Revolver Lefaucheux © Coll. Private
By ADRIAN TAHOURDIN
Victor Hugo first visited Belgium, accompanied by his mistress Juliette Drouet, in 1837. He described the seventeenth-century baroque belfry in Mons as resembling a large coffeepot flanked by four smaller teapots. “It would be ugly if it wasn’t grand”, he wrote to his wife Adèle back in France.
The belfry, which looks down on cobbled streets and squares, is one of several UNESCO World Heritage Sites in the Wallonian region; nearby is the Grand-Hornu, an old mining complex (the region was a coal-mining centre until the 1980s), built between 1810 and 1830. That was designated a World Heritage Site in 2012 and now houses a Museum of Contemporary Arts.