Belgium’s two largest regions are Dutch-speaking Flanders (which includes the “Low Country” of Antwerp and the famous medieval city of Bruges, among other areas) and the southern Francophone area of Wallonia. The eastern half of the country is dominated by the Ardennes: a rugged, densely forested area that was the site of three major battles in the two world wars. Bruges is a startlingly picturesque city laced by a network of mirrorlike canals. Its draw includes numerous superb art galleries. Brussels is the headquarters of both NATO and the European Union. Belgium is famous for beer — more than 500 varieties — chocolate, waffles and french fries. French fries originated in Belgium, the name referring to the manner in which the potato is sliced: to “french” means to cut into slivers.
Six hours ahead of New York (EST).
To phone hotels and restaurants in Belgium, dial 011 (international access) + 32 (Belgium code) + city code and local numbers.
Brussels, Tel. (32) 2-811-4000.
Belgium’s climate is temperate but seldom settled for long. The northern, low-lying coastal area is driest and experiences the warmest winters and coolest summers. The hilly and sparsely populated southern Ardennes area has colder winters with snow and fog.