Life in Belgium
As the OECD tells us, "Belgium performs well in many measures of well-being relative to most other countries in the Better Life Index. Belgium ranks above the average in work-life balance, income and wealth, housing, civic engagement, education and skills, subjective well-being, health status, jobs and earnings, and personal security but below average in environmental quality".
But there is much more to experience in Belgium.
The Coast, the Ardenne, cities of Art where History meets people and vice versa... so many things to enjoy, depending on your taste and desires.
Belgium already loves you.
Flanders offers a dizzying array of entertainment, sport and culinary experiences!
Plenty of entertainment
Every Flemish city has an impressive range of entertainment on offer, including theatre, concerts (classical, rock, jazz and world music), discos, clubs and cinemas.
In addition, throughout the year there are numerous festivals and heritage events as well as a wide range of activities for all the family organised by various local clubs and associations.
Details of all such happenings are provided in magazines available at newsstands, in free hand-outs from cultural venues and on a growing number of websites.
- http://www.tento.be/ (only in Dutch)
- http://www.use-it.be (in English)
An A to Z of sport and leisure
Virtually every municipality in Flanders has its own swimming pool, sports complex and leisure facilities, including tennis, for which Belgium has gained something of a reputation in recent years!
Most universities and some larger companies have their own sports facilities and compete against each other in a number of disciplines and events.
And of course local clubs organise courses in anything from aikido to Zen Buddhism.
Shop till you drop
Antwerp is internationally renowned for its fashion, including creations by a number of emerging and established Belgian designers.
Naturally, major international chain stores can be found in towns and cities throughout Flanders, but avid shoppers will soon discover that there are many less mainstream shops, too.
Popular shopping streets include:
Meir in Antwerp;
Nieuwstraat/Rue Neuve, Avenue Louise and Antoine Dansaertstraat/Rue Antoine Dansaert in Brussels;
Veldstraat in Ghent;
Bruul in Mechelen; and
Bondgenotenlaan in Leuven.
On Saturdays, however, these streets can get pretty crowded. You have been warned!
Food, glorious food!
Flanders is famous for its food and drink and Flemish people really enjoy eating out. So there are eateries catering to all tastes, styles and budgets, including truly top-notch gourmet dining.
Generally speaking, Flemish cooking is very similar to classical French cuisine, with a few Mediterranean or Asian touches here and there. But regardless of your personal dietary preferences or requirements you will find restaurants and shops that cater to them.
Belgium is renowned for its stupendous choice of beers, with hundreds brewed in Flanders alone. The best-known brands, of which we are rightly proud, include Stella Artois, Leffe and Duvel.
If you aren’t already acquainted with these wonderfully refreshing and highly imaginative beverages, a stay in Flanders will give you the perfect opportunity to discover the full range on offer.
Flanders also boasts three top Trappist beers, brewed for centuries by monks at Westvleteren, Achel and Westmalle.
Other Flemish specialities
Another traditional Flemish drink is gin, which flows copiously at the ubiquitous December Christmas markets. Hasselt is the Flemish gin capital and also home to a Gin Museum.
Most visitors to Flanders will be aware of Belgium’s reputation for world-class chocolates, which abound everywhere, but cake and pastry fans won’t be disappointed either. Many Flemish people have a sweet tooth, so it’s no surprise that Flanders is a cake and pastry paradise, offering a breathtaking assortment of mouth-watering delicacies.
If your stomach isn’t rumbling already, then it ought to be, because Flemish gastronomy is unforgettable!