May be worth stopping over.
Charleroi is a large industrial town, but it has its share of museums and galleries etc.
Outside South Station is the bus tram train interchange and a nice park with a cannon and the canal. It looks a bit like one side of Dublin on the Liffey.
Take a look at the web site www.charleroi.be If you are travelling to other places via the airport it may be worth a stop over.
Place Charles II
The heart of the town is perhaps the Place Charles II, dominated by the Town Hall and the Cathedral. In the centre of the roundabout there are huge fountains that come from the ground. At Christmas there is a nice Christmas market here. That's when there are christmas trees, little wooden huts selling all kinds of stuff such as special Christmas beer, chocolate, crepes, presents... It's lovely when it snows!
The rest of the year, there are kids on mopeds driving round all over the place.
Parc de la Serena.
Formerly the capital of the black country and one of the richest areas of the industrial revolution producing coal, steel ans glass, Charleroi is today a major city being changed by urban and environmental transformations.
The careful redesign of its centre and the revaluation of its heritage confirm its intention to improve the quality of its urban life.
The numerous parks found in Charleroi as well as its sixty-two slag-heaps, most of them covered by vegetation, are the green lungs of a city with omnipresent flora.
Steel toecap boots. And trainers for running away. Lots of toilet roll for after you have gorged yourself on Trappist beer and Mitraillettes de Dinde! Umbrellas are handy, ooh yes. A ticket out of there.
Allez les Zebres!
Mainstream sport also takes place here. Spirou Charleroi is the local Basketball tram, and they are successful on a European-wide basis. You will see their merchandising outlet in Ville 2.
Less successful, but stil in the Top flight and very very popular is the local football team, Sporting Charleroi, who play at the Stade Mambourg (where England played in Euro 2000, just opposite my old flat). Les Zebres (so called because of their balck and white stripes) are now part-owned by Enzo Scifo, footballing World Cup legend from just down the road in La Louviere, who moved here from Anderlecht in 2000. I watched the last match of that season against Anderlecht, when les Carolos needed a point to stay in the D1 - they got it, in a boring match. I met the goalscorer Dante Brogno in the pub after the match (my neighbour Jerome was a D1 referee), but he was a bit boring. I spoke to his brother Toni for a bit, saying "you must be so proud of Dante, it must be great having such a popluar footballer in the family!" He said, "Oui, bien sur!"
What I didn't realise was that Toni Brogno was not aonly a footballer himself, but played for the national team, and a bigger club, and was currently the top goalscorer in the country!