Belgium is the first country I’ve visited. The closest and most accessible country from my native northern France. A country that surprised me in many aspects when I first been there for a getaway in the Summer 2003. Aged 10 years old I was really proud of going there with the children activity centre. We’ve been to the Walibi theme Park (Formerly Six Flags at that time). For me it was not only having fun in the theme park but also contemplating the landscapes, architecture and noticing differences between my region and there. There not that much differences actually. The architecture is quite the same as well as the landscapes.

Picard Language

The only difference is the accent although some parts of Belgium also speaks Picard. Picard is the Regional language of Picardy which is my Region. It’s Few people still practice it up until today. It’s been spoken since the middle ages in northern France. But it turns out some people been also speaking in Tournai and Mons areas in Wallonia alongside the border with France. By the way Picard language is the Regional language in France with the most authors and the most literature.

Historic Divisions

When you cross the border you notice not much change in the architecture when you enter in Wallonia, but when you enter to Flanders there’s a difference. As you may know Belgium is one of the most divided country in the world, both culturally and linguistically. There are three official languages in Belgium French, Dutch and German which divides the country. There are disputes and rivalries between the communities so that it’s two countries in one. The funny fact is when you cross the border from Flanders and Wallonia, it’s like going to another country but still in Belgium. In fact many factors in history are the causes that shaped Belgium into how it is today.

The Battlefield of Europe

Through history Belgium is the battlefield of Europe, which is its nickname sticking to it for a long time. From the 15th century during the Burgundian rules, cities like Tournai, Antwerp, Bruges, Ghent and Brussels are spots for commerce and textile industry. It’s a strategic area and of the major crossroads in Europe. The the low Countries is the name referring to this part of Europe and also known as the BENELUX. Belgium successively been under Austrian Habsburg and Spanish rules. Then later on under French rules and the Kingdom of the Netherlands. The south of the Kingdom of the Netherlands (Belgium) managed to keep traditions and institutions despite being under foreign rules.

The Belgian state begins to exist in 1830 following the Belgian revolution. Belgian people decides to rebel against the Dutch rules as they are considered as second class citizens. The other reason is Belgium is mostly Catholic and Netherlands mostly Protestants. They are the reasons to what Belgium is today.

My 2017 and 2019 Visits

My 2017 visit with my brother aimed to buy commodities in the town of Menen. Located in the West Flanders at the French border. I found people there quite reserved and not very open compared to Wallonia. Anyway I was happy for my trip out of France for a long time! I always push myself to discover and to understand more other cultures and customs. So ounce I’ve passed my driving licence in 2019 Belgium was one of my targets to discover more deeper.

Came back to Menen by myself at the same place with more time to explore the Town centre. By the way I often go to explore places by myself so that I have plenty of time to visit. This time I decided to go further in the Belgian lands, from Menen passing by Kortrijk to Mouscron. I found Kortrijk to be a modern and bustling town with many shopping venues as well as few historic spots. Parks are also in the scenery. I find the architecture interesting because the Flanders Region is the Dutch speaking part of Belgium. It looks like the Netherlands thought. The architecture is similar and reminds me of the Victorian architecture we see in Anglo-Saxon countries.

Kortrijk Main Square

The City Hall is both Gothic and Renaissance style from the 16th Century. Located on the main square, the building caught my eyes due to its style. I immediately told myself I am at the main square (The Grote Markt) a tall building as well drawn my attention as well. Obviously like many Town and Cities across Northern France and Belgium Kortrijk got its Belfry Tower! It’s one of the City’s symbol which dates back from the 14th Century. Through history the Bell Tower had alterations, restorations and improvements. Only the base of the Tower is the original part we still have today. The Carillon announces the time and also to regulate the society’s activities like work hours and religious events.


Mouscron is a Town in Wallonia (The French speaking Region). Located at 20 minutes drive from Kortrijk, Mouscron. I found the small town centre charming and agreeable to visit. I stopped over to get a Raspberry croissant there and the Town is peaceful and quiet. The Town hall square (Grand Place) is the main landmark. As I walked through the streets I could finally hear to the French Belgian accent. Belgian accent is often mocked by French people. To be honest I tried Belgian accent impressions but I find it hard. It’s the most difficult for me to do, as I can do many accents lol. There are rivalries between the two but French speaking Belgians are considered as cousins to the French. Despite the 2018 World Cup Semi-Final hehe. People are generally welcoming and friendly when you visit Wallonia.

Conclusion of the Trips

This kind of trip is easy, just 2 hours drive from my hometown and many people do so. Most people from the North of France visit Belgium to buy commodities they don’t find in France or for cheaper stuff. My aim was just to discover the area and its heritage and interacting with people. Interacting with people is for me easier in Wallonia than in Flanders. As mentioned above, there’s a blatant difference between the two. It’s literally two countries in one and crossing the border between the two Regions is like going to a new country. After the trip on my way home I was telling myself, this is only at two hours! What I mean by that is Belgium is a very interesting country to explore. And all these differences just alongside the border! But generally people don’t take the time to explore by themselves. Flanders Region is very beautiful as it makes you feel in the Netherlands with it architecture and Wallonia got its culture which is quite similar to the North of France. I’m sure there’s much more to know about Belgium and I would like to explore more the country. There is also a tiny German speaking community in the East. As well as Brussels is in my list.

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