Liège: Explore a crossroads of flavours

The cuisine of Liège has a range of influences, says Harriet O'Brien

Wallonia's easternmost major city has an international location, close to the borders of both the Netherlands and Germany. Indeed, it is an intriguing city that was once the capital of an independent state ruled by prince-bishops.

Set on the banks of the river Meuse, Liège is a jigsaw of a place, layered with history, artistry and industry. You can see its legacy of exquisite 10th-century ivory carvings at the remarkable Grand Curtius art museum (00 324 2221 6817; You can gaze at the majesty of the Bishop's Palace (now law courts), which dates from the 11th century and has a sumptuous 18th-century façade; you'll take in steam engines at the ingenious Maison de la Métallurgie et de l'Industrie de Liège (0032 4342 6563;; you'll enjoy contemporary design at the Guillemins railway station by Sebastian Calatrava. And wherever you are in the city you'll savour the richness of its very distinctive cuisine.

Win a five-star foodie weekend in picturesque Liège here

Sample German influences with a taste of boudin blanc, a white sausage made with shoulder of pork, shallots, nutmeg and white bread (you'll see it for sale in butchers' windows such as Colson & Fils at 42 En Neuvice). Do as the locals and put Sirop de Liège on your toast at breakfast – this deep-brown molasses is made with minimal sugar and generous amounts of apples and pears from Liègeois orchards. Try Salad Liègeoise, made with bacon, beans and potatoes, and Herve cheese from the nearby village of that name – also delicious when eaten together with Sirop de Liège.

Generations of British visitors to Belgium have been puzzled about the name of the nation's most popular beer, which appears to be a misprint. But Jupiler (pronounced jew-pil-er) has nothing to do with the largest planet in the solar system and instead takes its name from the nearby village of Jupille-sur-Meuse.

If you're in Liège on a Sunday there's a treat in store: Belgium's biggest market, La Batte, takes place along the Meuse, a cornucopia of fruit, vegetables, breads and more stretching about 2km.

Start a tour of the city in the lively Carré district, a pedestrian area of boutiques and bars lying between Place de l'Opéra and the cathedral of St-Paul. Just in front of the cathedral, aromas of caramel will inevitably draw you to the waffle maker Pollux (at Place Cathedral 2). Liège is said to make the best waffles in Belgium, so buy one just-cooked. An authentic gaufre Liège – Belgian waffle – is butter-rich, with a hint of cinnamon, and topped with caramelised sugar – not light on calories, but then there is plenty of scope for walking them off here.

Stride north along narrow lanes to Place St Lambert, dominated by the Bishop's Palace. Just a few steps east is the historic heart of town, Place du Marché dating from at least medieval times and lined with 17th and 18th-century houses. Thread your way past the plastic terrace chairs here and enter A Pilori (0032 4250 0301;, the old tavern at number 7. It's a treat of a building, all creaking beams and ancient brickwork. It is the perfect place to sample traditional boulets Liégeois, meatballs steeped in a rich sauce of Sirop de Liège and brown beer.

For a different taste of old Liège, take a stroll across the road and just behind the imperious town hall to La Maison du Peket (00 32 4250 6783; maisondu at Rue de l'Epée 4. This charming old property houses a gin palace par excellence: peket, distilled with juniper berries, is the time-honoured drink of the city. Here you can choose from 25 or so varieties, flavoured with lemon, raspberry, chocolate, ginger and more.

Clear your head with a short walk to Rue de la Goffe where you'll find the lovely stone-and-brick Butcher's Guild, built in 1544. In an appealing old building opposite is one of Liège's much-loved restaurants, Le Bistrot d'en Face (0032 4223 1584; lebistrot The blackboard menu offers a mix of fine French-style cuisine and a gastronomic twist on local specialities such as boudin.

Alternatively, head further west to capture a spirit of gourmet enterprise: at Rue de la Casquette 5, L'Enoteca (00 32 4222 2464; is chic little bistro that opened 25 years ago with a winning formula and a pioneering ethos in promoting fresh local ingredients. It offers just one set menu based on what happens to be available in the market that day. Three-course dinners cost €23, or if you're feeling famished, €26 will get you four courses.

Sweet success

While every Belgian town worth its salt (or cocoa beans) boasts its own chocolate maker, the Liège area is home to a phenomenal chocolate entrepreneur who exports his products worldwide. The son of a baker, Jean Galler (right) left school at 16 and worked in the Liège family business as a pastry apprentice. He became entranced by the cocoa bean, studied the art of chocolate making in Switzerland and, in 1976, persuaded his parents and his godmother to lend him the money to set up his own business. Jean Galler chocolates have gone from strength to strength – with an added Belgian twist: in 1985 he joined forces with cartoonist Philippe Geluck and began creating les langues de chats chocolates, based on Geluck's comic strip character Le Chat. In 1994, Galler received a Royal Warrant and became the first chocolate maker to be formally appointed supplier to the Belgian royal family. The Jean Galler chocolate shop is in the Liège city centre at Rue du Pot d'Or 2; 0032 4221 3050;


The Independent travel offers: Discover a world of inspiring destinations

peopleFrankie Boyle responds to referendum result in characteristically offensive style
Lewis Hamilton will start the Singapore Grand Prix from pole, with Nico Rosberg second and Daniel Ricciardo third
F1... for floodlit Singapore Grand Prix
Arts and Entertainment
'New Tricks' star Dennis Waterman is departing from the show after he completes filming on two more episodes
tvHe is only remaining member of original cast
Arts and Entertainment
tvHighs and lows of the cast's careers since 2004
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Fans hold up a scarf at West Ham vs Liverpool
footballAfter Arsenal's clear victory, focus turns to West Ham vs Liverpool
New Articles
i100... she's just started school
ebookHow to enjoy the perfect short break in 20 great cities
New Articles
Life and Style
Couples have been having sex less in 2014, according to a new survey
Arts and Entertainment
musicBiographer Hunter Davies has collected nearly a hundred original manuscripts
New Articles
i100... despite rising prices
Independent Travel Videos
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Amsterdam
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Giverny
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in St John's
Independent Travel Videos
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Travel

    IT Administrator - Graduate

    £18000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: ***EXCELLENT OPPORTUNITY FO...

    USA/Florida Travel Consultants £30-50k OTE Essex

    Basic of £18,000 + commission, realistic OTE of £30-£50k : Ocean Holidays: Le...

    Marketing Executive / Member Services Exec

    £20 - 26k + Benefits: Guru Careers: A Marketing Executive / Member Services Ex...

    Sales Account Manager

    £15,000 - £25,000: Recruitment Genius: A fantastic opportunity has arisen for ...

    Day In a Page

    Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

    Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

    Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
    Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

    Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

    The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
    The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

    Scrambled eggs and LSD

    Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
    'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

    'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

    Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
    Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

    New leading ladies of dance fight back

    How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
    Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

    A shot in the dark

    Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
    His life, the universe and everything

    His life, the universe and everything

    New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
    Save us from small screen superheroes

    Save us from small screen superheroes

    Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
    Reach for the skies

    Reach for the skies

    From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
    These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

    12 best hotel spas in the UK

    Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
    These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

    Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

    Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
    Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

    Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

    Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
    How to make a Lego masterpiece

    How to make a Lego masterpiece

    Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
    Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

    Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

    Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
    Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

    Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

    His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam