Here’s a short guide of some of the places I enjoyed during my previous stays in Mons. Hope you will find them useful, and I’d love to hear other places that you guys discover during your stay!
One of my favourite places around the Grand Place is La Cervoise – probably the narrowest building in the square, but with the most beer. (It’s the green one in the street view). They have a ridiculously long list of beers, including all the Trappist beers that the region is famous for. If you want a strong beer, go for anything with “tripel” in the name. They’re usually 8~9% alc, and very flavourful. If you’re feeling something lighter, Hoegaarden blanche (Dutch) is a very popular local choice. For something sweet try a “blanche citron”, which is a blanche with a shot of lemon syrup. (This may only be available in summer months though). The food specialty/novelty at La Cervoise is raw steak cooked on a hot metal slab in front of you as it is served. (Warning: if you don’t want your clothing smelling like barbecue, might want to order something else and sit next to someone not having that dish). Speaking of raw meat, steak tartare, or filet américain as it is known there, is quite common as a main dish served with fries or filling for sandwiches.
No visit to Belgium is complete without Belgian fries. There are a number of them littered around the city, and a lot of them only open very late. This was the one I went to a couple of times. The only thing to keep in mind for the vegetarians is that most places fry them in animal fat, unfortunately. The other must try is the waffle, of course. There are two kinds of waffles, Liège and Brussels style. Personally I like Liège style, but this is probably a matter of personal preference like which orientation you hang toilet paper… A good place to get waffles is on the “shopping street” that stems off the Grand Place. I forgot the name, unfortunately, but it should be quite easy to find during the day.
For groceries, there is a Carrefour express that is a few doors down from the hotel. For a slightly longer (<10min) walk, there is a much larger grocery store called Delhaize where the prices are a bit better and the selection much larger. The important thing is they all sell beer (and wine) that is much much cheaper than Canada.
If you like bread, next to the Carrefour is a famous bread chain called le pain quotidien. They have decent coffee there too, but the best coffee in Mons is probably on the corner of the Grand Place (to the right if you’re facing the town hall), le central. Here you can get a pillowy cappuccino and a croissant for breakfast if you ever tire of the very decent comp’ed hotel fare. Overall, being a small town, the coffee is alright coming from a city like Vancouver with so many top notch “third wave” places.
For green spaces, there is a nice park not too far from UMons called parc du Waux-Hall. There are also a few hidden public courtyards in between buildings littered around the town, which are neat to look for.
Take care, and have a great trip everyone! Looking forward to seeing pictures and hearing stories!