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Stories from our groups of women traveling to France, Spain, Belgium and Switzerland. Plus info and travel tips about the countries we travel to.

Archive for the ‘Belgian news’

Kim Clijsters is back and kicking in US OPen

September 04, 2009 By: jgrandchamps Category: Belgian news, Cultural Tours to Belgium, Sports, Women, Worldwide No Comments →

If you know me well, you know that I love tennis. I love watching it and playing it . Although I won’t be able to watch as much of the US Open as I want, I am extremely excited about Km Clijsters ’s results.


   clijters   images  usopen

She has won her first games very easily even though she is just back after taking 2 years off,  and she is now going to play …. in round 3. Ok, ok … some will say that I used to cheer for Belgian Justine Henin and did not care as much when it came to Kim. But that was a long time ago, when French-speaking Wallonia had a player in the game. Tonight my heart is Flemish (really, it should be , since I will be staying in the Belgian Flanders fo 10 days, starting tonight).

Well, Belgians are not easy to understand but for sure sport is a field where they seem to reconciliate (especially when they win).

And I have 2 reasons to cheer for Flemish  Belgium tonight. Kim will play against Belgian Kristen Flipkens ! The latter is not as well known, even though she recently made the news for posing naked in Menzo magazine. Anyway …  no stress for me tonight : there will be a Belgian winner on the court!

And for some fun and funny tennis ….

For our tours to Belgium and France, visit

My 5 top info about spring 2009 in Brussels, Belgium

April 17, 2009 By: jgrandchamps Category: "How to" Tips, Art, Belgian Escapades, Belgian news, Brussels, Cultural Tours to Belgium, Women 2 Comments →


                           Jackie, your travel guide and specialist about Belgium, France and California

                                                                         (see bottom  of article for latest trip discounts)

  • The new Magritte museum is opening soon! On June 2, its doors will open on the magic world of the most famous Belgian surrealist painter. Located next to the Art Museum on Place Royale in Brussels, and not to be confused with the former Magritte museum, located in the painter’s home. While the old one focuses on the artist’s life, the new one will exhibit some 170 paintings by Magritte. Not to be missed! Tickets are for sale online.


  • The royal greenhouse of Laeken are only open to the public in spring. This year, you will be able to admire the huge collection of rare plants in the superb 19th century greenhouses designed by Balat from Friday, April 17 to May 10 (closed on Mondays). It is a short window and therefore a privilege to enter this magical  space located in the King’ s palace gardens.


  • The Foundation for Architecture is presenting its 2009 exhibition " the Time of the Boutiques" , from booths to ebay, ongoing until October 18, 2009. You will be immersed in the experience of window-shopping through ages. The foundation is located rue de l’ Hermitage, 105 – Brussels 1050. Closed on Mondays.


  • On Saturday, May 16, 2009, you will be able to join the Belgian Gay Pride March in Brussels, with around 20,000 people walking the Streets of the Belgian capital. The parade is free and starts at 2 pm at the Bourse. It will end with the Rainbow Party at the Ancienne Belgique.


  • Brussels public transportation are varied and convenient: 5 train stations, an easy train access to the airport and a great subway network in addition to a large bus and tram network. On April 4 , 2009, new metro lines were added.

Practical info: the Brussels subways (Metro)  run from 5am to 1am / Trains are every 7 minutes / a single ticket costs 1.70 euros  and a Day pass 4.50 euros / a 3-Day pass 9.50 euros.


To and from the airport, trains run every 15 minutes (Central station, Bruxelles Midi, Airport station located  in the basement – level – 1)

And because Belgians are unpredictable, watch this video taken at the Antwerp train station on March 23.  Public transport can be art!"



So to all of you who will be in Belgium this spring, enjoy!

If you want to join us on our August tour of Belgium with a special 50% off discount, check our website . It is a women-only 8-day trip in Wallonia and the  Flanders in a small group of 8, escorted by bilingual guides with a real knowledge of the country. I will be there!


All pictures were taken on French Escapade tours in Belgium.

Giants walking up Belgian streets?

February 09, 2009 By: jgrandchamps Category: Belgian Escapades, Belgian news, Cultural Tours to Belgium, Customs and Traditions No Comments →

February is the month of parades and carnivals in France and Belgium. France can brag about Nice that hosts the most elaborated parade of floats on the French Riviera. But Belgium offers the most animated festivities for the lucky visitors who will attend the craziest carnival parades.

In Binche, Province of Hainaut, from Feb. 22 to 24, the most famous Belgian Carnival will attract thousands of people. The Gilles giants will parade in the streets, throwing oranges,  with drums resounding all around them. Fireworks will end the days, on Monday and Tuesday.

But who are the Gilles? They are the local Carnival characters, and have been around since the 14th century. They are impressive by their height and typical costume stuffed with hay and decorated with jingle bells around their waist. Their feathered headdress is 4 feet tall and can weigh 7 pounds. The costumes matching the colors of the Belgian flag (black, red and yellow) are new every year.

Eight hundred Gilles are walking every year in the Binche parade, and this event has been  listed on the  Unesco Heritage list, since 2003, as an ” oral and intangible patrimony of humanity”.

The Binche carnival is serious merrymaking and pageantry at its finest.



Who said "This is not a pipe"?

January 05, 2009 By: jgrandchamps Category: Art, Belgian news, Brussels, Cultural Tours to Belgium 1 Comment →


In 1929, the most celebrated surrealist Belgian painter wrote this caption on his oil painting representing a pipe, and called his piece: “the Betrayal of Images”.

His name? René Magritte.

On June 2, 2009 , Brussels will open a new Magritte Museum. Located by the Art museum on Place Royale, within walking distance from the famous Grand Place,  the museum will hold 200 works, the largest collection of Magritte paintings, plus archival material, letters written by the painter, photographs and drawings.

Born in 1898 in Lessines, Belgium, Magritte firts studied art at the Belgian  Academy of Fine arts. He later met  the French and Spanish surrealists in Paris in the 20s and  joined their cultural and political movement . His first American exhibit was organized in New York in 1936, but he  only set foot in the States  in 1965, for a retrospective of his works at the Chicago MOMA. Magritte died in 1967 in Brussels.

Inspired by both the bizarre and the absurd, Magritte evokes a wide spectrum of themes to entice the observer.

Visits of the museum are available on French Escapade tours to Belgium in 2009: August 22-29 (Cultural tour), August 14- 21 and September 5-12 (Painting tours).

Useful links for Magritte in Brussels

Illustration 1: the new Magritte Museum in Brussels

Illustration 2: Oil on canvas from

Would you like to meet the Smurfs?

August 06, 2008 By: jgrandchamps Category: Belgian news No Comments →


They are turning 50 this year, but they remain among the most popular characters in Belgian comic strips.  They were created by Belgian comic strip author, Peyo in 1958. They first appeared in “La flûte à six trous” (The flute with six wholes), in Spirou journal.

Their 50th birthday is being celebrated by comic strips lovers all over the world, but at the  Belgian Comic Strip Center, visitors will be invited to consider Peyo’s work from a new and original angle: it is because of their individual weaknesses that the Smurfs discover their strength…

You will be able to meet the Smurfs at the Belgian Comic Strip Museum in Brussels, through authentic documents lent by Peyo’s family. The exhibition will last until November 16th.

So hurry up and smurf to the museum or smurf their website at

During our new coming tour to Belgium in 2 weeks, our guests will be able to pay them a visit if they wish.

Picture from