Thuin is a small, partly hilltop town south-west of Charleroi in the Belgian province of Hainaut on the river Sambre. For rail fans, there is the ASVi museum featuring historic trams from the Vicinal era.
The municipality of Thuin (roughly pronounced TWAYNg) consists of the lower town (ville basse) and the upper town (ville-haute) plus a number of surrounding villages and the country-side in between. Lobbes is a nearby independent municipality. In the centre of Thuin, buildings in the upper town are generally older than those in the lower town.
- 1 Thuin Railway Station (The station is on the north side of the Sambre river. You must cross a bridge to reach the lower town on the south side). There are trains to Thuin from the Charleroi-Sud railway station. The trip takes about 20 minutes. The frequency is every hour on week-days and every 2 hours on weekends. One could also do a day-trip from Brussels. The trip would take about 95 minutes each way including waiting for a change of trains at Charleroi-Sud. The station building at Thuin no longer has any railway functions, but tickets can be bought from vending machines. There are a few waiting shelters along the platform.
- 2 Lobbes Railway Station. This station serves the small nearby town of Lobbes.
By car from Charleroi: Take N90 westbound to N54 westbound to Rue d'Anderlues (N59) south to Thuin.
The central area of the town is about ½ km long and ½ km wide. Thus, getting around the central portion is easy by foot although the streets between the lower and upper portion of the town can be steep.
In the centreEdit
- 1 Belfry (Beffroi) (in the main square). The belfry, dating from the 17th century, has been named a UNESCO World Heritage Site. A splendid view on the Thuin area can be seen from the top. If you don't feel like climbing the Belfry, you can still get a good view from Place du Chapitre, the square beside the Belfry.
- 2 North Wall (Rempart du Nord). The medieval wall offers a good view of the Sambre Valley. On the wall, next to Place du Chapitre, an old cannon nicknamed Le Spantôle can be seen.
- 3 Grand-Rue. There are a number of older buildings along this narrow street in the upper town.
- 4 Hanging Gardens (Jardins suspendus). The charming Hanging Gardens on the southern flank of the Thuin hill can be visited on foot, following a path enhanced by several explanation signs.
- 5 Notre-Dame d'El Vaulx. In this church in the lower town there is a 12th-century oak statue of sedes sapientiae (our lady of wisdom). There is a vaulted passageway under the choir.
- 6 Tram Museum (ASVi museum), Rue du Fosteau 2A, ☏ . Open only certain days of the week from April to October. Tram operation (circulations) is generally only on Sundays plus Saturdays in July and August. Specializing in the history of the Belgian Vicinal tramway system. This includes a museum tramway with 3 routes. One route runs through the streets of the lower town to Place de la Ville-Basse. A second route runs to the nearby town of Lobbes. Until 1983, both of these routes were part of a much longer route used by electric trams that extended to Anderlues and Charleroi. The museum created a new route for diesel trams by converting a few kilometers of a former standard gauge railway line to metric gauge.
- 7 House of Printing (Maison de l'imprimerie), Rue Verte 1B. Open from Tuesday to Friday from 9:00 to 12:00 and from 13:00 to 17:00; open on Saturday from 9:00 to 12:00 and from 12:30 to 16:00. The museum houses a collection of printing tools. There are demonstrations of production of paper, manual typesetting and printing.
In the outskirtsEdit
- 8 Aulne Abbey (Abbaye d'Aulne) (in a hamlet along the Sambre about 4 km east of Thuin). The 7th-century abbey, now in ruins, and its green setting are well worth a visit.
- 9 Zeupire (in the village of Gozée). A 25-ton menhir.
- 10 Ragnies (about 6 km south of Thuin). The neighbouring village of Ragnies is a member of the most beautiful villages of Wallonia association. The old Saint Martin church is of particular interest.
- 11 Biercée Distillery (Distillerie de Biercée), Rue de la Roquette 36, 6532 Ragnies (in the village of Ragnies), ☏ , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. It is located in an old farm. A guided tour explains the art of traditional distillation. The shop offers the full assortment of the local spirits. In a former barn, there is also a restaurant decorated with old enamel signs, named La Grange des Belges (☏ , ✉ email@example.com).
- 12 Fosteau Castle (Château du Fosteau) (2 km from the village of Leers-et-Fosteau, about 4 km south of Thuin). It dates from the 14th and 15th century. Its French gardens and pond are a haven of calm, while the interior of the castle harbours a permanent exhibit of ancient furniture and a small pharmacy museum.
- 13 Saint Ursmer Collegiate Church (Collégiale Saint-Ursmer), Rue de l'Église 1, 6540 Lobbes. From Easter to All Souls' Day 09:00-18:00; from All Souls' Day to Easter 10:00-16:00. The oldest church of Belgium was part of Saint-Peter Abbey, which does not exist any more. Adults 2€, children 1€, under 12 free.
There are walking and biking trails around Thuin including a trail along the museum tram line to Biesme-sous-Thuin.
- 1 [formerly dead link] Mini-golf of Aulne, Rue Émile Vandervelde 288, 6534 Gozée, ☏ . Near the ruins of Aulne Abbey, you can play mini-golf along the Sambre.
- The Saint-Roch March (which is on the List of UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage) takes place every year, during the third week-end of May. People wearing military uniforms (mainly from the Napoleonic era) march through the streets to the sound of drums. They also fire blanks, so ear plugs might be useful, in particular for young children.
There are several eating establishments in the lower and upper town areas.
- 2 Thuin Post Office, Place du Chapitre 7 (in the main square), ☏ .