La Promenade Verte (“Green walk”) is a "parcours" around Brussels, divided into seven sections, which you can take on foot or by bike. It is a great opportunity to discover Brussels in an alternative way. I must admit that this walking & cycling path is still not very well known among foreigners and tourists. It actually only started popping in the resident’s minds 10 years ago (and in mine, 5 years ago), as a nice activity not to be missed.
As a local, what I have been noticing recently is that an increasing number of us here like it a lot. On warm & sunny days (yes, this does also exist in Brussels), the Promenade Verte has become a sort of a must-do activity for families living in Brussels.
All along the Promenade Verte itself, one has the chance to dive into many diverse landscapes that our city possesses (i.e., woods, urban zones, industrial areas), whose existence they were barely aware of before. We Belgians like to be self-mocking and self-critical, and we tend to see Brussels as a not very beautiful city. In fact, we perceive it rather as a very functional and administrative place, full of offices for the headquarters of institutional and government institutions. I thought the same myself. And yet, since I discovered the Promenade Verte, I have changed my mind. It led me to rediscover my city in a new way.
The section of the Promenade Verte, which I know the best and that I like the most, is the one in the east part of the city called the Woluwe Valley (“Vallée de la Woluwe”). Woluwe is originally the name of a stream, still running nowadays along the Boulevard de la Woluwe. Many eastern municipalities of the Brussels region were named after it as well (i.e., Woluwé-Saint-Lambert, Woluwé-Saint-Pierre, Woluwé-Saint-Etienne).
That section of the Promenade Verte was built along a former rail line. You may discover the Woluwe Valley itself, its springs in the Forêt de Soignes, the semi-natural sites, and the large landscaped parks dating back to the end of the 19th century.
The Promenade Verte can be handled easily, but the added value of a guide would be to stop where it does matter (such as the museum which can be found closeby, or at nice cafes/bars which are also not far away).
For example, at the beginning of the Woluwe Valley section on the Green Promenade, you will have the opportunity to admire two mills, a windmill, and a watermill, both inherited from a bygone era. Just afterwards, a little relaxation in Malou Park will be welcome, especially if you are traveling with young children who will enjoy the greenery. Finally, the Abbaye du Rouge Cloître ("Red Cloister") is a historical and rural place, a space dedicated to contemporary art in a green environment which, if only for the sake of a glance, is worth a visit.
I would not want to reveal everything here so that you are still left with an element of surprise on the day you decide to explore the Woluwe Valley. There is nothing like experiencing it for yourself. Take your time, discover Brussels differently.
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