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Tintin: Things to do in Brussels & Belgium

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#1 · Posted: 25 May 2004 12:55
Hi all!

Never been to Belgium before, but since it's the spiritual home of all things Hergé, I thought I would take a trip, having had my appetite whetted by my visit to the Greenwich exhibition!

Just wondering, how much is there to do in Belgium that is Hergé related?
I think there's a museum and a statue and possibly a shop, but is there anything else worth seeing?
Just looking to plan myself a little trip on a cheap flight, and want to know how much there is to see.

It doesn't have to be Hergé related: any other unmissable things that Belgium has would be appreciated too!


#2 · Posted: 25 May 2004 13:20
You *must* visit the Musee de Bande Dessinee - fantastic place and very inspiring. It's easy to get to when in Brussels. The Tintin statue is out of the city a bit, and I didn't have time to find it in the end, but I did buy a poster of it from the tourist office. I also have a photo of me standing in front of the building with the big spinning Tintin head that was the home of Tintin Magazine. I happened across that while walking into town from the train station.

Brussels is a lovely city, the Grande Place is very nice and you can just soak up the atmosphere of the various little comic shops.
Trivia Challenge Score Keeper
#3 · Posted: 25 May 2004 13:33
Unfortunately the Tintin statue was removed from Wolvendael Park in Uccle because of vandalism. It now stands in the entrance of the Centre Belge de la Bande Dessinée.
#4 · Posted: 25 May 2004 14:02
I feel foolish that I didn’t think of it at the time, but I didn’t note down all the points around Brussels which appear on the map at the Tintin in the City exhibition. I’ll see if I can sort of reconstruct it from the book of the exhibition. I *think* there is supposed to be a tourist map of the sites of Tintin being made for the 75th anniversary, but I didn’t see it if there is.

I think it’s the Casterman building that has the Tintin and Snowy heads on top,rather than the Tintin magazine building. The sign has recently been given the Belgian equivalent of being listed,so it is now an official monument.

I’ve never made it there yet, but the Stokel underground station has the Tintin mural designed by Hergé, and you would be in the vicinity of the Ethnic museum which has some statues Hergé used as reference, plus the Leopard Man costume. You need to go back a stop or two, and get a tram to the Teruvin park, but it’s a nice ride, and you see suburbs very similar to where Hergé grew up (as well as lots of Embassy buildings!).

Closer to the centre, why not visit the Fetish, without the broken ear? It is in the museum at the Parc Cinquantiere, which is a brisk walk from the centre, and takes you past the iconic EU building. They sell a “fake” fetish too, made out of resin (not the Moulinsart version, but one that looks like the real statue).

Another place I’ve not been is the Atomium, but the Thom(p)sons visited, and it is also iconic.

tybaltstone is right - Brussels is a lovely city; easy going and relaxed, and reasonably compact. There’s a good multiplex cinema (Belgium invented the multiplex) at the Bourse, showing films in English, French and Flemish, and plenty of cafés, bars and restaurants both there and round the Grand Place. The BD museum is well worth a visit, as is their fantastic book-shop!!
#5 · Posted: 25 May 2004 17:28
I think it’s the Casterman building that has the Tintin and Snowy heads on top, rather than the Tintin magazine building. The sign has recently been given the Belgian equivalent of being listed,so it is now an official monument.

It was the HQ of Editions du Lombard (which was Tintin Magazine, wasn't it?), in Avenue Paul-Henri Spaak near Gare du Midi. I think the Belvision cartoons were also made there, and the ground floor used to sport a large Tintin shop. Is this where Fondation Hergé are based now?

The rotating heads were based on a similar concept that Mercedes-Benz came up with - I think.
Trivia Challenge Score Keeper
#6 · Posted: 25 May 2004 20:13
Yes Editions du Lombard, owned by Raymond Leblanc, was the company behind Tintin magazine. There are photos of the inauguration of the Tintin sign by Paul-Henri Spaak (a minister in the Belgian government) in "Hergé and Tintin: Reporters" by Philippe Goddin". And the Fondation Hergé is not based here but on the Avenue Louise, a particularly chic Brusselois area.
#7 · Posted: 25 May 2004 22:44 · Edited by: jock123
Well, I must apologise! I was under the misapprehension that Editions du Lombard was in Rue du Lombard (I recalled that the company was named for the road), only to discover that they moved from there in 1958!! That’s five years before I was born, so really I should get up to date! Thanks, edcharlesadams for putting me on the right track. There’s a potted history here.

You certainly can’t miss the sign from the train and some of the approches to the Gare du Midi.

Speaking of stations, the Gare du Nord, where the triumphal reception of Tintin returning from the Land of the Soviets took place, both in the book and reality, has been almost totally replaced.
#8 · Posted: 25 May 2004 23:05
Cheers for the advice thus far, gonna look at planning a trip for myself very soon

Harrock n roll
#9 · Posted: 2 Sep 2004 21:42 · Edited by: Harrock n roll
Following on from Simon Doyle’s/jock123’s review about the Jacobs exhibition Le Siècle de Jacobs: Une exposition biographique we discovered that we were both in Brussels at the same time… I recently spent 2 weekends there and took in a few Hergé related sites so I thought I'd give some of my observations, tips on interesting places to visit, etc.

As well as the Edgar P Jacobs exhibition at the comic art museum I chanced upon another sort of Jacobs exhibition in Brussels the other week. This was at the Museé de L’Armée et D’Histoire Militaire, a military history museum in Parc du Cinquintenaire which is joined to the excellent museum of art and history by a triumphal arch. I wouldn’t normally visit a military history museum but you can actually get up on the arch from there (and it’s free entry and well worth a look). I wasn’t quite sure what it was all about as all I saw was an easel with one of his colour plates from Jacob’s “Le Piège” made large and a yellow “m” on the stairs up to the top of the arch, not to mention the inevitable book display in the museum shop. I think Jacobs was a frequent visitor to this museum for research into the kind of details he thrived on; breastplates, scabbards, aeroplanes, etc.. The place was closing so I didn’t have time to investigate further.

Far better than the military history museum (IMO) is the adjoined Musées Royaux d’Art et d’Histoire (the royal museum of art and history) which hosted the “Au Pérou Avec Tintin” exhibition last year. The exhibition is on tour, along with all of the exhibits at the moment, so the south American section is closed. However, even without it the wealth of the material that is there really is incredible. You can very easily imagine Hergé and Jacobs wandering around 2 museums, making copious notes and sketches. It comes as no surprise to learn that Hergé lived just 20 minutes or so walk around the corner…

I paid a visit to Hergé’s old home in Etterbeek which is in a nice residential district near a church and a small park, a little south from the Parc du Cinquintenaire. (A good tip, always buy a street-finder). A small brass plaque on the wall is all that signifies anybody special ever lived there. Next door is lovely old funeral directors which still has it’s old sign and shop front. The whole area is actually very charming, kind of the real Brussels, and I thoroughly recommend it to fans of Hergé that visit the city or anybody who is into just walking about, looking at old buildings. I saw from the street-finder that not too far from Hergé’s road was Avenue Hergé which was a disappointment – a road through a housing estate with no trees – and not the greatest tribute to one of Brussels most famous sons!

From a suggestion by Irene, our friendly forum admin, I took a stroll down the Avenue Louise in the super-rich-posh-hotel-district in the west end of Brussels, to see the abode of the creature that is Moulinsart. Judging from this well to do avenue I was expecting a grand place with flags outside but I found a very normal looking building that bore the legend “Manpower” and I can confirm that on one of the buzzers it definitely read “Moulinsart S.A.”. Suspiciously low-key, it made me think that perhaps there was a lift to an underground complex that housed the real nerve centre…

Best of all for me was the Musée du Tram Bruxellois (Brussels tram museum) from where you can take an old 1930's tram along some tree-lined avenues all the way to Tervuren (which has very nice countryside). Run by the kind of old fellas that usually do steam trains in Britain. The tram also goes in the other direction to the aforementioned Parc du Cinquintenaire with it's excellent museums.

#10 · Posted: 2 Sep 2004 23:30
A brief search of the net gleaned the following:

Blake et Mortimer : « By Jove ! Plus de cartouches ! » Du 20 avril au 26 septembre 2004 Musée Royal de l’Armée, Parc du Cinquantenaire n°3 à 1000 Bruxelles

It seems that it is indeed a presentation of objects from the museum collection, linked to the work of Jacobs. Sadly I don’t think I can justify the trip back to see it before it closes…

The tram ride out to the Tevuren park is lovely: the park itself is large, with lawns, woods and lakes - I’m sure it would be a good place to picnic.

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