Discover Benelux, Issue 78, May 2023

Page 11


Surplombant le Bocq et la Meuse, les 2 gites de la Ferme de l’Airbois dominent la vallée à perte de vue, jusque la France, à 20 km. Un long chemin creux vous mènera à cette ferme isolée en pleine nature ou vous aurez l’occasion de poser vos valises et vous ressourcer en famille ou entre amis. | +32 (0) 484 161788
La Ferme de l’Airbois, 2 maisons de vacances de 12 et 14 personnes en pleine nature

Right around this time of year, our thoughts turn to the upcoming holidays and finally heading out on a much-deserved break. While Benelux has plenty to offer, France remains a popular destination, attracting some 16 million tourists from our region annually. Paris is by far the most visited city, but the country’s northern departments – which many of us whizz past on the way south – are worth so much more than just a pit stop or detour. In this issue of Discover Benelux, we’re spotlighting Alsace, a land graced with a handsome mix of German and French culture, located in the northeast and known for its exceptional wines (page 16). One of the best things to do in France (except eating and drinking, of course) is checking out its renowned museums. Centre Pompidou-Metz (page 32) will delight young and old with a wide variety of entertaining activities and exhibitions.

Speaking of fun things to do, if visiting Luxembourg City, especially with family, you’ll want to plan a trip to the Luxembourg Science Center, where you can learn about the universe or how the brain works through interactive experiences and enlightening shows (page 24). And while you’re in town, why not add the MuseumSmile to your itinerary? It highlights seven museums within a one-mile proximity (page 20).

This month, we’re also turning our attention to greener living with stories about SAWA, the healthiest building in the Netherlands (page 66); Benelux’s plant-based food revolution (page 70) and the De Ceuvel, an Amsterdam initiative and one of Europe’s most sustainable urban experiments (page 55). Our cover story – an interview with Chef Nicolas Decloedt from Humus x Hortense in Brussels – is very much in place in that line-up. This past March,

Humus x Hortense, a labour of love between Decloedt and his wife Caroline Baerten, was the first plant-based restaurant in Belgium to be awarded a Michelin star. We talked to Decloedt about botanical gastronomy and Humus x Hortense’s culinary vision. You’ll find their inspirational story on page 46.

Enjoy the pages ahead and stay inspired!

Discover Benelux

Issue 78, May 2023

Published 05.2023

ISSN 2054-7218

Published by Scan Magazine Ltd.


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Executive Editor

Thomas Winther

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Paola Westbeek


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Issue 78 | May 2023 | 3 Discover Benelux | Editor’s Note



46 Belgium’s plant-based pioneers

This past March, Humus x Hortense became the first plant-based restaurant in Belgium to be awarded a Michelin star. A Belgian pioneer in plant-based fine dining since 2008, the restaurant merges the talents of Chef Nicolas Decloedt and his wife, Caroline Baerten. Learn more about the culinary power couple and their forward-thinking food philosophy in our exclusive interview with Chef Decloedt.


12 Travel – Luxurious hotels

Located to the south of Amsterdam’s historic canal belt, De Pijp was settled in the 1870s as a working-class neighbourhood and would soon become popular with students, artists, writers and expats. This theme presents more from the trendy and cosmopolitan district – plus the ultimate hotel to consider when planning your visit.

16 Spotlight on Alsace

Alsace encompasses the Bas-Rhin and HautRhin departments in the Grand-Est region and is nestled between the Rhine River to the east and the Vosges Mountains to the west. This picturesque corner of northeastern France has alternated between German and French rule several times since the 17th century.

20 Discover Luxembourg

Luxembourg City may be small, but for those interested in art, history, science and technology, it is one of Europe’s most attractive cultural hubs. Check out our list of places to expand your horizons. And when you’re done exploring, check out awesome spots in and around the city where you can spend the night or grab a bite.

30 Best museums in France

With its world-renowned food and wine, vibrant cities, charming bucolic landscapes and rich culture, it’s no wonder France has been the leading tourist destination for more than 30 years. Fans of art and history will be happy to know that France counts well over 1,200 fascinating museums.

34 Top school in Belgium

Around 13 per cent of Belgium’s population is made up of expats. In fact, Brussels is home to some 180 nationalities. Luckily, there are plenty of choices for expat parents when it comes time to select where their children will be educated.

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MAY 2023 16


38 Column, regulars and more

We take a look at the month ahead in Benelux business, as well as profiling the companies you need to know about.


52 The rise of Belgium’s 3D bikes

Whether it’s pedalling the Peace Cycle route in Ypres, the Castle Triangle in Bruges or La Promenade Verte in Brussels, biking in Belgium has become increasingly popular over the last few decades.

55 De Ceuvel

Opened in 2014, award-winning De Ceuvel is setting a new standard for clean technologies in a thriving community of creatives who’ve built Amsterdam’s first self-sustaining, waterside office park.

58 Green Netherlands’ top five national parks

Despite its small size, the Netherlands is home to 21 unique national parks, each one telling a story of how the country developed and helping preserve nature and biodiversity. We invite you to expand your bucket list with five of the most beautiful Dutch national parks.

62 North Holland’s medieval cheese capital

Come with us as we explore this authentic Dutch town and its historic cheese market.

66 SAWA: Building our future

According to the UN’s biodiversity conference in Montreal in 2022, “cities are on the front line of the socio-economic impacts of climate change and ecosystem loss”. Rotterdam is already taking ambitious action to protect and restore nature.

70 The plant-based food revolution

Be it for animal welfare, the environment, better health or all of these combined, more and more people are converting to a vegan lifestyle or plantbased diet.

74 The awe-inspiring Atomium

This steel giant from the ‘50s is one of the most modern constructions in the city to date. It consists of nine interconnected spheres, which made it the crown jewel of the 1958 World Fair in Brussels.

78 Green Brussels: Five urban oases

If you know where to go, Brussels can be a great destination for a weekend combining nature and urban vibes, because the green lungs of Brussels are just mere metres away from the metropolitan bustle.


6 Desirable Designs | 8 Fashion Picks 41 Out & About | 82 Columns

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Decor fabrics to hang, lay or fold

The home’s beloved cornerstones – lounge, bed, table, floors – often remain unchanged. But what if you want to jazz up the look and feel of your place? Try brightening up your decor with light and timeless materials. Customising, combining and rotating the following breezy and detailed textiles might just create the aesthetic and atmosphere you’ve been searching for.

Neutrals refine your style, while statement pieces dress it up. Experiment with this bold limited-edition rug by placing it in different corners of your home. A collaboration between Les Pieds De Biche and Sabi_Biche, this handmade one-of-a-kind product will bring an authentic twist to your everyday spaces. €270

Embellish your dinner spreads without overpowering your table, with Dutch Rose’s linen, cotton and poly-blend runner. Although an elegant finishing touch for any dinner party, there’s no need to keep these runners for special occasions only. Made to be durable, you can add texture to your table every day with this classic piece.


1.Linen table runner 2. Totem & Tufting 1.
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Simple but joyful, Juttu’s quirky napkins encourage self-expression. Whether paired with a table runner or brought as a sustainable accessory to your next picnic outing, you’ll love the way these napkins make you smile.


3. Rose-striped linen set

Is there anything as inviting as a freshly made bed? Imagine the comfort of dozing off in a bed graced with Yumeko’s cheerful linen set, created from strong and sustainable flax. It’s a fine way to lighten up your bedroom during the spring and summer seasons.

€209 – €329

Marc O’Polo Norell plaid

Even when the sun comes out in Benelux, it’s not always as warm as we might hope. These velvet plaid blankets keep you cosy without the heaviness of winter layers. Relax into a Sunday afternoon near a sunny window and snuggle into this soft blanket.


4. Anna+Nina eggplant and mushroom napkins
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4. 3.

Denim: everything, everywhere, all at once

Denim is fashion’s understated hero. We can always count on a pair of jeans to save the day, as they go well with just about everything! This spring/summer, designers are surprising us with the infinite possibilities of this wardrobe staple – from gorgeous denim dresses, to a more streamlined way of wearing a ‘Canadian tuxedo’. Get ready to wear denim in all shapes and forms.

The light-wash jeans

Swap your classic blue denim for a lighter wash to instantly freshen up your outfits this spring/ summer. Try the double denim look by wearing the denim jacket and spicing up your ensemble with a pair of vibrant-coloured trainers. This pair of jeans by Dutch label Kings of Indigo – another denim brand very much on our radar because of their quest to keep their environmental impact to a minimum – is certainly made to last.

Kings of Indigo, Xavier super-light jeans, €149.99

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The baggy jeans

Let’s be honest – many of us are addicted to our snug, skinny jeans. Fashion has now gone in the opposite direction, and the baggier the jeans, the better. We’re staying away from both ends of the spectrum with this pair of Scotch & Soda jeans.

Scotch & Soda, boyfriend jeans, €139.95

The alternative dress

French house Chloé knows how to master bohemian chic vibes. This fashionable dress from their sister brand See by Chloé is a great way of adding denim to your spring repertoire. A denim dress is a very versatile piece to wear year-round. When there’s a chill in the air, simply pair with a turtleneck and boots.

See by Chloé, denim dress, €470

The ‘70s platforms

If you are ready to commit to the full denim trend, then finish your look with this pair of super-stylish platform shoes by Steven Madden. They will go great with the denim dress, or you can match them with a pair of jeans and a denim shirt for a total denim look with plenty of ‘70s flair.

Steve Madden, platform denim shoes, €129.95

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A timeless jacket

Shopping is great, but shopping while keeping your ecological footprint to a minimum is even better. Dutch-based brand Mud Jeans was created in 2012 with sustainability at its core. Understanding that making denim takes a toll on the planet, they are committed to using only organic and recycled cotton. Mud Jeans also creates items that are versatile, timeless and genderless, like the Jackson jacket.

Mud Jeans, Jackson jacket, €149.95

Discover Benelux | Design | Fashion Picks
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Sitting pretty in outdoor spaces

More than ever, people around the world are looking to get the most out of their outdoor living spaces, and Jardinico helps them do so in exquisite style. Their range of easy-to-operate umbrellas, complemented by handcrafted furniture and beautiful accessories, means you can entertain family and friends or just relax in the sun, elegantly and safely.

The Belgian family company Jardinico has come a long way in the 20 years since it was first launched. It initially focused on high-quality patio umbrellas, but the expanded range now includes solid teak tables and chairs; atmospheric lighting; elegant, tactile pots; heavy-duty rugs and luxurious poufs.

Since the pandemic, growing numbers of people are appreciating their external spaces more, according to company owner Bruno Vandeputte: “Demand has definitely seen a boost – customers want to extend their interior to the outdoors,” he says. Jardinico’s products have become increasingly central to that lifestyle shift.

Natural materials are at the heart of the company’s business: from the hand-woven elements featured in the Nero, Legna and Tugu collections, to the subtle palette of colours that reflect the environment. The inspiration for their high-end products, all of which are assembled by hand, comes from a number of sources, including the great outdoors itself.

The company’s high-end umbrellas and furniture have been snapped up by several businesses and deployed in luxury holiday hotspots, such as the Ocean Club Marbella in Spain’s Puerto Banus and Cove Beach in Abu Dhabi.

This year, the family firm enjoyed its first collaboration with a designer, teaming with Enrique Marti to create the Noa collection. There are plans for more partnerships, particularly with European designers. “We are a Belgian company, and we want to encourage that,” Vandeputte enthuses.

It’s not the only change on the horizon. Jardinico was among the firms showcasing their newest products at Milan Design

Week. Of course, the company’s signature rope work was front and centre, as well as a variety of warm colours, taking inspiration from interior design elements.

With a growing European and international customer base, the firm has its sights firmly set on becoming a global success in the future.

Discover Benelux | Design | Jardinico
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Inspired by nature, Jardinico helps people enjoy their outdoor spaces with a range of handcrafted furniture and patio accessories.


Bohemian vibes in De Pijp

Located to the south of Amsterdam’s historic canal belt, De Pijp was settled in the 1870s as a workingclass neighbourhood and would soon become popular with students, artists, writers and expats. Today, this trendy and cosmopolitan district lures you with its bohemian vibes, exceptional variety of international eateries and the buzzing Albert Cuyp Market.

TEXT: PAOLA WESTBEEK Gerard Douplein, a square in De Pijp surrounded by restaurants and cafés. Photo: Koen Smilde Photography View at Amstel Weesperzijde. Photo:

If you’re looking to experience that laidback Amsterdam cool mixed with a good dose of urban charm, head about two kilometres south of the touristy centre and spend a day making acquaintance with bustling De Pijp. Sometimes referred to as Amsterdam’s ‘Quartier Latin’, the area is home to some 150 nationalities and is replete with places to go and things to do. Here are three tips to keep in mind the next time you’re in town. And should you want to spend at least a few days exploring the area – and the rest of the Dutch capital – book your stay at the luxurious Okura Hotel (see page 15).

Heineken Experience

Heineken is one of the world’s most iconic beers. The Dutch brew, which has been around for well over a century, is enjoyed in almost every corner of the globe (170 countries, to be precise). While you can sample the beer almost

Discover Benelux | Special Theme | Travel – Luxurious Hotels
Sarphatipark. Photo: amsterdam&partners
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The Brew Room. Photo: Heineken Experience

anywhere, there’s no better place to learn about its history than at its cradle – the former brewery housed in a stately building on Stadhouderskade.

At the Heineken Experience, you don’t simply ‘learn’ about the beer, you literally get to ‘experience’ it in a fully animated and sensory environment that includes a self-guided interactive tour and ends with a tasting.

Albert Cuyp Market

When it comes to popularity, no other Dutch market is as famous as Amsterdam’s Albert Cuyp Market. For foreigners who visit the city and for people from all over the country, it’s the market that everyone talks about and needs to see at least once.

At ‘de Cuyp’, as the market is called for short, colourful and bountiful fruit and vegetable stalls sell all of the staples of Dutch cuisine, but you’ll also find foreign foods such as papayas, yardlong beans, plantains and cassava. Other stands specialise in Mediterranean wines, French and Italian sausages, beautifully spiced Moroccan olives and myriad gourmet products. In fact, there isn’t anything you can’t find at ‘de Cuyp’. Need a new pair of shoes? A kitchen knife? A set of garden furniture? Frilly curtains? It’s all there.

Especially during the weekends, when roughly 50,000 people per day visit the market, the Albert Cuypstraat becomes a hubbub of curious tourists.


After a stroll through the Albert Cuyp Market (where you’ve shopped for the makings of a picnic), make your way to the Sarphatipark, just around the corner. Though small, the park is a peaceful, green oasis decked out in English landscape style and named after Samuel Sarphati, a Jewish physician and philanthropist who made significant contributions to the development of the city.

Discover Benelux | Special Theme | Travel – Luxurious Hotels
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Make your visit to the Heineken Experience extra special with a Rock The City canal cruise. Photo: Heineken Experience

Merging Eastern and Western allure

For over a century, Hotel Okura Amsterdam has been welcoming guests to the Dutch capital with unparalleled service deeply rooted in its Japanese DNA. Founded in Tokyo and located in the cosmopolitan de Pijp district, the hotel seamlessly merges Eastern and Western allure.

You may be only a pleasant 15-minute stroll from Amsterdam’s historic centre, but upon entering Hotel Okura’s quietly elegant lobby, the five-star hotel’s Japanese heritage is unmistakable. It’s evident in the clean lines and neutral colours that characterise the décor, as well as in meaningful aesthetic details, such as the graceful crane bird chandelier hanging above the winding staircase leading to the first floor. Most notably, however, it’s discernible in the way the hotel prides itself on delivering top-notch hospitality. In Japanese culture, this is known as ‘Omotenashi’. “The term means offering service from the heart and being attuned to the needs of our guests. It’s about having empathy for our guests,”

explains Petra van der Molen, marketing manager, Hotel Okura Amsterdam.

Housed in a 23-storey building, Hotel Okura has 300 well-appointed rooms decked out in a modern or Japanese-inspired decor and affording beautiful panoramic views over the city. It’s good to know that after a day out exploring, guests can escape to the hotel’s luxurious Nagomi Spa to relish a moment of peace and self-care. The spa not only offers an extensive menu of relaxing and rejuvenating treatments, but boasts the Nagomi Gym & Wellness centre with a fitness room, saunas, hot tub and the largest indoor hotel pool in Amsterdam.

Hotel Okura is renowned for its culinary excellence and counts five restaurants, including Yamazato (the first Japanese restaurant outside Japan awarded with a Michelin star) and Ciel Bleu, which has two Michelin stars after its name. Though both have a waiting list of at least two months, booking the hotel’s attractive

gourmet package deals will guarantee you a table and an unforgettable dining experience. To end or start your dinner, there’s always the option of enjoying a drink at the Twenty Third Bar, crowning the hotel, while taking in the views over Amsterdam.

Offering incredible value for money and situated a stone’s throw from Schiphol Airport and RAI conference centre, Hotel Okura is an excellent choice when visiting Amsterdam for business or pleasure.

Discover Benelux | Special Theme | Travel – Luxurious Hotels Issue 78 | May 2023 | 15


Spotlight on Alsace

Alsace encompasses the Bas-Rhin and Haut-Rhin departments in the Grand-Est region, and is nestled between the Rhine River to the east and the Vosges Mountains to the west. This picturesque corner of northeastern France has alternated between German and French rule several times since the 17th century.

TEXT: PAOLA WESTBEEK Strasbourg. Photo: © Lez Broz - Visit Alsace Vineyard walk. Photo: Barr © Bartosch Salmanski

Alsace’s attractive blend of French and German culture is evident in everything from its distinct architecture to its culinary traditions. Alsace has a semi-continental climate with cold, dry winters and mild summers. In fact, Colmar, located in the southern Haut-Rhin department, benefits from a sunny microclimate with little rainfall. Strolling through its storybook streets lined with colourful, half-timbered houses and pretty canals is sure to impress. The city happens to be the viticultural capital of Alsace and is a great place to start exploring the more than 100 wine villages and many caves spread out over its 170-kilometre wine route (which happens to be celebrating its 70th anniversary this year). Colmar is just a stone’s throw from Germany and Switzerland. Should a morning of skiing with the family be on your mind, it’s good to know that the Vosges Massif’s affordable resorts offer pistes suitable for

all levels. The largest in the region is La Bresse Hohneck, with 42 pistes spread out over 220 hectares.

Food and wines of Alsace

One of the most well-known dishes is ‘choucroute’: sauerkraut simmered in white wine and abundantly crowned with large chunks of pork, sausages and potatoes. Usually enjoyed as a special family meal and washed down with a crisp, zingy Riesling or regional beer, it can be sampled at the many winstubs in Strasbourg, the region’s cosmopolitan capital and seat of the European Parliament. Literally meaning ‘wine room’, these cosy eateries are decked out in nostalgic decor and characterised by their laid-back, convivial atmosphere where you can warm up to other winter classics, such as ‘baeckeoffe’ stew or a ‘tarte flambée’ tart, along with carafes of local wine.

Stretching over 120 kilometres from Marlenheim in the north to Thann in the south, Alsace may be the smallest wine region in France, but it is certainly one of the most picturesque, and when it comes to elegant whites, undoubtedly the most enticing. White wines made from six grape varieties (Pinot Blanc, Sylvaner, Riesling, Muscat, Pinot Gris and Gewurztraminer) account for approximately 90 per cent of Alsace’s production, but Pinot Noir is also used to make fruity reds and refreshing rosés. Fine bubbles (Crémant d’Alsace, white and rosé) and even sweet wines can also be found in the region. Fifty-one Grand Cru vineyards are planted with the noble varieties Gewurztraminer, Muscat, Pinot Gris and Riesling.

With an excellent climate and great food and wine, Alsace is one of France’s must-visit destinations.

Discover Benelux | Special Theme | Spotlight on Alsace
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Choucroute. Photo: © Klaudia IGA - Visit Alsace

Recharging your batteries

In today’s world, sometimes it’s hard to fully relax. People might head off to a spa, immerse themselves in nature or treat themselves to wonderful food and wine. The 6717 Nature Hotel and Spa does all three and more. It’s the perfect place to unwind.

6717 was founded over 150 years ago as the Maison Blanche (part of the Oesinger family estate) before becoming a hotel-restaurant which, after a substantial renovation, became the 6717 Nature Hotel and Spa. Why 6717? Well, quite simply, it’s in department 67 (Bas-Rhin) in France, and it’s at number 17 Route de Klingenthal in Alsace.

The hotel spa is renowned, not only for its excellent food, but for its proximity to the surrounding natural environment. Director Nicole Schaetzel comments: “The hotel was already in a stunning location, but when we built the recent extension, we wanted our guests to really feel a part of na-

ture.” Indeed, the large luminous windows throughout the hotel and spa not only bring in wonderful light, but really give guests the impression they are part of the countryside. There is even a waterfall which cascades down the rockface next to the hotel.

The award-winning hotel’s spa has everything you could possibly want, including an indoor and outdoor swimming pool. You can also book individual treatments such as massages and facials. There are even bedroom suites with their own spa facilities, among them a private jacuzzi and hammam. Nicole Schaeltzel

remarks: “All our bedrooms are of a very high standard, but our luxurious bedrooms are perfect getaways for those wanting to pamper themselves or celebrate a special occasion.”

Its critically acclaimed garden restaurant produces gastronomic delights with an emphasis on local produce, paired with delicious wines, some of which are from the neighbouring estates. Guests can explore the property’s six hectares – including forests and vineyards – by electric bike, or they can simply meander through the many pathways in the forests and vineyards within the estate.

6717 Nature Hotel and Spa is a firm favourite with visitors coming for a long weekend from Luxembourg, Brussels and Strasbourg, and from further afield, too. What’s certain is that your stay will be unforgettable – and you will leave feeling reborn.

Discover Benelux | Special Theme | Spotlight on Alsace
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Being part of nature: the hotel’s design allows guests to feel fully immersed in its beautiful surroundings.
An enchanted break in the heart of Alsace 17, Route de Klingenthal 67530 Ottrott 0033.3 .


Museum-hopping in Luxembourg City

Luxembourg City may be small, but for those interested in art, history, science and technology, it is one of Europe’s most attractive cultural hubs. In fact, there are seven must-visit museums situated within a one-mile route aptly dubbed the MuseumSmile – because of its shape, but also because of the way discovering its highlights will make you feel!

TEXT: PAOLA WESTBEEK Musée Dräi Eechelen. Photo: ©LFT_Christof Weber Villa Vauban, Luxembourg City Art Museum.
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Photo: © Sophie Margue

Situated in the heart of the city centre, the MuseumSmile route includes Villa Vauban – Luxembourg City Art Museum, Casino Luxembourg – Forum d’art contemporain, the Lëtzebuerg City Museum, the National Museum of History and Art, the National Museum of Natural History, Musée Dräi Eechelen and Mudam Luxembourg.

While taking in all of these museums would require at least a weekend, if you’re short on time, here are three you won’t want to miss. In this Luxembourg special, we’ve also highlighted the Luxembourg Science Center and some of the region’s best places to eat and sleep. Chances are you might just want to stick around just a little longer!

Villa Vauban

– Luxembourg City Art Museum

Dating back to 1873, this handsome urban mansion is home to a collection of

Discover Benelux | Special Theme | Discover Luxembourg
Villa Vauban – Luxembourg City Art Museum. Photo: boshua Casemates at Fort Thüngen.
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Photo: MNHA Tom Lucas

European art from the 17th to the 19th century and Luxembourgish art of the 20th and 21st centuries. You’ll find masterpieces by the likes of Dutch Golden Age painters Gerrit Dou and Jan Steen, as well as by French history and landscape artists Eugène Delacroix, Jean-Louis-Ernest Meissonier and Jules Dupré.

The museum is part of a beautiful historic park which is the work of the renowned French architect Édouard André.

Musée Dräi Eechelen

Housed in Fort Thüngen (1732-33), Musée Dräi Eechelen showcases the history of Luxembourg’s historic fort from 1433, when the city was captured by Burgundians, to the construction of Pont Adolphe in 1903. The permanent exhibition includes documents and approximately 600 objects, such as weapons, uniforms and military artifacts. There is a

special room with historical photographs of Thüngen before and during dismantling. Though the fort was modernised during the second half of the 19th century, it still has its impressive underground tunnels and mines.

Casino Luxembourg

– Forum d’art contemporain

Casino Luxembourg – Forum d’art contemporain, or the Luxembourg Contemporary Art Center, is one of the city’s most modern museums and Luxembourg’s leading contemporary art centre. Founded in 1996, the museum showcases art from a younger generation of national and international artists. On the first floor, you’ll find temporary and thematic exhibitions. With a library (the InfoLab), a bookstore and a space for hosting educational activities on the ground floor, Casino Luxembourg not only supports emerging artists, but also serves as an inspirational meeting place.

Discover Benelux |  Special Theme | Discover Luxembourg
Casino Luxembourg – Forum d’art contemporain. Photo: Sven Becker, 2021 Dominique Gonzalez-Foerster, Endodrome, installation view.
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Photo: Casino Luxembourg – Forum d’art contemporain
| | Discover Luxembourg
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Judith Deschamps, An·other voice, installation view. Casino Luxembourg – Forum d’art contemporain

Tomorrow’s world

When you walk into the Luxembourg Science Center (LSC), you are immediately immersed in a world of discovery. Its focus is all about interactivity, as marketing director Dany Fernandes says: “You are an actor here, not a spectator.” This relatively recent addition to the Luxembourg scene has been truly captivating visitors, young and old.

The concept behind the LSC is to involve people to help them learn more about our rapidly changing world, and to help young people, in particular, understand the important technological and scientific advancements that are currently taking place. With many jobs of the future depending on even a basic scientific knowledge, LSC acts as a gateway into the modern world, starting with children as young as six.

The broader aim is to make science more accessible, with visitors invited to engage in 100 stations, all with different interactive activities in every imaginable subject of science. You can even have a verbal conversation at the Chat AI station in three

different languages: English, French and German. New stations and experiences are regularly added to keep the exploration room fresh and exciting. These new creations are put together by the team internally, or with the help of outside expertise from universities and research centres.

In addition, visitors can participate in science shows. There are generally six to eight shows a day, including a planetarium where you can discover the universe through 360° video projection technology as you gaze up at the stars and planets from your seat. Fernandes: “You can be looking up at the stars and then suddenly be exploring Mars or Jupiter

with the most incredible technology. It’s a wonderful way to learn about our universe.” A new addition is a biology show focusing on the brain: Does every living being have a brain? Why does it look so odd and how does it work? Are all brains the same? It’s an experience guaranteed to make you think!

The LSC interactive stations are in five languages – Luxembourgish, French, English, German and Portuguese. LSC is open every day of the year, except for 25, 26 December and 1 January. Prices range from €9 to €15, with special prices for groups.

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Luxembourg Science Center – a wonderful world of discovery.

Dining high in the sky

SixSeven sits at the heart of Luxembourg’s historical centre. Described as the most beautiful restaurant in Luxembourg, this new addition to the city’s social landscape has a serious ‘wow’ factor and is a must for residents and visitors alike.

Part of the Royal Hamilius Complex, designed by celebrated architect Norman Foster, SixSeven’s restaurants offer something for everyone. Brasserie the Six has traditional favourites at affordable prices, including everything from burgers to ‘coquillettes jambon fromage à la truffe’. The Six tends to attract a younger post-work crowd, but is also a welcome rest stop for shoppers and a great meeting place for friends.

There’s a stylish inox bar which evolves throughout the day, from offering a morning coffee to evening cocktails. With its regular DJ sets, the Six is a great place for a fun night out to let your hair down after work or during the weekend.

At the top of the building is the Seven, a restaurant that serves gastronomic dish-

es such as ‘risotto à la truffe and osso bucco’; the succulent ‘half-cooked tuna, olives and anchovies’ or the revisited Apple and Cinnamon dessert, perfectly paired with choices from their extensive wine list. The restaurant has already gained a merited reputation for quality and excellence with its strong emphasis on local, seasonal produce.

Restaurant-goers love the the Seven’s views, which can be admired from inside the building and from the beautiful terrace and sky garden. The Seven has the capacity to hold events for up to 1,000 people, making it the perfect venue for corporate gatherings, weddings and other special celebrations. Private dining can also be organised on the terrace or in its private dining room.

The man behind this landmark addition to the Luxembourg scene is Henry Hassid. A trained industrial pharmacist and a serious car racing pilot, he first dreamed of running a restaurant around 25 years ago. His first restaurant in Versailles, France, has echoes of SixSeven with its famous chef, tasteful surroundings and

Henry Hassid’s ferocious attention to detail. “Opening SixSeven was a dream come true,” Henry Hassid comments. “To be able to open such a restaurant in such a unique location, and to be able to offer a diverse menu, along with a range of experiences, is very gratifying.”

SixSeven is situated in the main building of Royal Hamilius, at the crossroads of Grand Rue and Boulevard Royal. The reception is on the sixth floor above Galerie Lafayette and the restaurant is at the top of the building, on the seventh floor.

Discover Benelux |  Special Theme | Discover Luxembourg
SixSeven is Luxembourg’s new trendy restaurant with the most incredible views of the skyline. SixSeven in autumn
26  |  Issue 78 | May 2023
SixSeven elevators.
Boulevard Royal / Grand-Rue • 6ème étage • L-1660 Luxembourg •

Luxuriating in the Luxembourg Ardennes

If you’re looking for a luxury getaway, you’ll find it at Excellence Group’s hotels Clervaux and Koener, in Clervaux, and the Golf & Country Hotel on the village’s outskirts. Five restaurants offer a range of international and local cuisine, while guests can relax at the Excellence Spa X Cinq Mondes, or take in the splendour of the Luxembourg Ardennes region.

In 1886, the Clervaux-based Koener family turned a one-time hospital into a hotel. Almost 140 years later, it’s still going strong, as one of the Excellence Group’s three hotels in the Luxembourg Ardennes region. Each has its own particular ambiance, according to Camille Scholtès, Excellence Group operator.

“The Koener is very popular with regulars and is particularly appreciated for its authenticity,” Scholtès says. The Clervaux Design and Boutique Hotel offers an upmarket, romantic experience, while nature lovers flock to the Golf & Country Hotel, with its breathtaking views of the

Luxembourg Ardennes, drawn there by the region’s variety of landscapes.

The three hotels’ guests are usually a mix of Benelux, Germany and France residents who come to experience Clervaux’s amazing mix of culture and nature. In the months between May and September, the region becomes a magnet for international visitors.

Guests who are looking to unwind during their visit to Clervaux should hotfoot it to the Excellence Spa X Cinq Mondes Spa,

where a sauna, hammam (Turkish bath) and salt grotto are available, as well as body treatments dispensed by a team of expert beauticians.

As tempting as it is to linger at the hotels, there’s much to see and do beyond their comfortable surroundings, including the city of Luxembourg itself, the Benedictine abbey of Saint-Maurice, the The Family of Man photo exhibition and, for anyone keen to get back to nature, the numerous hiking trails.

“Here, the landscapes follow each other but are not the same – from high pine forests, deep valleys, to sunny plateaus. Each hike is a real surprise!” Scholtès enthuses.

Excellence Group plans to renovate some of its rooms in the coming months, as it cements the brand’s reputation in the Luxembourg region and makes Clervaux and its hotels an unmissable tourist destination.

Discover Benelux |  Special Theme | Discover Luxembourg
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Excellence Group’s The Clervaux Design and Boutique Hotel offers the ideal luxury location for a romantic weekend.


A visit to ‘le musée’

There are plenty of things to love about France. With its world-renowned food and wine, vibrant cities, charming bucolic landscapes and rich culture, it’s no wonder the country has been the leading tourist destination for more than 30 years. Fans of art and history will be happy to know that France counts well over 1,200 fascinating museums.


We all know the Louvre Museum in Paris. One of the most visited museums in the world, it attracts approximately nine million visitors annually who come to admire a vast collection that spans more than nine millenia and includes famous pieces such as Leonardo da Vinci’s iconic Mona Lisa, Liberty Leading the People by Eugène Delacroix and the awe-inspiring Venus de Milo. Though these days, a visit to a French museum is as common as popping into a brasserie for a glass of wine and a cheese platter, museums as we know them today only appeared at the end of the 18th century. Before museums became a public institution, private art collections were often assembled by wealthy aristocrats and collectors.

The first French museum was the Louvre, which opened in 1793. Others would soon follow in the French capital, including the National Museum of Natural History that same year, the Musée des Arts et Métiers (1794) and Musée National des Monuments Français (1795). The city’s second-most famous museum, the Musée d’Orsay (originally a railway station), opened in 1986 and houses a collection of art from the 19th and early 20th centuries.

During the course of the 19th century, other museums were established throughout France’s major cities. Today, France is home to a vast network of museums, ranging from the national museums in Paris to smaller regional museums.

Discover Benelux | Special Theme | Best Museums in France
Venus de Milo.
Issue 78 | May 2023 | 31
Mona Lisa.

Engaging audiences

Just like the original Pompidou Centre in Paris, the Centre Pompidou-Metz is housed in a ground-breaking architectural building. Often referred to as ‘the Chinese hat’, with its wooden lattice roof, this vast building covering 10,000 square metres aims to make art accessible to everyone.

Centre Pompidou-Metz is the only permanent Pompidou centre outside Paris. It regularly shows a whole range of artists’ work, including Picasso, Chagall and Matisse, as well as more contemporary artists such as Maurizio Cattelan, Guiseppe Penone and Annette Messager.

Nearly fifty years after her last retrospective in France and until September, the Centre honours Suzanne Valadon in an ambitious monograph, conceived as the visual narrative of a romantic artist’s life. Discover all the lives of this circus artist, model and resolutely modern artist at the heart of a century in motion, through masterpieces that are not to be missed!

In June this year, an incredible exhibition is being offered to the public: Worldbuilding: Gaming and Art in the Digital Age, curated by Hans Ulrich Obrist, Artistic Director of the Serpentine Gallery in London, explores how contemporary artists have engaged with video games. Alongside this, the Scandinavian duo Elmgreen and Dragset will be transforming large areas within the Centre Pompidou-Metz to create artificial environments as part of an exciting new art installation. Commenting on the forthcoming shows, head of audiences, Elsa De Smet, says: “We’re really thrilled about these exhibitions. It’s a great example of how we work with our partners to create original thought-provoking art in a physical setting.”

A core mission of the Centre is to be open and accessible to a wide range of audiences, particularly young people, as can be seen in the doudou programme for children from 18 months to three years old. Virtual exhibitions are also shared with schools and institutions, as well as prisons, the disabled and the elderly. It opened an atelier called La Capsule, where families are invited to express their creativity under the guidance of artists. De Smet: “It’s really important that the Centre is attractive to everyone. It’s great that we have people visiting us from all over Europe, but we also want to be a core part of the community.”

Centre Pompidou-Metz is just that. Situated in a new district of Metz and a great addition to the area, the Centre is next to beautiful gardens for visitors to enjoy. It also offers a cinema and a new hotel designed by Philippe Starck. Centre Pompidou-Metz is a 15-minute walk from the centre of Metz and is very close to the city’s train station, with direct trains from Paris, Luxembourg, Strasbourg and Brussels.

Discover Benelux | Special Theme | Best Museums in France
32  |  Issue 78 | May 2023
Award-winning iconic architecture by Shigeru Ban and Jean de Gastines. llan McCollum, Plaster Surrogates, 1985 © Allan McCollum. Photo: © Georges Meguerditchian - Centre Pompidou, MNAM-CCI /Dist. RMN-GP Suzanne Valadon, La Chambre bleue, 1923 / Limoges, musée des Beaux-Arts, en dépôt au Centre Pompidou, Musée national d’Art moderne © Centre Pompidou, MNAM-CCI, Dist. RMN-Grand Palais / Jaqueline Hyde Jean Gorin, Composition n°3, 1930 © Jean Gorin. Photo: © Ville de Grenoble / Musée de GrenobleJ.L. Lacroix Suzanne Valadon, Été (Adam et Ève), 1909. Oil on canvas, 162 x 131 cm, State purchase, 1937. Paris, Center Pompidou, National Museum of Modern Art, AM 2325 P Pastoral, 2019.
Photo: Theo Triantafyllidis,

Education in Belgium

Approximately 13 per cent of Belgium’s population is made up of expats. In fact, Brussels is home to some 180 nationalities. Luckily, there are plenty of choices for expat parents when it comes time to selecting where their children will be educated.

34  |  Issue 78 | May 2023

Located in the heart of Europe and benefiting from affordable healthcare, great public transportation systems, a high standard of living and a wealth of business opportunities, Belgium is an attractive country to live in. Families (with young children or teens) who are planning either a permanent or temporary move may be wondering about Belgium’s schools and educational system.

Within Belgium’s three language communities (Dutch, French and German), there are excellent free public schools for students in their primary years (ages six to 12) and secondary years (ages 12 to 18). There are also preschool options for children between the ages of two-and-a-half and six. It’s important to bear in mind that attending school is compulsory for all children ages six to 18, and that you should enroll your child in a school within 60 days of registering at your chosen municipality.

While those considering a permanent move may opt to enroll their children in a local school, temporary expats tend to

choose international schools. Not only can this make the transition to living in a new country easier, but international schools have a reputation for providing high-quality education with a focus on academic excellence and innovative teaching methods. Your children will be taught by well-qualified teachers who are experienced in instructing students from different backgrounds. Additionally, enrolling your child at an international school means they will be in a stimulating and multicultural environment that facilitates opportunities to learn about different cul-

tures, customs and beliefs, thus helping them broaden their global perspective.

Currently, Belgium counts 33 international schools located in and around its four major cities. There are 27 in Brussels, four in Antwerp, one in Ghent and one in Leuven. We’ve highlighted one of these schools (The Courtyard International School of Tervuren) on page 36, but for more information and the tuition fees of all schools, you can visit the International Schools Database.

Discover Benelux | Special Theme | Top Schools in Belgium
Issue 78 | May 2023 | 35

Rooted locally, growing globally

The IB World School, The International School of Tervuren, known as The Courtyard, is based at the 17th-century Brabant courtyard farm Hof ten Oudenvoorde. It helps children between the ages of two and a half and 18 earn a bilingual IB Diploma in English, French or Dutch. Around one-third of the pupils are Belgian, and all are immersed in at least two languages.

Former European School head Sue Kay founded The Courtyard in 2018 after trying to secure a good bilingual education for her four children in Brussels. Having lived in Belgium since 1989, she’s long understood the importance of being fluent in English, Dutch and French, especially if you live in the Belgian capital. Yet very few schools in the country offered the complete package with what British parents expect: an excellent co-curricular programme.

The Courtyard International School of Tervuren is founded on three pillars: languages, sustainability and community. “Where possible, we introduce children to real things rather than showing them on a screen. It’s very much an IB inquiry-based education in the early years, which creates students who are confident in thinking for themselves in secondary school,” Kay says.

She recounts a unit by reception students that had the theme, ‘Where we are in time and place’, which focused on dinosaurs as the opening stimulus. It helped establish verb tenses in literacy, concepts of time in mathematics and also took in history and geography before culminating in a visit to the Natural History Museum in Brussels.

As well as immersing children in different languages and cultures, The Courtyard

works through collaborative teaching, which means staff are able to share and identify the best educational methods from the different national pedagogies, such as the French way of teaching handwriting and the Dutch system of mathematics.

Kay speaks with pride about the secondary IB students, who turned ‘Hope Field’ on the Duisburg farming plateau into a thriving community farm. “They are now working on ways of harvesting water and creating power from the wind and sun for the site,” she says.

We’re always told to appreciate our school days and that they are the best of our lives. The pupils at The Courtyard would probably be the first to agree.

Discover Benelux | Special Theme | Top Schools in Belgium 36  |  Issue 78 | May 2023 •

Benelux Business

Hey boss, get a mentor

A friend has been running seminars for some German CEOs to help them develop their coaching skills. It’s been tough going. “The problem is, there’s no diversity in the group,” he told me. “They’re all rich, powerful, mostly men, and there’s no one to challenge their view of the world.”

Male, pale and stale leaders, in particular, should have a court jester who dares to say the things the boss doesn’t want to hear. But nowadays, keeping up with a world changing at ever more dizzying speed is becoming an imperative just for survival. Which is where mentoring can come in. If you’re not sure what mentoring is, then please google it, although you have probably already had one or more informal mentors.

In a professional context, your mentor is usually someone older and more experienced, working in the same area (but not necessarily the same organisation) with whom you can meet periodically in order to exchange ideas, especially about the direction you want your own professional life to take.

How do you get a mentor? You think of someone who you really admire – no, be more ambitious than that, someone seemingly out of reach – and ask them. The worst that can happen is that they say no, but chances are they’ll agree. It’s rare to find someone who didn’t benefit hugely from being mentored.

What’s this got to do with our German managers? My reaction to my friend’s woe was that they needed some upward mentoring. This phenomenon originated in younger, more tech-savvy people explaining IT to older managers. Today, most millennials and zoomers inhabit a very different universe from that of their bosses, and it’s not only trends in technology that senior managers don’t see. They tend to be out of touch with the cost-ofliving challenges that many people face; to be a few (light) years behind speed on social media; and not to understand that attitudes towards employment and employers have changed. They are often lost on gender and diversity issues. They may not grasp the importance of growing expectations of better work-life balance, responsible environmental policies and

ethical consumerism. What’s more, they risk losing touch with their customers.

Reverse mentoring can help break down organisational hierarchy and make workplaces more networked. Why not get something going where you are? If it’s a no-no, at least you can formulate a question about upward or two-way mentoring for your next job interview.

Steve Flinders is a freelance trainer, writer and coach, based in Malta, who helps people develop their communication and leadership skills for working internationally: PHOTO: STEVE FLINDERS
39 40 40 38  |  Issue 78 | May 2023

Business Calendar

IT, Data and SharePoint professionals. The conference offers quality content and features a top-tier selection of speakers.

#TBSCONFL23BXL: The Banking Scene

16 May

Brussels, Belgium

Product Marketing Summit

10-11 May

Amsterdam, the Netherlands

Two days of learning and networking for product marketers, organised by product marketers. Specialists from companies around the world gather at this summit to share success stories, experiences and challenges of those positioned at the intersection of product, marketing and sales.

Architect at Work, Kortrijk Xpo

11-12 May

Kortrijk, Belgium

For its 11th edition, Kortrijk Xpo will bring together around 300 exhibitors offering innovative solutions for the architecture

field and will organise two days of features and seminars. This year’s theme is ‘Super Skin’, focusing on the use of high-quality, innovative and durable materials, as well as new and outstanding technologies. There will be plenty of opportunities for networking and connecting, facilitated by the continuous provision of free catering throughout the entire event.

Techorama Belgium

15-17 May

Antwerp, Belgium

Techorama is an annual international technology conference targeting a broad audience. The event attracts roughly 1,700 attendees, which are a mix of developers,

Over 400 professionals from the banking sector will gather at the Banking Scene’s flagship event. This is Belgium’s largest banking conference and will feature a unique mix of national and international thought leaders, and many CEOs who will provide new insights on how to drive growth in payments and banking industries. There will be discussions about reinvention, new ethos and lessons learned in the past 15 years.

Maritime Industry

23-25 May

Gorinchem, the Netherlands

This conference is the place to be for everyone working in the maritime sector. Maritime Industry will address various issues concerning legislation and regulations within the industry, with the focus point being the future of the maritime sector. The attendees will have the chance to visit a knowledge theatre, a ‘Pavilion of the Future’ and try a new system for networking.

Discover Benelux | Business | Calendar
TEXT: DANA MARIN Product Marketing Summit. Photo: Product Marketing Summit The Banking Scene conference. Photo: The Banking Scene Brussels Architect at Work. Photo: Kortrijk Xpo Maritime Industry.
Issue 78 | May 2023 | 39
Photo: Seijbel Photography

Lights, camera, action!

Everyone knows Amsterdam is famous for its canals and tulips, but for awardwinning creative agency Shoot You, it’s also a hub for medicine, technology and the arts. Established in 2000 with offices in London, Los Angeles, New York and Amsterdam, the full-service agency specialises in producing video and animation for Fortune 500 clients such as J.P. Morgan, HPE and ETS Global.

Content creation is an ever-changing industry, and Shoot You has capitalised on huge leaps in video technology, from the humble beginnings of the internet to the rise of AI, to produce broadcast-quality video for any format, platform or channel.

Shoot You began their European journey in 2016 with the founding of the Amsterdam office, providing bespoke video and animation services for firms across the continent.

They soon found the photogenic city was a draw for United Kingdom and United States companies looking to use it as a beautiful backdrop for their videos.

Although most people have smartphones, around 30 per cent of companies are complete novices when it comes to video and animation production, according to company director Quint Boa. He says the team is dedicated to “going the extra mile” at every stage of a project, whether the client is a start-up or a seasoned communication specialist.

Their work has been showered with awards, and for Boa, they are recognition of the behind-the-scenes hard work: “They are a testimony to our dedicated team of creatives and the brilliant clients who put their faith in us to create content that matters.”

The art of creating compelling content

Bringing your story to life by creating engaging content is what drives the team behind Krab. This Amsterdam-based creative agency focuses on content creation and distribution through video productions and online marketing. By researching and listening to target audiences, they create content that continuously excites, motivates and educates viewers.

Customers describe Krab as: “a company that really gets to grips with the briefing”, and “one of the best production people I have worked with”.

At the age of 26, Sebastiaan Tietze, creative director, decided to start his own company after the video production department of a national newspaper he worked for was discontinued. Tietze: “Over the past decade, Krab has evolved into a well-established agency. We get to work for national and international clients, including Nikon, Danone, Crocs and various universities.”

Tietze explains that Krab focuses on four main areas: “Our pillars are content creation for marketing, learning, employer branding and online marketing. We can craft comprehensive video concepts from scratch or produce a video based on an existing idea, depending on a client’s needs.”

Krab has been Nikon’s official partner and video ambassador since 2016, using Nikon cameras for their video shoots. They have created various campaigns, product videos and theme-based webinars for Nikon. Additionally, Krab will play a significant role in Nikon webinars focused on video production.

Are you looking for a creative agency that can bring your story to life through content creation? You can contact Krab to see how they can help you.

Discover Benelux | Business | Benelux’s Top Film Production Companies
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Award-winning creative agency ShootYou specialises in producing a wide range of video and animation content from its international offices.

Out & About

May means public holidays and hopes for sunny days. Seaside destinations such as Scheveningen (in the Netherlands) and Ostend (in Belgium) are ideal when the weather cooperates. Yet there are a host of exhibitions, concerts and special events across the Benelux countries as alternatives to the coast.

Discover Benelux | Culture | Lifestyle Calendar
TEXT: STUART FORSTER Portrait of an Indonesian crew member aboard the ship Johan van Oldenbarnevelt in 1938. Photo: Alphons Hustinx, collection The National Maritime Museum.

Dancing with my Camera

From 12 May, Luxembourg City, Luxembourg

Photography aficionados can also look forward to viewing the work of New Delhi-based photographer Dayanita Singh at the Mudam Luxembourg. Singh’s Dancing with my Camera exhibition continues until 10 September. In addition to dance, the exhibition touches on themes including architecture, disappearance and gender. It is an opportunity to appreciate Singh’s editing process reinterpreting images from her archive.

Van Gogh in Auvers

12 May (until 3 September), Amsterdam, the Netherlands

Focusing on the final, hugely productive months of Vincent van Gogh’s life at Auvers-sur-Oise, this major retrospective brings together paintings on loan from around the world. The works on show will include The Church of Auvers-surOise from the Musée d’Orsay, Undergrowth with Two Figures from the Cincinnati Art Museum and Wheatfield with Crows. Many have never been shown together previously.

Discover Benelux | Culture | Lifestyle Calendar
Stolen Memory. Photo: Janina Kantek Van Gogh Museum.
42  |  Issue 78 | May 2023
Photo: Jan Kees Steenman

Yumm Festival Kirchberg


May, Luxembourg City, Luxembourg

Attendees will have opportunities to sample dishes from food trucks from across Europe during this culinary festival. Symbolically, participating trucks park at the Place de l’Europe – the heart of an area which is home to several European institutions. It’s a celebration of cultural diversity and delicious food prepared by talented chefs.

Geek Foire


& 14 May, Luxembourg Bonnevoie, Luxembourg

Take a trip down memory lane or score the coolest vintage games, figurines and toys at the annual Geek Foire organised by Le Réservoir & Rotondes. A fun event for all ages.

The Harlem Fantasy ‘82


May, Brussels, Belgium

The BOZAR Lab, whose shows tend to explore the relationship between artistic expression and technology, will host an exhibition of photographic works by Nick Kuskin. As a 21-yearold, Kuskin was invited to document the Harlem Fantasy Ball II held on West 125th Street in New York City. It was a milestone in avant-garde self-expression that helped marginalised communities define themselves.

Discover Benelux | Culture | Lifestyle Calendar
The Harlem Fantasy ‘82. Photo: ©1982, Nick Kuskin Geek Foire.
Issue 78 | May 2023 | 43
Photo: Mike Zenari


Until 21 May, Antwerp, Belgium

This free-to-visit exhibition at the MAS tells the story of 10 concentration camp prisoners deported by the Nazis. Personal belongings such as photos, jewellery, watches and other intimate items were among the last belongings taken from victims. The Arolsen Archives preserves 2,500 such items and, in exhibiting them, attempts to find relatives of their owners.

Other Eyes – Faces of the Dordrecht Collection

Until 21 May, Dordrecht, the Netherlands

This exhibition at the Dordrechts Museum connects the stories relating to the institution’s employees with the artworks displayed. Artistic Director Femke Hameetman invited 20 employees to select works for inclusion in this exhibition as part of efforts to break down the perceived elitism of art museums. The employees’ stories are conveyed by video and photos.

Bruce Springsteen World Tour

25 & 27 May, Amsterdam, the Netherlands

A sure sign that summer is approaching –Europe’s stadium concert season will also see two appearances by Bruce Springsteen and

the E Street Band at Amsterdam’s Johan Cruijff ArenA. The gigs are among 67 that form The Boss’ first tour since 2017. Fans can look forward to renditions of hits such as No Surrender, Born to Run and Wrecking Ball.

Unlock Your Feminine Superpower

21 May, Amsterdam, the Netherlands & 28 May, Brussels, Belgium

During this enlightening three-hour workshop, professional yoga coach and spiritual mentor Alona Bereza will help participants unlock their feminine superpower by tuning in to their divine feminine energy while embarking on a path towards healing and transformation –one that begins by harnessing the power of self-awareness. After a successful first edition in Rotterdam, the Unlock Your Feminine Superpower workshop will be held in Amsterdam and Brussels. More venues will follow.

Humans at Sea

Until 28 May, Amsterdam, the Netherlands

The National Maritime Museum’s photography exhibition shows images of seafaring people captured over the past 180 years. A collaboration with the Dutch National Portrait Gallery, the exhibition draws upon the riverfront museum’s collection of more than 150,000 photographs. An oral history project (Queer Spaces at Sea Queer culture on merchant ships 1950 – 80) accompanies Humans at Sea

Discover Benelux | Culture | Lifestyle Calendar
Maro #02, 2016, Mischa Keijser. Photo: Collection Het Scheepvaartmuseum Yumm Festival Kirchberg.
44  |  Issue 78 | May 2023
Photo: Yumm Festival
Unlock Your Feminine Superpower.
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Photo: Alona Bereza
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The culinary power couple behind Humus x Hortense, Nicolas Decloedt and his wife, Caroline Baerten. Photo: Kris Vlegels


This past March, Humus x Hortense became the first plant-based restaurant in Belgium to be awarded a Michelin star. A Belgian pioneer in plant-based fine dining since 2008, the restaurant merges the talents of Chef Nicolas Decloedt and his wife, Caroline Baerten.

That renowned star, however, hasn’t been the culinary power couple’s only recognition. Since the husband-and-wife duo opened Humus x Hortense in its current form in 2016, they have booked one success after the other with dedication, teamwork and a commitment to showcasing Mother Nature’s gifts in exquisitely orchestrated plant-based menus. Some of the accolades include Decloedt being named ‘Best Vegetable Chef’ by Gault&Millau in 2018, earning a place in the top ten of the We’re Smart Green Guide’s ‘100 Best Restaurants in the World’ and receiving a Green Michelin Star in 2021.

In his gourmet creations, Decloedt employs the concept of botanical gastronomy, while Baerten (who is a nutritionist, WSET-certified sommelière and art historian) is not only the brainchild of the restaurant’s attractive interior and cre-

Discover Benelux | Cover Feature | Belgium’s Plant-Based Pioneers
Issue 78 | May 2023 | 47
Pastry. Photo: Humus x Hortense

ates some of the ceramics used, but also conjures up clever cocktail pairings that attest to Humus x Hortense’s zero-waste philosophy. We spoke to Chef Decloedt about their gastronomic philosophy and plant-based cuisine.

Can you tell us about your plantbased journey?

We both became plant-based 26 years ago, and the restaurant mirrors our values: who we are, how we are and the way we live. For example, when we renovated our house 15 years ago, we did so in a 100 per cent sustainable way. To us, our way of living is normal. We were very happy about earning a Michelin star, but what we’re most proud of is that we received the award without having to make any compromises. We have remained honest to our approach and our values.

What does botanical gastronomy entail?

From the very beginning, we collaborated with wild farmer and botanist Dries Delanote from Le Monde des Mille Couleurs [cultivators of forgotten vegeta-

bles, historical herbs, edible flowers and botanical greens]. Unlike most restaurants, which change their menu seasonally, we work with the 24 micro seasons, so we are constantly adapting our menu to what our farmer has at that particular time of year. We also forage for some of our products, like mushrooms.

Currently, our menu includes dishes with the season’s first radishes, young spring turnips, red beetroot, green and white asparagus, leeks and Belgian endive.

Your wife, Caroline, makes cocktails from unused herbs and vegetables. Can you give us an example?

This is actually our main collaboration. Adhering to our zero-waste philosophy, we use things like vegetable peels and leftover greens to make infusions, tinctures and bases for our cocktails and mocktails. We currently have a dish with red beetroot and cherry, so Caroline created a cocktail with elements of red beetroot – what isn’t used in the dish is infused in kombucha and vodka and used as a base for the cocktail we serve with that dish.

Discover Benelux | Cover Feature | Belgium’s Plant-Based Pioneers
Cucumber. Photo: Humus x Hortense Houmus and crackers at Humus x Hortense.
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Photo: Kris Vlegels
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Photo: Humus x Hortense

Caroline and I do everything together. For the dishes, we first brainstorm ideas; I’ll do some try-outs and Caroline will give me her feedback. With the drinks, it

works the other way around. She experiments, I give her my feedback and she’ll adapt as necessary. We keep tweaking everything until we’re both happy.

What is your favourite ingredient to work with in spring?

Asparagus is one of my all-time favourites. It’s one of the few vegetables in Belgium that is still very seasonal. Seasonality has been lost these days, and you can find most vegetables year-round at supermarkets. In Belgium, white asparagus is only available from around April until June, so that aspect also gives it an added value.

How do you think plant-based cuisine has evolved in the last 15 years? Back when we started our concept in 2008, plant-based cuisine wasn’t very well-known and was hidden away in a more health-orientated corner. On a fine-dining level, there was hardly anything worldwide. Things started to evolve in the next decade, but there were still very few plant-based fine-dining restaurants when we opened in 2016. In Belgium, we were the first, and at the time, that was a huge risk. People weren’t as open to this kind of cooking as they are today. They didn’t think fine dining could exist without luxury products such as

Discover Benelux | Cover Feature | Belgium’s Plant-Based Pioneers
Photo: Equinox Light Photo
50  |  Issue 78 | May 2023
Photo: Kris Vlegels

lobster and foie gras, so we received a lot of backlash.

In the last five years, however, more restaurants have opened and people are showing more interest. The creativity of plant-based cuisine and its techniques have evolved tremendously. We are convinced about the merit of bringing plant-based cuisine into the world of fine dining, so we are all encouraging each other to keep raising the level.

What do you hope the future has in store for Humus x Hortense?

We want to keep pushing our limits and evolving. Besides the plant-based aspect of Humus x Hortense, we are striving to bring other important topics to the forefront. For example, we want to use the restaurant as a platform for designers from Brussels and the rest of Belgium. Along with Caroline’s ceramics, our tables and chairs are all Belgian design. Our mission is to really come full circle in terms of sustainability.

Photo: Maurine Buchet
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Humus x Hortense’s bright and airy interior is the work of Caroline Baerten. Photo: Equinox Light Photo

The rise of Belgium’s 3D bikes

Whether it’s pedalling the Peace Cycle route in Ypres, the Castle Triangle in Bruges or La Promenade Verte in Brussels, biking in Belgium has become increasingly popular over the last few decades. Capitalising on this as a source of revenue, the Belgium tourism office has stated its aim to continue promoting and enhancing bicycle tourism.


Often referred to as a ‘religion’ that most Belgians subscribe to, the pandemic only served to increase the enthusiasm for cycling on the open road, with the number of bike trips taken in cities like Brussels climbing from 4.6 million in 2020 to 5.5 million in 2021. Cycling holidays to different parts of the country are popular with locals, while overseas visitors are drawn to the land of beer and waffles not just for the cuisine, but now also for its cycling trails.

Innovative cycling

While most people use the standard and traditional bike, various new and innova-

tive models are entering the market to cater for the surge in popularity and the new age of both local and overseas bikers in Belgium. An OTO bike is one of them. Currently being developed by Brussels-based doctor Raphaël Panier, OTO bikes are locally made, foldable and are partially 3D printed. The bike is lightweight at eight kilogrammes and thus easier for people to transport and park, while its production focuses on limiting waste and emissions. Panier shared that being able to 3D-print parts of a bike means that OTO produces less than 200 grammes of waste per bike frame.

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Belgium has seen the third-highest number of sales of e-bikes after Germany and the Netherlands.
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Panier created his product in the hopes of encouraging more cycling among groups that are typically forgotten in the cycling community – such as women and those from a lower-income background – in an effort to boost “health for all, one bike at a time”. Less cumbersome to carry and less likely to encounter the need for repair, Panier believes the OTO bike could entice more to swap their car journeys for that of a bicycle, making both people and planet healthier.

The Belgian start-up, Shadow, is also exploring 3D models with its 3D electric bike, the Shadow M1. Customised to each buyer’s biometric data, the printed frame consists of CO2-neutral and biodegradable biopolymers, so that the bike is not only a bespoke model, but one that’s more eco-friendly. Made in Nivelles, the Shadow M1 is also battery-powered, allowing owners to travel an average of 70 kilometres.

A growing market

Electric bikes had already gained some popularity in the country. In fact, Belgium

has seen the third-highest number of sales of e-bikes after Germany and the Netherlands. And companies like Belgian-based Cowboy’s electric bikes have sold over 25,000 models across ten-plus countries.

When it comes to tourists, e-bikes allow individuals to discover more of a destination in an efficient and timely way. Tapping into this, multiple electric-bike tours are available across Belgium., for example, offers a daily e-bike tour of Brussels, BikingBox rents e-bikes and runs tours of the Flanders region, while Ostebelgien has ten rental stations across East Belgium.

But introducing this new 3D element to the market taps into additional benefits that supersede that of an electric bike alone. Produced via a 3D printer, such a bike can be manufactured locally, eliminating the need for importing overseas parts and thus, carbon emissions. Research shows that tourists are increasingly looking at ways of ensuring their holidays are sustainable and don’t harm the environment. Opting to rent a 3D-printed and possibly electric bike could be an alternative to travelling or exploring via a higher-emitting mode of transport.

Such benefits are likely to be an attraction for tourists, many of whom visit Belgium to see the scenery. ‘Cycling Through Water’, a 200-metre-long cycling experience that segways through a pond in the province of Limburg, has been named as one of Time’s ‘World’s 100 Greatest Places’. And hotels, such as the Flandrien Hotel in the municipality of Brakel, have begun catering with cyclists in mind. A bicycle-themed hotel, it offers high-end bikes, such as Cannondale, Cervelo and Giant for hire, has a cycling workshop and is nestled nearby multiple cobbled bike paths.

Adding 3D models to Belgium’s bike repertoire puts it at the forefront of cycling eco-tourism, which is increasing in popularity as individuals become more aware of the carbon cost of holidaying.

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Raphaël Panier holding an OTO bike.

From toxic swamp to clean-tech playground

A dilapidated shipyard on polluted soil in Amsterdam-North has become one of Europe’s most sustainable urban experiments. Opened in 2014, awardwinning De Ceuvel is setting a new standard for clean technologies in a thriving community of creatives who’ve built Amsterdam’s first self-sustaining, waterside office park.

In 2000, the Ceuvel-Volhardig shipyard off the River IJ in Amsterdam-North closed its doors. Unable to compete with larger facilities and further challenged by plans for a new bridge, it had become obsolete after 80 years of service. In 2002, shipyard buildings were demolished and the site became one the culprits responsible for nearly a century of heavy industrial pollution in the Buiksloterham area.

The picture was grim until Metabolic, an Amsterdam-based team of landscape architects, sustainability experts and social entrepreneurs, stepped in. In 2012, the

multidisciplinary group won a ten-year lease for the shipyard from the City of Amsterdam. Their concept to rejuvenate the land, as well as the water beneath it, was novel: transform the mess into an

urban eco-hub on the cutting-edge of technology, sustainability and hip culture, designed to turn waste into valuable resources. In the process, De Ceuvel has become a role model for a contemporary circular lifestyle.

A clean-tech blueprint

What Metabolic envisioned as a showcase for circular experimentation is now a self-sustaining office park with 17 upcycled boats. Some 30 creative entrepreneurs live and work in vessels boasting 100 per cent renewable heat, water, electricity, wastewater and organic waste treatment systems. Composting recovers 60-80 per cent of nutrients from household waste; other technologies reduce electricity demands by 50-70 per cent of conventional offices.

Many original tenants renovated their own boats, raising roofs, lowering floors and

TEXT: MELISSA ADAMS The Holland B&B. Photo: De Ceuvel
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De Ceuvel is an inclusive Bohemian hangout. Photo: Melissa Adams

stripping walls on NDSM Wharf before a giant crane lifted their crafts onto dry land at De Ceuvel. With land-locked boats, designer Space&Matter created a terrestrial harbour linked to a jetty offering diverse sightlines. A bamboo boardwalk winds through the boats, widening at points for optimal views. Individual entrepreneurs rent some vessels; several creative enterprises share others.

Since pollution precluded a sewage system, boats are equipped with water-saving toilets that pre-compost waste before transport to De Ceuvel’s biodigester for nutrient extraction and future use in the greenhouse. Helophyte filters process wastewater using layers of sand, gravel and shells to remove solids while plants consume nitrogen, phosphorus and organic material. Purified water is discharged into the ground.

Vessels also have heating-ventilation systems that capture over 60 per cent of heat from the surrounding air and recirculate it inside, circumventing the need for gas connections and averting some 200,000 tons of CO2 emissions over a decade. Solar energy panels on most boats supply electricity for heating. A green energy provider covers De Ceuvel’s remaining power needs.

A “forbidden garden”

To clean De Ceuvel’s once-toxic soil, Delva Landscape Architects designed a “forbidden garden” of plants known to absorb pollutants through their roots. The result is Zuiverend Park, where pollutants are stabilised or consumed by “phytoremediation”.

On the third Wednesday of every month, volunteers plant additional vegetation known for its metal-absorbing abilities.

Beyond green technology, De Ceuvel aims to sow seeds in hearts and minds

that will grow into involvement with sustainability innovation. Through workshops, lectures, films, music, exhibitions and festivals, the association spreads inspiration for a sustainable lifestyle while evolving as a cultural hub.

Crypto-currency and a floating B&B

In 2017, De Ceuvel embraced the Jouliette crypto-currency, named after the international unit of energy, the Joule. Through blockchain technology, users generate points based on power usage that can be traded for resources. The Jouliette encourages solar panel owners to exchange energy rather than selling surplus power to the grid.

In the same year Jouliettes debuted, De Ceuvel launched Asile Flottant, its floating bed-and-breakfast. Taking its name from a ship designed by Le Corbusier that once harboured the homeless, the self-dubbed “epicurean shelter for the modern-day vagrant” features a fleet of six historical ships rebuilt into hotel rooms with comfy mattresses, flush toilets and other contemporary comforts.

A mellow café and sustainable mission

De Ceuvel’s centrepiece is a mellow café with a kitchen focused on sustainability. Built from a salvaged lifeguard kiosk and 80-year-old bollards from Scheveningen Harbour, Café de Ceuvel uses local, organic ingredients for dishes seasoned

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De Ceuvel’s centrepiece is a mellow café with a kitchen focused on sustainability. Photo: Melissa Adams
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Café de Ceuvel uses local, organic ingredients in their dishes. Photo: De Ceuvel

with herbs grown in a rooftop aquaponics greenhouse.

Dutch favourites with a twist include ‘bitterballen’ and croquettes made with oyster mushrooms grown on coffee grinds to replace beef. While the café previously served goose culled from birds shot at Schiphol Airport to keep them from slaughter in jet engines, the fare is now 100 per cent vegetarian. But its mission is inclusive, and even carnivores can enjoy concerts, workshops, films and parties at the bohemian hangout.

Ultimately, the clean-tech playground encompassing both De Ceuvel and adjacent Schoonschip, a floating residential development, will be returned to the City of Amsterdam, cleaner and healthier than it once was. “Officially, 2024 is our last year,” reports rep Liza Vos. “Because of our good relationship with our municipality, we’ve extended our lease one year, making 2025 our last one.”

Recycled B&B interior. Photo: De Ceuvel B&B Les Six Freres’s interior.
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Photo: De Ceuvel
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Green Netherlands’

TOP 5 national parks

Despite its small size, the Netherlands is home to 21 unique national parks, each one telling a story of how the country developed and helping preserve nature and biodiversity. We invite you to expand your bucket list with five of the most beautiful Dutch national parks. Grab a map and start planning your next nature outing!

Veluwezoom – Gelderland Province

The Veluwezoom is the oldest Dutch national park and one of the largest, spanning 5,000 hectares. Its landscape is defined by rugged woodlands, heathlands, drift sand and farmland. The Veluwezoom is inhabited by a variety of flora and fauna, including boars, deer and Scottish Highlanders.

What makes this park so unique is its picturesque and hilly landscape – a stark contrast to the otherwise flat Netherlands. These hills are push moraines sculpted during the Saalian Glaciation some 150,000 years ago. Standing on the highest one, the Posbank, at 90 metres above sea level, you can see all the way to Germany on a clear day. In late summer, the hills are covered in purple heather, creating a magical view on misty mornings and attracting droves of photographers in search of the perfect shot. In autumn, the lush forests resound with the bellowing of the male deer looking for a mate.

On the southern edge of the park, there are a few country estates that can be visited, among them Heuven and Beekhuizen, located along the Herikhuizen walking route.

Dunes of Texel

The Dunes of Texel National Park is situated on the island of Texel in the north of the Netherlands. A popular holiday destination for the Dutch and for many German tourists who want to spend a few days by the sea, Texel is dotted with only a few villages and boasts a serene landscape with grazing sheep, sand dunes and a beautiful lighthouse. The Dunes of Texel covers the entirety of the island’s dunes and woodlands – from the southernmost tip at De Hors to the dunes close to the lighthouse at the island’s most northerly point. Heaths, marshes, beaches and both freshwater and saltwater waterways are also part of this splendid national park. For birdwatchers, the area is a paradise as it is home to some 400 bird species.

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Path over the vivid blue waters in Maasduinen. Photo: Alfred Derks
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You can cycle or hike on the park’s many trails, admiring the quickly changing flora and making an occasional stop to dip into the sea. And, if you’re lucky, you can even spot seals resting in the sun! The sunsets are impressive and can be admired from the vast beaches or from one of the many beach restaurants.

The Biesbosch – North Brabant

The Biesbosch National Park is a spectacular nature conservation area and one of the last examples of freshwater tidal wetlands in Northwest Europe, where you can observe the ebb and flow. Best explored by boat or canoe, the park is a maze of rivers and creeks peppered with tiny islands. The view is awe-inspiring, and visitors are encouraged to make stops along the way to explore the islands on foot. You can wander through the thick willow forests teeming with wildlife, and you might even spot pine martens, deer or beavers. The Biesbosch counts over 300 beavers and 100 dams. Keep an eye out for gnawing marks on trees left by these resident rodents!

De Alde Feanen – Friesland

With its natural splendour and diverse wildlife, De Alde Feanen is a picturesque wetland area in the heart of Friesland and highly popular among nature enthusiasts and birdwatchers. While walking through De Alde Feanen, you’ll come across 450 different kinds of plants and will spot myriad birds such as the black-tailed godwit and the bearded reedling; at least 100 species call this landscape home. The park can be explored by bike or on foot, and there are several marked trails that lead through the different habitats within the park.

The main attraction of the park is its network of canals and lakes. You can book a guided tour through the canals or rent a canoe or a rowboat to discover the unique landscape of the park at your leisure. And for a touch of culture, step back in time by visiting the monumental windmills dating back to the 18th century.

The Maasduinen – Limburg

At the Maasduinen National Park, you’ll find the longest river dune belt in the Neth-

A misty morning in Veluwezoom. Photo: Jonne Laagland Winder Swans in the Biesbosch.
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Photo: Micheile Henderson

erlands. The landscape is a sloping ribbon of dunes, overgrown forests, patches of heathland, fields, shifting sands and gleaming fens lining the east bank of the river. One of the most fascinating residents of these southern dunes is a small and robust sand lizard with a thick tail. You’ll also find buzzards, beavers, butterflies and the non-venomous smooth snake.

During the spring and autumn, the Maasduinen attracts cranes on their migratory journeys. While walking along the sandy paths and enjoying the fresh air, you may just find yourself in the company of goats, sheep and Galloway cattle.

De Maasduinen counts 17 marked paths, including a few that are wheelchair accessible. A great tip is to follow the routes that take you around the Reindersmeer (an artificial lake created by large-scale sand extraction). You’ll be mesmerised by the vivid blue colour of the crystal-clear waters. And if you want to experience this magical place to the fullest, pitch up your tent at one of the park’s campsites. There’s plenty to merit a longer stay!

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Meandering canals in De Biesbosch. Photo: Stan Versluis
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Sumer vegetation in the Dunes of Texel Park. Photo: Dana Marin

North Holland’s medieval cheese capital

Ever since Alkmaar was relieved by William of Orange from the Spanish siege in 1573 (a pivotal point in the 80 Years’ War which would embolden the Dutch rebellion against Habsburg domination and ultimately lead to the ‘birth’ of the Netherlands), the call “Victory begins at Alkmaar” has resounded on the streets of this historic walled city in the province of North Holland.

Though settled around the 9th century, Alkmaar was first granted city rights in 1254 by Count William II. To this day, the city has managed to beautifully preserve its medieval character. The original bastioned walls and surrounding moat run through

public parkland, impeccably landscaped in the Dutch horticultural tradition, and can still be traversed almost entirely on foot, by bicycle (for hire at the Central Station), in a hired electric sloop, or as part of a scenic cruise in an open boat, which also follows

a meandering route through the city’s picturesque canals.

Over the last four centuries, Alkmaar has become a hub for the world-renowned North Holland cheese industry, with its epicentre at the Waag weighing station, housed in a former church with an imposing tower complete with carillon.

Explore the historic cheese market

The famous cheese market takes place on the adjacent Waagplein (square) and is held from 10am to 1pm every Friday,

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The Friday cheese market is the highlight of the week.
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De Waag weighing house.

from April to September. Following traditions traceable to the late-1500s, teams from the Cheese Bearers Guild, wearing distinctive straw hats, sling barrows carrying up to 130 kilogrammes (287 pounds) of cheese and trot from the square (where the cheese is graded by experts and sold by consensual ‘Dutch auction’) to the giant scales (where they are certified by the Waagmeester, a custodian of the officially sanctioned standard weights). This makes Friday the best but also busiest day to visit Alkmaar, as the cheese theme spills over into stalls and markets in the old city. If weather permits and you’re lucky enough to find a spot, there’s always the option of watching the spectacle from the many terraces that line the square.

Should the cheese market leave you hungry for more, the Cheese Museum (housed on the second and third floor of the Waag building and open year-round) is a great place to learn about the history of cheese and the process of cheesemaking. The museum opened in 1983 and attracts upwards of 35,000 visitors annually.

There are also plenty of opportunities to buy cheese at one of the nearby specialist cheese vendors.

Those who prefer less of a throng can admire Alkmaar’s rich history and picturesque architecture while enjoying a sce-

nic canal cruise. There are even special cheese cruises departing from Waagplein on market day.

A pleasant shopping city

Alkmaar is renowned for its variety of shopping opportunities and has been ranked among the top ten Dutch shopping cities. The entire centre is a relaxed pedestrian zone, and there is ample parking within easy walking distance. The railway station is served by regular, reliable local and intercity train services. Shops where local farmers buy unvarnished Dutch clogs rub shoulders with top Dutch and international brands.

The main Langestraat shopping street runs past the ornate city hall, where heraldic lions emblazon the Alkmaar coat of arms depicting a castle in homage to its fortified past. At the western end of the street stands the imposing 15th-century Great, or St. Lawrence Church. It offers daily tours, routinely hosts music events and serves as a venue for temporary art and photo exhibitions. During the Friday cheese market, recitals on the renowned 17th-century organ can be heard at midday. Streets teeming with boutiques, specialist shops and small coffee houses link Langestraat with the parallel Laat and Gedempte Nieuwesloot. The city’s colourful weekly market is held on Gedempte Nieuwesloot and Hofplein, on Saturdays from 9am to 5pm.

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Cheese grading on market day.
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Medieval costume. Photo: Luciënne van der Stouwe - Alkmaar Marketing

To get the most out of a shopping trip to Alkmaar, visit the VVV Tourist Office and ask about one of the several themed shopping routes, such as the cheese route or the sustainable shopping route.

More than just cheese

Adding to Alkmaar’s significance as a trading centre, in the 1820s, part of the city’s former moat was incorporated into the Noordhollandsch Kanaal (North Holland Canal), giving it a place of prominence – as well as a still intact toll tower –on this important inland waterway linking Amsterdam with Den Helder and the bountiful surrounding farmland.

Those interested in learning more about the history of beer can visit the National

Beer Museum, the Boom. Housed in an original brewery dating back to the 17th century, the museum shows artefacts, machinery and memorabilia tracing 200 years of Dutch brewing tradition. A visit can be rounded off with a sampling of some of the beers on offer at the museum’s tasting cellar, Proeflokaal De Boom.

Located just over half an hour’s drive or train ride from Amsterdam, Alkmaar offers an authentic Dutch experience. The visitor-friendly city is far less crowded than some better-trodden destinations in the Netherlands. Though there are a few small hotels in the city, the surrounding villages and popular beach resorts Egmond aan Zee and Bergen aan Zee offer everything from B&Bs to bungalow parks.


Marking 450 years since the city’s relief from the Spanish siege, which forever gave it pride of place in the history of the Netherlands, Alkmaar will be holding a programme of commemorative events until 8 October, when the anniversary year will culminate with the unveiling of a new stained-glass window in the Great, or St. Lawrence church. The Night of the Alckmaer Proms, billed as “a musical journey through time, from the late-16th century to the present”, will feature local and national artists.

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Cheese maid assisting visitors.
Discover Benelux | Feature | SAWA: Building Our Future 66  |  Issue 78 | May 2023
SAWA’s western facade on Kratonkade in Rotterdam’s Lloydkwartier neighbourhood. Photo: ©Mei architects and planners

SAWA: Building our future

According to the UN’s biodiversity conference in Montreal in 2022, “cities are on the front line of the socio-economic impacts of climate change and ecosystem loss”. Many of them are already taking ambitious action to protect and restore nature. One such city is forward-thinking Rotterdam.

encouraged community living in a healthy environment. The layout of the building deliberately encourages more rather than less contact with neighbours.

With the devastating loss of nature and its impact on biodiversity, namely animal, bird and insect life, the solution is clearly to bring nature into the centre of cities. Not only does this help the natural world, but it also brings a healthier environment for humans. According to the World Health Organization, 99 per cent of the global population is exposed to pollution, significantly increasing the likelihood of developing serious diseases such as cancer and heart disease. Many studies have also been done on the calming effects of plants and nature on mental health. Humans cannot live without a balanced ecosystem – we are part of the natural world too, after all.

To take on this challenge requires bold new thinking, taking the way we live – literally and metaphorically – back to the drawing board. Which is exactly what the Dutch architectural firm Mei architects and planners did when they created SAWA, often referred to as the healthiest building in the Netherlands.

Reimagining how we live

Commissioned by Nice Developers & Era Contour, construction of SAWA began in August 2022. With private financing, the developers could be ambitious in realising

their vision. An architectural masterpiece situated in Rotterdam, SAWA is a 50-metre-high residential building containing 109 apartments and made predominantly from wood (using very little concrete). The aim was to create a mix of private apartments and affordable housing (50 per cent of mid-market rent) with a design which

Commenting on the community aspect of the building, managing director of Mei and owner of Nice Developers, Robert Winkel said: “When we consulted locals before construction about what they wanted, community living was key. Some of our consultations were carried out via social media during Covid lockdowns, so I think it really made people reflect on what was important, and what we as humans

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SAWA’s green terraces are a mini urban oasis. Photo: ©Beeldenfabriek

need to live healthier. People were keen to live in a mixed environment with different ages and different socioeconomic backgrounds. For many, living in SAWA represented a fresh start, an opportunity to live in line with their values.”

The building has large green terraces, which include 140 nesting boxes for birds, bats and insects, and are maintained by an external contractor. There’s a collective vegetable garden, a shared garden and repair room, which further encourage

supportive community living. It also has an energy-neutral status, using remote solar energy from PV roof panels that also provide the energy for the residents’ electric bikes and cars.

The design of this circular-stepped building was inspired by the Eastern rice fields connected to the history of the Lloydkwartier district, where SAWA is situated, a nod to the historical links with Indonesia when this area was a thriving port, just as it is today. The wood used was sourced from sustainable forests in West Germany, where for every tree felled, another four were replanted (6,000 in total). Wood, in fact, stores CO2, which is another good reason to use this as a building material. Winkel: “Mei’s aim was to create a building that captures CO2 rather than emitting it. So, in effect, it produces carbon credits.”

Sharing knowledge and best practice

The pace of globalisation, technological change and consumer behaviour have had a profound and sometimes devastating impact on our world. However, the

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SAWA has a collective vegetable garden, a shared garden and repair room, which further encourage supportive community living. Photo: ©Mei architects and planners An example of a SAWA interior. Photo: ©Beeldenfabriek

upside to this is our ability to find solutions and share best practice with other cities dealing with the same issues. Nice Developers is funded by external capital, so they can make standalone buildings across Europe and overseas. They have the expertise to build on top of existing buildings with over four floors, to make them more eco-friendly and people-friendly. Not only is SAWA the healthiest building in the Netherlands, but it is also a beacon of hope for other cities dealing with the same challenges. Tackling climate change and the destruction of our natural world means changing the way we live. The upside to this could be a more compassionate, community-based living, which has multiple benefits. SAWA stands as a testament to what is possible when a positive solutions-based approach unfolds. They’re clearly called Nice Developers for good reason.

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| Feature | SAWA: Building Our Future
Discover Benelux
Abundant plants help boost biodiversity. Photo: ©Mei architects and planners SAWA makes green living in an urban environment possible. Photo: ©Beeldenfabriek

The plant-based food revolution

Be it for animal welfare, the environment, better health or all of these combined, more and more people are converting to a vegan lifestyle or plant-based diet. Especially during the past decade, plant-based cuisine has become more sophisticated than ever, with new products hitting the shelves every day and exclusively plant-based eateries opening their doors in all major cities across Benelux.

Conscious cuisine

According to the UN, roughly one-third of all human-caused greenhouse gas emissions is linked to the way we eat. Our food choices not only affect our health, but also that of the planet. Pair that with concerns about intensive animal agriculture and it’s easy to see why eliminating or reducing the consumption of animal products is a sensible choice. In the Netherlands, for example, approximately 45 per cent of the population is flexitarian, five per cent is vegetarian and approximately one per cent is vegan or plant-based (vegans exclude all animal products from their diet as well as their lifestyle). While those numbers may seem small, the plant-based movement is gaining momentum – and people are realising that they can start to change the world by changing the way they eat. The proof is that in recent years, the mar-

ket for plant-based products in Benelux has expanded exponentially. The Smart Protein report (financed by the European Union) notes that the plant-based food sector increased by 49 per cent between 2018 and 2020. A walk through the aisles of any random supermarket confirms that. Since 2017, the number of meat substitutes has more than doubled, and for every animal product, there’s a suitable

plant-based alternative. Additionally, plantbased restaurants are not only attracting even the most die-hard meat-eaters, but they’re earning Michelin stars, too. There are even delicatessens and ‘cheese’ shops catering exclusively to plant-based eaters. Plant-based cheese, you ask? Absolutely! And it’s knock-your-socks-off delicious. Here are some of Benelux’s most exciting plant-based addresses.

Fine dining

In November 2022, De Nieuwe Winkel in Nijmegen, the Netherlands, was named the best plant-based restaurant in the world –even before renowned restaurant L’Arpège in Paris. With Chef Emile van der Staak at the helm, De Nieuwe Winkel serves exquisite seasonal dishes based on botanical gastronomy. From the dining area, guests have a view of the open kitchen where the team creates their culinary masterpieces. The restaurant boasts two Michelin stars as well as one Green Michelin Star.

Hailed as one of the best fine-dining restaurants in Amsterdam, BonBoon serves seasonal set menus (three, four or five courses) that are an ode to the breadth

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Margo’s Amsterdam shop. Photo: Margo’s Amsterdam Vegabond’s plant-based dishes. Photo: Vegabond, JASON TJON AFFO Hearty, plant-based sandwich at Margo’s Amsterdam. Photo: Margo’s Amsterdam Plant-based cake at Vegabond in Amsterdam. Photo: Vegabond, JASON TJON AFFO

and creativity of the plant kingdom. The restaurant was opened in 2018 by Daphne Althoff, who was determined to prove that eating well doesn’t have to mean exploiting animals. Located on KNSM Island, BonBoon has a lovely terrace where you can enjoy an artfully prepared vegan meal on warmer evenings. It’s interesting to note that, according to the Happy Cow website, Amsterdam is one of the top-ten most vegan-friendly cities in the world. In fact, during the last three years alone, the Dutch capital experienced a phenomenal 78 per cent growth in vegan businesses.

Further afield in Brussels is Humus x Hortense, the first plant-based restaurant in Belgium to be awarded a Michelin star (they had already received a Green Star in 2021). The brainchild of Nicolas Decloedt (voted ‘Best Vegetable Chef’ by Gault&Millau) and Caroline Baerten, the restaurant’s botanical tasting menu changes according to the 24 micro-seasons. (See page 46 for our interview with Decloedt.) Dishes can be paired with their extensive range of biodynamic wines, but they also serve artisanal Belgian beers and botanical cocktails (made with un-

used herbs and vegetables and attesting to the restaurant’s zero waste philosophy).

In Luxembourg, 11 restaurants were awarded ‘Radishes’ (used to rank restaurants with menus that are at least twothirds plant-based) by the We’re Smart Green Guide. Among them was the oneMichelin-starred La Distillerie in Bourglinster Castle, headed by René Mathieu and also named ‘Best Vegetable Restaurant’ in the world in 2020. Mathieu describes his cooking as “an adventure, a treasure hunt, respecting nature and production”.

From bakeries to brasserie classics

No need to wave ‘adieu’ to your morning croissant or ‘pain au chocolat’ if you’ve gone plant-based. At Margo’s Amsterdam, located in the folkloric Jordaan neighbourhood, it isn’t just the viennoiserie that will make your mouth water. This friendly, plant-based bakery tempts you with a variety of gorgeous pastries (some vary seasonally), tahini buns, soft American cookies, hearty sandwiches and toasties. On Saturdays, start your day at Margo’s with coffee and a pastry, then head on over to the Noordermarkt, located only a stone’s throw away, for a stroll through the weekly organic farmers’ market.

If brasserie fare is what you’re after, Meatless District in the Oud West neighbourhood serves up flavour-infused dishes amidst a relaxed atmosphere. Choose from robust burgers to international clas-

Discover Benelux | Feature | The Plant-Based Food Revolution
Plant-based cheese paradise, Willicroft Store in Amsterdam. Photo: Willicroft Store A medley of colours, flavours and textures at BonBoon. Photo: BonBoon De Nieuwe Winkel in Nijmegen counts two Michelin stars and one Green Michelin Star. Photo: De Nieuwe Winkel
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BonBoon’s artfully prepared vegan cuisine. Photo: BonBoon

sics, such as the velvety ‘faux gras’ or the wine-infused mushroom bourguignon. With an extensive list of cocktails and choices such as the ‘smoked no salmon bagel’, mushrooms on toast and Dutch croquettes, Meatless District is also the perfect plant-based brunch spot in the city.

Only a few minutes’ walk from Meatless District is Vegabond, a cosy eatery and plant-based shop where you can sit down for a slice of quiche, savoury pastries, sandwiches, cake and coffee. Their selection of plant-based delights includes readymade meals, deli products and ‘cheeses’.

For the ultimate ‘fauxmage’ experience, however, Willicroft Store, tucked into the beautiful Spiegel Quarter, is the country’s first plant-based cheese shop. Not only will you find everything from unctuous bloomy rinds to robust blues that will please even the most discerning cheese connaisseurs, but the shop also sells natural wines and regularly hosts cheese and wine tastings in their cellar.

Craving ‘boulets à la Liégeoise’ (meatballs served in a rich, sweet and savoury sauce), a lobster roll or ‘coq au vin’? Sample the well-prepared plant-based versions of these classics at The Judgy Vegan in Brussels. The city is home to over 200 restaurants offering plant-based cuisine. Another address that deserves mentioning is Lucifer Lives, a café serving comfort food staples such as mac and ‘cheese’, fudgy brownies, ‘sausages’ with mashed potatoes and freshly-baked apple pie.

In Luxembourg, Rawdish carries readymade meals, cold-pressed juices, healthy bowls and guilt-free sweets, such as sweet-potato brownies and oat granola balls. Centrally located on Place de Paris, it’s a highly recommended spot to grab the makings of a plant-based picnic. Rawdish’s products are also available at various convenience stores in Luxembourg.

Whether you’re in the mood for an evening of gourmet wining and dining, a handsome burger, nostalgic comfort food or gorgeous flaky pastries to start a weekend morning, Benelux offers plant-based choices aplenty.

Discover Benelux | Feature | The Plant-Based Food Revolution
Rawdish is centrally located on Place de Paris. Photo: Rawdish
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Chef Emile van der Staak of De Nieuwe Winkel in Nijmegen. Photo: De Nieuwe Winkel

The awe-inspiring Atomium

If one building has put Brussels on the map, it’s the Atomium. This steel giant from the ‘50s is one of the most modern constructions in the city to date. It consists of nine interconnected spheres, which made it the crown jewel of the 1958 World Fair in Brussels.

Discover Benelux | Feature | The Awe-Inspiring Atomium
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The building was supposed to be demolished after six months, as soon as the fair closed its doors. Yet, the love of the Bruxellois for their out-of-this-world monument meant that you can still visit the metal mammoth today.

EXPO ‘58

Like Paris, Brussels owes its most famous building to the lucky fact that the World Fair came to the city. Brussels had the honour hosting the first big fair since the Second World War. Its goal was to show the visitors the delights of the modern world: cars, escalators and state-of-theart architecture. But not everything was as modern as you might imagine; as Congo was still a Belgian colony at the time, back in ‘58, the fair also hosted a human zoo, where African people were ‘exhibited’. Luckily, most pavilions were more tasteful than that. Countries like Japan, the United States, Canada, the Soviet Union and the Netherlands built a pavilion each to unveil their history and future to the world, and so did many multinationals, such as Coca Cola and Philips. The brightest star of the event, however, was the massive construction that is the Atomium.


The extraordinary shape of the Atomium is that of an iron molecule, but 165 billion times bigger. It was an ode to the iron industry, the sector that made Belgium great during the first half of the century. Ironically, the building itself wasn’t made from that same trustworthy Belgian iron, but from aluminium, a metal that had just gained popularity for its corrosion resistance. The nine spheres symbolised the nine Belgian provinces, but in 1995, the province of Brabant was split into three parts: Flemish Brabant,

Discover Benelux | Feature | The Awe-Inspiring Atomium
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Atomium. Photo: Normann Szkop-© 2020 – – SOFAM Belgium


Surrounding the Atomium, on the grounds where the World Fair was once held, is the Heysel site. 11 of the palaces built for the exhibition are host to a myriad of fairs. The 12th and last one is now a big concert arena, appropriately named Palace 12. In the shadow of the Atomium, you’ll also find the city’s biggest cinema, the planetarium, the King Baudouin Stadium (home base of the national soccer team, the Red Devils) and Mini Europe (a park with miniature versions of Europe’s finest buildings and monuments). Nature aficionados can enter the woods next to the Atomium and walk to the Royal Palace of Laeken or the Chinese Pavilion and Japanese Tower, two exotic-looking buildings which King Leopold II had built.

Walloon Brabant and the Brussels Capital Region. Since then, the political meaning of these nine balls has been somewhat lost.

On the outside

As the Atomium was not built to last, the years started showing on the shiny exterior. As a result, four decades after its erection, it received a much-needed facelift. Its aluminium surface was stripped off entirely and replaced by shiny, stainless steel. The 1,000 triangular panels needed for the restoration arrived as a big, modular building kit, ready to be assembled. As steel is much heavier than aluminium, the Atomium 2.0 weighs about 100 tonnes more than the original. Besides the change of materials, the renovation also came with a few architectonical tweaks. The ceiling of the elevator is now made of glass, so passengers can fully experience the speed with which it’s moving. At night, an elegant pattern of built-in LED lights gives the balls their beautiful glow, so the building can be seen from all over Brussels.

On the inside

Today, five of the spheres are open to visitors. These contain a permanent exhibition, a temporary exhibition, a space dedicated purely to the stunning, panoramic

views, and a restaurant making the most of the same. The other balls are technical spaces and event venues. The permanent exhibition stretches out across three spheres and tells the story of the building’s construction, decline and renovation. The panorama sphere offers you dazzling, 360-degree panoramic views from 92 metres above the ground. In the top sphere, you can enjoy Belgian classics with a view. You can hop in for lunch or a drink at any time, or make a reservation for dinner.


Admission: €16

Seniors: €14

Teenagers, students and people with reduced mobility*: €8.50

Free admission for children under 1.15 metres.

*As the spheres are interconnected by escalators, there is no wheelchair access to the Atomium.

Discover Benelux | Feature | The Awe-Inspiring Atomium
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Atomium. Photo: ViualSystem-© 2020 – – SOFAM Belgium Atomium. Photo: Alexandre Laurent-© 2020 – – SOFAM Belgium
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Atomium. Photo: Unsplash-© 2020 – SOFAM Belgium
Discover Benelux | Feature | Green Brussels: Five Urban Oases 78  |  Issue 78 | May 2023
Tervuren Park. Photo: ©

Green Brussels: Five urban oases

Brussels is more than just a maze of buildings and avenues. In places, it looks more like a maze of green – one of trees, grass and plants. If you know where to go, Brussels can be a great destination for a weekend combining nature and urban vibes, because the green lungs of Brussels are just mere metres away from the metropolitan craze.

1. The green belt

The green lung of Brussels lies just outside of the city centre and can be split up into three parts: the La Cambre Abbey, the Bois de la Cambre, and the Sonian Forest. The former is a historic monastery with a charming garden of greenery and water features. In summer, it is also the setting of many cultural and popular events. Less than a kilometre further out, the Bois de la Cambre offers the Bruxellois a sizable, charming woodland to walk the dog, read a book or have a picnic. Yet, to really disconnect, you should head to the Sonian Forest. With its 4,421 hectares, it easily lends itself to a day-long hike. As the forest covers parts of the regions of Brussels, Flanders and Wallonia, it allows you to explore Belgium in all its facets.

The La Cambre Abbey, the Bois de la Cambre, and the Sonian Forest, all on the south-eastern side of the city (Legrand, tram 8 and 93). Free admission. Open 24/7.

2.Panoramic park

Truth be told, Forest Park and Duden Park, the parks adjoining the Forest area, are not the most spectacular of urban green zones. With big lawns and domestic trees, they mostly act as little more than commons for locals. But what makes them

worth a trip is the nice panorama. Grab a seat on the grass and have a snack while gazing at the mammoth Palais de Justice.

Forest Park and Duden Park. Forest (Albert, tram 3, 4 and 51). Free entrance. Open 24/7.

3.Royal and lush

The estate of the Belgian royal family is gigantic, but most spectacular are its 19th-century greenhouses. In actual fact resembling glass palaces more than greenhouse, they form a harmonious marriage between culture and nature. Inside, the greenhouses look even more lush, with exotic plants and palm trees climbing towards the glass ceiling. Unfortunately, the Royal Greenhouses are the private property of the king and therefore closed to the public. Yet, if you are lucky enough to visit Brussels during the four weeks that the crystal garden opens its doors, you sure are up for a treat.

Royal Greenhouses of Laeken. Avenue du Parc Royal (Serres Royales, bus 53 and De Lijn-bus 230, 231 and 232). €2.50 (children under 18 go free). Open from 17 April 2020 until 8 May 2020, Tuesday to Sunday from 9.30am to 3.30pm and/ or from 8pm to 9.30pm (check www. for exact timings).

Discover Benelux | Feature | Green Brussels: Five Urban Oases
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4.Purple rain

Since Instagram and Pinterest were released into the world, the Hallerbos has been world-famous. Ironically, most Belgians hardly know it exists. This vast woodland looks mundane for most of the year but becomes an influencer playground once its bluebells start to bloom. When the thousands of small, purple-blue flowers cover its mossy grounds, the Hallerbos is the place to be for nature aficionados. When you visit, be respectful of this miracle of nature and make sure not to step on the flowers or pick them. This way, they can delight passers-by for centuries to come.

Hallerbos. Hogebermweg (Halle). Free admission. Open 24/7. Blossoming season from late March until mid-April.

5.A touch of Africa

Belgium’s relationship with Africa is not one of which Belgians are particularly proud. During the reign of King Leopold II and long after that, Congo was a Belgian colony. In order not to forget this tragedy and to instead celebrate African culture, the Royal Museum for Central Africa was founded – one of Europe’s most important museums about Africa. After a years-long

renovation, the monumental museum now looks better than ever. Alongside cultural richness, you’ll also find plenty of natural beauty. The Tervuren Park, in which the museum is situated, is a charming garden of greens and blues, just a stone’s throw away from the city centre.

Tervuren Park. Keizerinnedreef (Tervuren) (Tervuren Station, tram 44). Free admission. Open 24/7. Royal Museum for Central Africa. Leuvensesteenweg 13 (Tervuren). €12 (discounts available). Open from 11am to 5pm on weekdays and from 10am to 6pm on weekends.

Discover Benelux | Feature | Green Brussels: Five Urban Oases
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Royal Greenhouses of Laeken. Photo: © J.P. Remy
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Bois de La Cambre. Photo: ©, Jean-Paul Remy Hallerbos. Photo: ©, Jean-Paul Remy


Bright, textured nostalgia

Peter Halley is in the midst of a renaissance. After a run of sellout shows in the past few years, MUDAM Luxembourg presents Conduits: Paintings from the 1980s –the artist’s first museum exhibition of these works in over 30 years.

Given that Halley’s blocky geometric paintings often feature sand-effect textured finishes, more commonly seen in your grandma’s lounge, that fact could come as something of a surprise.

Halley’s signature blocky style, developed in 1980s New York, features Day-Glo fluorescents and fields of flat colour. His hard-edge abstraction centred exclusively around components within his paintings that he called ‘prisons’, ‘cells’ and ‘conduits’, presented in a variety of rectangular forms. This was a boom time when everything became commodified,


efficiency was king and the internet was just getting started. Halley saw his paintings as reflective of what he called “the language of the corporations and communications”.

More than 30 years later, having lived through and come out the other side of the initial techno boom, Halley’s works manage to be both nostalgic and have enduring relevance. Of course, the world of computer and gaming graphics Halley referenced has moved on immeasurably, and whereas personal computers were a rarity back then, nearly everyone reading this will have a smart phone in their pocket. The world is undeniably different now, and the technology available to us would be unimaginable to people four decades ago. But what Halley’s paintings from the ‘80s foreshadow are the enduring subjects of alienation, isolation and confinement that have proven to be technology’s legacy.

Château Bon Baron Muscat

With asparagus season in full swing, I want to highlight a creative pairing partner for our Asparagus officinalis L., more poetically known as: the queen of vegetables, white gold, edible ivory or ‘pointes d’amour’.

It is often thought that matching wine with asparagus is difficult, especially with the delicate texture and the subtly bittersweet taste of the white asparagus we celebrate here. However, many of the Benelux’s fresh and lively, cool-climate white wines are perfect for the job. If you want to think outside the box to surprise and delight your dinner companions, try this dry Muscat.

The food-friendly gem is a creation of Dutch winemaker Jeanette ‘La Bonne Baronne’ van der Steen and husband Piotr, who many years ago landed in the French-speaking south of Belgium – in the beautiful area around Dinant –and decided to plant a vineyard there. Since

then, Château Bon Baron has grown into one of the country’s biggest wineries, and just last month they became the first Belgian winery to be certified by FAIR’N GREEN for their approach to sustainable viticulture.

Bon Baron produces prized wines from a range of classic grape varieties. One of these is Muscat Blanc à Petits Grains, here made in a bone-dry, refined and fruit-focused, less exuberantly floral style, which lends itself well to pairings with white and green asparagus dishes, but also with lightly spiced seafood, fresh goat’s cheeses, or herb and flower salads with a zesty citrus dressing.

- Vintage 2019.

- 12% alcohol.

- Serve at 8°C.

- Ageing potential 3 – 5 years.

- Available at the winery, from its webshop and specialist wine shops.

Kristel Balcaen is a Belgian wine writer, educator and consultant. She holds both the SommelierConseil title and the WSET level 4 Diploma, and was named Belgium’s Champagne Ambassador and Wine Lady of the Year in 2018. 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. TEXT: KRISTEL BALCAEN | PHOTO: KRISTEL BALCAEN TEXT: MATT ANTONIAK Prison,1989. Acrylic, fluorescent acrylic, and Rolla-Tex on canvas. Collection CAPC musée d'Art contemporain, Bordeaux. © Photo: Steven Sloman
82  |  Issue 78 | May 2023 Discover Benelux | Culture | Lifestyle Columns
Conduits: Paintings from the 1980s is on show at MUDAM, Luxembourg until 15 October 2023.





Authentic Vegeterian Thali

Bring your creativity.

We’ll do the same

Elten Kiene is entrepreneurial and recognizes opportunities. He teaches workshops at schools in Rotterdam and in museums and youth detention centers throughout the Netherlands. He also creates programs and recently developed theater programs. This versatile artist uses the spoken word as his instrument.

Elten believes that we must view art through the lens of what it can be. For everyone. “Art is a very important tool for everyone. I believe that art can help make things bearable. Not just visual art but also books, music, or dance. Art can help you understand yourself and can provide comfort and support if you’re going through a rough patch. It’s there for you in good times and bad. I believe that everyone has a creative skill and discovering that skill

can be quite an enjoyable process.”

“For me being an artist in the Netherlands means freedom, possibilities, and discovering new ways of the self. The writing process reveals new ideas, new thoughts about myself, and new values. It also provides clarity on what I want to pursue, or not. Writing takes me on a continuous journey of discovery; a journey that’s always in motion.”

Position/ organization Author and spoken word artist / City Rotterdam

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Elten Kiene (38), a spoken word artist in Rotterdam, was born in Suriname and raised in Dordrecht. He speaks of his journey with gratitude and confidence.

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