Chapman Freeborn blog

Spend a Day in Charming Charleroi

It’s our 4th instalment for Belgium month, perhaps you have already decided where to base your Belgium break after discovering Bruges, Brussels and Antwerp. But now let’s travel an hour south of Brussels to charming Charleroi. Once a rich and powerful city due to its coal and mining business it’s a great place to visit for the day whilst in Belgium.

Charleroi is not a city filled with luxury hotels and dozens of things to do, instead, it is more understated, industrial and quietly pleasant. The highlights of Charleroi would be of particular interest to travellers who love history, photography or dance or those who just want a less-touristic raw and cultural look at Belgium.

Art, Culture and History

There are several museums and art houses that simply shouldn’t be missed on a visit to Charleroi. The Museum of Fine Arts has a rich collection covering the main artistic movements in Belgium from the 19th and 20th centuries. Here visitors will find pieces from famous names such as Magritte, Paulus and Boch, amongst many others.

There are two top-class infrastructures in Charleroi both recognised around the world. The first is The Musee de la Photographie – the largest Museum of Photography in Europe and covers the entire history of photography from its infancy until more recent developments. A definite must-visit for any photography fans. The second is the modern dance festival, Charleroi Dance, globally famous in the dance world.

In Marcinelle, just outside of Charleroi you’ll find the Bois de Cazier. This was once a bustling coal mine and today is a fantastically well-preserved industrial heritage site. Today it is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site and tells the history of mining in the area and how it impacted the city itself to make it what it is today.

See the Sights

There are some rather lovely sights to see in Charleroi and they can be explored within a few hours on foot in this easy-to-navigate city.

The Hotel de Ville (or city hall) is an eclectic mix of Classicism and Art Deco and first opened its doors in 1936. It has a large bell tower with a height of 70 metres, making it instantly recognizable throughout the city and the perfect place for panoramic views.

Across from the city hall is the beautiful Church of St Christopher, which has the look of a Byzantine basilica thanks to restoration works in the 1950s. Inside the church there is a wonderfully impressive mosaic composition by Jean Ransy, which was made in Venice and depicts the Apocalypse from the text of Saint John.


Get a Taste of Charleroi

Like many of Belgium’s finest cities Charleroi has a lively culinary scene, and has no fewer than 30 restaurants featured within the 2016 Michelin Guide. This means visitors to the city will be spoiled for choice with where to dine. There are three restaurants in Charleroi that have been awarded a Michelin star – L’Eveil des Sens, Pouic-Pouic and Au Gre du Vent.

Getting there

Is Charleroi your first or last stop on your trip to Belgium? If this is the case the nearest airports to fly your private jet are Brussels South Charleroi Airport, Brussels Airport, Liege Airport. We recommend Charleroi as great day trip, if you wish to plan your trip to Belgium around another city, please contact our VIP team find out the best travel options.

More from Belgium month:

Fly into the Fairytale City of Bruges

Cosmopolitan Brussels

Antwerp – The Fashion Capital of Belgium