Musically speaking, the main attraction is four days at the International Chamber Music Festival Resonances, which takes places in the peaceful environment of Halloy Castle and involves a whole roster of major international musicians. Following one of our three concerts, we will enjoy dinner with the artists. From our base in another chateau, our spare time will be dedicated to visiting the charming chateaux, villages, and gardens nearby. Opera and concert seasons for 2017 have yet to be announced, but we hope to attend a performance at the Royal Opera House of Wallonia or the Philharmonic Orchestra of Liège, and at the famed opera house, La Monnaie in Brussels. We may even get lucky with the Reims Opera House season. We will update you as information becomes available. A minimum of three performances are included in the price of the tour.
we will be happy to help you with hotel and performance arrangements.
CONTENTS AND COSTS
per person, sharing a double:
supplement for single occupancy: $985
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April 27: depart U.S.A.
April 28 - May 2:
May 2 - 4: Liège
May 4 - 7: Brussels
May 7 - 10: Mons
May 10 - 11: Reims
May 12: Return home
from Charles de Gaulle Airport, north of Paris
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fine hotels (or comparable):
Chateau de la Poste
Crowne Plaza, Liège
The Dominican, Brussels
Dream Hotel, Mons
Hotel de la Paix, Reims
Breakfast each day
Lunch or dinner 10 days
Airport transfers on
April 28 and May 12
Ground transport by
Tours with expert guides
At least three performances included
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We will assist you in booking additional performances in Brussels, Liège, and Reims,
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You may tentatively reserve space on the tour by submitting the online form, accessed via
the button below.
We will send your official reservation form.
Your place on the tour will be guaranteed according to the date we receive the completed form and your deposit.
The May 3rd excursion to Jehay, Modave, and the Val Dieu Abbey is an optional full-day program, including lunch and a beer-tasting.
It will be offered, at additional cost, only if a minimum of
10 wish to participate.
There are more castles per square mile in Belgium than anywhere else in the world. In the Mons-Tournai area we will include visits to the Beloeil Château and Gardens, which has the largest French-style gardens in Belgium; and the Château de Attre, the only chateau in Belgium that has preserved the original decoration and furniture of the period. The valley of the river Meuse, winding between the steep enclosing cliffs of Dinant and the narrow and hilly vale of Huy, offers not only breathtaking countryside but countless majestic chateaux. Vêves Castle is a 15th-century fairytale turreted castle perched on a rocky outcrop overlooking the picturesque village of Celles, housing some superb 18th-century furniture and a rare porcelain collection. The Gardens of Annevoie Castle is a living work of art: some 50 fountains, cascades, and water jets, along with 20 ornamental ponds make it one of the most delightful gardens in Belgium. Château de Jehay* is a rare and beautiful example of 16th-century Renaissance style, boasting beautiful gardens with paths, arbors, fountains, waterfalls and nymphs. Few of Belgium’s numerous castles have an interior to beat the memorable Château de Modave,* from the well-preserved 1673 stucco ceilings to 20 majestically decorated and furnished rooms. The castle is the most prominent example of High Baroque country-house architecture preserved in the Southern Netherlands and the Prince-Bishopric of Liège. We will also include a visit to the world's largest topiary park, in Durbuy, a tiny, picture-perfect town of cobbled streets and half-timbered houses. The park comprises over 30,000 square feet of 250 clipped box trees, some of which are over 120 years old, ranging in shape from animals and birds to people and abstract shapes.
We will also arrange for a visit to the Notre-Dame à la Rose Hospital near Mons: an outstanding example of a medieval hospital, which was saved from bulldozers after it finally closed in the 1980s. Founded in the 13th century and run by a community of Augustinian nuns, Notre-Dame is one of the last self-sufficient hospitals, complete with a farm, gardens, ice chamber and cemetery.
Of course, a visit to Wallonia cannot be complete without discovering some of its famous abbeys and tasting the beers bearing their names: the Cistercian Abbey of Val-Dieu*, the only Belgian abbey that survived the French Revolution, whose brewery is unique in Belgium in that its doors open onto the inside of the abbey; the Premonstratensian Notre Dame of Leffe Abbey; and the Trappist Abbey of Notre-Dame de Scourmont in Chimay.
Mons is a charming city known for its iconic bell tower (a UNESCO World Heritage Site) and the spot where some of the first and last British casualties fell during World War I. Designated European Capital of Culture in 2015, Mons opened five new museums that year, including a war museum highlighting the city’s strategic role in the First World War, and others connected to its four UNESCO World Heritage sites. Its most famous museum is an authentic decorative arts museum (François Duesberg Museum), with not only a prestigious collection of clocks with exotic themes, which is unique in the world, but also exceptional gilded bronzes, porcelain, crockery, gold and silverware, bookbinding, and unusual rare objects.
Wallonia's oldest city, Tournai, is an important artistic center with superb UNESCO-listed Romanesque and Gothic buildings. The Treasury of the Cathedral contains outstanding works: an Ecce Homo by Quinten Matsys, a 5th/6th century Byzantine Cross, a 13th-century Ivory Madonna and one of the masterpieces of Gothic metalwork – the Reliquary of Our Lady (1205), in silver and gilded copper, by Nicolas Verdun. Its prestigious Fine Arts Museum, built by genius Art Nouveau architect Victor Horta, houses a superior collection of Flemish and French works from the 15th century to the present (Campin, Gossart, Bruegel, Snyders, Rubens, van der Weyden, Jordaens, Manet, Monet, Seurat, Van Gogh, etc.).
Liège, the birthplace of the Emperor Charlemagne and the writer Georges Simenon, is Wallonia’s largest city and the third largest river port in Europe. Liège has one of the longest continuous histories of any Belgian city and some fine examples of 17th- and 18th-century Mosan architecture (traditional 'brick and greystone' buildings). The 12th-century baptismal font of the Collegial Church of Saint Bartholomew is one of 'Belgium's Magnificent Seven' – the seven most important historical treasures. But the modern is well represented too – the Guillemins High Speed Railway station (2009) is an impressive futuristic masterpiece entirely rebuilt according to the plans of Spanish architect Santiago Calatrava.
Dinant and Namur are dominated by impressive citadels, and both hold great appeal, with a number of fine 18th-century mansions and several beautiful churches. Namur is also a rich repository of Mosan artwork, most notably the Treasury of the Priory of Oignies, another of “the Magnificent Seven." Among the treasury’s fine objects are many pieces manufactured in the early 13th century by Brother Hugo of Oignies, one of the greatest goldsmiths of the Middle Ages. In Dinant, we will take a cruise on the River Meuse, passing through the lock of Anseremme to reach the wilder parts of the Upper River Meuse, ending up at the famous Renaissance Castle of Freÿr and its French gardens. The grand residence of the Beaufort-Spontin dukes (still owned by the family) boasts the oldest orangerie in the country. Every year, in the afternoon of May 1st, the orange trees are taken out and put in the garden – and we will be there to witness this unique event!
The headquarters of NATO and political center of the European Union, Brussels is not only the capital of Belgium, but also of Art Nouveau, thanks to the brilliant creative works of Victor Horta, Paul Hankar, Henry van de Velde, and others. We will dedicate one day to the splendid Art Nouveau buildings in the southern suburbs of Brussels, including three stunning private homes or “hôtels particuliers” that Horta designed for the Tassel, Solvay, and Winssinger families, as well as his own Maison & Atelier Horta (now the Horta Museum), all listed as World Heritage Sites. Renovations are under way at the Hannon House, one of the most spectacular Art Nouveau residences in the city designed by architect Jules Brunfaut, but we hope it will re-open by the time of our visit. Also on the tour are several buildings by Paul Hankar, Henry van de Velde and the row of Art Nouveau houses designed as an ensemble by Ernest Blérot.
We'll also include an excursion to Van Buuren Museum and Gardens, a total work of art in Art Deco style, including an illustrious collection of paintings by old masters and by van de Woestyne, the precursor of surrealism.
You will have one free day in Brussels, to explore other museums, go shopping, enjoy a free look at the famous Monnaie Opera House, or visit the Atomium. Constructed for the 1958 Brussels World’s Fair, it's a 335-foot structure in the shape of an atom, with five habitable spheres of exhibit halls and other public spaces, the uppermost of which is a restaurant offering a panoramic view of Brussels. Nearby is the Meise Botanical Garden, one of the largest in the world with an extensive collection of living plants in addition to a herbarium of over 3 million specimens.
If you want to spend part of your free day digging even deeper into Art Nouveau architecture, Brussels has over 500 examples of Art Nouveau, many with exceptional exteriors. We'll provide you with a "Brussels Art Nouveau" map, which provides walking tour itineraries. The Squares District is a real open-air museum, with facades in a wide variety of styles, from unfettered Eclecticism to Art Nouveau. Fine examples are Gustave Strauven’s Maison Saint Cyr and the nearby hotels van Eetvelde and Desprez-Vandervelde, both designed by Victor Horta.
Or, you may just wander in this great city, explore Galeries Royales St. Hubert, one of the prettiest, most classy-looking shopping districts in the world, and sample mussels with fries (“moules-frites") and excellent Belgian beer along the way!
Our Brussels guide was born and raised in that city and holds a PhD in art history and archaeology from Columbia University. She will not only share with us her insights and passion for her home town and the exquisite Art Nouveau architecture which makes Brussels a must-see, but facilitate our exclusive visit to the privately-owned Solvay House, which includes all the Horta-designed furniture still preserved in its original location. For fans of architecture and interior design, this is an absolute must! This unique visit is limited to not more than 20 participants; make your reservation soon to lock in your place!
THE CHAMPAGNE REGION OF FRANCE
Reims is a university city dominated by a 13th-century cathedral, one of the great Gothic cathedrals of Northern France. We will visit the Cathedral, Palace of Tau (the archbishops’ palace), and 11th-century Saint Remi Basilica, all UNESCO World Heritage sites, and then go south along the scenic Route de Champagne to Épernay, the capital of the Champagne wine district, and other nearby villages, enjoying vistas of vineyards, valleys, and castles. We will visit two champagne houses (with tastings) – one to a world famous producer, the other to a small independent producer of fine champagne. We round out the tour with a festive tasting-meal before driving on to Paris.
The night of May 11th, accommodations at a comfortable hotel near Charles de Gaulle Airport will be provided for those departing for the United States the following morning, including shuttle service to the terminal at your convenience. If you opt to stay on in Paris, we will refund the cost of that night’s lodging or apply that amount to the cost of your hotel in the city.