art and see how his dramatic lighting and iconic storytelling techniques influenced other famous artists.
EFG London Jazz Festival
Celebrate the best of jazz with spectacular live performances, events and concerts all over the capital of London.
Peek into Picasso’s intimate circle of connections with an exhibition of striking portraits on display at the National Portrait Gallery.
London Tower Twilight Tours
Visit the Tower of London’s creepiest spots with a special guided tour at this top London attraction.
Royal Ballet: The Nutcracker
Experience the magic of Tchaikovsky’s famous score as the enchanting world of The Nutcracker is brought to life at the Royal Opera House.
Rediscover one of the greatest art movements of the 20th century with Abstract Expressionism at the Royal Academy of Arts.
The Radical Eye
Get an exclusive insight into one of the most important private photography collections in the world at Tate Modern.
The Little Matchgirl
Enjoy a delightful performance of The Little Matchgirl bursting with magic, puppetry and music at the Sam Wanamaker Playhouse.
Björk Digital Exhibition
Check out Björk’s immersive digital exhibition that uses the latest virtual reality (VR) technology including never-before-seen works at Somerset House.
Museums at night
Explore museums, galleries and heritage sites after dark and enjoy a host of fun events, themed talks and immersive workshops late into the evening.
Exploring the Pretty little Hamlets of Provence, France
As part of our ongoing series on the best places to visit in the south of France, I thought I’d write about two delightful places that are largely overlooked by tourists: Gigondas and Sault.
Clustered on a hillside below the jagged peaks of the Dentelles de Montmirail, this charming, unspoilt village is packed with real local character. Its wine is reputed to be the best in the area – the wines of 50 or so different local vineyards can be sampled at the Caveau de Gigondas on the main square.
The neighbouring tourist office can give advice on visiting individual domaines, and also walking or climbing in the area. During my trip to Gigondas I stayed in the traditional Logis of Les Florets, peacefully secluded in pine woods high on the slopes above the village.
If you’re looking for something more grandiose, you may want to consider the Chateau du Martinet, a grand 19th-century mansion on the main road to Vaison-la-Romaine, complete with its very own kidney-shaped swimming pool.
Great places to eat include L’Oustalet, an appealing restaurant located on the main square of Place du Portail, offering local cuisine and inexpensive menu items.
This small town, set in a commanding position on a rocky spur, is a good base for exploring the Gorges de la Nesque. The town itself consists of terraces of tall houses clinging to a cliff face, with superb views over the mountains and the heady lavender fields.
In the old quarter is a Romanesque church and minicipal museum showing archaeological items and local paintings (open: July to August, Monday, Wednesday and Saturday only).
Across the valley to the west is the tiny unspoilt village of Monieux, clustured on a sheer rocky slope, with the remains of a medieval watchtower above. A nice place to eat out here is Les Lavandes, a simple rustic inn with a shady terrace and low-priced menu.
Along the Gorges de la Nesque further west, look out for the Rocher du Cire, a crag rising to 650 feet, where generations of wild bees have deposited their wax – simply amazing!