A Brief Guide to Belgium
The Kingdom of Belgium sits on the edge of Western Europe and is
bordered by the Netherlands, Germany, tiny Luxembourg and France. The country's long history is marked by
successive conflicts with Europe's great powers and the struggle
for independence, but it is Belgium's role in the First World War,
and the great battles for control of the Western Front, many of
which were fought in the fields of Flanders and Ypres, that have
brought the country to the world's attention.
Belgium's small size ensures that its temperate marine climate
is largely unvaried throughout the country. Whilst spring and
summer, from May to September, are the driest and warmest seasons,
rainfall can occur at any time. Peak summer temperatures generally
range between 25-30°C (77-86°F), and whilst winters are generally
mild temperatures can fall below zero, particularly in January when
snowfall is common.
Belgian cuisine is widely respected and is often favourably
compared with French cuisine. Unsurprisingly a fair proportion of
Belgium's dishes have been influenced by the gastronomy of
neighbouring countries, but authentic specialities include Belgian
waffles, Moules-frites; mussels served with fries, rich stews of
fish or chicken known as Waterzooi and the Speculoos, a popular
cinnamon biscuit. Belgium is world-famous famous for its vast range
of speciality beers, and for its particularly fine chocolate.
The three official languages of Belgium are Dutch, German and
French with the northern half of the country speaking Dutch and the
southern half speaking French. German is only officially spoken in
the small eastern region of Liége.
Our guests' experience of rail travel in Belgium is often
characterised by a blend of the peculiar and familiar. While the
Belgians may enjoy their chips with mayonnaise in the continental
manner they also make small talk about the weather in a distinctly