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Is Liege a Dump?

Sorry to ask the question in such a rude way. When learning of our tentative plans to stay in Liege on our Belgian trip this September, a couple of people have described it as "a post-industrial dump." I am seeking additional opinions on the matter.

Looking at the guidebooks and brochures, the armaments museum is interesting, as is the city's role in the early days of World War I. the "post-industrial" part has certain attractions, such as visiting coal mines and old factories. It's a change from cathedrals and castles, innit?

What is the town like? Does it have parks? Is it interesting to walk around in?

Posted by
12040 posts

I've spent quite a bit of time in Liege, and although I have fond memories of it for personal reasons, for most travelers, it simply isn't a very attractive city. I wouldn't quite call it the "Detroit of Belgium" (that would be Charleroi), but it's a city that's seen better days. The area around the admittedly attractive and modern train station is filled with sleazy clubs and prostitution. Moving out, the business district defines "drab postwar architecture" (it was hard hit in both world wars). The neighborhoods aren't exactly an improvement. You can see flashes of Leopold II-era grandeur here and there, but more noticable are the rusting factories and big-box retailers on the outskirts.

Trust me, this isn't the type of place you would waste your valuable vacation time exploring. If you're a fan of international film, the Dardenne brothers set most of their movies in this city for it's overall dark atmosphere. You can get a sense of the city through their films and it's mostly a depressing one.

Posted by
67 posts

its a dump...plain and simple....go elsewhere as fast as possible!

Posted by
16883 posts

I let my brother throw in his two cents on this question, since he worked out of Liege airport for a time:

"I have not found the armaments museum. Several closed old churches in need of restoration. I hear there is one decent art museum, if you are into stuff like that. I generally think of it as gritty and depressed. City-wise, LUX is much better.

The place to see would be Ft Eben Emael (Belgian version of Maginot line, which was promptly captured by German airborne and glider troops landing behind and going in via the back doors), which should not be a very far train ride, but when I was living there, I could never get there the few days it was actually open: http://www.fort-eben-emael.be/en/"

Posted by
504 posts

Thanks to everyone who replied so far. Eben-Emael would be interesting to visit, but, like your brother, I don't think we will be able to visit when they are open.

Posted by
12970 posts

Hi,

Liege..."the city's role in the early days of World War I"...the lynchpin to the Schlieffen Plan. Whether you should go or not depends on your interest in the war, like going to Amiens, aside from seeing the famous cathedral, because of its importance in the war.

Posted by
2 posts

Dav, Liege, like any city, has its good and bad. We spent a week there with our Belgian friends in 2008, 2010, and we will return this July. We have found the people to be kind, friendly and easy to get to know. Perhaps if you focus on the people and not so much on the place you will find delightful surprises as you travel. Yes it is not the most attractive city but there are many interesting sights in the area. Liege is in an interesting location in that it is on the edge of the three areas of Belgium, French, German and Wahlonia. The Museum of Walloon Life is quite unique and well done. The Montagne de Bueren, a flight of stairs leading from the level of the Meuse to near the top of the Muese valley, is worth a hike. Also the Baptismal Fount at Saint Bartholemew's Collegiate Church, one of the first ever made of brass, is interesting. Try the meatballs with fries at Cafe Lequet, a local eatery for many who enjoy this local dish. Liege has a unique place in history and is worth a look.
Tom

Posted by
5556 posts

Dav, it would have been helpful to know if you have seen the more important cities and towns of Belgium already. It would not make sense to sleep in Liege if you have not slept in Antwerp or Leuven or Bruges or any number of more interesting places. I accept the "Detroit" reference, but Detroit does have few important spots, like the Institute of Art. But I can't see staying in Liege when Aachen and Cologne are only slightly a little farther along the same train line. And how about the Open-Air museum in Bokrijk before you get to Liege. Even without the recent unpleasantness, perhaps you should think about ... Baltimore. Why would you stay in Baltimore when you could stay in D.C. or Philadelphia.

And I want to note that we made deliberate stops at the Ladew Topiary Gardens and the Walters Art Museum in the last twelve months. The issue is dedicating valuable vacation time to a mediocre place.

Posted by
504 posts

Thanks for the additional replies. We have been in Belgium, about ten years ago on a river cruise. During that trip, we visited Brussels, Bruges, and Antwerp. We didn't see as much of any of them as we would have liked, which is why we're preparing an independent trip.

Our approach keeps changing. Right now, looking a the rail net and how close everything is, we're considering just basing ourselves in Brussels and making day trips to other cities. That idea may go out the window before we're finished planning, though.

As it happens, I live in the DC area and have visited Baltimore quite a few times (also by train). But you're right--I've never slept there.