Mons (Dutch: Bergen, not to be confused with the namesake city in Norway) is the capital of the Belgian province of Hainaut, in the region of Wallonia. The town is a worthy place to base yourself for a multi-day exploration of the Hainaut region.
The train station is walking distance west of the historic centre. There are regular train links with Brussels, Charleroi, Tournai, all nodes in the Belgian train network. The national railway company of Belgium is called SNCB in French.
Take the Mons exit from the E19/E42
A free shuttle service runs between 07:00 and 21:00. The shuttles run along three circuits, all of which terminate at the train station Gare B. All run past Sainte Waudru and the Grand Place.
- 1 Grand Place. The centre of the historic town and the stage for the annual mock-battle of the Lumeçon.
- 2 City Hall, Grand Place 22. It was built near the current location of the belfry, and was moved on the Grand Place in the 13th century. The flamboyant gothic building we see today dates from the 15th century. In front of it stands a statue of a monkey, which is said to bring good fortune to those who pat his head.
- 3 Collegiate Church of Saint Waltrude (Collégiale Sainte-Waudru), Rue du Chapitre 3. Paradoxically a good specimen of Brabantic Gothic architecture.
- 4 Belfry (Beffroi). Classified as a UNESCO World Heritage site, dates from the 17th century and is the only Baroque-style belfry in Belgium.
- 5 Van Gogh House (Maison Van Gogh), 3 Rue du Pavillon, Cuesmes 7033, ☎ , . Tu-Sa 10:30-12:30, 13:30-18:00. Cuesmoise the house where he lived from August 1879 to October 1880, was saved from ruin in the 1970s and is now accessible to the public. €5.
- 6 Spanish House, Rue des Clercs 32. Dates back to the 16th century and was built entirely out of bricks.
- 7 Museum François Duesberg, Square Franklin Delano Roosevelt 12, ☎ . M W F closed, Tu Th Sa Su 14:00—19:00. Museum devoted to the decorative arts from the period 1775 to 1825 located in the former building of the National Bank of Belgium. The items are in a wonderful condition.
- 8 Doudou Museum (Musée du Doudou), Jardin du Mayeur, ☎ . Tu-Su 10:00 — 18:00, M closed. This museum is entirely dedicated to the crazy Ducasse celebrations that yearly take place in Mons. You will learn about the history of the event. The audio content is in French, English and Dutch. €9 adult, €6 concession.
- 9 Mons Memorial Museum, Boulevard Dolez 51, ☎ . Tu-Su 10:00 — 18:00, M closed. The exhibits on display from the City of Mons give the visitors more insight in the two world wars that turned the 20th century upside down. €9 adult, €6 concession, €2 child.
- 10 Beaux-Arts Mons (BAM), Rue Neuve 8, ☎ . Tu-Su 10:00 — 18:00, M closed. Museum displaying contemporary art with interesting temporary exhibitions. €9 adult, €6 concession, €2 child.
- The Ducasse de Mons of Doudou is the name of a week-long series of festivities or Ducasse, which originates from the 14th century and takes place every year on Trinity Sunday. Highlights include:
- The entrusting of the reliquary of Saint Waltrude to the mayor of the city on the eve of the procession.
- The placement of the reliquary on the Car d’Or (golden carriage), before it is carried in the city streets in a colourful procession that counts more than a thousand costumed participants.
- The lifting of the Car d’Or on a paved area near the church of Saint Waltrude; tradition holds that this operation must be successful for the city to prosper.
- The Lumeçon fight, where Saint George confronts the dragon. The fight lasts for about half an hour, accompanied by the rhythmic "Doudou" music. The tradition of the processional dragon is listed among the Masterpieces of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity.
- 1 Les Grands Prés, Place des Grands Prés 1, ☎ . The biggest mall of the city located quite near to the centre.
- 2 L'Instant Thé, Rue des Fripiers 12, ☎ , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. The place to be in Mons if you want to buy good quality tea.
- 3 Mimolette Cacahuète, Rue des Fripiers 15, ☎ . M Su closed, Tu-Th 09:00 — 15:00, F 09:00 — 17:00, Sa 09:30 — 18:00. Cheese from Piedmont and other places.
- The historic town of Nimy is a few kilometers to the north up the N6.
- The Grand-Large Marina is close to the IMAGIPARK amusement park, and is a good place to start a canal tour of the local waterways.
- The MAC's in Grand-Hornu (via TEC Bus lines 7 and 9) is a beautiful museum in a superb historic industrial coal site. Visit also the places near Grand-Hornu where Vincent Van Gogh lived.
- Cambron-Casteau — home to Pairi Daiza, a popular animal park north of Mons on the way to Ath.