Liège is the main regional city in the province of Liège. It is also Belgium's fourth largest city, after Brussels, Antwerp, and Charleroi. It is the largest centre in Wallonia and is mostly an industrial city. It is near the German and Dutch border, and is about half an hour away from each border city; Aachen (Germany) and Maastricht (The Netherlands).
The population of Liège City is close to 200,000, and the metropolitan area has about 750,000 inhabitants. The city is the capital of Liège Province. The language spoken is French. The general understanding of English by the people in the city, like most of the French speaking regions, is poor. Picking up a few basic French phrases can be very helpful.
Liège has been an important city since the early Middle Ages. It was the capital of the Principality (prince-bishopric) of Liège, which remained an independent state until the French Revolution. In the 19th century it became an early centre of industrialism. The central area of Liège presents itself as a rather interesting mix of a historic town centre (dotted with a few extremely brutalist buildings from the 1960s and 70s), a rather elegant new town with wide boulevards, tall apartment buildings (some Art Deco) and a few pretty parks. The outskirts of Liège consist mainly of large industrial complexes and working-class areas, sprawling over the hills that surround the city.
Aéroport de Liège-Bierset Specialising in freight, the airport is nevertheless home to charter flights and a few regular lines, with routes to/from Agadir, Alicante,Bodrum, Catania, Corfu,Djerba, Heraklion, Hurghada, Ibiza, Izmir, Las Palmas, Malaga, Monastir, Palma de Mallorca, Pristina, Rhodes, Tel Aviv and Tenerife. Reaching the city centre with public transportation is a bit tricky. Check the TEC (local city bus) website for further information.
Brussels National is your most likely point of entry into Belgium. To reach Liège, take the train to Louvain/Leuven, or Brussels-Nord and change for Liège.
Charleroi Airport, sometimes referred to as 'Brussels South', is an alternative for low-cost airlines such as Ryanair and WizzAir. From the airport, take the city bus Line A (stop is outside of the departure hall), which costs €2.70 one way to Charleroi-Sud (south) train station, then the train to Liège-Guillemins. Train departs once every hour from 5AM. Last train leaves at 23:00. The trip takes approximately 1 hour and 10 minutes.
Maastricht Airport is also close to the city. Ryanair has constant service from the city.
Liège-Guillemins is the main station, located on the southwest part of the city. A Thalys line serves Brussels, Leuven, Paris, Aachen and Cologne and Frankfurt. Beware that unlike most train stations in Belgium, Liège-Guillemins is not a walking distance away from the city centre. You can take a bus which cost €1.40 one way, or taxi which cost around 8-10 euros. The cheapest alternative being changing to another train that's heading to the station called "Liège-Palais". The fare of this trip is included in your ticket to Liège-Guillemins. The trip takes around 6 mins.
From Brussels, intercity service runs at least hourly and takes about 60 minutes from Brussels Nord. From Brussels Airport, take the airport shuttle to Leuven and take intercity service from there. From the north, connect in Maastricht. Trains run at least hourly and take about 30 minutes.
Once you're at Liège-Guillemins station, you can get to city centre by changing to a train heading for Gare du Palais, or by taking the number 1 or number 4 bus just outside the station to Place St. Lambert. Another alternative is route 48 which takes you to the Opera. Note that all routes run both ways at the stop of Liège-Guillemins station, make sure to take the buses that have either "Pl. St. Lambert" or "Opera" on their destination sign. Like aforementioned, change train to Liège-Palais station also takes you directly to centre.
Liège is the crossroads for several major motorways. Its "ring" has 6 branches. In clockwise order:
the E40, to the west, leading to the Belgian coast via Brussels
the E313, leading to Antwerp and on to the large coastal cities of the Netherlands
the E40, to the east, entering Germany via Aachen. A second branch splits off at Verviers, heading to Trier.
Being a fairly large city, many motorway exits are signposted for "Liège". When coming from Germany or Netherlands, it's best to follow the E25 to its end, then follow the road signs to the center. Coming from Luxembourg, it's best to exit at "Angleur" and follow signs to the center, or to continue on to the exit marked "Liège-centre". Finally, coming from Paris, Lille, Brussels, or Antwerp, follow signs to Luxembourg until you reach the exit marked "Liège-centre".
Individuals arriving with their own boat are welcome at the port des Yachts.
Many organised cruises departing from Maastricht stop in the center of Liège, on the right bank (quai Marcatchou to quai Van Beneden).
Unlike most Belgian cities, Liège doesn't have an inner ring built along the path of the old city walls. Instead, the main streets were laid out along the old branches of the river, which makes their organisation a bit obscure for a non-native.
It's best to leave your car in one of the city-center parking garages, especially if you don't have a map of where exactly you're trying to get to.
The main routes for cars are:
the motorway E40-E25 that crosses parts of the city
the Boulevards "d'Avroy" and "de la Sauvenière", the main route between the center and the train station
the Quais "de la Meuse" and "de la Dérivation", which link to/from the two branches of the E25
TEC is the main bus company. Most lines converge towards one of the city-center bus "terminals". These terminals are located at Place Léopold, Place Saint Lambert, Place République Française, and around the Opéra/Theater (all four very close to each other), plus at Place de la Cathédrale (about 5 minutes' walk away). The names of these 5 sites are used to indicate the direction of the bus, according to the line taken.
Several other lines leave from the train station Liège-Guillemins. Among them, two lines link the station with city center: the #4, a circular line (direction "Bavière" to go from the station to the center, direction "d'Harscamp" for the reverse trip), and the #1 which runs train station to city center and on to Coronmeuse.
More and more bus stops now show the waiting time for the next bus on each line, and many busses are equipped to display the next stop and adapted for people with reduced mobility.
Unfortunately, however, most lines don't run after midnight.
Travelling by bike in the city center is easy, but the hillsides can be a bit steep (between 5 and 15%). Reaching the higher neighborhoods will require a bit of training and a multi-speed bike!
Cycling paths are regularly added and improved, though the main roads remain a bit dangerous. Most one-way streets can be travelled in the opposite direction by cyclists. A map of cycling paths is available at the tourist information office. In addition, there's a "Ravel" (a path for walkers and cyclists) along the right bank of the river Meuse.
Most of the areas in city center are easily accessible on foot, and walking provides an interesting perspective on the city itself. The trip from the train station at Guillemins to the city center requires a bit more time - about 30 minutes.
Place St. Lambert (Saint Lambert's square)
The Outremeuse district, notably the Rue Roture.
The Palace of the Prince-Bishops - Composed of the Palace of Justice (classic façade at Place Saint Lambert 18) and the Provincial Palace (lateral neo-gothic façade at place Notger 2). This palace is the heart of the city, and represents the political power of the old Prince-Bishops of Liège.
The representation of their religious power was the large Gothic Cathedral of Notre Dame and Saint Lambert, torn down at the start of the 19th century after the revolution of Liège and today memorialized by metal columns and a design traced on the ground.
There's also an underground archéoforum , an archeological site with the remains of the three (successive) cathedrals on the site, as well as a building from Roman times. (Open 10AM-6PM from Tuesday to Saturday, 11AM-6PM on Sunday, closed on Monday, 5.50€, +32 (0)4 250 93 70.)
At Place Saint Lambert 9-17, you can admire the neo-classic façades, dating from the late 19th and early 20th centuries.
The Town Hall, Perron, and houses along the market square. The town hall (place du Marché, 2), also called "La Violette", is an elegant classic building. It was built in 1714, during reconstruction after the French attacks in 1691. It can be visited on rare occasions only, except for the "salle des pas perdus" - "room of lost steps" which is freely accessible. The houses on the square, with their charming blue stone and brick faces, date from the same period. The Perron, symbol of the city's freedom, is at the center of the square above the fountain that acts as its support. The perron is one of the symbols of the city and was used to render justice.
The streets Hors Château and En Feronstrée are worth a visit for the architecture of the large villas and more modest houses, most dating to the 18th century. In particular, the Hôtel d’Ansembourg at Feronstrée 114, now a museum, is worth visiting for the well-preserved original interior (1-6PM except Mondays, 3,80€, +32 (0)4 221 9402).
The Museum of Walloon Art (en Féronstrée 86), a bit further along in a modern building, has a panorama of works by regional painters since the Roman times. (Open 1-6PM Tu-Sa, 11AM-4:30PM Su, closed Mo, 3,80€, +32 (0)4 221 9231).
The Curtius Palace, quai de Maestricht 13. This imposing 8-story building from the start of the 17th century was the store of a rich arms merchant. The nearby Hôtel de Hayme de Bomal (quai de Maestricht 8 and rue Feronstrée 122) was an official building under French rule and twice welcomed Napoleon. These two buildings and several other historic buildings provide the backdrop for the Museum Grand Curtius with its art and history collections.
Saint Barthélémy Church (rue Saint Barthélémy 2) was the last of 7 "collégiales liégeoises" to be built, near the end of the 11th century. Recently renovated, it is home to the masterwork of the Liège goldsmiths from the Middle Ages: the baptismal fonts from the old parish church of the cathedral. (Open 10-12AM and 2-5PM from Monday to Saturday, 2-5PM Sundays, 1,25€, +32 (0)4 223 4998).
The Museum of Wallonian Life is an ethnological mueseum hosted in an old convent. (Cour des Mineurs, closed for renovation until spring 2008, +32 (0)4 237 9040).
The Museum of Religious Art (rue Mère Dieu 1) will be integrated into the future Museum Grand Curtius, but can now be visited separately. (Open 11AM-6PM Tu-Sa, 11AM-4PM Su, closed Mo, 3,80€, +32 (0)4 221 4225).
The Mountain of Bueren and the slopes of the Citadel. Climb the imposing staircase of 373 steps, or opt for the smaller streets and stairways leading up to the Citadel's slopes. From the top, you'll have a lovely view of the city, from the Palace rooves to the ancient watchtower.
The streets Fond Saint Servais, Pierreuse and du Péry are typically quaint and lead up to the remains of the old citadel, with an ancient well, a monument commemorating the Second World War, and in particular a superb view over the city.
On the opposite bank of the river, the Outremeuse district has few memorable buildings, but a welcoming atmosphere.
The Feast of the Assumption (15 August) is celebrated here by the entire city and countless visitors.
A circuit is dedicated to Simenon (author of the Maigret stories), and a museum will be opening shortly.
The main buildings of interest in the district are:
Convent "des Récollets" (rue Georges Simenon 2, 4, 9-13)
Saint Nicolas Church (rue Fosse-aux-raines 7, open everyday 8AM to 12AM)
"Sainte Barbe" hospice (place Ste Barbe)
The stable of the Fonck barracks and Bavière hospital (boulevard de la Constitution)
Destenay school (boulevard Saucy 16)
The Physiology Institute (place Delcourt 17).
Two interesting museums: Grétry Museum (Rue des Récollets 34, 2PM-4PM Tu&Fr, 10AM-12PM Su, +32 (0)4 343 1610) and the Museum of Tchantchès, dedicated to the city mascot who is also the main character for the local marrionnette theaters (rue Surlet 56, 2-4 PM Su except July, Tu&Th, +32 (0)4 342 7575).
The most-visited museum complex in Liège and Wallonia is here, comprised of the Aquarium, the House of Science, and the Zoology Museum, all housed in a neo-classic University building, quai Van Beneden (aquarium and museum : 9AM-5PM Mo-Fr, 10AM - 6PM during school vacations, 1030AM-6PM on holidays, €5, +32 (0)4 366 5021 ; House of Science: restricted hours, €3 ; +32 (0)4 366 5015).
Departing from the amphitheater along the quay, a bateau-mouche (covered boat) offers river tours, from 1 Apr to 30 Oct (11AM, 1PM, 3PM and 5PM, €6, +32 (0)4 221 9221 et +32 (0)4 366 5021).
The market "Marché de la Batte" is where most locals visit on Sundays. The one of the longest markets in Europe stretches along the Meuse River by the Université de Liège and attracts many visitors to Liège. The market typically runs from early morning to 2 o'clock in the afternoon every weekend year long. Produce, clothing, and snack vendors are the main concentration of the market.
Flea Markets at Saint Gilles (every Saturday morning on Boulevard Louis Hillier) and Saint Pholien (every Friday morning on Boulevard de la Constitution) also attract many visitors.
The celebrations of 15 August in Outremeuse welcome more than 300,000 people each year.
The fair, held since the city was established, has become a fun-fair. It takes place from the first weekend in October to the second weekend in November (6 weeks).
The Christmas Village, one of the biggest and oldest in the country, has more than one million visitors each year.
The Celebrations of Wallonia (2nd weekend in September), the nuit des Coteaux (night events in the historic center), the Secret Gardens and Corners Day (la journée Jardins et Coins secrets - 3rd Sunday in June), and the heritage days (les journées du patrimoine - end September) are other key dates in Liège.
Visit the Carré District, where you can celebrate or party on any day, at any time. It's the preferred district of students, alternating shops and cafés, many of which allow dancing (sometimes on the tables!).
The Festival of Walking, in the second half of August, offers urban walks.
The Philharmonic Orchestra, Royal Opera, and Theater de la Place head up the cultural life in Liège.
Liège is the European city with the most theaters per person. Liège has an international reputation especially for its marionnette theaters, whose performances often involve the traditionnal folklore character Tchantchès in an unbelievably wide range of situations. The most-known marionnette theaters can be found at:
Museum of Wallonian Life (Wednesdays and school holidays at 1430 and Sundays at 1030, Cour des Mineurs, +32 (0)4 237 9040, open even when the museum is closed.)
Museum of Tchantchès (Oct to end Apr, Sundays at 1030 and Wednesdays at 1430, rue Surlet 56, +32 (0)4 342 7575)
Theater Al Botroule - literally, "in the belly-button" - (Rue Hocheporte 3, +32 (0)4 223 0576)
Theater Denis (Rue Sainte Marguerite 302, +32 (0)4 224 3154)
Theater Mabotte (Rue Mabotte 125, Seraing +32 (0)4 233 8861)
Movie theaters include Le Parc and Le Churchill for European films; Le Palace and Kinepolis for big-name blockbusters; and soon UGC Longdoz in the future "media city".
Le Forum (rue Pont d’Avroy 45), a small but exceptionally-decorated venue, offers concerts, comedy performances, etc. Country Hall (in the outskirts) is a relatively new venue for huge shows and sporting events.
Le Trocadéro is the most Liégeois of Parisian cabarets, or the most Parisian of Liège cabarets, depending on how you look at it, while two other venues (La Bouch’rit and le Comiqu'Art) offer dinner-show combinations.
La Zone is the place in Liège for alternative and underground music and arts. Opens only on events, check their program on the web before going there. Non expensive bar with plenty of soft drinks, beers and wine.* La Zone (Music club) , 043410727, 043410727, Quai de l'Ourthe, 42 - 4020 Liège
There are numerous sports clubs including, oddly enough, three different rowing clubs. RCAE, a university club but open to everyone, offers a range of sports from parachuting to spelunking. The sports fields at Xhovémont, Cointe or Sart Tilman are ideal for practice, while the soccer stadium of Standard (the Liège team) is the place to show your enthusiasm as a fan. The ice rink, dating from the water exposition of 1939, is in its last seasons before being moved, while a new swimming pool with modern facilities including a diving tower will soon be constructed in the center. (The previous one is being converted to a museum.) Other pools are spread throughout the city, notably in Outremeuse.
For those who prefer a calmer sport, cycling or jogging is perfect along the quays of the Meuse. The woods at Coteaux de la Citadelle, Chartreuse, and Sart Tilman are all close, as are the magnificent countrysides of the Ardennes (with Condroz, Hesbaye, and Herve lending themselves particularly well to hiking and mountain-biking).
In addition to the local foods mentioned above, regional specialities include:
boulets sauce-lapin, meatballs in a sauce made from dark beer, Sirop de Liège, and prunes, accompanied of course by frites - french fries. The boulet even has its own critics and reviews - see the "Guide du Boulet frites sauce liègoise" (in French).
la potée liégeoise, a country dish made from beans, potatoes, and bacon bits cooked together and drenched in vinegar.
les bouquètes, dark crêpes served at New Years' Eve or other festive occasions
le matoufait, a cross between a crêpe and an omelette, made from flour, eggs, milk and bacon bits, and served either salty or sweet.
la tarte au riz, originally from the neighboring city of Verviers or the area of Tancrémont
Prices unfortunately are fairly high, as in most other Belgian cities. Budget restaurants will cost about €12-€15 per person, drinks included, mid-range restaurants between €25 and €50, and splurge restaurants well over that!
For budget solutions, snack shops like any of the sanwicheries or kebab shops offer cheap yet tasty food. A Döner kebab typically costs 3-5 euro, and a sandwich is around 2-4. Note that in Liège all snack shops charge 50 cents for sauce, and usually another 50 cents for vegetables. For example you can see a meatball sandwich for 2 euro on the price list, however; after the sauce and the vegetables it will be 3 euro in total. It is recommended to look for convenient stores for soft drinks as they're over-priced in snack bars.
There are Northern American fastfood chain in the city: A McDonald's is located near the Opera, a BigMac meal is about €6, A Subway can be found behind the city hall, and a pizza hut can be found near the Opera.
Deli France, Sandwicherie, two stores in the city centre, first one in Gallerie St. Lambert and the second one is near Pont d'Avory. €5-€6 can cover a sandwich and a drink.
Au Tchantchès, Restaurant/Brasserie with traditional decor, located on rue Grande Bèche in the Outremeuse district.
Café Lequet, 17 Quai sur Meuse. Local cuisine and ambiance. Try the boulet-frites.
Le Venetto, rue de la Madeleine. One of the best Italian restaurants in Liège, limited menu but great atmosphere and unbeatable prices.
Touch and Go, rue des Carmes. Specialising in pitas and do-it-yourself salads. Especially popular with students.
Aux pâtes fraîches, 17 rue Saint-Gilles
L'Amarante, rue des Carmes
La Cigalière, 29 rue de la Régence. Sandwiches, salads, breakfasts, and crêpes - all top quality.
Amour, Maracas et Salami (français), 78 rue Sur-la-Fontaine
Amon Nanesse, behind the town hall
As Ouhès (aux oiseaux - for the birds), place du Marché.
Le Sway, "fusion" restaurant linked to the concert hall Soundstation (rue Pouplin)
L'industrie, rue Saint Gilles (at the start, on the right), nice brasserie specialising in mussels
The Kitchen, 139 bd de la Sauvenière, concept restaurant but friendly and warm
Table à Thé, 15 rue des Carmes, at the magnificent urban terrace
Les Saintes Chéries, place Lambert-le-Bègue, a small place that's particularly nice in summer.
La Parmentière, 10 place Cockerill. French cuisine for €40.
Le Vaudrée, 109 rue Val Benoit 4031 Angleur: 40 Beers on tap and 1200 Bottles, Fantastic food as well.
The area known as "Le Carré" offers numerous options to drink and party 365 days per year, with a young, vibrant, student atmosphere. Also worth a visit: the Place du Marché, more "connected", and the area around Place Cathédrale, to see and be seen.
Le Vaudrée 2, in Rue Saint-Gilles, where you can taste a good thousand or so Belgian and foreign beers. Santé!
La Maison du Péquet, behind the town hall, mainly serves fruit-flavored versions of genièvre, known locally as péquet.
Les Olivettes, rue Pied du Pont des Arches, offers an ambience from an entirely different time.
Millennium, about 10km outside the center in the commercial area "Boncelles", is a recently constructed nightclub.
Le Sabor Latino is a club opening onto the boulevard de la Sauvenière.
In addition, many of the cafés in the Le Carré area are a good alternative, with plenty of dancing and typically no entrance fee.
L'Embrun, +32 (0)4 221 1120, Port des yachts 16, A floating hotel that can also be rented out for trips
Les Acteurs, +32 (0)4 223 0080, rue des Urbanistes 10, Two-star hotel
Le Cygne d'Argent, +32 (0)4 223 7001, rue Beeckman, Three-star family hotel near the botanic garden
Le Petit Cygne, +32 (0)4 222 4759, Rue des Augustins 42, Two-star hotel
La Passerelle, +32 (0)4 341 20 20, Chaussée des Prés 24, on the island Outremeuse, Three-star hotel
Hotel Mercure, +32 (0)4 221 7711, 100, boulevard de la Sauvenière, Four-star hotel in the center, near Le Carré
Ibis Hotel, +32 (0)4 230 3333, 41 place de la République Française, Near the Opera
Métropole, +32 (0)4 252 4293 , Rue des Guillemins 141, Two-star hotel
Les Nations, +32 (0)4 252 4414, One-star hotel
Hotel Husa De La Couronne, Three-star hotel
Le Hors Château, A charming hotel in the historic center
Ramada Plaza (Former Bedford Hotel), Built in a former convent, which was also a
Val Saint Lambert crystal, now sold throughout the world, makes an exceptionnal gift in the "splurge" category.
The tourist information office sells local artists' products including scarfs with medieval motifs and ties with contemporary artistic designs.
Marionnettes of "Tchantchès", a character from local folklore embodying the Liégeois attitude, are available in the 6 marionette theaters in the city.
Other typical purchases are food and drink products:
As elsewhere in Belgium, pralines (filled chocolates) and the numerous cheeses and beers are a must.
Local products include "Herve" cheese (with a strong smell!), "Sirop de Liège" (made from a mix of apples and pears and typically used for cooking/baking), and cider (the alcoholic kind).
"Péquet" (genièvre) is an alcoholic beverage available in countless varieties.
For sweets, you can't go far without encountering the famous Liège waffles, smelling of cinnamon and sugar. They're best when freshly-cooked, though the pre-packaged variety also exists and has spread to many other countries.
Other sweets are available depending on the season: bouquètes (dark crêpes with raisins, eaten with brown sugar) are mainly available for 15 August and at Christmas, while lacquemants/lackmans (dry waffles filled with a mix of sugar and other sweets) are found at the fairs.
If you find them, try "cutè peures", a sort of cooked pear which unfortunately seems to have disappeared from the street vendors.
Liège coffee (café liégeois) is originally from Vienna but was rebaptised by the Parisiens to show their support for the heroic resistance in Liège at the start of the first world war.
The best options for shopping are around Place Cathédrale and Place Saint Lambert, and in particular at Vinâve d'Ile (Celio...), Saint-Michel (Van den Borre, Delhaize, C&A), the Opera Galleries (Zara, Springfield) and the Saint Lambert Galleries (FNAC, Média Markt, Inno, Champion), as well as along the roads towards the center (rues Féronstrée, Saint-Gilles, Puits-en-Sock in Outremeuse, Grétry in Longdoz...)
Several large commercial centers are located on the outskirts of the city: Belle-Ile (North-American style shopping mall with Carrefour on site, take bus 377 from the Opera) (Angleur), Rocourt, Boncelles, Herstal...
Liege is generally a safe city during daytime. However, be cautious at night especially for single females. It is not recommended for women to walk alone in the evenings as many foreign female students have experienced being followed late at night. Robbery is rare but harassment to single females occurs often, mostly verbal but some travelers have experienced assaults in off-downtown area. If where you're staying is more than a 5-min walk off the centre, it is suggested to take a cab (they have a line-ups around The Opera and Pont d'Avroy bus terminal) after 10PM.
A university city with some 80,000 students, Liège has plenty of educational possibilities.
L'Union des Classes Moyennes also offers classes for adults
Le Centre J has lots of useful information for young students
World War II Ardennes American Cemetery and Memorial - Highway N-63 from Liege to Marche passes the entrance to the Memorial about 19 kilometers (12 miles) southwest of Liege. Open daily except December 25 and January 1; 9:00AM to 5:00PM. This memorial commemorates the American soldiers who died in Northern Europe during WWII. The chapel contains maps and relief scupltures depicting the campaigns in the region. Free.
World War II Henri-Chapelle American Cemetery and Memorial: 29 kilometers (18 miles) from the city near Henri-Chapelle, Belgium. From Liege, take N3 northeast toward Aachen, Germany. Turn left onto Rue du Mémorial Améreicain. Open daily except for December 25 and January 1; 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. The cemetery is the final resting place for 7,992 American military dead lost during the drive into Germany the Battle of the Bulge. A monument is inscribed with the names of 450 Americans whose remains were never found or identified. A museum and a chapel are located on the grounds. Free.
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