Click through to the relevant chapters and skip the rest:
- How to get there
- How to get around
- Where to stay
- Food and drinks
- Shopping streets
- Museums and galleries
- Parks and open spaces
- In the surrounding area
- Resources in English
1. How to get there
The Mons train station is located right at the edge of the city center and you can take a direct or indirect train there from any big city in Belgium or even from France. For train timetables, check the website of the NMBS, the National Railroads.
If you're staying in the proximity of the city center or in a nearby village without a train station, taking a bus is an option as well. For bus timetables and routes in Wallonia, check the website of TEC, the bus company for the southern part of the country.
By car – Mons parking
Unlike Leuven, Mons is a car-friendly city. There are several free parking lots not far from the Grand Place. You can find them on the website of the city of Mons. The site is in French, but that page clearly gives you the names of the parking lots and you can click through to a map which shows you exactly where they are located.
2. How to get around
The city center of Mons in Belgium isn't that big and can easily be done on foot. It's really the easiest way to get around.
3. Where to stay
Up to €50
Auberge de Jeunesse de Mons
€50 – €100
€150 and up
Hotel Dream (suites)
4. Food and drinks
Breakfast and sweets
Le Saint-Germain (website in French)
Le Saint-Germain serves their own baked goods and breakfast, but you can also go there for lunch or something sweet with a coffee in the afternoon.
Address: Grand Place 12
Lunch and dinner
Restaurant L'Envers (website in French)
L'Envers has an à la carte option, as well as suggestions that change depending on the season and what was fresh at the market. They serve different kinds of dishes but seem to be popular for their meat meals.
Of course, I chose pasta.
Cannelloni with ricotta, spinach, and sauce bolognese. This may seem like a simple dish, but I find that it's often not so well prepared. Think cannelloni drowning in tomato sauce and needing a magnifying glass to find your spinach.
Not at Restaurant L'Envers, though. Lots of spinach, lots of ricotta and extra parmesan cheese to top everything off with. Also, clearly freshly prepared bolognese sauce. Yum!
I was full after that, but as so often happens, I couldn't say no to dessert and so I ordered the apple crumble with speculaas (typically Belgian, a must try) ice cream. Oh, and of course a green tea with which I got some cookies and a small piece of Toblerone. Bliss. I can definitely recommend this restaurant in Mons.
Address: Rue de la Coupe 20
Ces Belges et Vous (website in French)
Belgian cuisine prepared with local ingredients and served with local beers.
Address: Grand Place 30
Famous for their cassoulet or casserole.
Address: Rue des Fripiers 14
This restaurant has the biggest choice in beers in Mons. The food is great as well.
Address: Grand Place 25
Cocktails and other drinks
A wine and champagne bar that also serves tapas and some small food products like jams.
Address: Rue de la Clef 8
Le Citizen Fox
An Irish pub with a large selection of cocktails, beer, whiskeys, and coffees. This is where you'll find the young and the hip.
Address: Rue de la Coupe 7
5. Mons shopping
The main shopping area of Mons city is located around the Rue de la Coupe, close to the Grand Place. This is a pedestrian area where you can find chain stores but also some smaller shops in the side streets. Watch out for the label “Balade des cadeaux originaux”. It means “Walk of original presents” and it's a label granted to over 50 stores in Mons who offer customers you can't find anywhere else – something original.
There's also a Mons shopping center, located right outside of the city center. It's called “Les Grands Près” and you can get there by car (parking is free) or make use of the free bus service (circuit D, blue line) provided by TEC from the train station of Mons.
Twice a week you can go to three different markets in Mons. On Friday (8 am – 2 pm) there's the
- general Mons market at Croix Place
- food market at Rue des Juifs
- flowers and utensils market at Grand Place
and on Sunday (8 am – 2 pm) there's the
7. Museums and galleries
The belfry of Mons is a UNESCO World Heritage site. It's the only baroque belfry in Belgium and dates back to 1660.
Address: Parc du Château
Mons Memorial Museum
The Memorial Museum of Mons tells visitors about the history of the city through conflicts and wars from the Middle Ages until the foundation of SHAPE.
Address: Boulevard Dolez, 51
The Musée Doudou is dedicated to the traditional Ducasse festival and the battle between Saint George and the dragon.
Address: Jardin du Mayeur, Grand Place
The BAM or Beaux-Arts Mons is more than a museum. Besides temporary exhibitions, the BAM also hosts several events and performances throughout the year.
Address: Rue Neuve, 8
Musée François Duesberg
The Musée François Duesberg is a private decorative arts museum which mostly exhibits decorative interior elements like clocks, porcelain and silverware.
Address: Square F. Roosevelt 12
Did you know that the idea of the Internet was actually invented in Belgium? It was. The Mundaneum is like a paper Google, an archive of all knowledge, categorized and searchable.
Address: Rue de Nimy 76
Magasin de Papier
“The Magasin de Papier is a contemporary exhibition space with an eclectic program focusing primarily on local and regional art.” It's the place to check out what the local art scene is up to.
Address: Rue de la Clé 26
The Old Slaughterhouse hosts temporary exhibitions of modern art as well as events.
Address: Rue de la Trouille 17
St. Waltrude's Collegiate Church
Not really a museum, but the St. Waltrude's Collegiate Church holds the relics of the holy St. Waltrude's as well as other religious art. Every year on Pentecost Saturday there's a ceremony which always draws a huge crowd. It's also the start of the Ducasse celebrations.
Address: Rue du Chapitre
8. Mons Belgium Nightlife
Le Bâteau Ivre
A cafe where you can find concerts, theater, jam sessions, electro music and great ambiance.
Address: Rue de Nimy 1
La vie est belge (website in French)
Cafe promotion Belgian and local products. They do apero bars and happy hours.
Address: Grand Place 40
9. Parks and open spaces
Jardin du Majeur
Probably everyone from Mons knows about the Jardin du Majeur, but it's a bit hidden away from visitors. To get there you need to enter the big gate of city hall at the Grand Place and walk through the small tunnel. It looks as if you're not allowed to go there, but you are. As a matter of fact, this is also where the Doudou Museum is located. It's more of an inner courtyard that offers a hideaway from the rest of the city.
Parc du Château
The Parc du Château or “Castle Park” is located at the highest point of the city and thus offers a nice view. It consists mainly of a large grass lawn, but more interesting is that it's also where you can find the Belfry.
Parc du Chanoine Puissant
A fairly new city park that's quite interesting because it has automatic doors that open in the morning and close at night, as well as a sound system that alerts visitors when they only have five minutes left to get out.
Parc du Waux-Hall
Louis Fuchs (website in Dutch) in the middle of the 19th century as commissioned by a few wealthy citizens of Mons. Works started in 1862 and were finished two years later. In 1892, the city of Mons bought the park and it has been a city park ever since.
Waux-Hall Mons is 5 ha. large and has some special trees, like a walnut tree and a Turkish hazel, but more impressive are the 100,000 flower bulbs that cover the park in colors every spring.
There are walking paths taking you criss-cross through this Mons park and past several sculptures, but there's also a playground for children, an exercise trail, a tennis court and a cafe. Oh, and you can try your hand at canoeing on the ponds!
10. In the surrounding area
Neolithic flint mines of Spiennes
The Neolithic flint mines of Spiennes are one of the oldest flint mines in the world and recognized by UNESCO as as World Heritage Site in 2000. Flint is a kind of very hard rock that people in the Neolithic era used to build tools with. They found heaps of it just under the ground at Spiennes and mined it for more than 2,000 (!) years, which resulted in thousands of mineshafts. Some of those are still intact and you can descend into them, but to do that you need to reserve beforehand.
Address: park at Rue de Spiennes 15-21, Spiennes. From there it's a 15-minute walk.
Van Gogh House
Van Gogh only spent a few months in Cuesmes, but it was here that her decided to become an artist.
Address: Rue du Pavillon 3, Cuesmes
Château d'Havré (website only in French)
The Castle of Havré is mostly known for its 6,000 m² rose garden which boosts 150 different rose varieties. Adjourning the castle is a forest, the Forest of Havré, which is great for walking. In some areas you're also allowed to cycle or go horse riding.
Address: Rue du Château 30, Havré
Grand Hornu was built between 1810 and 1830 as an industrial mining site in a Neoclassical style. Its founder, Henry de Gorge, wanted to create a mining city where its workers could live and work with a level of comfort that was unheard of for that time. He had the site built so that it didn’t just include the mining complex, but also a residential area where the workers and director used to live. The houses there were spacious and all equipped with hot running water. Some of them even had a garden. And top it off, Grand-Hornu got its own school, library and dance hall.
What remains of the old mining site today is mostly the enormous building. Grand-Hornu has been transformed into an art space shared by the Musée des Arts Contemporains (MAC’s) and the Centre d’Innovation et Design (CID) and hosts temporary exhibitions of contemporary art and design. Its currently owned by the province of Hainaut.
Address: Rue Sainte Louise 82, Hornu
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