You like climbing, counting and celebrating. The modern cowboy side of you makes you an explorer who is not afraid to go out of your way to discover unknown (and very friendly) peoples. Well then, Tournai is a perfect match for you.

The Belgian Far West

Some from Brussels sometimes consider it a county of Wallonia, located “way over there”, whilst neither the Flemish or the French ever calculate the distance. And yet Tournai is probably the most French of the Belgian towns and cities (1 inhabitant in 10 has French nationality) and the most Flemish of the Walloon towns and cities. Its position as a strategic European crossroads – it is 1 hour from Brussels and 15 minutes from Lille and Kortrijk – makes it a multicultural and ultra-accessible city.

Making a tapestry? Not at all!

In the historic centre, every one of its streets is worthy of admiration. A mix of Roman, Gothic, Classical and Art Nouveau (near the station) styles which you can discover on foot: listed façades, delicate pediments, church upon church… Without forgetting its links with the tapestry and the textile industry, an ancestral craft whose creations decorate shop windows and museums.

Its bell tower and majestic Notre-Dame cathedral (listed as a UNESCO heritage site) will not leave you indifferent. If you are still wondering why it is known as “the city of the five bell towers”, here is a piece of advice: look up and count on your fingers.

Traditions not lost

But this wealth of architecture does not in any way affect the cosy side of this city. Its beating heart? The Grand-Place, almost as beautiful as the one in Brussels (the debate is still ongoing). It establishes itself as the unmissable place to eat a little and drink a bucketload and has many markets, folklore-based events and popular customs.

There are so many that it would be difficult to list them all here. Let us mention Le Lundi Perdu however, the exhilarating custom where “kings are drawn” at the start of a traditional hearty meal (not one for vegans). Or its famous Carnival with showers of confetti, the Grande Marche des Géants (the “March of Giants”), its fairground, etc.

The art of raising your elbow

Alongside its many shops, restaurants, cafés and terraces, the city offers a broad selection of venues and styles. One thing is for sure: we like to celebrate in Tournai. For that matter, the city holds the record for the highest number of catering establishments per inhabitant. Once night falls, the young and the less young assemble, the centre springs to life and the docks are light up.

With two schools of art and one school of architecture, it also attracts a healthy number of artists who keep it well stimulated. This is the place to be to be right where the atmosphere is: Friday evenings on Place Saint-Pierre.

Tournai – the unmissable experiences:

  • The Ramdam festival, the festival of disturbing films, where some 40 films and documentaries are screened at Imagix cinema.
  • Do some sunbathing at Tournai-Les-Bains, a summer urban beach where you will be able to enjoy gigs and refreshing cocktails.
  • Admire the panoramic view provided by the bell tower, 72 metres high (only if you can emerge alive from its 257-step staircase however).
  • Treat yourself to an epic shopping trip at Les Bastions shopping centre.
  • Have a high quality breakfast in the charming setting of Chez Eva Cosy, a venue adored by Tournai residents.
  • Enjoy a trendy drink beside the Escaut on the broad terrace of Corto Malté, a bar-restaurant of industrial design.
  • Absorb some culture at the Musée des Beaux-Arts, designed by the genius Victor Horta and admire the permanent collections of works of modern art.
  • Browse the flea market on Sundays in the Les Bastions shopping centre car park. Spoiler: you will find everything here, from the sublime to the ridiculous!
  • Get over being a bad loser at Dé Botté, a board game bar.
  • Fall in love with the faluche, this flatbread so typical of Tournai, which is usually stuffed with a generous helping of brown sugar.

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