BELGIUM – Situated in the steep-sided valley of the Meuse river, the city of Liège lies at the meeting points of several distinct regions. To the north and west, the craggy landscape surrounding the valley merges with the plateau of the Hesbaye, an empty agricultural region of more gradual hills. The extensive suburbs of Liège sprawl over this transitional zone, incorporating numerous former villages into the agglomeration. Many Liègeois moved here from the city in the 1970’s and ’80’s, and it is therefore a good place to get an impression of the average standard of living they enjoy, which, although the city itself sometimes gives a slightly run-down first impression, is similar to that of neighbouring countries.
A difficult area to navigate, even those who think they know it quite well can keep on discovering new things here. This made it one of my favourite areas for spring and autumn bike rides when I lived in Liège. And I hope to show you why in this series of four posts, in which I will take you on a 30 kilometer-long tour of the north-western suburbs of Liège.
I will start in the village of Flémalle-Haute (in the municipality of Flémalle), which lies immediately behind the cliffs I showed you in the post on Chokier:
The plateau of the Hesbaye sits approximately 120 meters higher than the Meuse at this point, but this is Belgium, and it is hard to find a place with a view. And when you do, it will often be the last time you see it before a row of new houses is built in front of it:
View towards the industrial town of Seraing (left), on the other side of the Meuse:
The landscape in the foreground is typical of the Hesbaye, while the landscape in the background gives a good impression of the higher and more wooded hills that are typical of the regions to the south and east of the Meuse (in this case, the Condroz):
Church of Mons-lez-Liège (which is still in the Flémalle municipality):
Mons-lez-Liège castle, in the Style Mosan, the architectural style typical of the broader region:
Looking east from Mons-lez-Liège, a deep valley runs north-south to join the Meuse valley in Jemeppe-sur-Meuse. The village of Grâce-Hollogne lies at the bottom of this valley:
Art-deco ‘Maison du Peuple’ in Grâce-Hollogne, the chief village of the municipality of the same name:
Grâce-Hollogne municipal hall:
The main road through Grâce-Hollogne:
On the road down the hill to Jemeppe-sur-Meuse (all roads in this area seem to go to Jemeppe-sur-Meuse, and it is difficult for those who don’t know the way to find the one road that goes over the hills to Liège:
Now going uphill, a tunnel under the freight railway that I also showed you in Ougrée and Saint-Nicolas:
The village of Grâce-Berleur, where we will go in a minute, seen from near Grâce-Hollogne:
But first a short detour. Further north, Liège Airport (which is mainly used for freight traffic, but also offers passenger flights to a number of destinations around the Mediterranean) is located near the village of Bierset, which is also in the municipality of Grâce-Hollogne:
Church of Horion-Hozémont, a village at the western end of the airport:
In Awans, a village at the eastern end of the airport:
The Hesbaye near Awans:
Now continuing from photo 17, I could somehow imagine this house in Grâce-Berleur to be surrounded by the cornfields of the American Midwest (where I have never been):
Formerly a strictly catholic country, it is quite common to schools with separate entrances for boys and girls in Belgium, though they are rarely still in use as such:
Going down the hill on the road from Grâce-Berleur to Jemeppe-sur-Meuse:
Another view towards Jemeppe and Seraing, with the radio mast at Sart-Tilman just visible in the distance:
The street the last picture was taken from:
A typical residential street:
Passing through a small corner of Montegnée, a section of Saint-Nicolas…
… brings us to Burenville, a section of Liège that owes its name to the Walloon word bure, or mine shaft. Like many others in the region, the mine in question closed in the 1970’s.
Church of Saint Hubertus:
The square in front of the church:
A horticultural school:
Though this neighbourhood feels like one of the most forgotten corners of Liège, this street continues south to Cointe, which is one of the poshest parts of town (we are heading westwards, and you can visit Cointe in another post).
An industrial building that was recently demolished …
… to make way for the entrance to the new Clinique de l’Espérance, the biggest construction site I saw in the eight years I lived in Liège. Its name comes from the name of the coal mine that stood on the site until 1974, Charbonnages Espérance et Bonne Fortune.
Looking north west towards a part of Ans on the opposite hills side:
The construction site of Clinique de l’Espérance seen from the main road through Ans, which runs through a valley that descends from west to east to join the Meuse valley near the center of Liège.
Arriving by train from Brussels offers an impressive view of Ans,
a municipality of about 28,000 immediately west of Liège, but it isn’t possible to find places with similar views on foot. So I will continue with a picture taken further down the hill (and not far from the last picture) that shows Ans’s setting in a deep valley quite well. This valley descends to join the valley of the Meuse in Liège, which is visible in the distance. Ans itself is now out of sight on the right (north) and the motorway from Brussels and Burenville are out of sight on the left:
A tunnel under the railway:
As you can see here on Rue des Français (the continuation of the street that crosses the bridge on photo #47), the eastern part of Ans has some of the longest rows of terraced houses in the region:
Looking towards Ans from a cycle path on the other (southern) side of the bridge:
A few months later, and cranes have appeared to build the new Clinique de l’Espérance, which you saw from the other side in the last post:
Passing through Montegnée, a section of Saint-Nicolas you already briefly saw:
A piece of empty land between Montegnée and Ans, with the construction site of Clinique de l’Espérance in the distance:
Crossing the railway again near Ans station:
A fortified farm in the Mosan style of architecture:
The main road through Ans (where the last picture in the previous post was taken) is approximately 4 kilometers long and gives a much more urban impression than the neighbourhoods behind. This is near the western end, where it turns into the main road to Sint-Truiden:
Further east, the main road goes over the top of the hill before plunging down to Liège:
Another fortified farm:
A part of Ans seen from the bridge across the motorway ring, where the main road leaves town:
Some streets to the north of the main road:
North of the motorway ring, the center of Alleur, a village that is now built on to Ans:
Fortified farm in Alleur:
Town gives way to the open countryside of the Hesbaye just west of Alleur. Here you can see some kind of event where different kinds of seed were being demonstrated to farmers:
For some reason this was one of my favourite places to come on summer evenings:
View back towards Alleur:
I will finish this post with a few pictures taken on the hillsides that you can see in the distance on photos #44 and #45.
View towards Liège, with the Basilica of Saint-Martin on the left, the Tour des Finances in the middle, and the Basilica of Cointe barely visible on the right:
View towards the almost completed Clinique de l’Espérance:
A new hillside park:
Looking towards Liège, with Burenville on the opposite hillside:
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