Travel

Mons is embracing the future as it prepares for its role as next year’s European Capital of Culture, but it’s also steeped in intriguing history. Philip Sweeney explores its two sides

Nicklas Helenius

Transfer talk: New Aston Villa signing Nocklas Helenius admits his sadness over Christian Benteke's transfer request

New striker believes Villa need to hold onto the best players possible even if it has an impact on his first-team chances

Postcard from... Finistère

‘I am old and sick’: Belgian King Albert II to abdicate in favour of son Prince Philippe

Belgium’s 79-year-old King Albert has announced that he would abdicate in favour of his son, Prince Philippe, in a surprise address to the nation that comes weeks after a woman claiming to be his daughter launched court proceedings to prove her paternity.

Cadel Evans’ team BMC Racing is fully supportive of his attempt to win this year’s Tour

Tour de France: Forgotten man Cadel Evans still sees himself as a contender

Cadel Evans is hoping to stay under the radar as a contender to win this year’s Tour de France.

Mignolet, 25, has been in fine form for Sunderland, attracting the attention of Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger and former Manchester United boss Alex Ferguson

Simon Mignolet signs for Liverpool: Factfile

Liverpool have confirmed the signing of goalkeeper Simon Mignolet from Sunderland. The 25-year-old Belgium international has signed a long-term contract, having passed a medical, after the Reds agreed a fee with Sunderland on Friday which could rise to £11million-plus.

Nick Clegg brother's firm cuts losses

The deputy prime minister Nick Clegg's coalition government is clearly struggling to cut the deficit, so perhaps it should take a leaf out of his brother's book.

Simon Mignolet has moved to Anfield from Sunderland

Liverpool transfer news: Simon Mignolet ready for battle with Pepe Reina for goalkeeping duties

Liverpool have confirmed the signing of goalkeeper Simon Mignolet from Sunderland. The 25-year-old Belgium international has signed a long-term contract, having passed a medical, after the Reds agreed a fee with Sunderland on Friday which could rise to £11million-plus.

The Grand Place in Brussels

Postcard from... Brussels

The artist Delphine Delphine Boël and, right, the man she claims is her father, King Albert II of Belgium

Royal family affair: Artist demands DNA to prove she’s king’s daughter

Delphine Boël in court bid to prove that the Belgian monarch Albert II is her father

Postcard from... Brussels

When neighbouring countries are both hailed for their gastronomic prowess, it’s only natural that there is a bit of healthy competition.

Detail from the Monument to the Martyrs of the Two World Wars, Charleroi

Wallonia: Where the Western Front left its mark

Harriet O’Brien pays tribute to the towns that bore the first onslaught

‘Players were playing for their livelihoods,’ Sunderland Simon Mignolet keeper recalled

Liverpool and Arsenal 'target' Simon Mignolet unlikely to sign new contract at Sunderland, reveals agent

The goalkeeper has been linked with a move away from the Stadium of Light

Criterium du Dauphine

Criterium du Dauphine: Team Sky rider Edvald Boasson Hagen wins stage three

David Veilleux retains overall lead

The pack rides during the 121 km first stage of the 65th edition of the Dauphine Criterium

Criterium du Dauphine: Chris Froome slips to seventh but remains in touch with leaders

Elia Viviani wins second stage from Chatel to Oyonnax

Maps in the 1593 Speculum Orbis Terrarum by the Belgian cartographer Gerard De Jode

Mermaids seen due east as rare maps go on sale

An atlas drawn in 1593, complete with mythical creatures, could fetch more than £500,000

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Independent Travel
Burgundy, the River Rhone & Provence – Five-star MS Swiss Corona 7 nights from £999pp
Lake Como St Moritz & the Bernina Express 7 nights from £809pp
Vietnam
Lake Maggiore, Orta & the Matterhorn 7 nights from £939pp
South Africa
Spain
Prices correct as of 19 December 2014
Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

Autism-friendly theatre

Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all
The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

Sony suffered a chorus of disapproval after it withdrew 'The Interview', but it's not too late for it to take a stand, says Joan Smith
From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

Panto dames: before and after

From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Booksellers say readers are turning away from dark modern thrillers and back to the golden age of crime writing
Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best,' says founder of JustGiving

Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

The man who hunts giants

A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there
The 12 ways of Christmas: Spare a thought for those who will be working to keep others safe during the festive season

The 12 ways of Christmas

We speak to a dozen people who will be working to keep others safe, happy and healthy over the holidays
Birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends, new study shows

The male exhibits strange behaviour

A new study shows that birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends...
Diaries of Evelyn Waugh, Virginia Woolf and Noël Coward reveal how they coped with the December blues

Famous diaries: Christmas week in history

Noël Coward parties into the night, Alan Clark bemoans the cost of servants, Evelyn Waugh ponders his drinking…
From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

The great tradition of St Paul and Zola reached its nadir with a hungry worker's rant to Russell Brand, says DJ Taylor
A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore: A prodigal daughter has a breakthrough

A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore

The story was published earlier this month in 'Poor Souls' Light: Seven Curious Tales'