Início Sem categoria Belgium’s Bath: a Spa Break In Spa

Belgium’s Bath: a Spa Break In Spa

Belgium’s Bath: a Spa Break In Spa

The Ardennes town that gave its name to spa towns the world over was known to the Romans, and its baths and pretty setting are still the perfect place to unwind

Gazing out at a cold, bright winter sky, only the rising steam interrupted my view of the rolling Ardennes hills, framed by the twisted branches of bare trees. I was floating in one of a sprawling complex of heated spring water pools on a hill outside the southern Belgian town of Spa. It’s this connection between nature and wellbeing that makes the town, which has been visited for centuries as a place of rest and relaxation, so distinctive.

Despite having such a memorable name – which originates from the Latin Aquae Spadanae – Spa does not appear to be a major draw for overseas visitors; most people I overheard during my stay were locals. Perhaps it’s best known for the nearby Grand Prix racing circuit and of course for lending its name to one of the world’s most popular mineral waters, bottled here for 400 years.

Unesco World Heritage Site Candidate

Spa, a Unesco world heritage site candidate, is a thermal town with a Roman connection (Pliny the Elder wrote about the water’s healing properties) so can be compared to Bath in England (Klik Here). While the town doesn’t match Bath’s Georgian grandeur, it’s far less crowded, so instead of queuing for hours – as I did when I visited Bath Spa – we took a funicular ride from our hotel, the Radisson Blu Palace, and walked straight into the modern Les Thermes de Spa.

Although Les Thermes is housed in a modern building, the town’s heyday was in the 18th century. Walking around it with my mum, a long-term Belgium resident whom I had brought along for a birthday treat, we saw architectural signs of its illustrious past as spa town to European royalty, interspersed with Belgium’s iconic art nouveau maisons de maîtres, the tall townhouses with balconies adorned with flamboyant wrought iron swoops.

The real beauty, though, lies in the surrounding countryside. Belgium is often described as a flat country, but the two-hour drive south-east from Brussels sees agricultural plains give way to undulating hills, before ending up in the deep valleys of the Ardennes in the French-speaking province of Wallonia.

Spa is a great jumping-off point for countryside walks. We tackled one of the easier routes: the paths carving through the threadbare wintry forests surrounding Les Thermes and into the valley below. But there are also 10-mile hikes through peat bogs and mountain bike trails for the more adventurous. The neighbouring historic town of Theux is also worth a wander for both the architecture and the medieval Château de Franchimont.

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