by Frank Davey
ONE of the smallest countries of Europe—smaller than Holland and Switzerland and about one-fifth the size of England and Wales—Belgium is rich, industrious and very
Tourism is an important factor in its economy and it has great variety to offer the holidaymaker.
The Dover Ostend crossing brings it very close to London. For a family holiday it would be difficult to better the 40-mile string of seaside resorts on either side of Ostend. from I,a Panne to Knock-Le Zoute; such places as Nieuport,...Westende. Middelkerke, BlankenbErge, Zeebrugge, Hcyst are all linked by fast trams and buses, which will take your luggage too. Great expanses of beach make them a paradise for children and for sand-yachting.
Behind and inland from this Blackpool-belt (as I tend to think of it) lie those old belfried towns, Antwerp and Brussels itself, Bruges with its canals, Ghent, Ypres. In their churches and art galleries you can see the masterpieces of the Flemish painters, From Brussels you may visit the famous Catholic university of Louvain, with its memories of Cardinal Mercier; or make an expedition to the battlefield of Waterloo.
In the densely populated industrial regions they say you cannot throw a stone without hitting six Belgians: or in the fertile Flanders lields without. breaking as many glass-houses! But when you reach the confluence of the rivers Sambre and Meuse at Namur and strike southwards. you could wander all day in the forest of the Ardennes meeting no one.
This is my favourite zone of Belgium, ahem the lazy and historic Meuse gathers her lovely tributaries from the hills. Such as the Lesse, which dives into the limestone to form one of the sights of Europe at Hans in the stalactite-adorned caves where you emerge in a boat to the sound of gunfire.
The enchanting cities of Dinant and Namur have each their storied citadels, reached by what I call terror-Perique.
The countryside abounds in chfiteaux—Spontin. Lavaux Ste. Anne (with its hunting museum), Walzin (perched on sheer cliff above the river). and Annevoie (of the fountained gardens).
Nearby is the Benedictine abbey of Maredsous. where the monks make an excellent cheese. In the Ardennes, try Trappiste beer which goes well with the forest's famous Pathan, as good as the fat trout from the Lease—though I cannot eat them without guilt watching their brethren swim in glass tanks in a restaurant!
Fishermen. walkers, campers will enjoy this part of Belgium, and there are plenty of facilities for them.
Motorists should write for the current "Handbook for Motorists" (extremely useful and free) from: Belgian Railways and Marine, 167 Regent St.. London, W.1. Inquiries to the Belgian National Tourist Office (same address) are welcomed.