The historic, grey-stone facades and the Scheldt create a unique atmosphere in the Five-Steepled City. Visit Notre-Dame Cathedral and its treasury, the Belfry, the Museum of Fine Arts or the banks of the Scheldt... Come and admire the amateur and professional painters during Petit Montmartre. Eat and drink the Tournai way! So, what’s the prescription for a weekend—and a complete change of scene—in this medieval city?
Day 1 – Saturday
To get started, head to The Tournai Tourist Office and watch the films, ”Le Couloir du temps” and “De la pierre au ciel”. Over a period of 20 minutes, these films retrace 2,000 years of history in the Five-Steepled City. With 3D plans and spectacular aerial views, you’ll take a virtual tour around the top of Notre-Dame Cathedral.
Don’t forget to ask the Tourist Office for a map of the circuit of the historic heart of Tournai (also freely downloadable, here). This 2km walk will take you to the characteristic sights of the city, following its statuettes. Take the time to visit the cathedral and belfry—classed as World Heritage Sites by Unesco—independently or with a guide.
Stop off at one of the many terrace cafes in the Grand Place to enjoy a dish accompanied by a local beer (such as La Tournay, brewed by the Brasserie de Cazeau), or try the riverside at Corto Malté (for tapas and local beers).
Continue your visit by passing through the doors of the Galerie Rasson. Temporary exhibitions take place regularly here. Spend the night at the Chambre du Couvent located just along the Scheldt, only 400m from the city centre. This former Redemptorist convent offers colourful rooms with fine views of the river.
Day 2 – Sunday
Make sure you have a good breakfast before starting your second day. Then head for the foot of the cathedral. Every first Sunday of the month, from May to September, the painters are in residence. Le Petit Montmartre is a special occasion, when professional and amateur artists come out of their workshops, bringing with them their easels, charcoals, tubes of colour and brushes. Are you a consummate art lover? Take a tour of the Museum of Fine Arts, or the Museum of Decorative Arts, before strolling through the medieval streets. End your weekend on a gourmet note by pushing open the doors of the “Lacet Bleu”. This restaurant, a stone’s throw from the Grand Place, showcases Tournai’s tradition of porcelain. Its name comes from the decoration that is painted onto the rims of plates.