La Montagne de Bueron, Liège, Belgium
It was time for us Traveling Socks to come out of the dresser drawer this summer for a little jaunt across the Atlantic. Stacy Lyn was taking us back to Belgium, a place we had not been since she took us to Flanders Field in 2012.
This time we went to Liège, a town situated on the Meuse River in the eastern part of Wallonie, the francophone region of Belgium. There was so much to love about this city – the relaxed atmosphere of the brasseries in the morning, the town squares (pick one), and the fries. Who could forget the fries? (Which are actually Belgian, not French. MDR – which is LOL in French.)
We could tell you all about the serenity of the Meuse juxtaposed against the hustle and bustle of city life. Or other such things. But you can google all that.
We’d much rather tell you about an adventure: the Montagne de Bueren, which means Bueren Mountain, but it’s not really a mountain because Belgium has no mountains. So, it’s a hill named after Vincent de Bueren, who led a defense of the city against the Duke of Burgundy back in the 1400’s. We Socks think that his hill deserves to be called a mountain, don’t you? The stairs of 374 steps were built in the 1800’s to make life easier for the soldiers garrisoned there, and as a dedication to the 600 soldiers who died defending Liège during the Duke’s siege. But to where do these stairs lead? That’s what Stacy Lyn wanted to find out when she took us for an outing to climb them. Stacy Lyn loves a challenge.
There were many wonders along the route–like a café with a very inviting terrace, but it was closed, unfortunately. Some of the courtyards of the residents who lived along the stairs (to answer your question, yes, they have to climb the stairs to go to and from home–there’s no street access) looked very peaceful in spite of the signs asking visitors to keep quiet.
Three-hundred-seventy-four steps later, we reached the summit. But what’s there up at the top? A little neighborhood tucked into the old section of the city with what we believe to be the best view of the Meuse. And–another set of steps! We accepted their invitation and climbed them too to find out the meaning of the monument that they surrounded. This monolith is also dedicated to the Liègeois soldiers who perished, only these fought a few hundred years later during World War I. Plus ça change….We were glad we made the trek there. It’s always humbling to be in the presence of such sacrifice, such greatness.
After leaving the monument, it was time for our descent. Easy peasy. And then, we climbed again. Only this time, we took the back route – the hidden stairways that gradually ascend the mountain. There between the secret neighborhoods, paths open up to parks, and offer a spectacular view of the city from the vantage point of the coteaux – the hills.
We didn’t expect to find an adventurous hike in the middle of urbanity, but the stairs of Bueron were worth the challenge. They exposed us to hidden treasures nestled behind the cobblestone streets, traffic, and noise of the city. Voilà–a pleasant surprise right up there in the hills. You never know what you’ll find when you’re not looking. They don’t call us Traveling Socks for nothing!