Discover Benelux, Issue 27, March 2016

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I S S U E 27 | M A R C H 2016









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Discover Benelux | Contents

Contents MARCH 2016



COVER FEATURE 30 Danielle van Grondelle

28 Celebrate in Nijmegen Located along the river Waal, Nijmegen has attracted visitors for centuries. Find out how the ancient and the modern collide in the Netherlands’ oldest city.

The curvy Danielle van Grondelle goes right against the fashion industry’s skinny beauty ideal. As the Netherlands’ most successful plus-size model, she proves that true beauty comes in all sizes.


FEATURES 64 Restaurant of the month, Belgium

Combining a restaurant, oyster bar, lounge and club in central Brussels, Belga Queen offers top quality Belgian fare with a modern twist in an original setting.

19 Burgundian Flair in ‘s-Hertogenbosch Enjoy the hospitality and joie de vivre of Den Bosch. The Dutch city has a versatile historical centre, many museums and exceptional heritage sites. PLUS: 500 years of Hieronymus Bosch,


page 22

34 Belgian Brewery Guide 2016

If there is one thing Belgium excels at, it is brewing powerful, flavoursome beers. Learn about the best sour lambics, fruity krieks and hoppy triples in this brewery special.


44 Historical Heritage: Castles & Estates

The Benelux counts numerous magnificent castles and country houses. In this theme we highlight some of the most striking, beautiful and mysterious examples.


Capital of Culture: Mons Last year’s celebrations gave Mons a true boost. Experience how this culturally-rich city in Wallonia has transformed itself into a tourist hotspot.

Luxembourg Ardennes

The Luxembourg Ardennes are marked by their endless forests, deep valleys and charming villages. Read why you should visit the rural north of the Grand Duchy.


Company profiles, regulars and more

This month, we feature two exceptional Luxembourg businesses: Naturhome is a specialist in constructing modern, wooden homes and Private Consulting Luxembourg helps businesses excel. PLUS: Business calendar, page 63

DON’T MISS 6 Fashion Picks | 8 Desirable Designs 71 Out & About | 74 Columns


Issue 27 | March 2016 | 3

Discover Benelux | Editor’s Note

Dear Reader,

Discover Benelux Issue 27, March 2016 Published 03.2016 ISSN 2054-7218 Published by Scan Group Print Liquid Graphic Ltd Executive Editor Thomas Winther Creative Director Mads E. Peterson Editor Myriam Gwynned Dijck Copy-editor Isa Hemphrey Graphic Designer Lauren Glading Contributors Berthe van den Hurk Bettina Guirkinger Cathy van Klaveren Ella Put Isa Hemphrey Janine Sterenborg Josiah Fisk

Lidija Liegis Martin Pilkington Matt Antoniak Paola Westbeek Rosanne Roobeek Sonja Irani Steve Flinders Stuart Forster Toyah Marondel Cover Photo Photographer: Rafael Clemente MUA: Alyssa Lorraine Styling: Dvgstyle Sales & Key Account Managers Mette Tonnessen Kirsten Schoon Katia Sfihi Sophie Blecha Veerle Barten Zhiyan Pelle Publisher: Scan Group 15B Bell Yard Mews Bermondsey Street London SE1 3YT United Kingdom

When visiting Luxembourg, it is near impossible to avoid drinking crémant, the sparkling wine produced in the Moselle region. On a recent trip, locals repeatedly asked if I had already tried a flute of the bubbly and bottles were popped as an aperitif ahead of both lunch and dinner. Even beer vans on the city markets offered to quench your thirst with a glass of sparkling. It is no wonder Luxembourg is so proud of its new national drink, and I was also quickly taken in by the pleasant and delicate taste of crémant. Upon departure, I noticed many fellow travellers taking a bottle home from the tax free shopping. Therefore I was all the more surprised to find out that the production of crémant started just 25 years ago. From 150,000 bottles in the first year (that apparently sold out within a month), Luxembourg’s wineries have now ramped up production to 1.6 million bottles a year. From the start in 1991, the Luxembourg pioneers of crémant were committed to producing it to the same high standard as French champagne. This approach has certainly borne many fruits, and the explosive growth in production attests to this. Despite the ten-fold increase, it is still unusual to find crémant on wine lists outside of the Grand Duchy. Luxembourg has a deeply rooted tradition of enjoying food and drink. This month, we are featuring several culinary businesses from Luxembourg (and the rest of the Benelux, from page 14) to reveal the gastronomic gems of the region. And be sure to order a glass of bubbly this year, to celebrate the 25th anniversary of Luxembourg’s delightful crémant.

Phone: +44 (0)870 933 0423 Fax: +44 (0)870 933 0421 Email:

Myriam Gwynned Dijck, Editor We are a media you can trust. The print circulation of Discover Benelux is audited by the Audit Bureau of Circulation (ABC), which is the UK body for media measurement.

© All rights reserved. Material contained in this publication may not be reproduced, in whole or in part, without prior permission of Scan Group – a trading name of Scan Magazine Ltd. This magazine contains advertorials/promotional articles.

4 | Issue 27 | March 2016

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ifiqu e n g a M s i L if e ou rg! in Luxem b

t ra n tau s e R bl i Stü

Sixty Four0 Bar

Ha va na L ou nge

Vivez 4 expériences différentes dans l’Atrium.

Enjoy 4 differents experiences in the Atrium.

ORO E ARGENTO au coeur de la gastronomie italienne

ORO E ARGENTO at the heart of italian gastronomy

STÜBLI convivialité et authenticité dans un décor typique

STÜBLI conviviality and authenticity in a traditional atmosphere

HAVANA LOUNGE l’endroit idéal pour un moment de détente

HAVANA LOUNGE a unique environment

SIXTYFOUR° un bar à bonne température

SIXTYFOUR° a bar at ideal temperature

Discover Benelux | Design | Fashion Picks


A fashionable transition It is hard to know what to wear in March. The sunshine will tempt you to go out in your brightest spring-coloured dresses, only to make you miss your warm, cosy knits as you step outside. To solve this dilemma, we have selected five items to make the transition of the weather fashionable. TEXT: ELLA PUT | PRESS PHOTOS

1. Shoes for spring This trend combines the street style of winter with a touch of spring: lace shoes with a rosé shade. Perfect to wear during a city trip, a day to work or, who knows, even a barbecue (if the weather allows). €25

2. Orange is the new black Orange is the New Black is not only a popular television show. The colour, which comes along with the ‘70s trend of the fall, is making a huge revival on the runway. Along with that, orange is the colour of joy, so there is no better way to say Happy Easter than while wearing this dress. €240

3. Suede style A trend combined with an all-round fashion piece is essential for any season. As it turns out, suede is all over the runway and with this A-line dress, made by one of the most beloved clothing stores in the Benelux, C&A, you can never go wrong. €40

5. Moroccan dream

4. Playful knit With its patterned texture and shiny woollen fabric, this dark blue sweater is the perfect clothing for this time of the year. It is easy to combine and excellent to have with you when you are on the go for some extra warmth. €90

Inspired by the easy-going vibe of the ‘70s, wide caftans and warm, bright colours, the collection of Belgian designer Jo De Visscher is very on trend. Bringing Marrakesh to the Benelux, this beautiful blue dress is the perfect item to wear to an oriental party. A little touch of you, and a little touch of blue. €240 Issue 27 | March 2016 | 7

Discover Benelux | Design | Desirable Designs


Shake up the happiness! With the sun shining, nature reawakening and the feeling of a new beginning, spring is the ultimate season of happiness. With these colourful items we hope to bring that joyful feeling into your home. TEXT: ELLA PUT | PRESS PHOTOS


2. Under the rainbow You do not have to dream of rainbows any longer. This duvet makes sure your dreams become reality and you will sleep under your own special rainbow. The design will brighten up any room, making the bed ritual for the little ones a much simpler task. €60

1. 1. The blues chair 3. Dream on

Inspired by luxurious villas on the coast of Italy, Flamant presents Italian designs with a Belgian touch. With its maritime look, with white and ocean blue, this design will bring the colour of clean air, the view of a rolling sea and the unique colours of Capri. Price on request


Chosen by lifestyle bloggers as the hottest design piece of the moment, this lamp by A Little Lovely Company is a statement on its own. With the 42 letters that come along with it, you can create your own inspiring quote to start every day fresh and happy. €39

4. Comfortable cosiness Creating a warm and cosy atmosphere during all seasons of the year is Flamant’s mission. For its spring collection, the Belgian designer chose warm and bright colours. With orange as the colour of happiness, this sofa will bring joy and a warm touch into your living room. Mission accomplished. Price on request

5. To do list

5. 8 | Issue 27 | March 2016

Making a to-do list is not one of the most exciting things to do, let alone doing the things that are on the list. To make it a little easier for everyone in the household, Dutch Design Brand came up with a creative solution. A white board, which is not white, but functional and fashionable, available in four different patterns. €30


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Sweden • Norway • Denmark • Finland • Luxembourg • Switzerland • United Kingdom • Singapore • Estonia • Latvia • Lithuania

Discover Benelux | Mons, European Capital of Culture | Introduction

Capital of culture: Mons Mons, the third-largest urban area in Wallonia, has 100,000 inhabitants. The town is Belgium’s sixth-largest trade centre and Wallonia’s third largest. Four masterpieces located in the area are on the World Heritage List. TEXT: VISITMONS | PHOTOS: VISITMONS - GRÉGORY MATHELOT / F. MAINIL

Thanks to European Union funds and due to a multi-sector development strategy – one of the flagships of which was the Mons 2015, European Capital of Culture event last year – the town is undergoing a renewal that has given a dynamic and creative boost to its residents. Mons 2015, European Capital of Culture, enabled the region to boom. 2015 was a great year for the area – 2.2 million people visited the region and countless projects sprung up.

The town has made huge progress: – New facilities for international exhibitions have been created. – New theatres and concert halls have come into being. – The new Mons International Congress Xperience (MICX) has opened. – A new high-tech Tourist Office has welcomed its first tourists. – A new Maison du Design (design centre) has been set up. – Historical buildings have been renovated.

– Five museums can be visited in the area, three of which are themed around items on the UNESCO World Heritage List. Furthermore, it appeared fundamental that a legacy be left behind by 2015. And so a significant cultural event with Europe-wide reach will be held every two years.

Development of ‘Ville Two’: Mons-Grands Prés The Town Hall is working on infrastructure links between the historic town of Mons and the new town at Grands Prés, which is undergoing huge development, with household name chains such as IKEA and technology-oriented firms such as Google and Microsoft setting up there. Shortly, the new multi-modal station designed by Santiago Calatrava will metamorphose Mons’ urban landscape, which has already been studded with gems such as the MICX, the convention centre, designed by Daniel Liebeskind.

All of these features have enabled the town to go through a complete shapeshift on urbanistic, cultural and economic levels, and that is what makes it an unmissable short break and holiday destination today. Mons is now a pleasant place to stay and one where there are many options that will make your holidays successful ones. Opportunities for leisure activities are abound and the excellence of services make it the place to go for your business trips. VISIT MONS Browse the visitMons guide to get inspiration for good ideas, plan your stay on the website or download the visitMons app. For personalised service and an unforgettable trip, visit the Tourist Office (visitMons, Grand-Place 27, Mons). Issue 27 | March 2016 | 11

Discover Benelux | Mons, European Capital of Culture | See, Do and Discover


If you are planning a visit to Hainaut, consider staying at the Auberges de Jeunesse in Mons. This top-notch hostel is centrally located, just 100 metres from the main square. It provides easy access to major events, including the St George festival with its Doudou procession. This UNESCO-listed event on Trinity Sunday involves a staging of the legendary battle between St. George and the dragon. According to Alessandro Rastelli, marketing and communications executive at the Auberge, the hostel attracts people of “all ages and origins, looking for pleasant, reasonably priced accommodation and a place to meet people”. As well

as hosting guests, they can organise touristic and educational activities. There are also themed evenings and trips in the surrounding region. The best thing about staying here, says Rastelli, is meeting people of all nationalities. The Auberge has a restaurant as well as kitchens for guests to prepare food in. Fully-equipped meeting rooms for seminars and workshops are also available. Furthermore, the hostel organises frequent events for guests, such as quizzes and vintage clothing sales. In total there are 115 beds in 29 rooms. Prices start at 18 euros for a bed in a shared room, going up to 46 euros for a private room. A daily organic breakfast is included for all guests. Special rates are offered to those under 26, and there is a ten per cent reduction for members of the Auberges de Jeunesse network, which has nine hostels in total in Belgium. Children under 16 stay for half price.

Millennial city in a dreamy land TEXT: BETTINA GUIRKINGER | PHOTOS: SOIGNIES

With its fantastically well-preserved city centre, Roman collegiate church and unique blue limestone, extracted for over a century and found at every corner of the city, Soignies is a spectacular destination to visit in Wallonia. Located in western Belgium, Soignies is rich in castles, farms and beautiful rural landscapes, making it a perfect place for hiking enthusiasts.

On top of this, its local produce, authentic restaurants and family-owned shops ensure it is an exciting culinary and cultural adventure. One of Soignies’ highlights is its thousandyear-old collegiate church of Saint-Vincent, built in a primitive Roman style and distinguished by its two imposing towers. Entirely furnished in a baroque style, a visit to admire its interior is a must (group visits are organised on request). While initially surrounded by thick city walls that were dismantled in 1677, the city centre is worth a thorough exploration. Start at the magnificent Hotel de Ville, built at the end of the 19th century by a rich industrialist, pass by the gothic-style Spanish house and end in the old cemetery, transformed today into a public park. Make sure you cross the Rue de Mons for souvenirs and local delicacies (think Belgian chocolate).

12 | Issue 27 | March 2016

What makes Soignies truly special is its evolution alongside the extraction of the worldfamous bluestone. For over 125 years, this stone has been the pride of the region, making Soignies the European centre of the bluestone. Wait no more to explore this fascinating city and its surroundings.

A place dedicated to design, architecture, applied ar ts. In the heart of the Province of Hainaut, a few kilometers from the cities of Mons and Valenciennes, Grand-Hornu is one of the most beautiful architectural complexes dating from the industrial revolution. The site is now one of the leading cultural centers in Belgium devoted to contemporary creation. The CID - center for innovation and design at GrandHornu aims to promote contemporary design through a program of exhibitions and mediation activities highlighting innovation, experimental research, the emergence of new themes and horizons for research in the fields of design, architecture and the applied arts.

Exhibitions 2016 at CID — 31.01.2016 > 29.05.2016

al(l) Projects in aluminium by Michael Young

— 01.05.2016 > 14.08.2016

Aldo Bakker. PAUSE

— 18.09.2016 > 06.12.2016

Lionel Jadot. Mixed grill

— 25.11.2016 > 26.02.2017

Ceci n’est pas une copie Design between innovation and imitation

Rue Sainte-Louise 82, 7301 Hornu, Belgium - (15 min from Mons - Motorway E19 Brussels-Paris exit 25) - Opening every day from 10 AM until 6 PM, except Mondays - +32 (0) 65 65 21 21 More on

Discover Benelux | Best of Benelux Gastronomy | Luxembourg


Luxembourg start-up J°Pour is being healthy made simple, delivering a nutritious boost to people all over the country, helping them to stay fit and full of energy. Its secret is the allnatural, cold-pressed juices packed with nature’s finest ingredients.

Starting out as a webstore where people could order the fresh juices, J°Pour became so popular they opened a café in Luxembourg City in October last year. The café, located in the Kirchberg business district, offers organic hot drinks, healthy meals and more, as well as their ten, rainbow-coloured juices. Alessandra Claus, junior business development manager, says: “We use the best fruits and vegetables. From preparing the ingredients to sticking the labels on the bottle, everything is handmade with a lot of love. We seek to offer the highest quality possible, which is reflected in the choice of ingredients to the usage of glass bottles to preserve the juices in the best way.”

A gentle process The strength of J°Pour is in the way the juices are made. By using the coldpressed process, they are created with14 | Issue 27 | March 2016

out heat. Therefore, not just the flavour but also the nutrients are preserved, providing an optimal health boost. Added to that, the juices are made from natural ingredients, selected to offer specific benefits to the body such as strengthening the immune system, detoxing or alkalising. Claus explains: “The fruits and veggies are shredded and pressed gently, so no heat is produced. When pressing with a centrifugal press, heat is created, which destroys part of the vitamins and minerals. This way they are preserved and stay intact for four to five days, staying fresh, super healthy and delicious.”

Superfoods in a welcoming atmosphere Aside from the colourful juices, the J°Pour juice bar serves superfood smoothies, chia puddings, kale salads, raw and vegan snacks such as the ‘power balls’ (made from coconut oil, seeds and nuts)

Discover Benelux | Best of Benelux Gastronomy | Luxembourg

and organic teas and coffees. The cosy, welcoming lounge is styled as a relaxed living room, a place to feel comfortable. “In general all our products are freshly prepared, with the best ingredients, mainly raw and vegan, fully natural and most importantly super delicious. Each one of our team members loves what they do and contributes to the J°Pour spirit,” Claus adds.

Visionary concept The idea evolved when Violeta Claus (née Bartalis) found that her work and busy lifestyle prevented her from eating healthy during the day. She discovered how coldpressed juices were a perfect substitute to a meal. “She started to drink the juices as a simple solution to beat the hunger and still feel fit afterwards, not tired. She realised this could also benefit others.” Working as a dentist, Dr. Violeta Claus developed a passion for healthy nutrition, focusing on damage prevention and oral aesthetic. Healthy nutrition is one of the most important aspects for a healthy smile, and Dr. Violeta Claus was compelled to share her experience. Together with Petra Planer, who is now the company CEO, she developed the concept further, with the help of Alicja Jimenez, Ioana Buruian and Alessandra Claus. They came up with the name J°Pour to reflect the pure juices they offer: ‘pure’ in English and ‘pur’ in German are very similar to the French ‘pour’, so this way everyone in Luxembourg can understand the name.

Spain. Claus says: “He is strongly dedicated to not treating his fruits artificially and only picks them when ordered.”

Optimise your health While J°Pour appeals to a wide clientele, it particularly caters for healthconscious people with a busy lifestyle. “It is not always easy to maintain the right consumption of fresh and raw fruits and vegetables. We want to make it easy for them by offering a juice, smoothie bowl or kale salad as a fresh alternative to the classic sandwich.” Claus recommends their products to anyone who wants to do something good for

themselves, but also for those who would like to go one step further. “We also offer juice detox programmes, cleansing or fasting with our juices. We are always happy to inform people about all these possibilities and how to succeed to have a better lifestyle with juices.” With a boundless passion for their concept, it is no surprise the ladies are constantly working on new recipes and products for the future. “You can expect some super refreshing and healthy drinks for the summer, kale salad variations, new juices and smoothies, and more,” Claus concludes.

Nature’s best The ladies behind J°Pour pride themselves on selecting only the best fresh fruits, vegetables and herbs with nothing else added. They work together with German farmer Bauer Greif, their main supplier, who does not use any pesticides or unnatural products. The J°Pour kitchen is located in Germany, very close to where the fruit is grown, which ensures optimal freshness. Products that do not grow in Germany such as lemons, oranges and limes, come from Naranjas del Carmen, a farmer in

J°Pour founder Dr. Violeta Claus

Issue 27 | March 2016 | 15

Discover Benelux | Best of Benelux Gastronomy | Luxembourg

Indulge in hearty cuisine with a spectacular view TEXT: MYRIAM GWYNNED DIJCK | PHOTOS: BEIM SIGGY

At Brasserie Beim Siggy, no sense is left unstirred. Its delicious classic French and Luxembourgish dishes will tingle your taste buds, the stunning panorama will light up your eyes and the soothing sound of the babbling river below will instantly put your mind at ease. Situated in a 19th century manor, classified as a historical building on the outskirts of Luxembourg City’s historic centre, Beim Siggy’s location is unmatched. The panoramic terrace, which is open all year round, offers guests a magnificent view over the leafy Grund valley and Alzette River. In spring and summer, the south-facing terrace is a favourite among locals, as it allows guests to enjoy the sun slowly sink below the horizon. Named after Luxembourg’s founder, Count Sigfried, or better known as ‘Siggy of Luxembourg’, the brasserie is open every day with continuous food service from 11am to 11pm.

Whether you want a quick lunch, a drink or a three course meal, everything is possible. Restaurant owner Gwen Steinmetzer says: “You can eat and drink as you like at any time – in the bar, the restaurant, or on the panoramic terrace which offers some of the best views in Luxembourg City.” Their specialities include a Steak Tartare with homemade fries, the Siggy Salad, the Bouchée à la Reine, the Luxburger and to top it off their famous Tarte Tatin Minute. “Our guests can enjoy French tradional dishes and classic Luxembourgish specialites with good size portions at reasonable prices.” Radiating a welcoming, historical ambiance, Beim Siggy is located right next to one of Luxembourg’s top attractions; the 16th century casemates. “We actually have a stone wall in the restaurant which was originally part of the casemates,” Gwen adds. This month, Beim Siggy will host an exciting lady’s night ahead of International Women’s

Day (4 March) and it will offer additional special menus for Easter (27 and 28 March). 2, Montée de Clausen

Taste the orient… in Luxembourg TEXT: SONJA IRANI | PHOTOS: ORIENTX

And for all those who would like to spice up their event, the innovative restaurant also provides premium oriental catering services. “Irrespective of what kind of event you are planning or what location you need it delivered to, we can flexibly prepare a delicious catering offer with minimal lead time,”says Sen. From London to Luxembourg: after enjoying a traditional kebab meal in London, the founders of OrientX Kebab lounge decided that Luxembourg City would be the ideal location for a casual but up-market oriental dining experience. Here is why. “We chose this location because of Luxembourg’s general prosperity, its international demographic and perceived lack of creative and new eating out ideas,” explains Bülent Sen, CEO of OrientX. “With our traditional gourmet kebab compositions we now offer light and tasty meal alternatives served in a casual lounge environment.” 16 | Issue 27 | March 2016

OrientX’s restaurant basics are simple: fresh, high-quality food, affordable prices, stylish interiors, and the best in service. “Top restaurateurs not only serve great food but also provide outstanding customer experiences,” says the CEO. “That is why OrientX helps its staff to achieve their full potential. For example, by awarding responsibility and offering incentives.” As it turned out, this was the right strategy. Having been honoured with the Commerce Design Luxembourg award in 2012, OrientX is currently planning to open further restaurants in Luxembourg and the Netherlands. Perhaps

the concept could expand even further: “If we find the right partners and investors, we may well roll out our slogan ‘… my taste’ to more countries in Europe,” reveals Sen.

Discover Benelux | Best of Benelux Gastronomy | Belgium


Imagine boogie dancing to swing music in a sultry New Orleans juke joint, or listening to Muddy Waters while sipping bourbon. This vibrant blues and roots atmosphere is the core of Missy Sippy, the young yet established blues club of Ghent. Located in the bustling heart of the Belgian city, the warm and cosy bar Missy Sippy brings a modern homage to the Mississippi delta blues – without flaming guitars or Harley’s, but with the joyous atmosphere of a barrelhouse. Playing a wide range of roots music, they host many events throughout the year. “Missy Sippy is like a ‘two-faced bar’,” co-founder Marie Follebout explains. “You can relax and chat with a drink in hand,

but also enjoy exuberant dance parties with room for 120 people to swing or boogie.” The gorgeous old-fashioned interior of the bar suggests that it has existed for over 30 years, even though Missy Sippy opened only a year ago. Follebout: “It has the vibe of a typical New Orleans bar: its brick walls are covered with musical instruments and pictures of legends like Bessie Smith and on the ceiling is an eye-catching yellow stained glass window lighting the room. It’s like travelling back in time.” Being the first blues club in Ghent, Missy Sippy is already home to the thriving and upcoming blues scene in the cultural city. Young and old come to Missy Sippy to enjoy music in a wide range of settings.

Established international musicians play concerts in a cosy and comfortable theatre setting. “On 5 April, Boo Boo Davis will play an acoustic set for instance,” says Follebout. “But we also host Local Hero evenings, Boogie Fridays at which DJs spin energetic rock ’n’ roll and blues to a filled dance floor, warm monthly Drag Juke nights and Sunday Sessions during which our regular musicians are accompanied by talented guests.” In July, during the annual festival Gentse feesten (Ghent Festivities), Missy Sippy will host two concerts and a jam session each evening. And make sure to attend their festive birthday bash in the first weekend of March. Issue 27 | March 2016 | 17

Discover Benelux | Best of Benelux Gastronomy | Belgium

Bringing the best of Belgium to the wider world TEXT: MARTIN PILKINGTON | PHOTOS: PANIER D’ELOÏSE

Belgium has a wealth of artisan producers of food and more. Fabienne Van Isacker wants to introduce them to a far wider audience. In 2011 she wondered why Belgium’s fine food producers, small brewers and distillers and innumerable other artisan suppliers had such limited exposure to their home market, let alone the rest of Europe. She was also struggling to find organic and ethical sources of natural products to suit her personal philosophy. A lightbulb went on in her head and internet outlet Panier d’Eloïse was born. “Beer and chocolate illustrate the situation. Everyone knows Belgium’s major brands, but we also have hundreds of craft enterprises making superb products – many of them organic – known little beyond their locality. Con-

sumers can discover new experiences, and it helps the artisans.” Her website currently lists more than 900 such products, including whisky, sparkling wines, spirits, pâtés, biscuits... “As a snapshot of Belgian excellence – delicious excellence – many businesses buy hampers as corporate gifts,” she says. “But it’s about how we sell, not just what. I believe people want transparency in their purchases, so our listings show provenance and ingredients, and maybe some relevant background or history.”

Craft-made chocolate

Panier d’Eloïse has established a discerning clientele across its home market, and ships further afield too: “We’ve customers in France, the UK, Germany, the Netherlands... people buying our hampers, or making up their own, or simply sourcing individual gastronomic and wellness products, even toys. The idea has caught on.”

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The Burgundian flair of ‘s-Hertogenbosch The capital of Noord-Brabant has a versatile cultural and historical city centre, alternated with contemporary places of interest. Enjoy a guided city walk or a boat tour, or visit one of the many museums and exceptional heritage sites. TEXT: VVV ’S-HERTOGENBOSCH / VISIT DEN BOSCH | PHOTOS: KARIN JONKERS

Issue 27 | March 2016 | 19

Photo: Joep Jacobs

Discover Benelux | Explore Den Bosch | Introduction

‘s-Hertogenbosch, also known as Den Bosch, is a beautiful fortified town and by far the best city to experience hospitality and the ‘Burgundian’ lifestyle. Its city centre is bursting with events and activities.

Burgundian A visit to Den Bosch is not complete without experiencing the real Bossche hospitality and unique Burgundian culture. The city centre is packed with lively bars and lovely restaurants. Den Bosch is home to three popular restaurant areas, the Uilenburg, the Korte Putraat and the Parade. All offering a wide array of cuisines.

Shopping Fancy concept stores, trendy fashion shops and beautiful boutiques; Den Bosch is home to all. Shopping in Den Bosch has a unique cultural and historical ambiance, whether you go to one of the larger shopping streets, or discover the small attractive alleys. Are you looking for that one exclusive item? Visit the Snellestraat, shopping area Het Bossche Kwartier, or Den Bosch’s high-end shopping street the Verwersstraat.

Culture Den Bosch is a city filled with cultural highlights. Visit the Museum Quarter, home to Het Noordbrabants Museum and Stedelijk Museum Den Bosch, the biggest museum of the Netherlands. Additionally, in Den Bosch you can enjoy many forms of art and culture. Go to an (inter)national theatre performance, or visit one of the many concert halls. Would you rather escape the rush of the city? Then visit Het Bossche Broek, a national park just outside Den Bosch’s city centre. Here you can also enjoy the city’s beautiful skyline.

Extend your stay Would you like to experience Den Bosch to the fullest? Then stay for one or more nights at one of the unique (boutique) hotels or cosy bed and breakfasts around the city. Looking forward to exploring all the highlights? Take a look at the Visit Den Bosch website for the top ten must-sees. Here you will find all the inspiration you need for a trip to the city. Issue 27 | March 2016 | 21

Discover Benelux | Explore Den Bosch | 500 Years of Hieronymus Bosch

Jheronimus Bosch, The Haywain, 1510-16, Madrid, Museo Nacional del Prado. With the special collaboration of The Museo Nacional del Prado.


In an idyllic countryside, a scene of violence and immorality erupts around a golden mound. Desperate souls and opportunists stampede with open palms, tools and ladders to grasp for their share of this treasure adorned with angels. At the centre of the chaos, a man slashes the throat of another and the victim’s bundle of gold falls from his hand to reveal nothing but hay and grass. “The iconography of greed of the whole world trying to grasp the hay on that cart… it is something you could 22 | Issue 27 | March 2016

easily compare to the world of banking,” suggests art historian Dr. Matthijs Ilsink. “With every day, man has to find his way through life and decide between good and evil and has to face the outcome of his choices.” Judgement, or the Pilgrimage of Life, was certainly the forte of the genius behind this 16th century Dutch triptych, The Haywain. Jheronimus (Jeroen) van Aken, better known as Hieronymus Bosch, has been described by the director of the Noordbrabants Museum, in the artist’s hometown of Den Bosch, as the “most

important and original medieval artist our country has ever produced”. Indeed, the richness of his iconography and religious themes of the torments of God-fearing men have been the subject of fierce debate for centuries. From the little that is known of Bosch’s life, it is clear that he was an intensely devout man, becoming a member of the Brotherhood of Our Illustrious Blessed Lady in 1488 in his late thirties. Professor Larry Silver, an art historian and Bosch expert at the University of Penn-

Discover Benelux | Explore Den Bosch | 500 Years of Hieronymus Bosch

sylvania, is adamant to debunk the popular theory that Bosch was a heretic: “This is a canard by those who feel some need to explain the nudes frolicking in his Garden of Earthly Delights. But Bosch seems to have been a prosperous and conventional citizen.” This could have been due to his marriage around 1480 to the wealthy Alety Goyaerts den Meervenne. Bosch was a mysterious Early Netherlandish artist who only signed several of his paintings, leaving very little work behind credited to him. He created masterpieces in a period that straddled the Middle Ages and the Renaissance, when the Dutch art scene embraced new innovations in oil painting, mastered by iconic artists such as Jan van Eyck. Religious figures were depicted with a clarity that triggered a profound emotional response from the viewer. Useful, when you are a devout cynic wanting to portray temptation, sin and reckoning. “There can be little doubt that Bosch was a confirmed pessimist in his art,” states Professor Silver. “His judgement and hell scenes, like those on the portals of medieval churches, were intended to remind Christians that their stay on earth was brief in relation to the outcome for their immortal souls. Bosch seemed to feel that most humans were indeed sinners.”

A continuing inspiration While the biblical tale of Adam and Eve precedes the brutal battle of the hay in startling detail in The Haywain, what follows it is a nightmarish depiction of sinners walking into hell. With such intricate brushwork, it is truly a chilling sight to behold. “It’s very difficult to find a modern day parallel,” says Dr. Ilsink, when asked whether Bosch could astound a modern audience less concerned with religion. “The choices that man has to make in his life between good and evil, those are the things that are still attractive.” The influence of his bizarre creatures and depictions of hell stretched as far as the Surrealist movement of the 20th century, where pioneers such as Salvador Dalí show a strikingly similar obsession with detail. “[André] Breton (the founder of Surrealism) designated him as a surrealist avant la lettre for such dream-like imagery… his inventive demons

and fantasies, achieved through the creative mixture of different creatures,” says Professor Silver. Yet the true extent of Bosch’s impact is being demonstrated in Den Bosch, where a celebration of 500 years since his death in 1516 is taking place this year. What began as a six-year international study into the remaining work of Bosch, has now grown into a painstakingly extensive exhibition and a bounty of festivals and events. The host of the exhibition, the Noordbrabants Museum, will display around 110 exhibits of Bosch’s work, including panels and triptychs (three-panelled paintings), some of which have travelled from major international galleries such as the Prado in Madrid and the Louvre in Paris. The exhibition centrepiece The Haywain, having been collected by Philip II of Spain in the 16th century, leaves its home in Madrid for the first time in 450 years. Dr. Ilsink is the co-ordinator of the Bosch Research and Conservation Project (BRCP), the largest international research project undertaken into the work of Bosch. “It wasn’t obvious to the world why the Noordbrabants Museum wanted to do such an in-depth research project,” he says. “The city of Den Bosch took the initiative at a very early stage, they really wanted to partake in this exhibition.”

Unearthing a mystery Many academics and historians have focussed on the meaning of Bosch’s work, sorting through the dense and endless array of creatures and symbols. But the BRCP has concerned itself with the careful, standardised documentation of his paintings as well as assisting museums in the renovation of his works. By undertaking studies of these paintings and drawings, the BRCP will reveal more about the techniques and condition of Bosch’s work, uncovering more mysteries about his iconography and symbols. Bosch was somewhat of a rebel in the Early Netherlandish art movement when it came to his technique. While many painters covered their work with a transparent glaze, partly to hide the brushwork and create the illusion of a divinely

Jheronimus Bosch, Death and the Miser, ca.1500-10, Washington, National Gallery of Art, Samuel H. Kress Collection.

Jacques Le Boucq, Portrait of Hieronymus Bosch, ca. 1550, Arras, Bibliothèque Municipale.

Issue 27 | March 2016 | 23

Discover Benelux | Explore Den Bosch | 500 Years of Hieronymus Bosch

LEFT: Jheronimus Bosch, Infernal Landscape, private collection. RIGHT: Jheronimus Bosch, Adoration of the Magi, ca. 1470-80, New York, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, John Stewart Kennedy Fund, 1913

composed piece, Bosch left his brushwork exposed. “There was an efficiency about painting more directly and in thin layers without waiting long and elaborate times for glazes and layers to dry,” explains Professor Silver. “But Bosch’s virtuosity lay in his brushwork, not in minutiae of lustre or texture.” Dr. Ilsink and his team, including fellow expert Prof. Dr. Jos Koldeweij, in partnership with the Hieronymus Bosch 500 Foundation and the Radboud University of Nijmegen, have used the latest technologies to study and restore Bosch’s remaining work including infrared reflectography and ultra-high resolution digital macrophotography. The research has indeed borne many fruits. Recently two works, previously attributed to a pupil and a workshop assistant of Bosch, The Temptation of St. Anthony and the Infernal Landscape, are now confirmed to be by the master himself. “Since there are so few works of Bosch left, any addition is very special,” says Dr. Ilsink. Talking about the Infernal Landscape drawing, he says: 24 | Issue 27 | March 2016

“I think it’s a very valuable document that gives us more insight and an understanding of how that artist thinks and how he makes and creates his images.” The chaotic sketch of a harrowing fantasy of hell can only be described as ‘Boschian’. Yet truly understanding an artist who left little in the way of archival documents, has posed many challenges for the BRCP: “We know where he lived, when he died, where he was buried and how much tax he paid, but these are separate worlds from the worlds of his paintings,” says Dr. Ilsink. “I doubt that we will ever really get to know that person.” There can be no doubt that Bosch’s work holds many more mysteries, and the enthusiasm and loyalty from his hometown of Den Bosch has created opportunities for a new generation to get acquainted with the Dutch master. Jheronimus Bosch: Visions of a Genius will be showing at the Noordbrabants Museum until 8 May.

500 YEARS OF BOSCH: This year, Den Bosch, located in the south of the Netherlands, celebrates its most famous son with over 90 cultural activities of music, dance, theatre and circus productions, exhibitions, projects in public spaces, lightshows, books and games. Visitors can partake in the Bosch Experience, which includes a visit to the artist’s family studio and his home. Another spectacle, the Bosch Grand Tour, is an exploration of Bosch’s current influences through contemporary art and design. New works by Jeroen Kooijmans, Atelier Van Lieshout, Jan Fabre and Gabriel Lester will be featured, as well as exhibitions delving deeper into Bosch’s symbolism, use of animals and works directly inspired by his art.

Discover Benelux | Explore Den Bosch | Top Eat, Drink & Sleep Spots

Today’s standards, yesterday’s values TEXT: PAOLA WESTBEEK | PHOTOS: GOLDEN TULIP HOTEL CENTRAL

Den Bosch, with its vibrant history, southern flair and magnificent buildings such as the iconic Sint-Jan’s Cathedral, has plenty to offer. For over a century, Golden Tulip Hotel Central has been welcoming guests to the hospitable Dutch city with today’s standards and yesterday’s values – a motto they proudly stand by. “We are a classic hotel and are proud of our history,” says Karin Rademaker, owner of the family-owned, four-star hotel. “The location couldn’t be better,” she continues. Not only is Den Bosch centrally situated (by train, it is approximately one hour from Schiphol and Antwerp and an hour and a half from Dusseldorf), but the hotel is right in the middle of town, overlooking the medieval and bustling triangular market square. Tourist attractions, lively terraces and shopping streets are just a short stroll away.

Whether one visits the city purely for its touristic appeal or for business, the hotel’s 125 elegantly furnished rooms cater to just about every need a guest could have. From single rooms to lavish suites or executive rooms fully equipped with all modern conveniences. Each has free access to fast, reliable Wi-Fi, and guests can hold conferences, seminars or receptions in one of the 12 multifunctional meeting rooms, some with interactive screens and Apple TV. Especially noteworthy is their 14th-century vaulted cellar, ‘De Hoofdwacht’. Exquisitely restored in 1986, it serves as a breakfast room and is perfect for receptions. Apart from their excellent facilities such as a fitness centre, restaurant and brasserie, the hotel prides itself not only on its comfort and luxury, but on being one of the warmest and most welcoming hotels in the city. The staff’s friendly and caring attitude will ensure that you immediately feel at home.

Stunning suites with top-notch service TEXT: MYRIAM GWYNNED DIJCK | PHOTOS: BOSSCHE SUITES

Imagine you are comfortably sitting in front of a warm crackling fire while sipping on fine wine fetched from the well-stocked fridge just outside the room. This certainly does not sound like your average hotel experience, but then Bossche Suites is anything but ordinary. With a total of 12 luxury suites at two stunning locations in Den Bosch, Bossche Suites offers its guests something exceptional. Each room has a unique, stylish interior including a lounge area with a fireplace and flat-screen television. A stay also gives access to the drinks and snacks in the ‘maxi-bar’ fridge in the corridor. “We give guests a home-away-from-home experience. With us, they are not a number. We treat guests as individuals and give them personal attention,” says manager Chiel Seuren.

The service Bossche Suites provides is of the highest standard but with a characteristic Den Bosch approach. “Enjoying life is ingrained in our culture and being approachable and personable is part of this. We see providing excellent service as something natural. We are always keen to help with restaurant recommendation and reservation or book tickets for sights and attractions such as the current Hieronymus Bosch exposition,” says Seuren. Bossche Suites is located on the Stationsweg, nearby Den Bosch’s main train station, and on the Verwersstraat. There is private parking available with a complementary valet service. On Thursdays and Fridays, it offers an early checkin package for 50 euros extra per person, with entrance to the suite at noon and a full gastronomic lunch at Restaurant Fabuleux (next to the Verwersstraat location). Issue 27 | March 2016 | 25

Discover Benelux | Explore Den Bosch | Eat, Drink & Discover

A truly English restaurant in the Dutch city of ‘s-Hertogenbosch


apple crumble is definitely worth a try. They also offer the typical ‘Bossche bol’ (a dough ball filled with cream and topped with the finest chocolate).

In the beautiful and historic centre of ’s-Hertogenbosch, at the foot of St. John’s Cathedral, you will find an extraordinary place: Pilkington’s exudes the nostalgic atmosphere and charm of the English countryside in the heart of the Netherlands. As the only restaurant in the vicinity of ‘s-Hertogenbosch, Pilkington’s serves a true English High Tea and High Wine found only in the best English restaurants. Everything is made at its own bakery. Inspired by traditional recipes, its patissier makes the most delicious scones, cupcakes, chocolate chip cookies, brownies and cherry cheesecake. Pilkington’s famous

The restaurant is housed in a former monastery and has a lovely courtyard where guests can enjoy their lunch or dinner. “Especially during spring and summer the courtyard is a wonderful place to enjoy the best High Tea and High Wines, with great sweets and pies,” says Bart Derks, owner of Pilkington’s. “We specialise in English patisserie, but we also have one of the largest collections of gins and whiskeys in the city, and we serve delicious snacks with them.” Pilkington’s was established in 1990, but recently underwent a significant renovation. The atmosphere of an English country house has been transformed into a London city ambiance but without losing the overall relaxed, quiet, yet chic and elegant feel throughout the restaurant.

A day in ‘s-Hertogenbosch is not complete without lunch or dinner at Pilkington’s.


Do you know how Carnival originated, how it was celebrated through the ages and how it became the event we know today? You will find all the answers about the ‘fifth season’ at the unique Oeteldonks Gemintemuzejum.

carnival celebrations, changes its name to ‘Oeteldonk’ for the three days of Carnival.

The museum in Den Bosch, founded in 1999, provides a wealth of information and objects for Carnival enthusiasts. A team of 44 volunteers have created a truly magical experience that cannot be missed. It is located in the restored medieval gatehouse of the Sisters of Orthenpoort Monastery, overlooking the idyllic downtown river the Binnendieze.

Van Heeswijk: “Come and escape into the vibrant, joyful world of Carnival or experience the dark moments of this bright and happy festival. We have tour guides who explain the different aspects of Carnival culture but of course everyone is welcome to wander around and enjoy this unique experience, listen to different carnival music and get inspired by the colourful history of carnival costumes, from antiquity through the baroque era to modern times.”

Co-organiser Bert van Heeswijk says: “Discover the history of Carnival from its beginnings to the present day. Our museum boasts a wide variety of exhibits from the background of Carnival Oeteldonk in Den Bosch to the colourful history of Carnival in Germany, and the Caribbean.” Den Bosch, which is known for its exuberant

The Oeteldonks Gemintemuzejum is the largest and most modern museum of its kind in the Netherlands. During the summer months the museum offers thematic exhibitions. “The next one will revolve around the anniversary of the death of painter Jheronimus Bosch,” Van Heeswijk comments.

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Discover Benelux | Explore Den Bosch | Top Eat, Drink & Sleep Spots

Famous for good meat and hospitality TEXT: CATHY VAN KLAVEREN | PHOTOS: BISTRO TANTE PIETJE

Preparing a good piece of meat is an art that Bistro Tante Pietje in ‘s-Hertogenbosch has perfected over the years. Tante Pietje (‘Aunt Pietje’) is known in the capital of Noord-Brabant by many. When you want meat, you go to Tante Pietje.

Lankhaar does not leave anything to chance. “I am very involved with my business. Tante Pietje is in a street together with at least 20 other businesses that serve drinks and food, and we want to make that little extra effort for people to come eat with us.”

Owner Kees Lankhaar does not leave out other preferences and also has plenty on the menu for guests who would rather have fish or vegetarian dishes. He has run Tante Pietje for almost 14 years with professionalism, but foremost with pleasure. “My team works very well together. It’s how we make people feel welcome here,” he says.

And they are succeeding. Almost every night Tante Pietje is full of people enjoying expertly made tournedos, entrecotes, T-bones and chateaubriands. The choice is endless, especially in the meat specialties that the bistro is famous for. Now ‘s-Hertogenbosch is celebrating the year of Hieronymus Bosch, as it is exact-

ly 500 years ago that the the well-known artist and figure head of the city died. Lankhaar has made a special menu for this occasion. For a good price, guests can sample all the dishes Tante Pietje prepares so well. Open seven days a week for dinner, and for lunch on Saturdays and Sundays, and in this special year your ‘Aunt’ also prepares lunch on Fridays. Lankhaar is always excited to meet new people, and his hospitality and his charm are contagious. Try it yourself.

Issue 27 | March 2016 | 27


This year, Nijmegen celebrates The oldest city in the Netherlands is a fantastic place to meet new people all year round. Located on a ridge on the banks of the river Waal, Nijmegen has been attracting visitors for many centuries. TEXT & PHOTOS: GEMEENTE NIJMEGEN

This year is special for Nijmegen, as the city will be hosting the Giro d’Italia in May and the Special Olympics in July. And, later that month, the 100th edition of the International Four Days Marches is expected to draw over 50,000 participants from around the globe. In short, this year will be jam-packed with festivals and events. Nijmegen is a university town that is popular with students and tourists. Visitors love the city centre because of its combination of attractive pavement cafés and restaurants as well as its entertainment, modern shopping centres and charming boutiques. Everything is within walking distance and the city is a great example of how well old and new can combine. One minute you will be buying clothes in the oldest shopping street of the Netherlands, and the next you will be moving on to a trendy lounge café for a drink or visiting one of the hip and happening festivals. Alternatively, you might choose to sit outside one of the many restaurants on the Waalkade 28 | Issue 27 | March 2016

and enjoy the fantastic views overlooking the river. The rich cultural history of Nijmegen goes back 2,000 years when the Romans settled here. Nijmegen grew into the largest city in the country at that time. In the centuries that followed, many regents, dukes and emperors chose Nijmegen as their home. Nijmegen is transforming. The face of the oldest city in the Netherlands is changing dramatically due to large development projects along both banks of the Waal, creating all kinds of hotspots along the river. One of the projects is the internationally renowned Room for the River Waal, this project has created an island in the Waal and a unique urban river park with lots of possibilities for recreation, culture, water sports and nature. Instead of the river flowing past Nijmegen, the river actually flows right through the city now. In other words, Nijmegen is embracing the River Waal.

NIJMEGEN AT A GLANCE Nijmegen is an active city with lots of music and sport events. It is famous for the Four Days Marches, a walking event of four consecutive days held in July. People from all over the world walk in and around the city and its beautiful (woodland) surroundings. Thousands of spectators cheer on the walkers along the route every day and all over the city centre, the party goes on well into the night. After four days of walking, a glorious finish along the Via Gladiola awaits the walkers, topped off by them receiving their well-deserved Four Days Medal. The city is friendly, with a wealth of history and culture for you to explore. Come and enjoy all that Nijmegen has to offer.

Discover Benelux | Discover Nijmegen | The Netherlands’ Oldest City

Where everybody knows your name TEXT: MYRIAM GWYNNED DIJCK | PHOTOS: BISTRO DE BOK

With its cosy, dark interior, the glowing warmth from the open, central charcoal grill, and its beaming, personable staff, you immediately feel at home at the lively restaurant Bistro de Bok. The bistro, known for its excellent meat dishes, was set up 40 years ago in Nijmegen. The atmosphere has not changed since, remaining laid back and personal. “A great dinner out doesn’t have to be a rigid occasion. We turn every night into a celebration and our staff are very open and informal. We want to get to know our guests and greet them personally by name,” says director Micha Koot.

This ambience also trickles down to the guests, and Micha frequently notices how people strike up conversations at the bar or across tables. “We make people feel at home. We don’t take reservations so if guests need to wait a little while at the bar for their favourite table to become available, we’ll give them olives on the house. When guests sit down, we make sure they immediately receive complementary bread with dips.” All the top-quality meat served at Bistro de Bok is imported from New Zealand where the cattle can roam free. According to Micha, you can instantly taste this. “We are famous for our fantastic tournedos, it literally melts on your tongue. We have guests coming all the way from Amsterdam for this! Aside that the Bokspies, our signature skewer dish with five different meats, is very popular and also our fish is outstanding,” he says.


Life is a form of art that should be enjoyed thoroughly: this is the philosophy of the Flemish, and Vlaams Arsenaal embraces it wholeheartedly. The grand café and brasserie in the heart of the beautiful city of Nijmegen serves Flemish delights that will tingle your taste buds in a cosy and relaxed atmosphere. Flanders, in the north-west part of Belgium, is famous for its delicious fries and waffles, but the local cuisine offers much more: “Eating the Flemish way has a Mediterranean and medieval touch,” Vlaams Arsenaal owner Tim van Delft explains. “Imagine generous meat dishes yarning in blackened kettles, while velvety sauces, swelling Trappist Cheeses and polyphonic beers decorate the table and caress the tongue.” You can find this delightful atmosphere in Vlaams Arsenaal, a place to enjoy sumptuous,

high-quality Mediterranean-inspired dishes with rich flavours. Van Delft: “And for a full Flemish food experience, make sure to taste one of our 40 Belgian specialty beers!” Vlaams Arsenaal is located in a gorgeous national monument in the heart of Nijmegen, and consists of a cosy grand café and a brasserie. It is also the perfect place to have a single coffee during a city trip. And throughout the year, many events take place in and around Vlaams Arsenaal. “Every Friday afternoon we serve delicious, bite-sized snacks on the house, from 5pm to 7pm, during our ‘Early Friday’ happy hour. And in May and July, we’re in the middle of the hustle of the world-class events Giro d’Italia and the Four Days Marches: these add a lovely atmosphere to the already bustling city.” Issue 27 | March 2016 | 29

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Discover Benelux | Cover Feature | Danielle van Grondelle


Embracing her true beauty Danielle van Grondelle is living a life that was once thought impossible by the fashion industry and women all over the world. As one of the most successful plus-size models, she flies all over the world for exciting shoots for major magazines such as Vogue, Avant Garde and Cosmopolitan. Last year she even graced the New York Fashion Week catwalk, the first time a designer used plus-size models only for a show. We spoke to her about her career, her struggle with the industry’s skinny beauty ideal and her mission to make women more confident. TEXT: MYRIAM GWYNNED DIJCK | PHOTOGRAPHER: RAFAEL CLEMENTE | MUA: ALYSSA LORRAINE | STYLING: DVGSTYLE

At the time of our interview, Van Grondelle was on a work trip to Europe and had briefly popped home. “If you work so much at this level, it is quite tough because you can’t really plan things. So if these things come up then it is amazing that everyone works together and that I can enjoy my private life too,” she says. Originally from Rotterdam, she swapped the Dutch ‘Manhattan on the Maas’ for the real Big Apple three years ago and currently lives in New York. By now, Van Grondelle has been a full-time model for 11 years. Yet with her beaming positivity and confidence, it is instantly clear she still loves her job. With her daily alarm set at 6am, she certainly works very hard for it too. “I work almost every day,” she tells us. “If I have a photoshoot, I will go in to make-up and then we start shooting. By around six or seven we usually finish.” But the work does not stop there. When she is not shooting, she is at casting sessions for new assignments. Van Grondelle explains that this is a very “American” thing: “I’m almost constantly working on my career.” There are many things she relishes about the job. One of the most important aspects is that she can be a role model for

young women. While the term ‘plus size’ might sound misleading, at size 42, Van Grondelle actually has the size of an average woman. “I can show that beauty comes in all shapes and sizes. I often get nice messages from girls saying ‘it is so great to see someone I can emulate myself on’, or ‘it is nice to see more curves in the magazines’. You notice this is something that people very much care about.” But her modelling life has not always been this rewarding, as she tells us about the years of struggle at the start of her career, going to extremes to chase her dream and almost giving up on it altogether.

Extreme beauty standards Van Grondelle started modelling when she was only 14 years old as a conventional ‘straight-size’ model. But with her curvy hips, she struggled to meet the thin body image required from the industry. “I simply didn’t succeed in getting the right centimetres on my hips. I was super slim but no matter what I did with dieting, I couldn’t get those centimetres down.” At 93 centimetres, her hips were just three centimetres too wide. By this time, she was dieting to the extreme and it was becoming increasingly unhealthy. “Eventually my period even stopped

and that is not alright. As a young woman, if you starve yourself to the extent that your functions stop; nobody should want that.” By this time, she was devastated and became convinced modelling was not the career for her. She almost gave up on her dream. “It was really hard, I remember one day coming home, completely in tears and my dad said ‘there will be a time when the fashion industry will adjust to you’. I thought my dad only said that to comfort me.” However, in time, her father proved to be correct. At this point, the agency placed Van Grondelle in the ‘specials’ section, for models with slightly deviating sizes. This usually means there will be less work, but as luck would have it she was sent out on an assignment and discovered how to turn her career around. “I did an editorial and there was a stylist who said ‘if you would gain a tiny bit of weight, you would be perfect as a plus-size model’.”

Sizing up This was the first time she had ever heard about plus-size modelling and had no idea what it really meant. “The first thing I thought was, ‘but I’m not fat, am I?’ I had no idea that there was this industry and I Issue 27 | March 2016 | 31

didn’t really know that I could work really well with my natural size.” But thinking back to her own childhood, she remembers looking up to models such as Cindy Crawford and Linda Evangelista, “models with breasts and bums”, as she points out. “Only with the Kate Moss-era did it become increasingly thin, thinner, thinnest. I could not see myself in that.” From here, her career suddenly took flight, literally. She says: “Within a week I was shooting in Mexico and two and a half weeks later, I was in South Africa. It went so fast, it was crazy. And I remember being on the cover of Avant Garde, and that was the first time they used a plus-size model!” Half a year later she was getting so many assignments she had stop her other work and turn to modelling full time. Aside from the name, there are other misconceptions about plus-size modelling. While Van Grondelle might not be a ‘size zero’ like straight-size models (the American equivalent of size 34), she still has to work on her body and stay fit. “I do sports and, just like slim models, I need to be in shape. I need to make sure I am the best version of myself.”

Changing the runway Plus-size models are gradually getting more media attention, and the high-end fashion industry is slowly embracing the curves. Van Grondelle feels like things are finally changing a little. In October last year she did a runway show during New York Fashion Week. This was the first time a designer at any of the major fashion week events used plus-size models only. “When I heard I was booked, there was a moment I had to pinch yourself and thought ‘wow!’,” she recalls. “The audience had no idea this was going to happen. You could feel this in the venue; the reaction from the people, there was even cheering going on.” Van Grondelle thinks this is very encouraging as it means women and girls can develop a more realistic self-image. But they are also very few and far in between. “It is amazing to experience something like this and that such a statement was made at this level,” she says. At the same time,

Discover Benelux | Cover Feature | Danielle van Grondelle

she feels that the industry is still clinging onto set patterns: “Most designers, to say it in a slightly disrespectful way, want coat racks on the runway to distract the least from the clothes. They want to portray an image with the slimmest models of the straight size.” Looking forward, Van Grondelle would like to see much more diversity. She hopes for a future where size matters less and in which designers will start sampling in two sizes. “Often, when I do a high-end editorial – which means it will be in a really nice magazine, such as a Cosmopolitan, Vogue or Avant Garde – then I have to squeeze into a sample size zero. So the Chanel jacket I’d be wearing is size 34. That’s why we often wear a bathing suit or something that stretches, because the skirt will never fit.”

Being your natural self Proudly counting herself among the very top of plus-size modelling, Van Grondelle is part of a select group of just 20 to 30 curvy models. “We work nearly every day.

So you work more than a straight-size model, which sounds strange to many people. Not enough people know they can reach the very top with this size.”

too many things I can’t do. I can have a nice dessert and I can eat my grandma’s cooking,” she says and adds: “Which is fantastic because I love good food!”

Despite having found success in the industry, Van Grondelle admits that modelling remains a bizarre world where you are constantly judged on your looks and your size. “If I have a period in which I am a little stressed and I lose a bit of weight, my agent will literally call me and say ‘Daan, maybe it’s time to eat a cake again’. So the modelling world is just strange. You are booked for your centimetres, so it is important to maintain those. If a customer books me, they want to see me in a size 42 not size 40.”

Living in the moment

Luckily for Van Grondelle, that size works perfectly for her body. The days of having to diet and starve herself are very much in the past. She is indeed very grateful for that, as she would probably struggle to cope with the stresses of the many flights and long days if she could not eat normally. “For me, this is natural, so there aren’t

She believes that many of her peers in the industry feel the same way. “Maybe this is why there is less hatred and envy because everyone is so happy. Many curvy models started as a straight-size model because a few years ago it hardly even existed. So we all more or less live the same story,” she says For the next five years, Van Grondelle is keen to keep on doing as many exciting assignments as possible and breaking more barriers. Living by the motto ‘don’t be your own worst critic and enjoy the moment’, Van Grondelle’s confidence and outlook on life is certainly inspirational. “I think we would all be a lot happier if we are a little less critical of ourselves,” she says and concludes: “Be the best version of yourself and be happy with that, whatever that may be.” Issue 27 | March 2016 | 33

Brouwerij Anders! Photo:

Photo: Lindemans


Belgian beer guide 2016 If there is one thing the Belgians are proud of, it is their beers. Specialising in strong, flavoursome brews, they range from refreshing blondes to fruity krieks, fragrant ales and punchy stouts. The whole country counts a couple of hundred breweries that produce thousands of different beers. In this special, we have handpicked some of Belgium’s top brewers to showcase their excellence and immense variety. TEXT: MYRIAM GWYNNED DIJCK

Photo: Lindemans

Photo: Westtoer

Discover Benelux | Belgian Beer Guide 2016 | Introduction

Brouwerij Strubbe Photo: Alexandre Bibaut

Photo: Brewery & Distillery Pirlot

Brouwerij Anders! Photo:

It is estimated that every year, 200 new brews are launched in Belgium, so there is always something different to discover. Breweries constantly experiment with new flavours and ingredients and even the most unusual pairings are tried, from stout with pepper to unfiltered herbal beer and acidy lambics mixed with spices. Lambic is in fact a method of beer making that is unique to Belgium. The beer is produced with wild yeasts present in the countryside around Brussels that induc-

es spontaneous fermentation. The sourtasting beer this produces is an acquired taste for some, but in Belgium it is widely drank and indeed increasing in popularity. Needless to say, the Belgians take beer very seriously. In fact, there is a whole research department dedicated to the study of beer at the University of Leuven. Here, zythologist, brewers and students alike constantly try to learn more about this ancient beverage, develop new recipes and research how to optimise flavours.

As an example, they discovered why beer bottles froth upon opening – even without having been shaken – and developed a method to prevent this. The researchers were also able to confirm a long-standing conviction whether Belgian beers indeed taste better in the country of origin. This is because transport often damages the flavour, but we are convinced that Belgium’s beautiful scenery and cosy cafés might have something to do with it too. All the more reason to head to Belgium this spring and try out some original brews for yourself. Issue 27 | March 2016 | 35

Discover Benelux | Belgian Beer Guide 2016 | Top Breweries

Dirk and Geert Lindemans.

Uniting six generations of pioneering lambic brewers TEXT: MYRIAM GWYNNED DIJCK | PHOTOS: LINDEMANS

In 1822 the Lindemans family began their brewery as a way to keep the farm workers busy during the quiet winter months. Now, nearly two centuries later, Lindemans is Belgium’s largest independent lambic brewer. With a successful range of Gueuzes, Krieks, other fruit beers and even gins, Lindemans continues to be trend setter in the world of lambic beers. To produce Belgium’s distinctive lambics with their characteristic sour taste, the brewer has to let nature run its course. Instead of adding a premade mixture of yeast cultures, the wort – a sugar-rich liquid made from barley – is left to cool in open tanks to mix with the air outside. This process induces spontaneous fer36 | Issue 27 | March 2016

mentation, as around 80 different yeast cultures that fill the air in the microclimate around Brussels settle down on the wort. Managing director and sixth generation Dirk Lindemans, who runs the brewery together with his cousin Geert, says: “Our region is optimal for producing lambics because of our unique microflora. The location is essential for the flavour, even beers that are made 20 kilometres down the road taste different. For example, our beers have distinctive aromas of sherry and rhubarb.” While lambics contain all the traditional ingredients of a beer – grains, hops and yeast – they very much behave like wines. “It takes at least a year to produce a lambic beer,” says Dirk. “First it needs

to ferment for six months and then it takes another six to seven months to mature. Just like wine, when a lambic is bottled, the flavour will continue to evolve on the second fermentation and becomes a gueuze.”

A new kind of brew For decades, Lindemans remained both an active farm and a brewery. In the 1950s, thanks to the success of their beers, the agricultural activities were halted. Twenty-five years later, Lindemans was visited by a wine importer who had the vision to introduce Belgium’s lambic beers to America. Lindemans was eager to enter a new market but things did not quite go to plan. Dirk explains: “During overseas transport, the second fermentation put so much pressure on the bottles, they kept

Discover Benelux | Belgian Beer Guide 2016 | Top Breweries

on exploding. We had to come up with a solution.” To stabilise it, Lindemans decided to blend the lambic with sour cherry juice before pasteurising it. This produced a much fruitier and sweeter tasting lambic. “We created a completely new segment of fruit lambics. The taste is really accessible, and it became an instant success. Many other breweries soon copied this process.”

Ongoing evolution This pioneering spirit is characteristic for Lindemans. It now produces 11 different beers including the classic Gueuze and Kriek as well as fruit lambics such as the Pecheresse, Cassis and Framboise. Capitalising on the versatility of lambic beers, it recently launched SpontanBasil, an old gueuze macerated with fresh basil. “Its success proved that this is something that really appeals to consumers. We see a trend where people increasingly turn to the sour lambic beers,” says Dirk. Continuing their search for new flavour combinations lead them to produce BlossomGueuze. Introduced in 2015, this beer has a subtle elderflower aroma. “We are planning to launch another new Botanical Lambic this year. Because of the maturation process of lambics, it takes a while to try out the final product. The flavour of herbs can sometimes change during fermentation, so you never know exactly what your new beer will taste like, but that is part of the fun,” he comments.

After doubling their production capacity in 2014 and a total annual production of 92,000 hectolitres, Lindemans is keen to continue to expand, especially when it comes to storage capacity. “We currently have 6,500 million litres of lambic in stock, so it is important to optimise our storage space. We are looking into warehouse automation so we can be more efficient at this,” he says.

VISITING THE BREWERY: The Lindemans brewery in Vlezenbeek can be visited on weekdays. To learn more about the brewing process, the Lindemans family history and the Pajottenland region, it is possible to book a tour hosted by professional guides who speak multiple languages. You can also opt for a tasting session where you get to try a selection of Lindemans’ beers.

From brewing to distillation Aside new flavours of beers, Lindemans recently added gin to its portfolio. In collaboration with De Moor distillery, two Lindemans gins were launched last year: Red and Clear. Both are distilled from Oude Kriek Cuvée René. Red has pure sour cherry juice added to it, giving it an eye-catching red colour. Dirk: “Using the Kriek produces a very original result. They have a slightly spicy character and are very pleasant to drink with tonic.” Introducing new products are not the only plans that Lindemans has in store. Issue 27 | March 2016 | 37

Discover Benelux | Belgian Beer Guide 2016 | Top Breweries


According to master brewer Marc Strubbe, nothing beats tasting your own beer in the evening after a hard day’s work. Together with his cousin Stefan, he runs the family brewery Strubbe in Ichtegem, West Flanders. “There is nothing more Belgian than being a brewer,” he says proudly. Strubbe is the last brewery left in the canton of Ostend, and only one of five in the country that make beer in a specific traditional way. “The second fermentation of our Ichtegem’s grand cru happens in 5,000-litre oak barrels. Over a two-year period, this process occurs spontaneously thanks to wild yeasts present in the barrels and the air. It produces a slightly sour beer, which we then enrich with sweet, young beer for the final product.” The Strubbes have owned the brewery since 1831. Marc, the seventh generation, is keen to hand it over to his 28-year-old twins Pas-

cal and Florence. Pascal, a commercial pilot, already works part-time for the brewery and Florence, who has degrees in bio-medical science and general management, is also eager to apply her knowledge to the business. Marc: “It is our goal to continue to pass the ownership down from one generation to the next. We are very proud that we can keep the brewery in the family.” During the week visitors can see the brewery in action during a tour, which of course ends with a drink in the tasting room. There you can try Strubbe’s various beers, including their popular Keyte, available as a 7.7 per cent alcohol Tripel and a 9.2 per cent Dobbel-Tripel. The beers are also served in local bars and can be found in specialty cafés around Belgium and abroad.


Guy Pirlot’s fascination with beer, in particular the brewing of it, began when he was a student. Starting with an improvised setup in his kitchen, Pirlot’s hobby soon escalated. Now he is a full-time, professional brewer.

All his beers are made in an artisan way with only pure ingredients; no flavour enhancers or preservatives are added. “This process might be more expensive, but it also produces higher quality beers, and it gives every batch a unique flavour.”

“I started serving my beers in our local café. People really liked them and told me I should do something with it,” Pirlot remembers. Perfecting his craft over the years, Pirlot’s brews became so popular that in 2011 he decided to buy a system with a capacity of brewing 1,000 hectolitres a year.

Pirlot is also currently working on the distillery. Three years ago the first batch of lightly peated, single malt whiskey went into the barrels and will be ready to drink on 15 April. “I am looking forward to this day as I hope to expand our distillery activities in the future,” he says.

Pirlot makes nine different beers under the name Kempisch Vuur, or ‘fire of Kempen’, after the region he lives in. It includes a fourgrain Tripel beer and a dark stout made with oats. “And the one I am particularly proud of is the Hoppergod, a blonde IPA with a lovely, bitter taste.”

For an insider’s view of the brewery, it is possible to take a tour upon appointment. Next door, Pirlot recently opened a tavern where visitors can order the beers and have a bite to eat.

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A smooth, light-amber and cloudy beer. Soft, with an invigorating bitterness in the aftertaste. Voluptuous, refreshing, with discreet hints of caramel.

A floral nose of freshly-cut straw, and aromas of grilled grains with a hint of pepper. Well balanced, with a subtle touch of bitterness at the end. A light, refreshing beer.

Black-coloured, with a creamy foam. It is well-balanced and has a touch of coffee with the sweetness of mocha. Subtle hint of bitter chocolate at the end, with a dry and pleasant final note.

Discover Benelux | Belgian Beer Guide 2016 | Top Breweries


Delicious Belgian specialty beers, exclusively bottled and labelled for your own brand: Brouwerij Anders! brews all sorts of high-quality beers, from traditional beers to ‘cold ones’ with surprising ingredients. Brouwerij Anders! is not your standard brewery. The Halen-based company brews exclusively for third parties, such as smaller breweries who need an increased capacity, associations interested in their own beer brand and home-brew enthusiasts eager to commercialise their beverage. At Brouwerij Anders!, specialty beers are brewed in a professional environment, freeing you from the trouble and expenses of setting up a brewery of your own. Almost 200 beers have been brewed already, but since Brouwerij Anders! custom brews all beers, a unique flavour is guaranteed. “Whether you already have a complete recipe written down, or you just have an idea for a beer, our team of 40 | Issue 27 | March 2016

specialists will advise you on everything related to the ingredients and the process,” commercial manager Nicolas Volders explains. “Quality is our top priority. We optimise taste, colour and bitterness until you’re fully satisfied, making it affordable even for individuals eager to distribute their unique home brew to a wider audience.”

Belgian tradition While all beers brewed at Brouwerij Anders! are unique, all of them have one thing in common: they are beautifully balanced and brewed with respect for the Belgian tradition. This is partly due to the background of production manager Pieter de Bock, who previously worked for Affligem, a well-known Belgian beer brand that produces different kinds of beers. Volders: “He knows exactly how to create a gorgeous beer. A few of those have even been nominated for an international beer award.” Which ones? That is a company secret. “But I

am sure you’ve heard of them!” Volders adds with a smile. A characteristic of popular traditional Belgian beers is its sourish taste. The popularity of these beers is on the rise again, and at Brouwerij Anders! the first,

Discover Benelux | Belgian Beer Guide 2016 | Top Breweries

smaller, production hall can be used to brew these in the future. It is still a niche market though, especially attractive for Belgian beer lovers. “We have a more traditional taste in beer than for instance Americans and the Dutch. They’re more accustomed to beers containing nontraditional ingredients, we’ve used amongst others quince juice and sichuan pepper in some recipes. Nothing like this is off limits for Brouwerij Anders! though. It is quite the contrary,” says Volders: “You name it, we brew it!”

Volders says. “Our clients hail from the UK, the US, Scandinavia, France, India, Asia and Spain amongst others. And some of them have successful and rapidly growing beer brands.”

Gap in the market

That is why the Brouwerij Anders! recently expanded with a new production hall. This new hall will have a capacity of 100,000 hectolitres of beer per year, though they aim to produce only 40,000 in 2016. “Our goal is to steadily grow to this maximum capacity,” Volders explains. To meet the large demand, the factory is in operation 24/7. “This allows us to be flexible too, and quickly respond to a brewing request.”

The concept has proven to fill a gap in the market: starting out in 2012, the then small team was aiming for a slow but steady growth over several years. But within three years, they reached the maximum capacity of the brewery. “There’s an increasing demand from all over the world for specialty beers,”

Brewing a lot of different beers for a lot of different clients, comes of course with a huge responsibility regarding hygiene, a perfect quality, quantity and timely delivered beers. Brouwerij Anders! has got it all covered. “We use new bottles only, our quality manager is on top of his game and

Pieter tastes each batch before we send it to our client, to make sure it meets the specified criteria.” Within the four years of its existence, Brouwerij Anders! has produced many brews. Volders: “Beautiful beers which would otherwise not have seen the light of day, now have a chance to tingle taste buds of beer lovers all over the world.”

Issue 27 | March 2016 | 41

Discover Benelux | Belgian Beer Guide 2016 | Top Breweries

Artisanal, young and small, but worldly and modern TEXT: BERTHE VAN DEN HURK | PHOTOS: BELGOO BEER

It does not have the hundreds of years of history as some brewers have. In fact, it all started as a hobby. Yet the Belgian Belgoo Brewery, founded in 2007, has grown into an international company, with awardwinning beers. “We are artisanal, young and small, but we have modern equipment and a love for creating great Belgian beer,” says Jo Van Aert, founder of Belgoo. “Based on a mix of different grains such as barley, wheat, spelt and oats, and several richly infused world hops, we brew six different well-balanced Belgoo beers, each with its own character.” The six brews are all bottle fermented and unfiltered to retain a maximum flavour for a longer period. 42 | Issue 27 | March 2016

Belgoo Saisonneke Blonde Saison beer with a pleasant bitterness and only 4.4 per cent alcohol. Richly dry hopped with European hops. It is brewed with two different types of grain: barley and wheat.

Belgoo Magus Blonde cloudy ale brewed with a unique combination of barley, wheat, spelt, oats and a fruity yeast. Hopped with fine saaz and spalt hops for both bitterness and aroma.

Belgoo Luppoo Dry hopped ale brewed with barley and oats and a delicate blend of five dif-

ferent hops. It has a fresh citrus aroma, thanks to the dry hopping with exotic New Zealand hops.

Belgoo Arboo Strong blonde dry hopped ale, brewed with a fragrant selection of four different types of hops and three different grains: barley, wheat and spelt.

Belgoo Bio Blond and Belgoo Bio Amber Organic ales brewed with a distinctinve mix of three different grains: barley, wheat and spelt. The Bio Blond has citrus aroma and Bio Amber has a fruity, hoppy character.

Discover Benelux | Belgian Beer Guide 2016 | Top Breweries


The beer’s name, La Corne du Bois des Pendus, translates as ‘the horn-shaped forest of the hangmen’. The brewery has an unusual history behind its name: it comes from an Ardennes legend dating back to 1636, when an extraordinary brewer named Cornelius managed to bury his secret recipe. The real hornshaped forest still exists next to Ebly, in Belgium, where the company headquarters of La Corne du Bois des Pendus are located.

Founded in 2010 by Gaëtan Patin, Belgian brewery La Corne du Bois des Pendus is the only one in the world to serve its three beers, the Black, the Blonde and the Triple, in a horn-shaped glass. Christelle Vincent, head of communications, notes that “the glass is part of a unique concept”.

Besides taking part in internationally renowned brewing events, the brewery has its own annual celebration, Les Corneries, in midAugust. This year it will take place on 12 and 13 August, and includes free tastings, concerts, contests and lunch. The ethos behind the brewery is to maintain high-quality brews with no sugar or added herbs, and to use local ingredients. The brand has indeed been a great success: last year 28

per cent of its sales were exports, across Europe as well as to Asia. In the future, Vincent says that the brewery plans to continue its expansion globally. Vincent concludes: “Glory to La Corne, to Cornelius, and to all hangmen of the forest. Cheers without mercy!”

Zuylen Castle. Postcard: NKS collection

Doorwerth Castle. Photo: Peter van der Wielen.


Magnificent castles and country houses in the Benelux This month we present to you a splendid theme on castles, estates and country houses in the Benelux. With a special focus on those located in the Netherlands, we asked the Dutch Castle Foundation to tell us more about this often overlooked part of Dutch cultural heritage. TEXT: THE DUTCH CASTLE FOUNDATION

Rosendael Castle. Photo: Kasteel Rosendael.

Discover Benelux | Castles & Estates | Introduction

Although the Netherlands is not famous for its castles and country houses, hundreds of these historical buildings still exist. They range from impressive medieval strongholds such as De Haar Castle near Utrecht, to small tower houses including the Schierstins in the north of the country. In the Dutch Golden Age, the 17th century, vessels from Amsterdam plied the oceans and enormous wealth was accumulated. The rich burghers of the cities in Holland built extensive country houses along the river Vecht and in the newly formed polders. These houses were surrounded by gardens laid out according to the latest fashions. Exotic trees, shrubs and fruits from all over the world were grown. A niece of the famous Dutch poet Vondel grew the first pineapple in Holland in 1694. Castles and country houses are an important part of Dutch history and many have been restored to their former glory. Muiderslot, near Amsterdam, houses a historical museum, as does the castle of Loevestein, where the internationally renowned 17th-century lawyer Hugo de Groot was incarcerated. Zuylen Castle, near Utrecht, was the childhood home of Belle van Zuylen, the ‘Dutch Jane Austen’, who wrote critical novels about her own social class, the aristocracy. The house is still historically furnished with many period pieces, including portraits of Belle and her family.

soldiers. Others were confiscated by the government. Instituted in 1945, the Dutch Castle Foundation (NKS) promotes the conservation of these historic buildings. Now, 70 years later, it is still active to preserve this part of Dutch heritage.

THE DUTCH CASTLE FOUNDATION: The Dutch Castle Foundation (NKS, Kenniscentrum voor Kasteel en Buitenplaats) publishes books and a magazine about castles and country houses and institutes new research in this field. On Whit Monday (16 May) it organises the National Castle and Country House Day, when around 100 castles open their doors to visitors.

Muiderslot. Photo: Mike Bink.

By informing the public and policy makers, the foundation tries to preserve this heritage and make it possible to experience the past first hand. Visit the website for more information on its work and possibilities for visiting castles and country houses in the Netherlands.

De Haar Castle. Photo: Doriann Kransberg.

Along the outskirts of the Veluwe, famous hunting grounds for the Dutch aristocracy and many 19th-century lordly residences can still be found. Doorwerth Castle houses the National Hunting Museum and is beautifully situated between the slowly gliding river Rhine and the wooded hills of the Veluwe. Not far are famous castles such as Biljoen and Rosendael, where the Princes of Orange, forefathers of the Dutch King Willem-Alexander, often came to hunt and feast. In the Second World War many Dutch castles and country estates were damaged by bombardments or by housing

Villa Welgelegen in Haarlem. Photo: Albert Speelman.

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Discover Benelux | Castles & Estates | Historical Heritage in the Netherlands


Heeswijk Castle fascinates its visitors with its 1,000-year-old history, including its crucial role in the medieval history of the Netherlands. The castle, close to Den Bosch, was originally built in the 11th century and it was restored in 2005. Give yourself some time to explore this authentic castle and manor in the heart of Brabant. Sometimes romantic, sometimes sinister, Heeswijk Castle evokes a palpable sense of both melancholy and wonder. Luc Eekhout, the museum’s director, says: “We like our visitors to interact while visiting the castle. We are offering guided tours but everyone is also welcome to download a guide app from our website. Also we are providing our visitors with 46 | Issue 27 | March 2016

tablets which they can use while exploring Heeswijk Castle.” Furthermore, he notes that on most Sundays the castle offers a so-called reenactment, a living history camp demonstrating medieval life. The castle does its best to provide a variety of events throughout the year, including exhibitions and concerts. Heeswijk Castle brings the past to life, with a visceral reminder that battles, quests and chivalry are not the exclusive province of fantasy novels. For many, marrying in a castle satisfies a childhood dream of being a princess for a day. Eekhout says: “We have a designated hall in which we are licensed to conduct wedding ceremonies on site

and couples can book the castle exclusively, meaning that you have the whole place to yourselves for the duration of your stay.” This could really make one feel like a king and queen. The castle and its surrounding gardens are also available on an exclusive usage basis for special events with stunning views across the landscape. Entry to Heeswijk Castle is ten euros, children up to the age of 12 are welcome for six euros. Go medieval on your next trip to Holland and visit Heeswijk Castle, where ancient history is alive and well.

Discover Benelux | Castles & Estates | Historical Heritage in the Netherlands


Entering the Menkemaborg is like being transported to the 18th century when the estate was inhabited by the wealthy Alberda van Menkema family. The table is laid with beautiful china and silverware as if the former owners are about to be seated for dinner.

the original garden design, they include a topiary garden, fruit court and kitchen garden, a rose tunnel, a giant hornbeam labyrinth and a sundial garden. “Symmetrical, geometrical shapes were very much in fashion in those days, everything had to be tightly trimmed, to an almost unnatural extent,” she adds.

Located in Uithuizen, in the province of Groningen, the moated castle was originally built in the 14th century, but was rigorously transformed in the early 1700s. Directorcurator Ida Stamhuis says: “The Alberdas made the house completely symmetrical. They constructed a new front with a central main entrance, added impressive carved, oak chimney-pieces and bought two luxurious baroque beds with Chinese silk draping. The chimney-pieces all remain, as well as one of the beds.”

The Menkemaborg has information leaflets available in six languages, as well as an audio play in Dutch, English and German to guide you through the castle. This spring, there will be a special focus on 18th century silverware under the name Glans uit Groningen (Glimmer from Groningen).

During a visit you should not miss a stroll through the baroque gardens. Recreated from

“And don’t forget, we have a fantastic caférestaurant in the estate’s former farmhouse, with a beautiful terrace overlooking the castle,” Stamhuis concludes.

A multifaceted castle, assembly hall and museum TEXT: MYRIAM GWYNNED DIJCK | PHOTOS: NATIONAL ORGAN MUSEUM

In 1392 the Duke of Gelre decreed to turn the old settlement of Elburg into a brand new, fortified city. The new city, with an almost perfectly straight street grid, was finished within four years, complete with a moat, stone walls, and an inner city castle. The castle stands at the heart of the picturesque city, which has hardly changed since the Middle Ages. Originally built as a private mansion, the castle is also known as the Arent thoe Boecop House, after the steward who oversaw Elburg’s construction. By 1400 it was sold to the city, who used it as an assembly hall until the 1950s. Eelco Elzenga, curator of the National Organ Museum that is housed in Elburg Castle, says: “You can see clues of its use throughout the complex. For example, a vaulted room with barred windows was added, which served as the city treasury. And on the first floor was the

assembly hall, the most beautiful room; it has an impressive chimney-piece, decorated with coats of arms and Lady Justice.” Visitors to the Arent thoe Boecop House learn about the castle’s 600-year history and the evolution of pipe organs. Elzenga adds: “The cellars are presented as organ builders’ workplaces, there is a special modern organ in the adjacent building and many of those on display can be played.” At an hour’s drive from Amsterdam, Elburg makes for a perfect historic day trip. The castle, open on Tuesdays to Saturdays, can be visited with entry to the National Organ Museum. Every second Saturday of the month, it also hosts an afternoon concert in the complex’s 16th century former prison. Issue 27 | March 2016 | 47


The past and present collide at the stunning Royal Palace Amsterdam. It is one of the most famous historical buildings in the Netherlands and still in use today by the Dutch Royal Family. When the King and Queen are not entertaining guests here, the palace is open to the public allowing visitors to literally walk in their footsteps The Royal Palace Amsterdam, located in the heart of the city, is the only palace in

the Netherlands that is both in active use and available for the public to visit. The imposing 17th century building is certainly a sight to behold, and it is an important witness in the story of the Netherlands as a nation. To this day, history is still being written at the Royal Palace Amsterdam. Significant events take place throughout the year and people can see where this happens, which makes a visit extra special. The beds on display are still regularly being slept in and the tables are dined at by important guests from around the world. Apart from hosting state visits, awards ceremonies and royal weddings, the palace was also used during King WillemAlexander’s inauguration as the Dutch head of state in 2013. The palace normally reopens to the public the day after an event has taken place and, thanks to this, it is open the majority of the time, about 60 per cent of the year.

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Steeped in history The palace, also known as the Palace on Dam Square, was originally the grand Town Hall built in the Dutch Classicist style. It was completed in the mid-17th century when Amsterdam enjoyed a time of great prosperity during the Dutch Golden Age. For a long time, it was the largest administrative building in Europe and, thanks to its splendour, it also became a contender as the Eighth Wonder of the World. While the outside of the palace has a relatively sober character, the inside is highly decorated. One of its most dramatic rooms is the Burgerzaal, or Citizens’ Hall. The impressive hall was initially used as a public square. The ceiling is almost 28 metres high and its large Atlas sculpture looms at the back, overlooking the intricate marble floors. Entering the palace is like walking into history with art and objects from three different ages. First there is the original

Discover Benelux | Castles & Estates | Historical Heritage in the Netherlands

collection of stunning 17th century paintings and sculptures, designed by the building’s architect Jacob van Campen. Secondly, there is the furniture, clocks and chandeliers collection amassed by Louis Bonaparte (brother of Napoleon) when he ruled as King of Holland. In 1808, he converted the building into a Royal Palace and much of the interior still dates from those years. In fact, the Empire Collection is one of the most complete and best preserved furniture collections of its kind. Lastly, there are the paintings of the Royal Collection dating from the 17th century onwards. It includes many portraits of the ancestors of the Royal Family.

A dynasty of portraits Dozens of scions of the House of Orange-Nassau look down from the walls of the Royal Palace Amsterdam. This year there will be a special focus on these stately paintings during Dynasty, the House of Orange-Nassau portrayed. The earliest is a portrait of Anna van Egmond, first wife of William of Orange (William the Silent) from the 1550s. The latest addition celebrates the investiture of King Willem-Alexander and Queen Máxima in 2013. These portraits from the Royal Collections present members of the Orange dynasty down the centuries, from equestrian portraits and official state portraits to family and children’s portraits. The House of Orange-Nassau commissioned the paintings to increase its visibility and boost its reputation. They are

not spontaneous snapshots, but carefully considered depictions full of symbolism, belonging to the long tradition of royal portraiture. For example, the life-size, 2.5 by three-metre group portrait of the children of stadtholder William V by Johann Friedrich August Tischbein. At first glance, it appears to be a casual scene of three teenagers, but tucked in the corner hides a stone bust of William the Silent, the founding father of the House of Orange-Nassau. His presence highlights the children’s dynasty and their status as heirs. The exhibition and accompanying catalogue highlight the various portrait genres displayed at the Royal Palace and examine the function and the related representative and symbolic qualities of royal portraits. VISIT THE ROYAL PALACE AMSTERDAM: The exhibition, Dynasty, the House of Orange-Nassau portrayed, runs from 2 July to 25 September. Entrance to the palace includes a free audio guide available in eight different languages. For children, there are two special discovery audio tours. Before your visit please go to the website to make sure the palace is open to the public that day.

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Discover Benelux | Castles & Estates | Historical Heritage in the Netherlands

An extraordinary homecoming in Twente TEXT: MYRIAM GWYNNED DIJCK | PHOTOS: DE WILMERSBERG

It is among the Netherlands’ most beautiful locations. Surrounded by rolling hills, green pastures and leafy forests lies estate hotel De Wilmersberg. Situated in the heart of the Overijssel province, it is the ideal spot to pamper and unwind. “The outdoor seating area has been awarded ‘best terrace of Overijssel’ several times. This combined with the tranquillity, high quality and personal service of the hotel, makes people want to return time and time again,” says Githa van Vilsteren who has been running the hotel together with her husband Boudewijn since 2010. Paramount at De Wilmersberg is ‘noaberschap’; the local expression for taking care of each other. “In Twente, hospitality is in people’s DNA,” she explains. “At De Wilmersberg, personal service is one of our main priorities. Here you can enjoy a full experience; the 50 | Issue 27 | March 2016

outdoor life, a good glass of wine in a cosy lounge, delicious dinners on the terrace and pamper treatments for face and body.” Currently owned by Ferdinand Fransen, the 14-hectare estate used to belong to local textile family Blijdenstein who had a villa built in the 1920s. Over the years it has been turned into a luxurious hotel complex with a restaurant and wellness centre. Also popular are the gardens, with a vineyard, pétanque lane, two tennis courts, herb garden and children’s trampoline. At the estate restaurant, head chef Ronald Bor prepares delicious meals. “His style is unpretentious and far better than ‘good’. He enjoys the seasons and loves using local products and often collects herbs from his own garden,” Githa says. One of their specialities is called ‘Sneup en Snaaijerie’, a collection of tapas-inspired dishes with a twist of Twente, perfect as an alternative to a full culinary dinner.

A stay at De Wilmersberg includes free use of the indoor swimming pool, sauna, Turkish bath, whirlpool and tennis courts. Complementary bathrobes are provided in the rooms. For an extra relaxing stay, book a spa and beauty treatment or discover the stunning surroundings by hiring a (electric) bicycle. De Wilmersberg also prides itself on its commitment to the future, and received the Green Key Gold sustainability certificate in 2013. DE WILMERSBERG’S SPECIAL SPRING VIP PACKAGE: - Two nights’ stay in a Royal Estate Room - An extensive country breakfast on both mornings - A delicious three-course dinner on the first night From 152,50 euros per person.

Discover Benelux | Castles & Estates | Historical Heritage in Belgium

Photo: P. van Gelooven

Photo: J. van der Vaart

Photo: H. Timmerman

History, nature and culture, Alden Biesen has it all TEXT: BERTHE VAN DEN HURK | ALDEN BIESEN - P. PREMEREUR

Alden Biesen, in Belgium, is one of the largest castle areas in Europe. It is a brilliant heritage site, with an international cultural and congress centre. The beautiful natural surroundings are a true tourist attraction. In short, Alden Biesen in Bilzen as it all. The castle complex is part of the Department of Culture of the Flemish Government. The history of Alden Biesen goes back to the crusades in the 13th century. The German Order of the Teutonic Knights founded the Grand Commandery in 1220. Alden Biesen was the head of a province of the bailiwick of the Teutonic Order. For centuries, the commanders lived at the castle, powerful men who stood at the head of the bailiwick of Biesen. Hence the name: Grand Commandery Alden Biesen.

Nowadays, the castle provides many different activities for everyone’s taste. Managing director Lies Kerkhofs: “A large part of the estate is free to visit for a walk through the wonderful and unique surroundings. When someone is staying at the nearby cities like Hasselt, Liège and even the Dutch city of Maastricht or the German Aachen, it is just a short ride to Alden Biesen. The diversity of activities ensures that there is something fun to do for everyone. Nature or culture lovers can enjoy their stay here, but also people who love history will find something to their liking.” There are many activities with an international character including art exhibitions, the International Storytelling Festival, Fleuramour, the Scottish weekend, organ recitals, summer operas or the famous shows with Arab thoroughbred horses.

They are not aiming for a specific audience, and certainly no one will be bored here. Kerkhofs: “Many of our activities are very popular, so it is wise to purchase or reserve tickets in advance.” Alden Biesen is also an inspiring setting for meetings, training courses or conferences with catering and overnight stay possibilities. Multilingual guides can tell all about the estate and the surroundings. There are even hiking routes suitable for families with small children and people with disabilities, but there are also opportunities to rent a golf cart or an electric bicycle. All routes can be obtained at the reception, where you can also find all other information needed. All in all, no one has an excuse not to visit Alden Biesen. Issue 27 | March 2016 | 51

Discover Benelux | Castles & Estates | Historical Heritage in Belgium

The ‘disaster’ that turned into a fairy tale TEXT: CATHY VAN KLAVEREN | PHOTOS: LUC VAN MUYLEM

What quests and wars, but also joy and art, these walls have seen. Established as a stronghold that could defend itself against enemies in the 1240s, Gaasbeek Castle has maintained the style of its last famous resident: Marquise Marie Arconati Visconti. She left the castle to the Belgian state, under one important condition: to show the public its history. Since Marie’s death in 1923, the castle has exposed not only its noble interior, but also the exterior. The property has a park that is one of the biggest in Belgium. Director Luc Vanackere, enthusiastic by heart and inspiring when you hear him speak, can give a lively and accurate description. “It has been the site of many fights; complete walls have been torn down and were never rebuilt again. Maybe they thought the panorama was too beautiful to close off,” Vanackere says. Although the castle is a big part of Belgian history, the name of Marie lets on 52 | Issue 27 | March 2016

there were some Italian influences. She married Giammartino Arconati Visconti, whose family was aristocratic. Their marriage was frowned upon by his parents. Marie was the daughter of a journalist and, above all, she was a liberal woman. Vanackere: “A disaster at that time.” It did not turn out to be so. Because Giammartino died three years after they got married, Marie inherited a great deal of his fortune. With these funds, she continued to collect art that later appeared in the Louvre among other locations, restored the castle and made it the romantic fairy tale setting it is today. “Nowadays we try to combine the old with the new. We don’t want to only tell history and send people on their way, but we actively think of ways how we can include modern art,” he says. “We like to trigger the public, to make them think about how life has evolved, and about the meaning of the past for the present. We use music. Very few muse-

ums do this in an active way. It’s like a real life symphony you can walk through, sniffing the memories from former centuries that cling to these walls. Everything needs to add up. I’ve had people tell me that their visit was a life-altering experience, because we offer so much more than just the castle,” Vanackere explains. Gaasbeek Castle closes every year from November until Easter.

Discover Benelux | Castles & Estates | Historical Heritage in Belgium


At the Château Sainte-Anne, members can partake in cultural and business activities, network and exchange ideas, test one another’s tennis skills, swim, or just enjoy fine food and wine in a marvellous environment.

International Club Château Sainte-Anne’. Valérie Stroobants, its director, says: “Our mission is to improve the cultural and personal relationships between Belgians and the international community leaders living in Belgium.”

On the south-eastern edge of Brussels, cosseted in its own leafy parkland, sits the lovely Château Sainte-Anne. The château was constructed as an aristocratic country residence, and inside and out it retains an air of effortless elegance. But for more than half a century it has filled a more dynamic role: this is now the home of the Royal International Club Château Sainte-Anne.

She is keen to stress, however, that it is very much a family affair, with the children of members particularly enjoying the excellent tennis facilities and, during the warmer months, the wonderful outdoor swimming pool. But central to the philosophy of the nowadays autonomous club is something more cerebral: “We arrange a full schedule of lunchtime and evening events – lectures, presentations, and conferences – for our members; plus many other cultural activities like music, theatre, fashion...”

In the early ‘60s, a group of Belgian and European leaders agreed that Brussels needed a first-rate place for socialising and positive integration of the Belgian community. In 1961, an association was formed, which was later renamed ‘Royal

As the name implies, the club’s membership includes men and women from a wide list of countries, and it is always looking

to welcome new ones. The mix of Belgian and international members facilitates professional and personal contacts, but also enriches their intellectual lives through the exchange of ideas and experiences. As ever, some of that exchange will be over fine food: “We have a superb team who look after all our catering, year round in the château itself, and during the summer months at the pool house,” says Stroobants: “They provide options from one course for diners in a hurry up to a full menu for those with time to enjoy a gourmet experience.” Naturally, such a clientele expects luxurious (and private) surroundings, and from the pampered lawns and manicured hedges of the grounds via the stylish terrace into the discreetly comfortable salons within, their expectations are met, as Stroobants concludes: “It’s a little corner of paradise.” Issue 27 | March 2016 | 53

Discover Benelux | Castles & Estates | Historical Heritage in Belgium


Located in a region world famous for its beer, Château de Chimay is a historical monument unique in its kind and a must-see on a visit to the Belgian countryside. Estimated to be over a thousand years old, it is one of the few still inhabited by its owners. Let the visit begin! Opening to the general public shortly after the Second World War, Château de Chimay started welcoming music aficionados to its festivals and cultural events from 1958 onwards. “At the time, there were only three events in the region people would go to, and my father wanted to share his love for music in his own home,” 54 | Issue 27 | March 2016

says current owner, Prince Philippe de Chimay. “Our castle is very orientated towards music, given one of its peculiarities: having its own theatre!” Seating 130 guests, the theatre was entirely rebuilt in 1863 and since then has been renovated and upgraded in a constant effort to keep it authentic yet modern. Welcoming up to 25,000 visitors in the recent years, every possible effort has been made to keep the castle at the highest standards.

A family story “I feel that what is most interesting about the castle is the fact that we live here, it

is a family-run castle and our visitors get a sense of that when they come to visit us. My mother use to lead the visits for 40 years but when she turned 90 we needed to find an alternative to classic guiding…” With the help of an interactive design company, they recorded her for two years and created an interactive visit on a tablet that takes the visitor at their own pace through the different areas of the castle. Children will see a small knight accompanying them on screen inviting them to play different games. Visitors might feel a shiver when hearing about the story of recurring visiting ghosts to

Discover Benelux | Castles & Estates | Historical Heritage in Belgium

the Castle of Chimay, of whom the family says that they can “hear them at night from time to time..” Families have succeeded each other throughout the castle’s most tormented times, surviving wars, political upheavals, looting and fires. “We are located in a militarily strategic location crossing the Eau Blanche river at the border with France, so the castle has had its fair share of attacks and attempted occupations,” explains the prince. In total, nine families have passed the castle and its land from one generation to another, most notably the Soissons, the Hainauts, the Croÿs, the d’Arenbergs and, of course, the Chimays. Beyond the political intrigues and anecdotes covered during the tour, visitors will hear about a small miracle: the fact that the castle is still standing today after being burned down seven times. “The last time was in 1935 when a crow decided to put up his nest in the chimney and triggered a fire that burned all the upper part of the castle,” explains Philippe de Chimay.

Chimay and its surroundings As a great way to end your day and conclude your tour of the castle, visitors can sit on one of the terraces on the main square to delight themselves with the world-famous Chimay beer while looking at people passing by. “Chimay is a beautifully green area that is appreciated for its quietness and its access to nature. Not too far from us is the Lake of Virelles and a centre of ornithology exhibiting bird behaviours filmed in real-time,” the prince of Chimay tells us. All in all, both the castle and its surrounding area are worth a detour for a family outing or a romantic trip. In case you fall in love with it, events can be organised at the castle itself when requested.

Photo: Céline Lambiotte

Honouring art and culture The castle also has its own Maison des Artistes, where it carries out regular workshops for art and culture enthusiasts of all ages, with monthly sessions on the history of painting and drawing. On top of this, the castle hosts regular exhibitions highlighting works by contemporary, and often local, artists. The castle also organises monthly concerts in its theatre and runs a wide range of events throughout the year, adapted to the season. “As a general rule we try to bring instrumental events along with singing and work mostly with Belgian artists and orchestras,” says Anne Pingen, responsible for organising the musical events. And, of course, visitors get the opportunity to be delighted by the young and talented chef Loïc Pierard from the kitchen LO’riginal. With authenticity and modernity, combining recipes from the past with trendy ones, let him surprise you with regional delicacies in an intimate and elegant atmosphere at the castle. Issue 27 | March 2016 | 55

Domaine de Graux is a splendid events venue for business and leisure. It is located on the Rue de Graux near Tournai in Belgium.


In beautiful countryside a few miles from Tournai stands the Domaine de Graux, a farm-chateau half a millennium old, both changeless and changing. After all that time it is still a growing business – its land yielding crops; its buildings and gardens welcoming corporate and family gatherings.

verdant pastures for their flocks; fruit and firewood from woods and orchards; crops from the rolling fields. The current owner maintains that agricultural heritage – but has added some contemporary elements to the productive mix, hosting business events in the domain’s stunning grounds and buildings.

When the Domaine de Graux was established in 1492 its masters would have used its natural riches to the maximum:

“A place like this would have offered hospitality to friends and family throughout its history,” says general manager Henri

56 | Issue 27 | March 2016

Bolsius, “But our guests today are rather more numerous – our facilities can easily take up to 1,000 people over a day’s event.”

Room to breathe “The second benefit of such surroundings is they give people room to breathe, to feel at one with nature again – you can see how business people relax and open up when they’re in this environment,” he says.

Discover Benelux | Castles & Estates | Historical Heritage in Belgium

Ancient and modern Behind the weathered stone of what would have been the manor’s stables and stores lie flexible spaces that can be transformed to accommodate everything from product launches – Volvo cars were one recent client – to fashion shows, and of course business conferences, team-building gatherings, and corporate hospitality events. The charm of the place has been retained, evidence of which are the fabulous beams in one of the conference rooms, while the latest presentation and IT equipment has been added along with stylish modern decor and 21st century comforts. The buildings and their beautiful gardens offer fine settings for the meals created by the high-quality traiteurs who provide the catering service at Domaine de Graux. “We offer superb ‘bio’ – that’s to say organic – food. That organic aspect is very important to the owner’s philosophy. Our chefs create top-quality, imaginative and interesting organic dishes, whether it’s for a formal meal indoors or an outdoor buffet.”

A family affair The domain’s 15th century founders would struggle to understand what was going on at one of the high-profile product launches that the team of Domaine de Graux facilitate for their clients. But they would recognise instantly the joyous family affairs that take place in and around the old manor.

“Five hundred years of history and hospitality add something intangible to the atmosphere of a wedding celebration or a big anniversary party,” says Bolsius: “It’s beyond the practicalities, however important they are. Yes we have great parking, our food is excellent, and it’s a very professional service. But there’s a special feeling to the place as well that comes from half a millennium of human habitation.” Perhaps we find comfort in the implied security of the manor’s moat, and the permanence of such solid stone structures.

Photography in a photogenic setting There is a third and fascinatingly artistic part to the Domaine de Graux’s current life. “We hold an exhibition here every year dedicated to a specific photographer. In 2015 it was Marc Lagrange, in 2016 we’re showcasing the work of photographer Thierry Dubrunfaut.” Dubrunfaut is a fitting choice, as he was born in nearby Tournai, though given his stature it is not unreasonable to expect exhibition visitors from Brussels or Bruges, just an hour away by car, or maybe even Paris, where the photographer is now based. “He had a 30-year career in advertising and fashion photography, but for the last ten years or so he has devot-

ed his skills to art photography, though within that he works in a wide variety of fields.” Dubrunfaut is known now for his artistic images of industrial sites, his lens capturing the architectural forms or the visual surrealism of steel and glass, of engineered technology; but his work embraces other strands, among them the nude and street scenes – his camera giving a voice to the voiceless. It is extraordinary that an ancient farmchateau could host such a range of events, but the elegant simplicity of its buildings and their natural surroundings offer not a neutral canvas, but a living space. THIERRY DUBRUNFAUT EXHIBITION By invitation launch event 10 March Open to the public 11 March to 10 April Times: Mondays and Fridays 2pm-6pm, Saturdays and Sundays 11am -6pm

DOMAINE DE GRAUX IN NUMBERS - 120 hectares of fields - 3 linked reception rooms (2x 200 square metres, 1x 100 square metres) - Conference capacity: up to 250 people - Product launch/expo capacity: 500 people - Exterior event capacity up to 750 participants - Catering for 280 seated indoors, or 500 ‘walking diners’ indoors and outdoors - Parking for 230 vehicles

Issue 27 | March 2016 | 57

Discover Benelux | Castles & Estates | Historical Heritage in Belgium


The magnificent Château de Beloeil, known as the ‘little Versailles of the North’, is located in the Belgian province of Hainaut. Its gardens were designed by a student of André Le Nôtre, the French landscape architect and King Louis XIV’s gardener who designed the Versailles gardens. The château has been the residence of the Belgian Princes de Ligne since the 14th century and Michel, the 14th Prince de Ligne, continues to reside here. The current château evolved from a mansion, to a fortress, and finally to a country house. It lies in an impressive 25-hectare park, which includes a number of beautiful lakes as well as sculptured gardens with geometric designs and symbols. His Highness the Prince de Ligne says he especially appreciates the “beauty, the peace and the quietness” to be found in Beloeil. 58 | Issue 27 | March 2016

The French-style gardens maintain their original design of 1664. They are ideal for hosting festivals and high-profile events, including garden parties, sporting events, firework displays or maiden helicopter flights. One of the key events at the château is Les Musicales de Beloeil, a large classical music festival. Around 15,000 people attend and walk around the beautiful gardens whilst enjoying performances on various stages. This year it takes place on Saturday 6 August.

In addition to the striking gardens, the château houses a superb art collection, with paintings from the 15th to the 19th century. The castle also has a library of 20,000 books. Beloeil’s richly furnished drawing rooms can also be hired out for events, with space for up to 100 people. The rooms encompass a library, a conference room and a chapel; conferences, gala dinners, receptions or theatrical performances can all be held in this unique setting.

Another special event is the amaryllis festival. It takes place in collaboration with the Keukenhof, one of the world’s largest flower gardens located in Holland. Flower producers deliver 10,000 stunning amaryllis, including intricate bouquets. The most beautiful and original bouquets receive prizes. The festival will be held from Saturday 26 March to Sunday 3 April (open every day from 10am till 6pm).

The château is open on weekends and the bank holidays in April, May, June and September, from 1pm till 6pm. In July and August, it is open daily from 1pm till 6pm. Guided tours (for groups) encompassing a detailed family history are available in English, French, Dutch and German.

Discover Benelux | Castles & Estates | Historical Heritage in Belgium


Standing tall on a rocky platform next to the picturesque village of Celles, in the province of Namur, lies the Château of Vêves. Also known as the Castle of Sleeping Beauty, given its unique fairy tale look, it is a fascinating stop for visitors of all ages. One of the peculiarities of the Château of Vêves is the fact that it has belonged to the same family for over 800 years, a feat hard to beat. The Liedekerke Beaufort family took quarters in this stunning complex, recognisable by its six pointy towers, and still lives there today.

the castle walls. On top of this, a treasure hunt can be organised without prior reservation during opening hours. A Night at the Castle is another favourite, where children will travel back in time and enjoy a medieval dinner before participating in a treasure hunt after dark… only to celebrate their achievements the next day over breakfast at the castle (all for 40 euros per child). With an eagerness to bring history and culture to life, the Château of Vêves’ team looks forward to welcoming you to the unique experience of visiting this magnificent and authentic castle. Doors will open for individual visits from 26 March to 6 November, otherwise opened the whole year round for school trips and groups.

With the possibility to wear medieval costumes for both adults and children free of charge, the day of your visit is bound to be unforgettable. You will be guided by friendly and knowledgeable guides who bring the history to life and make you feel at home within 2_0_3C_Online_Advert_half_page_Layout 2 07/05/2015 09:34 Page 1

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In 1972, Naturhome’s founder decided the most ancient of construction materials, wood, was the future for healthy buildings. Now, with more than 40 years’ experience, the company is a leading brand in its field. Since Naturhome’s first wooden house was completed in 1973, the company has built 800 more, mostly in their heartland of Luxembourg, Belgium and Northern France, with others in Spain (the first certified ‘passive house’ there), Germany, Britain and Italy. The team just finished a magnificent building in Switzerland for a celebrated architect, and have many exciting projects in the pipeline. How have they achieved this pre-eminence? “We see a close parallel with haute couture,” says co-director Olivier Louis. “We seek perfection in every detail, even unseen ones; it’s about mastery of the artisan skills beneath the beautiful; obsession with line, look, fit, materials...” The analogy also suits the company’s approach to projects, handling the ground60 | Issue 27 | March 2016

work through to the fine finish. In their workshops, Naturhome’s specialists, working with computer-controlled equipment, prepare all the elements their dedicated fitting team will assemble with infinite care on site. “Our managing director Pierre Solheid insists that what we create should always be, in his words, naturally exceptional,” says Louis. Images of the end product show that buildings are things of beauty, a result facilitated by the client or architect being able to discuss every aspect of their project with a single point of contact, Naturhome. “We handle everything from A to Z,” says Louis. “Which makes achieving a great aesthetic simpler – and less stressful!” The materials are natural, while the approach is highly technical. Louis offers, as illustration, one vital part of their method: “Our design team will produce a study focussed on ensuring the highest thermal and acoustic insulation performance, and detailing the heating and ventilation options suited to the design and materials. We bring more than 40 years of experience to that work.”

Louis feels the technical, artistic and natural combine to produce homes, something beyond architecture alone: “In the end our buildings become like downy nests for the families who live in them.”


ENVIRONMENTALLY HEALTHY CONSTRUCTION: - Avoidance of volatile organic compounds - Excellent sound insulation for peace and quiet - Carbon neutral or energy positive construction - Renewable resources - Sheathed cabling to minimise electro-magnetic fields

Discover Benelux | Business | Special Feature


Luxembourg has a rapidly growing private sector, and with it an increasing need for business consulting services. To meet this need, Private Consulting Luxembourg (PCL) helps a wide range of clients, from entrepreneurs to SMEs and large multinationals, to be more efficient and effective at doing business. Hélène Michel founded PCL in 2008, and was joined by former Goldman Sachs director Ivaylo Piskov two years ago. Combining their experience, PCL has intimate knowledge of the Luxembourg business environment. Michel: “We are often referred to as the ‘right hand of the CEO’ because we function as a natural extension to our clients’ management.”

The company offers reliable, transparent and cutting-edge consultancy services. It focusses on business success and reputation, while keeping their clients’ privacy a priority. Michel explains: “We first sit down with our clients to understand their goals, culture and values. Only then, when we feel we speak their language, do we start their projects.” When working on projects, PCL uses their unique ‘ABCDE’ approach: Audit, Brainstorm, Conclude, Do and Evaluate. While fully independent, the one-stop-shop consultancy firm boasts a well-established network of local and international partners, which helps PCL tackle even the most complex business procedures and transactions. Piskov adds: “We make it super easy for clients to understand and control the projects because they only have a single point of contact – us.” PCL has bundled several sets of its core services into transparent, ‘easy to deploy’ packages at affordable, fixed prices. This includes

‘Up & Running – the Entrepreneur Pack’, to help launch a business in Luxembourg; ‘2 Be Or Not 2 Be – the Visibility Pack’, for increasing local, regional and global visibility and ‘Get New Leads – the Business Development Pack’. Find out more on their website.

Your Partner in Anglo Dutch Business The Netherlands British Chamber of Commerce (NBCC) is the only bilateral non-profit membership organisation solely dedicated to promoting Anglo-Dutch trade and investment. From our start in 1891, we helped thousands of companies and entrepreneurs expanding their business abroad. The Netherlands-British Chamber of Commerce, 125 years experience in Anglo-Dutch trade and investment promotion. Contact us now for: • Access to interesting network events • Participation in NBCC events and working groups • Exclusive access to our intranet membership area • Up to date economic information and market sector intelligence • Market research • Partner searches • Company formation • Virtual office services • Sales support NL Tel.: 070-205 5656 UK Tel.: 03333-440 779 Email: Or visit:

Discover Benelux | Business | Columns


Research shows Luxembourgians prefer shopping online – or does it?


The headline in the Luxemburger Wort was confident and clear: eight in ten Luxembourg residents prefer virtual shopping to physical shopping. But the further I read, the less clear and confident I felt. For one thing, it turns out that the survey, by TNS ILRES, actually measured the number of people who buy online at all, not those who prefer to buy online. Were they clicking away happily, indifferently, or under duress (say, because local shops didn’t stock something they needed)? There’s no way to tell. But anyway, we know that eight in ten people in Luxembourg shop online at least a little, right? Nope, that’s not quite true either. It’s eight of ten who have internet access. And even that isn’t the whole story. Plenty of

children have access to the internet. Are fiveyear-olds ordering up a storm? Possibly, but the youngest age mentioned is 16. So again, we don’t know. I don’t mean to pick on this one article. It’s merely one example of a very common problem: over-interpretation of data. We all know that “what gets measured gets managed”, but in our zeal to come up with measurements, we tend to jump ahead of what the data actually says, often to the point where we’ve not only exaggerated but basically made things up. This is why I’m a data sceptic. I’ve got nothing at all against data. But I’ve learned that almost anytime you see a number, you need to look carefully at what was actually measured and how. In particular, I find, you need to

Conspiracy theory at work Are you an introvert or an extrovert? And what about the people in your team? These questions are important because introverts and extroverts communicate and build relationships in different ways. A lack of awareness of the different lenses, through which these types view the world, can be damaging and will reduce productivity. My conspiracy theory is that most meetings are run by extroverts for extroverts. Apart from enjoying the company of others, extroverts like to think aloud and bounce ideas off other people, which is why they enjoy meetings more than their quieter colleagues. Some think that people who don’t say much in meetings don’t have anything to say. In fact, introverts often keep quiet because they don’t get a chance to open their mouths. Introverts like to have time to think. They prefer taking turns rather than interrupting. They tend not to compete for attention and give up trying to make a point if they think no-one is listening. 62 | Issue 27 | March 2016

ask what it doesn’t mean – or doesn’t necessarily mean – if only to see how much over-i nterpretation may lurk within the meanings that are being claimed. Over-interpretations may be innocent or they may be done to manipulate or deceive. I’m quite ready to believe that the Wort article was innocent. But it doesn’t really matter. Either way, the data means what it means, and doesn’t mean what it doesn’t mean. And that’s the only part that’s true 100 per cent of the time.

Josiah Fisk is the head of More Carrot LLC, a clear communications company with offices in Boston and Luxembourg.


Good chairing can go far in making the balance of contributions more even, but making extroverts more aware of these differences in communication style is helpful too. I like to run team development courses after participants have done psychometric tests, which includes giving a score indicating the extent of their introversion or extroversion at work. With bigger groups, I line them up in order from most introverted to most extroverted and then invite the people at each end to say what they think about their opposites. There is usually a little silence before the introverts come out with it, but once they start, the invective can be impressive. Of course it takes two to communicate and both need to adapt their style – to be more assertive about getting themselves heard, for example. But I think dominating extroverts have more to learn about slowing the pace, giving colleagues time to think and reply, and controlling their interruptions.

Steve Flinders is a freelance trainer, writer and coach, now based in Malta, who helps people develop their communication and leadership skills for working internationally:; www.coachingyork.

One last point. You can be an extrovert at work and an introvert outside it or vice versa. And since so many workplaces favour the extrovert, you mustn’t resent your partner’s monosyllabic responses when he or she gets home: being an extrovert all day can be hard work for some of us.

Discover Benelux | Business | Calendar

Business Calendar TEXT: ELLA PUT | PHOTOS: NBTC

vate housing. The first seminar will focus on European Fund Strategic investments and will be held in Brussels. An essential event for everyone in the domestic energy industry.

Oarsi, World Congress 31 March – 3 April Amsterdam, the Netherlands OARSI, the premier international organisation for scientist and health care professionals, is organising several events to focus on prevention and treatments of osteoarthritis. This annual congress, held in Amsterdam, is an international forum for all of those involved in research and treatment.

Road2China XL 10 March Nieuwegein, the Netherlands There is much to say about the Chinese these days. Their economy has been growing fast and the purchasing power of the middle class is increasingly expanding. This makes China an attractive country to invest in. During this event, discover your business opportunities in China and network with other companies active in this attractive market.

Make your business sustainable 11 March Brussels, Belgium A good approach to corporate social responsibility is as important as a company’s competitiveness. Especially in a time like this when sustainability is a hot topic. The event, titled in full ‘Make your business sustainable: A smart growth!’ is held in Brussels and will cover a broad field of activities and themes, such as cost savings and human resource

management, to make your business successful and sustainable. Social Media Day: social amplification 17 March Brussels, Belgium A successful business today needs a strong social media strategy. Without the use of Facebook, Twitter and Snapchat, you and your business are missing out on a potential exposure for your brand. During this conference professional speakers from the new social media industry will teach you about how to set up a strong and solid approach to social media.

Energy efficiency in private housing 17 March Brussels, Belgium A collaboration between the EBC and UIPI resulted in a successful series of roundtable conversations about financing and increasing energy efficiency in priIssue 27 | March 2016 | 63

R E S TA U R A N T O F T H E M O N T H , B E L G I U M

A royal brasserie Belga Queen is a one-of-a-kind restaurant, oyster bar, lounge and club complex in central Brussels. Housed in a magnificent 19th century bank building, it offers the highest quality Belgian fare with a modern twist. Diners in the restaurant sit under expansive stained glass windows surrounded by marble columns. TEXT: LIDIJA LIEGIS | PHOTOS: BELGA QUEEN

Discover Benelux | Restaurant of the Month | Belgium

In the vaults under the building there is a cigar lounge and nightclub. Diners can savour cold and hot oysters and lobster, as well as tempting seafood platters, in sumptuous seafood bar L’Ecailler, which shimmers with pastel pillars. There are over 230 accompanying wines to choose from. Dishes from the main restaurant can also be ordered. The talent behind Belga Queen is Antoine Pinto. Having fled Portugal as a 17-yearold political refugee, Pinto settled in Liège, where he studied architectural interior design at the Académie des Beaux-Arts. He financed his studies by working in restaurants. During his impressive career, he has founded over 100 restaurants in Belgium, including Dock’s Café in Antwerp, Pakhuis in Ghent, La Quincaillerie and Pasta Commedia in Brussels, to name a few. Pinto’s influence in each space is clear: he manages to capture the eye as well as guests’ taste buds. In Belga Queen he brought new life to the Hôtel de la Poste, a former bank which now houses the restaurant. Not only are his interiors impressive, but they are equally comfortable and elegant. There is space for larger parties, as well as plenty of intimate corners for couples.

Home-grown delights Adjacent to the oyster bar lies the tempting beer and cocktail bar. With a superb selection of cocktails and a fine collection of beers, there is something here for everyone. In terms of food, Pinto’s ethos involves using the highest quality, locally grown ingredients where possible. This also includes wine from across the world from Belgian makers and sparkling wine produced in Belgium. Pinto serves unrivalled brasserie cuisine highlighting artisanal producers and sourcing surprising ingredients such as Belgian-grown saffron. He uses different beers including Palm, Rodenbach and Gueuze Boon in food preparation, as well as aperitifs. The menu offers a number of dishes where beer is a core ingredient. Although he is less involved in cooking now, Pinto continues to play a key role in selecting the menu. Dishes change

seasonally, but a few core items such as foie gras and grey shrimps are always retained. His personal favourite is the asparagus. His preferred aspect of his work, he says, is “creating and assembling new dishes”, as he is less keen on repetition and the daily work in the restaurant. After a meal, diners can descend to the lounge club, located in the former bank vaults. A stunning stained glass cupola lights the way down, and the room itself is decorated in warm tones reminiscent of the Belgian Congo. The club serves a selection of cocktails, liquors and cigars. A DJ provides entertainment on Fridays and Saturdays. Alternatively, guests can head to the cosy bar to relax in leather armchairs and sample any of the 30-odd regional bottled or draught beers available. The bar offers a range of mouthwatering cocktails as well.

Something for everyone Belga Queen caters to a wide clientele, from politicians to artists, amongst others. It also plays host to many a party, thanks to its impressive interior and immense size (the Brussels restaurant can seat 200 people). A second restaurant is located in Ghent, housed in a former 13th century grain storage building. Similar to the Brussels branch, it also has an oyster bar and several lounges and spaces to have drinks.

BELGA QUEEN IN NUMBERS: - 1 restaurant - 1 oyster bar - 1 beer bar - 1 lounge club - 21 seats in the oyster bar - 200 seats in the dining room - Over 200 wines - 1,000 square metres - All the Belgian grand cru beers

Despite Pinto’s success, he says that he never set out to become a chef. He began working in Liège in architectural design, but found it easier to find work in restaurants. He learned by watching others, as well as through self-study. Cooking suits him, he says, because it allows him to be creative and express himself. He has travelled extensively and draws upon the places he has visited for inspiration. He will not give much away regarding the future, but says that he dreams of a place overlooking the sea, where his friends can also stay and where he can do what he likes with the décor and cuisine.

Antoine Pinto

Issue 27 | March 2016 | 65

Discover Benelux | Culture | Top Benelux Destinations



Endless forests, deep river valleys, charming villages and majestic castles… what sounds like the setting for a fairy tale is actually the description of the Luxembourg Ardennes, the rural northern part of the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg. The main asset of the Ardennes is without a doubt its unspoilt nature. Numerous hiking and cycling routes meander through the green landscapes and provide the perfect way to explore the region’s natural beauty. Hiking enthusiasts can choose between cross-border, national, local and thematic trails. Exceptional hiking experiences are waiting for them along the high-quality trails in the Naturwanderpark Delux and along the long-distance Escapardenne trail. The Luxembourg 66 | Issue 27 | March 2016

Ardennes also offers an extensive network of cycle paths. In addition to the quiet country streets, the numerous signposted cycle paths and mountain bike trails beg to be discovered on two wheels. On the Vennbahn, one of Europe’s longest converted railway embankment bike tracks, one can even cycle from northern Luxembourg through Belgium to Germany. The Ardennes’ force of attraction does not only reside in their natural assets. The region is also proud of its history, local traditions and rich cultural heritage. It was deeply marked by the Battle of the Bulge in 1944-1945, which many memorials bear witness to today. The Museums of the Battle of the Bulge in Clervaux and Wiltz, as well as the National Museum of Military History in Diekirch,

are dedicated to documenting the history of the fight. To travel even further back in time, you should visit the city of Vianden; the narrow streets, ramparts with watchtowers and the impressive castle will send you right back to the Middle Ages. A must-see is also the famous photographic exhibition The Family of Man, which was recorded in the UNESCO Memory of the World programme, located in the perfectly restored Castle of Clervaux. Whether you opt for a walk through the forests, a bike trip, a visit to a museum or a tour of the region’s magnificent castles, the Luxembourg Ardennes will enchant you.

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Giant visual projections show Rotterdam’s new face TEXT: MYRIAM GWYNNED DIJCK | PHOTOS: ROTTERDAM FESTIVALS – HEAD LIGHTS

Starting this month, seven iconic buildings in Rotterdam will be put in the limelight during Head Lights. Giant installations that light up at night will adorn the façades of the city’s most eye-catching, post-war architecture.

The first art work was already revealed last month on the façade of the Timmerhuis. On 20 March the Groot Handelsgebouw, De Doelen concert hall, De Bijenkorf department store, Het Nieuwe Instituut art expo centre, the Maritime Museum and the Rotterdam Library will also follow.

Head Lights combines installation art with laser effects and visual animations in the centre of Rotterdam. The works, all shaped like faces, were created by interdisciplinary design agency Pro Arts Design. They highlight the connection between the people of Rotterdam and the renewal of the city over the last 75 years.

Estourgie: “Each installation will have a different theme, such as international innovation or cultural renewal. With the use of lights and lasers, the works will come alive in the evening, the faces will have expressions and there will be visual interaction with the audience.”

“It wasn’t just the buildings that needed restoring, the population had to be mended too. Head Lights draws parallels between the development of Rotterdam’s inhabitants and of the reconstruction of the city since the 1940s,” says Anouk Estourgie, the exhibition’s project manager.

She continues: “To mark this 75-year milestone, 75 known and unknown Rotterdammers were chosen to tell their personal story. Each Head Lights installation will be connected to one of these stories as well as telling visitors about the history of the building,” she says.

The headliner of the outdoor exposition will include the new, 15-metre-high visual art object De Nieuwe Rotterdammer at the Schouwburgplein. Symbolising renewal, visitors can also put their own spin on this ‘young Rotterdammer’. On set times, people will be able have their faces projected on to the art work. To see Head Lights, there are walking, cycling and a children’s tours available. Information and route maps provided by Rotterdam Routes are available as an app or a booklet in Dutch and English. Head Lights, held from 20 March to 31 July, is part of cultural manifestation Rotterdam celebrates the city!, which marks the 75th anniversary of the city’s post-war rebuilding efforts. Issue 27 | March 2016 | 67

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This June, the beach along Katwijk will transform into a classic rock haven. The 30th edition of music festival Haringrock will transport the audience to a time of big hair, glam outfits and screaming guitars. International artists and local bands will come together during the anniversary edition of this free, two-day festival. They will play 1970s and 1980s classic hits as well as present a wealth of musical talent from Katwijk. “Our aim is to give local artists a stage,” says organiser Ton Frissen. “The big names pull in the crowds so we can simultaneously show how much Katwijk has to offer in terms of music.” 68 | Issue 27 | March 2016

Haringrock will be extra festive this year for its 30th birthday. Its first edition was in 1986, replacing an earlier festival called Haringpop. On 24 and 25 June, the festival will go back to those early days with rock music by headliners John Diva & The Rockets of Love and Catapult Tribute. “This edition will have a special ‘70s and ‘80s theme to it. To warm up the audience for our main event, John Diva, the duo of Het Feestteam will get the party started and there will be the usual firework finale,” he says. Frissen, who was born and raised in Katwijk, had been a regular Haringrock-goer from when he was young. By 2006 he got

involved organising the festival, which was at the time a one-day, indoor event. Pulling in more and more visitors over the last few years, he helped to turn Haringrock into an open-air summer festival held at the beautiful beach boulevard of Katwijk. Last year, the first time Haringrock lasted two days, a record audience of 10,000 people attended the event. “Haringrock, which also closes the Katwijk Fishery Days, is a festival for young and old. We combine local bands with international acts on a stunning beach location,” says Frissen. The festival is presented by Dennis Weening, a well-known Dutch RTL 5 television presenter.

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Haringrock is hosted by Dennis Weening

With 63,000 inhabitants, Katwijk is a relatively small town, but it has a very lively music scene. “In Katwijk there are many old fishing sheds and empty green houses, so there is the possibility for bands to form and the space for them to practise. And of course having a festival like this also adds to it,” says Frissen. The festival is organised by 45 volunteers and sponsored by 17 local and 12 national and international companies. Frissen is very pleased that their hard work and contributions can keep this festival free for visi-

DO NOT MISS: John Diva & The Rockets of Love: This ‘hair metal’ band takes you back to the height of the ‘80s classic rock. The charismatic frontman Diva earned his stripes as a coach, manager and songwriter for rock ‘n’ roll legends such as Bon Jovi, Aerosmith, KISS, Van Halen and Guns ‘n’ Roses. Catapult Tribute: For the first time in 40 years, the hits by ‘70s band Catapult will once

Organiser Ton Frissen

tors. “I am very proud of our team of volunteers. Aside that, we also work closely together with the Stichting Visserijdagen Katwijk who host the Fishery Days.” Haringrock supports Dorcas Regio West, part of Dorcas Nederland, a Christian charity that aims to improve the living conditions of people in developing countries. It backs projects that offer medical aid, hygiene education and solutions for clean drinking water.

again be performed live on stage, headed by veteran Cees Bergman but with a band formation called Van Beukenstein. Catapult was the Dutch answer to English glam rock bands such as Mud, The Sweet and Slade. Les Zazous: This four-man guitar band from Katwijk plays catchy, ‘60s inspired pop songs. With various indie hits over the last 30 years, Les Zazous have reunited to prove to Haringrock they can still get the crowd dancing and singing along.

Het Feestteam: ‘Feest’ stands for party, something this duo knows all about. Specialising in Dutch cover music with strong beats, they are experts at lifting their hands up in the air, putting smiles on people’s faces and getting everyone in the mood to party. These and many more bands can be found on the website. The 30th edition of Haringrock will be held on 24 and 25 June in Katwijk, admission is free.

Issue 27 | March 2016 | 69

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Spring, the best period to visit Holland, is approaching. The country flourishes, literally, and there is no better place than Keukenhof to experience this. Its 32 hectares are covered with over seven million bulbs, including tulips, grape hyacinths and crocuses. Keukenhof allows you to experience a unique sea of colours and scents and plants a memory that visitors will not forget. Keukenhof is renowned in the world for its beautiful spring gardens. Year after year, it is the most popular tourist attraction in the Netherlands. It attracts over one million people during the eight weeks that it is open, and does this for a reason. At Keukenhof, visitors come to see the crème de la crème of the Dutch and international floricultural sector, with a spe70 | Issue 27 | March 2016

cial emphasis on flowering bulbs. Seven million bulbs, all planted manually, will bloom over the entire area, showcasing a total of 800 varieties of tulips. The theme for 2016 will focus on the Golden Age, the era when Holland became rich through worldwide trade. “This was the time that Holland was exploring in areas of trade, science and art. But it is also the period in which the tulip trade prospered,” says Bart Siemerink, managing director of Keukenhof. The highlight of the Golden Age theme is the flower bulb mosaic, which shows a Delft Blue tile on which the trade across the seas and the rich canal-side houses of Amsterdam are depicted. The mosaic covers an area of 250 square metres and more than 100,000 flower bulbs are used.

Although now seen as the symbol of the Dutch national identity, the tulip was not introduced to the country until late 1500s. The flower, resistant to cold weather, is native to the mountains of Turkey. “Tulips used to be rare and very expensive. Once, a canal house was sold for three tulip bulbs, can you imagine?” Siemerink says. Visiting Holland during this period and missing the blankets of colourful blooms will mean you have to come back. “What makes Keukenhof so special is that people from all age groups, cultures, and religions truly enjoy the show. People are uniting through a love for flowers,” Siemerink says. In 2016, Keukenhof is open from 24 March to 16 May.

BIFFF Photo: Marc Melkenbeek

Out & About March marks the beginning of spring, the arrival of brighter days and a visit from the Easter bunny. This month has plenty to look forward to, especially with all the cultural activities. TEXT: ELLA PUT

TEFAF Maastricht Photo: Aveline

Canada In Flanders Photo: In Flanders Fields

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Albricht Photo: TEFAF Maastricht

Bruegel’s Witches Until 26 June Bruges, Belgium We are all familiar with the popular image of a witch; a wrinkly woman with a pointy hat standing over a large bubbling cauldron. Less known is that this image was largely created in the Low Countries. Sixteenth century artists such as Peter Bruegel depicted potion-brewing witches that flew on broom sticks for the first time. This exhibition gives an interesting look into images of witches that continue to shape popular culture today. bruegel-s-witches

Music sessions at Gustafson Every Wednesdays and 12-13 March Amsterdam, the Netherlands 72 | Issue 27 | March 2016

Every Wednesday night there is live music at cross-platform pop-up Gustafson. Located in the Westergasfabriek in Amsterdam, it combines musical performances with food, drink and the option of an overnight stay. On 12 and 13 March there will be a special music session called The 24 hours of West including a clash of junior DJs.

Eurantica Fine Art Fair 5 – 13 March Brussels, Belgium Over ten days Brussels will be the place to be for many art and antique lovers. Showcasing the largest collection of fine art and antiques in Belgium, the art fair is specialised in European art and archaeology.

Street Food Festival in Luxembourg City 5-6 March Luxembourg City, Luxembourg Thanks to the success of the first edition in October, the ‘Eat It’ street food festival is back for a second time. Hosted by Rotondes, the event starts at noon both days and on Saturday it will be open until 10pm. Expect a wide range of cuisines, from burgers to international foods, to vegetarian and gluten-free options.

Petangé Parade 6 March Petangé, Luxembourg Want to celebrate carnival all over again, or for the first time? Then this is your chance. With events all over town and

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people dressing up as clowns, the carnival in Petangé is one of the best festivals in the whole country.

shops, talk shows, seminars and master classes.

Canada in Belgium Photo: In Flanders Fields

Canada in Flanders The Hague Marathon 6 March The Hague, the Netherlands The start of spring also kicks off the running season. Whether you are participating, or just spectating, the CPC Loop in The Hague is a fantastic day out for the whole family. It also hosts the Netherlands’ largest school run, with thousands of children participating from almost 100 schools.

26 March – 3 July Ypres, Belgium The end of the First World War is almost a century behind us, but it still plays an important role in Belgian. For each of the over 600,000 casualties there is a tale of suffering, pain and a life story to be told. During this week in March, In Flanders Fields tells the forgotten stories of the 65,000 Canadian soldiers that lost their lives during the First World War on Belgium soil.

Bike to the Future

Brussels International Fantastic Film Festival

25 March – 23 October Ghent, Belgium This event showcases current models, such as electric bikes as well as prototypes and cycling experiments with unusual materials and functions. But the highlight of the exhibition is probably the famous bicycle of Belgian cycling hero Eddy Merckx. It is no wonder that a coun-

29 March – 10 April Brussels, Belgium The BIFFF is one of the few festivals in the world that allows visitors to delve into the fantastical world of the horror, fantasy and science fiction movies. From a manga market to a zombie ball, it is time to get your freak on.

Così Fan Tutte 8 March Utrecht, the Netherlands Some claim that Così Fan Tutte is Mozart’s most stirring opera. The play, which starts off as comedy where two couples play dangerous love games, is drama at its best. Performed by the Nederlandse Reisopera, the exquisite duets are sung in Italian, with Dutch subtitles.

TEFAF Maastricht

try famous for its cycling achievements offers a glimpse into the future of the bike. exhibitions/future-exhibitions/bike-future

Canada in Belgium Photo: In Flanders Fields

Agnew Photo: TEFAF Maastricht

11 – 20 March Maastricht, the Netherlands Art lovers, mark these dates. The world’s leading fine art fair is back. Presenting 275 of the planet’s top galleries, TEFAF Maastricht shows the best fine art currently available. See, admire and, maybe, buy.

Movies That Matter 18 March – 26 March Amsterdam, the Netherlands The Movies That Matter festival is one of a kind. It aims to open people’s eyes to important issues with roughly 70 poignant fiction films and revealing documentaries about human rights, sustainability and the fight against injustice. With guests from all over the world, they are invited to discuss the subjects in Q&A sessions, work-

Canada in Belgium Photo: In Flanders Fields

Issue 27 | March 2016 | 73

Discover Benelux | Culture | Lifestyle Columns


In and out When museums or galleries announce an exhibition of ‘works from the collection’, more often than not they are met with a groan on my part. Maybe it is my problem being the eternal pessimist, but it always seems a lazy option to me; filler to plug a gap in the institution’s calendar. Fortunately, In and Out of Storage at the Mauritshuis feels somewhat different. It is not reinventing the wheel, but In and Out of Storage is an exhibition that is coherent, relevant and insightful. The Mauritshuis has around 850 pieces, with 250 on permanent display, 150 in the Prince William V Gallery and another 150 out on long-term loans. That leaves 300 pieces that are rarely, if ever, seen. The theme of this exhibition is why these works are not on show, and often the answers are not what you would expect.


Back in 1821 for example, a cock-up of royal proportions resulted in King William I acquiring a collection for the museum originally believed to include works by Raphael, Titian and Velázquez. Looking a little closer however, they were nothing more than knock-offs. One room in the museum shows over 20 near identical portraits of army officers, resulting in a baffling and entertaining installation of black and orange military garb. Understandably, only two of this extensive portrait series are on permanent display. It is not ground breaking, but it is a whole lot more interesting than the usual. If all collection exhibitions are more like this, I’ll be a happy chappy. In and Out of Storage is at the Mauritshuis in The Hague until 8 May.


Matt Antoniak is a visual artist and writer living and working in Newcastle, UK. He works mainly in painting and drawing and is a founding member of the art collective M I L K.


Chimay Blue Red, white or blue – that’s how beer aficionados tend to order their favourite brews from the Trappist brewery at Chimay in south-west Belgium, just a few kilometres from the border with France. The colours denote the caps of Chimay’s bottles. Their dark beer with red packaging has a strength of seven per cent, the tripel – with a white cap – contains eight per cent of alcohol by volume and those with blue caps have a royal kick at nine per cent. Things have become a tad more complex in recent years. Chimay Gold, with a strength of 4.8 per cent, was launched in 2013 and last year a batch of the blue beer was given a third fermentation and six months in oak barrels to create a limited edition of 15,000 bottles of Grand Réserve. If you enjoy the balanced yet pow74 | Issue 27 | March 2016

erful taste of Chimay Blue, it may well be worth acquiring a bottle of the Grand Réserve. With an alcohol content of ten per cent, it’s a beer to savour, bearing notes of apricot and pear and a satisfyingly rounded finish. The blue cap version of Chimay was originally brewed as a Christmas special in 1956. Sixty years on it’s still going strong, in every sense, and is available in bottles sized from 33 centilitres up to the enormous Mathusalem, containing six litres. The brewery, located within the walls of Scourmont Abbey, brewed its first monastic beers in 1862. Unfortunately, for lay beer lovers, it is closed to members of the public. However, you can learn about the production process during a tour of the Espace Chimay visitor centre. For most beer lovers the highlight of their visit is being served a 25-centilitre glass of the Chimay beer of their choice.

Pouring a glass of this beautifully crafted ale certainly puts a positive spin on feeling blue at the end of a long week. Brewer: Bières de Chimay Strength: 9 per cent Stuart Forster was named Journalist of the Year at the 2015 Holland Press Awards. Five generations of his family have been actively involved in the brewing industry.

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