*this post is part of an agreement with Ryanair and the Charleroi Tourism Board following a press trip.
Well, it’s about time i did the second post about our trip. It just seemed like such a mammoth task, with so much information to include that i kept putting it off. Time for procrastination is over!
If you haven’t read post number one yet, Discovering Charleroi, pop over and give that a gander. We split our time between Charleroi centre and Thuin – the slightly more idyllic European area.
Thuin is definitely more my cup of tea – i loved the scenery and in general preferred the activities we did there. Even if i was exhausted to the point of tears! I still can’t believe some of the things i got to do.
how to get there
First things first; we gotta tell you how to get there. Ryanair fly directly to Charleroi from Manchester, Edinburgh, Dublin and even Copenhagen, with flight times ranging from an hour to an hour and forty minutes. Ryanair have 5 weekly flights from Edinburgh, so it’s perfect for a two to three day city break.
Now; from Charleroi to Thuin. You can get the train from Charleroi city centre to Thuin from the Charleroi-Sud/Charleroi-Zuid station. It should take about 20 minutes and only cost £3-5.
From the airport, you’re looking at the A or 68 bus which should take about 17 minutes to get to the centre, and will cost you £3, then the train to Thuin. Easy enough!
where to stay
Our accommodation in Thuin is a place i still dream about now – we stayed right on the lake and had the most gorgeous views of the sunset and sunrise. It was insane.
There’s not a huge difference between the glorious accommodation we stayed in and some of the cheaper hostels available in the area. Based on the dates 1st to 4th April, the Golden Lakes Hotel comes in at around £70 a night for two adults.
Auberge de l’Abbaye, Thuin’s hostel, is £62 a night for two adults on those same dates. In my opinion, it’s worth paying that extra little bit to be right on the lakes.
The room itself was lovely, a big double bed, a TV, wifi, an amazing shower. I didn’t have the breakfast there but i assume it was great. Only issue is the spiders! In the evening, they’re hanging around outside the doors and it’s terrifying.
what to do
Now, onto the big meaty section of the post. What did we get up to? Bloody loads mate. We did a LOT in Thuin, even though we were only there for about two days. I’ve compiled a little list of all my favourites!
hot air ballooning
This is something that didn’t quite register until i was actually doing it. For context; i am so afraid of heights and yet i got in a freaking hot air balloon…what. The trip was so jam-packed that i didn’t have time to be scared, which i think is a good thing otherwise i would’ve backed out.
We were out at the crack of dawn, before the sun, to watch the sunrise from the hot air balloon. Although it was mildly terrifying to look down and see the ground miles below you, it was so smooth sailing that it didn’t feel like we were in the air. Didn’t stop my legs shaking, though!
The hot air balloon prices start at €130 for adults, €100 for children under 12 and €700 to rent the whole balloon for a private flight, which is up to six people. All the information you need is available on their website, as well as a booking form!
I did not have myself pegged as a water sports fan before visiting Espace Fun, but turns out i am. We got to choose between three water based activities, and Espace Fun sounded the most tame with paddle-boarding and kayaking.
We spent all of our time out on the paddle-boards and it was potentially my favourite activity from the whole trip. It’s a good workout for your core, without you realising that you’re working out. If i lived in a slightly warmer country, i would totally take up paddle-boarding as a hobby.
Espace Fun is only open from the start of April to the end of October due to weather conditions, and you can rent all the equipment needed for paddle-boarding and various other activities for as little as €12 an hour.
If you opt for the Golden Lakes Hotel, you have the option to rent a bike to ride around the lake. It’s so simple, but the scenery is absolutely beautiful and it’s definitely worth taking advantage of.
Plus, the bikes are electric which is wild if you’ve never used one before. It makes going uphill feel like nothing. I had pretty much forgotten how to ride a bike, having only been on exercise bikes the two times i went to the gym last year.
the hanging gardens
Thuin’s hanging gardens are part of the old fortifications of the medieval city, but are now considered Exceptional Heritage of Wallonia (the region). There are around 200 gardens to discover, full of vineyards, vegetables and other wonderful things.
We visited the hanging gardens for a wine tasting in the vineyard the wine was produced in – we drank, we ate chocolate, we wore silly hats, and then explored the vineyard and took in the view.
Access to the hanging gardens trail is free all year round, and it takes you on a journey of the history of Thuin and the gardens.
where to eat
I struggled again with the food here, but that’s just me being my regular fussy self. Max the wonderboy managed totally fine with everything, as per usual!
Le tri-marrants was a fish place. Go figure – it’s right on the edge of the lake. Everything is locally sourced and fresh as can be, it’s just a shame i’m not big on fish.
It was a set menu we tried, which i’m not a huge fan of but i understand why they do it, and most of it stayed untouched. We had more red meat, which would’ve been okay but i like it burnt to a crisp and it was practically still mooing.
I’m joking, almost. The atmosphere was lovely and watching the sunset over the lakes from the big glass windows was amazing. Definitely one for all the fish fans out there.
Natura parc BBQ
One thing i didn’t mention in the “things we did” section is Natura Parc. Mostly because i cried whilst doing it because i’m afraid of heights.
Natura Parc is, funnily enough, a big nature parc. You do lots of flying foxes (i can’t remember the real name of them) and clip yourself in and i felt okay until i climbed to the top of the ladder, at which point i shit myself – not literally – and cried. Not my best moment.
Anyway, after that fiasco, we had a barbecue! I don’t normally enjoy barbecues (is there anything i do enjoy????) but it was like a big buffet and i finally got to pick something i liked!
La bonne auberge
Get this – i freaking loved this meal. I know. Food that i enjoyed that wasn’t chicken nuggets?!?!?! Wut. La Bonne Auberge is a family restaurant in Nismes, and it had such a friendly cosy vibe. I loved eating there.
And more importantly, the food! A whole bowl of potato croquettes, which is the way to my heart, and pork in a saffron sauce. I loved it but it was so rich, and i don’t have a very refined palette so i didn’t manage loads of it. I was very proud of myself for actually enjoying it though!
So i guess this officially brings my first ever press trip to an end! It was the most amazing experience and i’m so thankful to Ryanair and the Charleroi Tourism Board for having both myself and Max out there for the week. It’s a trip we’ll certainly never forget.