What You Need To Know
Despite its modest size, Namur (Namen in Dutch) is the ‘capital’ of Wallonia and hosts the region’s decidedly undramatic parliament in a former hospice building. Historically the city’s raison d’être has always been its location at the confluence of the Meuse and Sambre Rivers. It is commanded by a vast former military citadel that was one of Europe’s mightiest fortresses until very recent times. Below the citadel, Namur’s gently picturesque old-town core has much to discover if you look behind the slightly grubby exterior
Area: 176 km²
- The Euro (EUR) is the official currency in Belgium.The euro coins and notes used in Belgium are the same denominations as those used in other countries that use this currency. There are eight coins in total, which are commonly referred to as cents, although officially they are known as euro cents. This just makes it clear as to which currency you are talking about; saying cents makes it more likely someone will assume you are referring to the dollar.The eight coins are as follows – there are six in cents denominations and two in euro denominations. The euro coins are for one and two euros respectively. The coins marked in cents are the 1, 2, 5, 10, 20 and 50 cent coins. Aside from this you also have seven banknotes. The biggest is the €500 note, while the smallest is the €5 note. In between there are the €10, €20, €50 and €100 notes as well.
It is very easy to get euros to support your trip to Belgium. Simply order some euros from your preferred (and ideally cheapest) source of foreign currency before you go. You can also exchange your own currency for euros when you get there, although it is always advisable to have some euros on you before you arrive just in case you need to spend a little cash on drinks or food for example.
You can of course pay for purchases using cards, either credit or debit cards. Visa cards are the most popular in Belgium but you can take a Mastercard too as this is likely to be accepted in many outlets. Debit cards can be a little more problematic but if you have a Maestro or Cirrus card you should be fine.
In Namur, the climate is warm and temperate. There is significant rainfall throughout the year in Namur. Even the driest month still has a lot of rainfall. This climate is considered to be Cfb according to the Köppen-Geiger climate classification. The temperature here averages 9.8 °C. The average annual rainfall is 819 mm.
French is the official language of the five Walloon provinces in the south (Hainaut, Liège, Luxembourg, Namur and Walloon Brabant).
Within each region, the majority of residents speak the designated language and most road signs, government services and public schooling are available only in the official regional language. Driving across Belgium can be particularly confusing, as most cities and towns have both a French and a Dutch name, which often bear little resemblance to each other.
English is widely spoken in and around Brussels and Antwerp, and you’re likely to find more English speakers in the Dutch areas of Belgium than in Walloon. Except for the highest level diplomatic appointments (where you’ll only need to be fluent in Diplomatese), you’ll be expected to have some knowledge of the appropriate regional language no matter what sort of job you’re applying for. Having both French and Dutch can be a major advantage in the job hunt as no more than 20 per cent of Belgians are bilingual in the two major national languages, and they’re more likely to live in Flanders than in Walloon.
Health and security
- If you’re living and working in Belgium, you will typically be covered by state Belgian healthcare if you carry out the compulsory registrations. The Belgian healthcare system is one of the best in Europe but you need to have state or private health insurance to access it and claim Belgian healthcare refunds.The Belgium healthcare system is divided into state and private sectors, with fees payable in both, funded by a combination of Belgian social security contributions and health insurance funds. With mandatory health insurance, patients are free to choose their own medical professionals and places of treatment. Patients generally pay costs upfront and are reimbursed a proportion of the charges for medical and dental fees, hospital care and treatment, maternity costs and prescriptions through their Belgian health insurance fund (mutuelle in French, or ziekenfonds in Dutch). Some alternative treatments are also reimbursable if carried out by a qualified doctor. Many people top up their cover with private insurance to get a full refund of all medical costs.
Doctors work in public and/or private settings. Dentists are almost all private. Hospitals and clinics are private and usually managed by universities, religious organisations.
- living in Namur is very pleasant and safe.
But as in any town, don’t be fooled into thinking absolutely nothing can happen. Serious crime can happen anywhere, even in Namur.
- The general advice is to carry everything separately whenever you can. If you have the opportunity to make use of a hotel safe, make sure you do so, especially when it comes to your passport. Many people opt for a money belt as well, which can keep your cash and other valuables much safer than they would be in a pocket. Carry your cards separately to your cash as well if you can.
- Do not leave valuable items visible in your car, even when you are in it. Keep car doors locked and windows secure at all times. It is increasingly common for thieves, usually on motorbikes, to break a window and snatch valuables from the front or back passenger seat when the vehicle is stationary at traffic lights. Car jacking, especially of up-market vehicles, remains a risk.
- The old town is dotted with beautifully presented Gothic and Baroque monuments, and lovingly-preserved Art Deco streets. The local foods are exquisite, served in some wonderfully imaginative restaurants. And the beer? Well let’s just name-drop Rochefort, whose enigmatic monk-brewers are just an afternoon’s drive south of Namur.