Please find driving directions below the main text
Bank account of “National Trust Belgium” (NTAB)
BE17 0016 2443 2021
The Romans built a fortified camp on the high ground that now forms the base of the town and called it Castrilocus, later changed to Montes which mutated into Mons. In the 12th Century it was fortified under the rule of Count Baldwin IV. The walls were reinforced under later rulers; the city, like so much of Belgium under the rule of the French, the Spanish and the Austrians. In 1814, William I of the Netherlands strengthened these fortifications, which lasted barely a generation as all were demolished in the 1860s It was at the heart of the Belgian Industrial revolution, based on the local coal fields and steel works.
In 1914 the British fought a rear-guard action in and around Mons before retreating back into France. The Canadians liberated the town in 1918. After the Second World War, the old industries of the Borinage began their final decline and Mons suffered accordingly. However, in the last 20 years or so, the urban values of the old city have been recognised and its charms appreciated.
We will start the day with a guided tour (with Dutch & English speaking guides) of the main features of the old city. After lunch, taken in la Petite Provence on the Grand Place, we will walk to a gem of Art Nouveau only recently restored for public view.
The house, conceived by the lawyer Léon Losseau was built at the end of the 19th century and is one of the few examples of Art Nouveau in Mons. It was designed by Paul Saintenoy, whose best-known building in Brussels “Old England” has now been reconstructed as the core of the Musée des Instruments de Musique.
As well as being an architectural gem, the complex also houses his collection of curiosities.