In 1971 a piece of farmland was transformed into the city of Louvain-la-Neuve by the French speaking part of the University of Leuven. This 51-year-old city is literally and figuratively young, as about 20.000 of its 30.000 inhabitants are student. Besides that, it is known for 2 impressive museums and a lot of street art.
The city was build on a concrete slab on the edge of a valley so that all traffic can pass under the car-free city center. Many elevators transport people and goods between the underground parking garages and the heart of town, to supply stores and to reach street level. In that way it feels a bit like 'the city of the future'. Get inspired by these food and travel tips on how to spend a day in Belgium's youngest city:
Museums in Louvain-la-Neuve
Musée L is the first large-scale university museum in Belgium which opened its doors in 2017 in this fantastic renovated building. In addition to the permanent collection there are changing exhibitions throughout the year. Art and architecture lovers will probably like to spend an hour or two here.
In the first half of the 1970's Belgian architect André Jacqmain (1921-2014) built this impressive brutalist building. Features of brutalism are minimalist design, raw concrete, monochrome colours and exposed construction materials. For example: the brown spine-looking objects on the ceiling are the heaters.
The works of art and (about 20.000) objects come from all corners of the world, and span a period from several centuries BC to decades ago. Here you can admire paintings by famous (modern) artist like Magritte, Picasso, Miró and Goya, but also sculptures, wooden carvings, scientific heritage and glass objects.
A kinetic artwork with 49 moving balls by Belgian sculpture Pol Bury from 1966.
The collection of Musée Hergé is all about Tintin (Kuifje) and his Belgian founding father Hergé (1907-1983).
Not only is the collection cheerful and colourful, the building itself is very fun and vibrant as well. In front of the museum you will find this statue of Hergé, sitting on his pile of Tintin comic books while sketching a new adventure. Don't forget to look on his left side to spot Tintin and his dog Snowy (also known as Bobbie or Milou).
Over 80 original drawings, photographs and hundreds of objects give you an insight into the origin of this world famous comic books series, which has been published in about 110 languages. Here you can learn more about the main characters like Snowy, Captain Haddock, Thomson & Thompson, Professor Calculus, Bianca Castafiore and many more.
Street Art in Louvain-la-Neuve
Everywhere you look you can find Street Art in Louvain-la-Neuve from meters high up to a few centimeters small, like these hardworking men on some stairs by Belgian artist Jaune.
Other sanitation workers by Jaune are taking a break at the park in front of the Musée Hergé.
My favourite mural in Louvain-la-Neuve is made by two Argentine female artists: Mariela Ajras and Milu Correch. You can find it close to the main square called 'Grand Place'.
On the wall next to the above mentioned piece, the Spanish artist Fabio Lopez (also known under the pseudonym DOURONE), created this 180 square meters large artwork.
The city itself may not have the most inspiring and surprising architecture (except for its two unique museums), but is has for sure made an effort to stand out in terms of colourful murals.
Coffee in Louvain-la-Neuve
HIGH FIVE Specialty Coffee and Roastery is situated on a small residential square where they have an outside terrace and many cozy seats indoors. Their single origin coffees are Rainforest Alliance certified and grown by UTZ certified farmers in Africa, Central & South America and Indonesia.
Vegetarian food in Louvain-la-Neuve
Normally I am not a big fan of multi chain stores, but for Maison Paul I make an exception. The quality of the bread and pastries is always good, and while the rest was still closed, this place was already buzzing with energy on an early Saturday morning.
Loola is a pizza and salad bar where you can choose your own toppings. Besides meat there are a lot of vegetarian options to choose from to make your own tasty pizza or salad from scratch. Round of your dinner with a dessert like for example tiramisu, moulleux au chocolate or croûte au citron meringuée.
How to get to Louvain-la-Neuve
A train will take you to Louvain-la-Neuve within:
- 50 minutes from Brussels
- 1 hour from Charleroi
- 1,5 hour from Antwerp, Ghent or Liège
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