There’s not much to bring you to BINCHE, a sleepy little town halfway between Mons and Charleroi, at the southern end of Hainaut’s most decayed industrial region. However, it comes to life every year when it hosts one of the best and most renowned of the country’s carnivals, and it’s this that provides the main reason for a visit, not only when the carnival’s on, but also to take in the town’s Musée International du Carnaval et du Masque (wwww.museedumasque.be), which claims to have the largest assortment of carnival artefacts in the world. Whether or not this is an exaggeration, its collection of masks and fancy dress from carnivals throughout Europe, Africa, Asia and Latin America is certainly impressive, and it’s complemented by an audiovisual presentation on the Binche carnival and temporary exhibitions on the same theme. Outside the museum, a statue of a Gille – one of the figures that dance through the city streets during carnival – is sandwiched between the big but undistinguished Collégiale St-Ursmer and the Grand-Place, a spacious square edged by the onion-domed Hôtel de Ville, built in 1555 by Jacques du Broeucq to replace a version destroyed by the French the previous year. A small park near the museum marks the site of the town’s medieval citadel and contains what little remains of the former palace of Mary of Hungary. It’s buttressed by the original ramparts, which date from the twelfth to the fourteenth centuries and curve impressively around most of the town centre, complete with 27 towers.

Travel offers; book through Rough Guides

Belgium features

The latest articles, galleries, quizzes and videos.

26 awe-inspiring architectural wonders

26 awe-inspiring architectural wonders

From ancient temples to hyper-modern skyscrapers, these are just a few of the world's most incredible architectural wonders. Whether you're looking to wander l…

01 Feb 2017 • Rough Guides Editors camera_alt Gallery
20 fascinating second cities

20 fascinating second cities

Barcelona, Spain It's usually the capital cities that get all the attention, but what about a country's second city? These are twenty of our favourite secon…

02 Oct 2014 • Rebecca Hallett camera_alt Gallery
Map: beer from around the world

Map: beer from around the world

Beer-lovers rejoice: the British Government recently announced that a pint of beer in the UK will be a whole one penny cheaper than before. Not exactly saving a…

31 Mar 2014 • Charles Parkes insert_drive_file Article
View more featureschevron_right

Join over 60,000 subscribers and get travel tips, competitions and more every month

Join over 60,000 subscribers and get travel tips, competitions and more every month