The Best of Flanders - in Photos

Posted on 15. Mar, 2013 by in Belgium, Destinations, Europe Travel, Photo Posts, Press Trips

One of the regions I was looking forward to the most during my trip with Eurail.com was Flanders - I won’t go about 18 ways to say why.

CHOCOLATE CAPITAL OF THE WORLD, PEOPLE.

I’m actually surprised I resisted the temptation until then!

But what I found was not only the best chocolate of my life, but also a welcoming community who was eager to learn more about my life as a French Canadian in France and our respective countries’ constant fight for independence, as well as strikingly beautiful architecture and all-around fantastic region.

Belgium is, in overall, largely underrated in guidebooks and by Euro-specialists - because of its size and lack of geographical landmarks, a lot of people skip it altogether to visit France, Switzerland and even Germany. But now that I’ve seen what Flanders is all about, it now ranks very high up in my list of quaint European experiences.

Photos of Flanders: Brussels

“To the sudden death”, literally. It’s also a brand of cherry-flavoured beer that’s very popular throughout Europe.

The cute streets around Grand Place

The ideal place to start any itinerary in Flanders is in the Belgian capital, Brussels. Often cited as one of the most boring cities in Europe, I can’t help but beg to differ - sure, it doesn’t have the vibrant atmosphere of London or the quaint alleys of Paris. Fair enough. But that doesn’t mean it’s not a great place to be - if only for its incredible comics scene!

The Atomium - which even today causes quite the controversy amongst locals.

My favorite comic strip.

Can’t do Brussels without a taste of its delicious fries.

Photos of Flanders: Ghent

Ghent, without the shadow of a doubt, was the biggest and most positive surprise of my trip. I really didn’t know what to expect - university town, good energy, yada yada yada. As I usually do with places I haven’t been, I try to not read too much into what people tell me about these places, just so I can make my own opinion.

Ghent is the more modern equivalent to romantic, Disney-like Bruges, with its fun atmosphere, unexpected pops of colour and its lively restaurants. I didn’t need more to be convinced.

Photos of Flanders

My favorite restaurant in the city - Amadeus.

The quirky graffiti alley.

The view from my hotel room. Worth every cent!

Photos of Flanders: Antwerp

Since I’m a big fan of Top 10s, Best ofs and other popular travel lists - very fun to read during lunchtime!- I was mostly excited to visit Antwerp because of its world-known train station. I wasn’t disappointed, and it was even more impressive in person than on photographs! As is the rest of the city -  the old squares are like miniature version of the Grand Place in Brussels, minus the massive crowds.

The best of both worlds, if you ask me.

Grote Markt

The train station.

Photos of Flanders: Bruges

And last, but not least, Bruges.

I’m still undecided on this place - it is too cheesy for its own good, or is it really that pretty? Did it try to capitalize a bit too much on its fairytale feel, or is it simply Europe’s most quaint village? I still can’t tell.

What do you think?

The gorgeous and unexpected main room of the town hall

The main canal

My favorite canal, next to the Béguinage

And, of course, a chocolate shop.

CHOCOLATE IN THE MAKING!!! Give me ALL the chocolate!

In any case, I’m ready to forgive the tourism-oriented faux pas for a few pounds of this sweet goodness. I’m very easy to convince. ;)

Have you been to Flanders? What was your favorite city - Brussels, Bruges, Antwerp or Ghent?

Disclaimer: I was a guest of Visit Flanders & Eurail.com. As always, all opinions are my own (but for the sake of full disclosure, I was given chocolate several times during the trip, but I swear I’m being completely objective in my writing. Yes, yes I am).

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14 Responses to “The Best of Flanders - in Photos”

  1. Ana

    15. Mar, 2013

    How did I not know this was the chocolate capital of the world?! When is the next flight…

    Reply to this comment
    • Marie-Eve Vallieres

      18. Mar, 2013

      Rumor has it that it would take over 6 months to visit all the chocolate shops in Belgium… challenge accepted?

      Reply to this comment
  2. Turtle

    17. Mar, 2013

    What a cute little part of the world. I love how you’ve captured all the colours of Ghent - it really makes it stand out from the traditional European city look.

    Reply to this comment
    • Marie-Eve Vallieres

      18. Mar, 2013

      Very cute indeed! I think that’s what I liked so much about Ghent - its European feel that’s slightly more edgy than everything else I’ve seen.

      Reply to this comment
  3. Billy

    26. Apr, 2013

    Chocolate capital? That’s all I need to know.

    Reply to this comment
    • Marie-Eve Vallieres

      26. Apr, 2013

      There is much more to Flanders, but chocolate alone is a good enough reason to go.

      Reply to this comment
  4. Paula

    26. Apr, 2013

    YUMGASM. That is all!

    Reply to this comment
  5. Maria

    26. Apr, 2013

    Flanders is my favorite part of Belgium. You’ve really done it justice.

    Reply to this comment
  6. Christine

    26. Apr, 2013

    I love the street art - so surprising in a country like Belgium.

    Reply to this comment
    • Marie-Eve Vallieres

      26. Apr, 2013

      Right? I had the same reaction. Wasn’t expecting to see this in Belgium, more London or Berlin.

      Reply to this comment
  7. Georgia

    18. Jul, 2013

    Oh wow, Ghent looks lovely. I’m planning on heading over to Bruges in September so I’m going to make sure to spend a day in Ghent on the way back. Thanks!

    Reply to this comment
    • Marie-Eve Vallieres

      06. Aug, 2013

      Thanks Georgia! Bruges is lovely. Make sure to plan for an evening stroll, it’s magical!

      Reply to this comment

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