The last destination of my trip around Belgium was Louvain-la-Neuve , one of the youngest cities in Belgium, which hosts the the successor of the oldest university in Belgium.
Louvain-la-Neuve is located in the Walloon Region (that is, the French speaking part of the country), just 30 Km to the southeast of Brussels and its population is about 30,000 inhabitants, the vast majority of them being university students.
This city began to be built in 1969, and its first inhabitants arrived in 1972. The sole purpose of creating this city, was for it to host the Université Catholique de Louvain, which appeared after the split up of Catholic University of Leuven into a French and a Dutch speaking universities.
As it’s a university oriented city, Louvain-la-Neuve is full of life during the weekdays, but almost empty during the weekends, as the students take advantage of those days to get back home and visit their families.
Anyway, several new constructions, such as an exhibition center, a shopping complex and an auditorium, are destined to attract more permanent inhabitants, so the city doesn’t become so dependent from the temporary students.
One of the main points of Louvain-la-Neuve is that it is people oriented instead of automobile oriented, so the city has two different levels, being the upper one completely pedestrian; and the underground one, destined to diverse kind of automobiles.
Being the city as it is, the nightlife is great (but remember, only during the weekdays), being full of student organizations that rule dozens of bars and pubs. Also, it’s quite interesting to see the initiation rites to join those organizations.
And it’s really interesting to know that Louvain-la-Neuve hosts the biggest student party in Belgium, which is called 24 heures vélo (24 hour cycle), drawing more than 100,000 students. It’s held from 13 pm Wednesday to 13 pm Thursday usually during the fourth week of October.
So, summing up, I can say that it’s a great idea to spend a day or two during weekdays, and only for partying as much as you can, as, aside from the two-leveled streets, there’s not really much more to see. Anyway, an interesting place.
- Wikipedia: Louvain-la-Neuve.