This week four members of the #GrimseyReview2 team will visit a town in Belgium. Why I hear you ask? It might seem odd in this time of BREXIT getting all the attention that a team from the UK is visiting a town in Europe that having read #GrimseyReview1 back in 2013 got in touch to say they were going to implement many of the recommendations. This they have done and to great success in many areas so we are going to see and hear the WHAT, HOW and WHY from Roeselare’s mayor. How ironic that a Belgian town has adopted recommendations from a UK report!
I will report back on what we see and learn but in the town has kindly sent over some information (in english!) about their town and what happens there.
Roeselare is located at the heart of West Flanders. More, it is – literally and figuratively – the beating heart of our province.
Roeselare is a trendy shopping city where life is good. We even have our own word for it: roeseling. It includes everything the city symbolises: cosiness, ambience and fun…in short enjoying an ambience few cities can offer: lovely strolls in one of the largest outdoor shopping centres with shops and boutiques that stock something for everyone, enjoying the warmth of the locals and their snappy dialect, getting involved in the many events like the Shopping night, the Batjes or the Christmas market, wandering along the attractions, and of course rest on a terrace or reminisce at a table full of culinary treats. The region of Roeselare is not the vegetable garden of Europe by accident. Everything is done tastefully here, definitely with a cool Rodenbach within arm’s reach.
But Roeselare is more than shopping, walking, eating and drinking well. It also is a cycling city. With world champions like Jempi Monseré, Freddy Maertens and the first Belgian winner of the Tour de France Odiel Defraeye the city is part of history. The passion for cycling is today demonstrated by the many cycling routes and junctions, the ‘natourcriterium’, the national cycling museum, the start of Dwars door Vlaanderen and the four day cycling race West-Vlaanderens Mooiste. A broad offer that makes both recreational cyclists and racers dream of more.
With its location Roeselare is the ideal start base to go and explore West Flanders. Bruges or Kortrijk are barely half an hour away and easily accessible by car, train, bus or even bike. Discover Roeselare your way, in a group or on your own. You will return home happy and satisfied, amazed and surprised. Roeselare will welcome you with open arms. What are you waiting for, come and do some roeseling!
Roeselare is a tasteful city and a city with lots of taste makers. The young chef Tim Boury was awarded a Michelin star, while the other culinary guide Gault & Millau elected Tim as Young Top chef of Flanders. “I make it my matter of honour to work with fresh and seasonal products I preferably source regionally”, explains the chef of restaurant Boury. “Fruit, vegetables or herbs, I find all of it here. In addition, the local cuisine cannot avoid Rodenbach beer either. This unique beer from Roeselare has the perfect acidity to make a vinaigrette, for example. With its fresh taste it also is an ideal thirst quencher on a nice terrace.” Another Roeselare taste maker is cheerful Claudia Allemeersch, winner of the programme ‘De Beste Hobbykok van Vlaanderen’ and patron of the Flemish House of Food. From hobby cook to star chef: they make Roeselare tasty.
Food lovers will feel right at home in Roeselare. Cyper is a refreshing lemon jenever, named after the hawker Cyper, You can enjoy Elixir de Roulers pure, “on the rocks” or with coffee. The drink is used in all sorts of cocktails. Mixing Elixir with cognac, for example, results in a wonderful drink. Elixir is also an ingredient in many gastronomic desserts. Only 3 people know the recipe. Rodenbach is a red-brown “Flemish brown” beer with a unique taste, matured in oak barrels for two years. English beer expert Michael Jackson has said the beer exists “the most refreshing in the world”. The Rodenbach beer was recognized by the accreditation board for West Flemish regional products as a regional product from West Flanders. In the modern coffee shop you will find the entire range of Donko’s coffees and a selection of fine tea sorts. A shop roaster allows them to roast excellent and exclusive coffee in the shop. Donko’s Koffie guarantees excellent service and superb quality. Louis Donck is a two time Belgian Barista Champion for a reason. Rudy Pattyn has 33 years of catering experience. After that, he learned the trade of ice-maker in Bologna’s Gelato University. His passion, enthusiasm, feeling, love and respect for the product lead to a creative result.
Roeselare presents the largest outdoor shopping centre in West Flanders. Trendy or traditional, big labels or unusual? You can stroll from chain store to boutique searching for your favourite fashion item or a brilliant gift idea. The station and the many car parks are only a few steps away from the shopping centre. Handy! Actress Martine Jonckheere, Marie-Rose in ‘Familie’, still sees her city of birth as the shopping place par excellence. “As a child I already went to the Batjes in Roeselare with mum. The whole city is in commotion during the three days event and there is a great atmosphere. I go every year, because it’s great to find bargains and chat to people.” Besides the hundreds of shops in the inner city Roeselare also has a few large shopping boulevards such as the Brugsesteenweg and the Westlaan. And every Tuesday morning you can stock up on garden fresh produce in the weekly market.
Shopping in Roeselare is an experience every day. The shopkeepers also provide more atmosphere with a few special shopping events. The Shopping night on the evening before 1 May is an absolute must. The combination of late night shopping and quality street animation brings a unique shopping experience. Our city starts the summer holidays every year with the Batjes. For three days you can find bargains and enjoy shows in the traffic-free centre for the occasion. It’s the place to be in the festive period for a fairy-tale hunt for presents. Stroll in the beautifully illuminated shopping streets, enjoy the winter shopping Sundays and skate a few rounds on the skating rink on the Market Square. That is shopping with an added bonus! Oh yes, large TV stations like Een and VTM find the ideal background for their summer talk shows or magnificent street parades in Roeselare
Roeselare with a bow
The Roeselare gift voucher is the ideal gift to give and to receive. You can use the voucher in more than hundred shops and bars and restaurants With the Roeselare Gift Voucher you will never give the wrong present again! The voucher can be purchased in the ARhus knowledge centre and at Foto Ludiek and Jeweller Goethals in the Ooststraat. A list of the shops where you can use the voucher can be found on the website.
Carnival –The carnival of Roeselare takes place on the fourth weekend before Easter. On Friday, a new Prince Alexander is elected. On Saturday, there is a children’s carnival in the afternoon and a show night in the evening. On Sunday afternoon, the carnival procession travels through the streets of the city
Shopping night – www.winkelnacht.be
Shopping night – At the end of April, ‘winkelnacht’ or ‘shopping night’ takes place. Shop until 22 o’clock and enjoy the international street animation, the treats in the shops and a fantastic fireworks display to cap it all off. The night ends with the Maybee festival and the Rodenbach city bar tour.
Batjes – This is an annual shopping event at the end of June. The Batjes start with a free giant vat of Rodenbach on the market square. Besides promotions in the shops, several concerts take place in the city centre. A fireworks display concludes the event.
On a Saturday, mid-November, Saint Nicolas and his entourage visit Roeselare. He arrives by boat and is driven to the main square in a coach. On the main square, the children can enjoy a fantastic spectacle with music and dance.
Christmas period www.centrumroeselare.be
Christmas period – During the holiday period you will experience Roeselare as a dynamic, charming and stylish city. The remarkable festive lighting attracts attention every year. On the main square, you can go skating on the ice rink and enjoy a heart-warming drink in the Christmas town afterwards. The two car free Sundays in the city centre always attract a lot of people. The dozens of father Christmases going around and playing jolly tunes and the pleasant and uniform festive lighting give everybody that Christmassy feeling
“Roeselare is unique” There you go, we said it. And it’s not our opinion, but that of John Goddeeris, chairman of the guides’ association. He should know.
Some pride is justified about the monuments and attractions of Roeselare. Alright, it’s not Ghent or Bruges, but the offer stretches from historic scenes to contemporary events. “The Cycling Museum is unique in Flanders”. The same applies to the Rodenbach brewery and its visitors’ centre. And the Oude Stedelijke Begraafplaats is funeral heritage at national level. No, Roeselare is not a medieval city, but it does stand out with its unique offer.”
Beautiful words of the chairman of the guides and he hasn’t even mentioned the historical city hall, the Castle of Rumbeke which is dedicated to WWI until 2018 and the Small Seminary at the origin of Flanders. Places enough to visit, and also combined with lots of regional delicacies to enjoy. As the winner of Vlaanderen Lekker Land, Roeselare knows how to soil you with its cuisine like no other. –
Cycle Museum – Roeselare attracts a lot of cycling enthusiasts. Treat yourself to a beautiful cycling tour or meet our cycling legend Jean-Pierre ‘Jempi’ Monsere in the Cycle Museum. Here you will learn more about his life and that of other cycling greats. The museum takes you back in time to witness the history of the bicycle: from the first Dandy horse to the Macmillan bicycle and finally the modern folding bicycles. You can even ride a penny-farthing, the famous bicycle with the big front wheel. What are you waiting for?
The Rumbeke Castle – The Renaissance is far behind us, but in the Rumbeke Castle, you can relive those times. The five centuries old, but still glorious castle awaits you. The forest that surrounds the castle is an ideal surrounding for a lively walk. A sea of colours during autumn or the blooming leaf buds in spring, Sterrebos is a beautiful place all year. There’s an exposition about King Albert the First and the Great War, until 2019