Louvain-la-Neuve, Louvain or Leuven ???!
Belgium is a small but complex country with two main languages (French and Dutch) and thus two names for each city. Sometimes it's easy (Bruxelles = Brussel, Bruges = Brugge) and sometimes it's a bit more complicated (Mons = Bergen, Anvers = Antwerpen). Hence if you're not used to it, you can easily become confused. So here's a short explanation to guide you in the Belgian linguistic jungle.
Leuven (in Dutch) or Louvain (in French) is the original location of the University of Leuven. This city is located in Flanders in the Dutch speaking province of Flemish Brabant. In the past French and Dutch speaking students studied in this same city, but because of the "Wallen Buiten" (= French speakers outside) movement, the university split to form two institutions in 1968:
- a French speaking one: Université Catholique de Louvain (UCL)
- a Dutch speaking one: Katholieke Universiteit Leuven (KU Leuven)
Hence Louvain-la-Neuve (identically in French or in Dutch) is the city that has been built to welcome the French speaking university (UCL) after its eviction from Leuven. This new city is located in Wallonia, in the French speaking province of Walloon Brabant.
Leuven = Louvain
- KU Leuven
How to reach Louvain-la-Neuve
From Brussels South Charleroi Airport
Use the bus (line A) from the airport to the train station of Charleroi-Sud (bus schedule here) and then take the train going to Louvain-la-Neuve (train schedule here).
From Brussels Airport
The train station of Brussels Airport - Zaventem is at the level -1 of the Brussels Airport building. From there, take the train going to Louvain-la-Neuve (train schedule here).
Short presentation of Louvain-la-Neuve
Established in 1972, the city of Louvain-la-Neuve has been specially designed for welcoming students. Its modern architecture reflects the youth of the city. Its campus is located in the heart of Belgium. You will find everything you need here: a new shopping center (Esplanade), cinema, various restaurants, a large sports center (Blocry), a theater, and a lake surrounded by grass areas where students come to study and walk in fine weather. Another great advantage of Louvain-la-Neuve: most of the city is pedestrian. All the roads of the city are underground. In fact, the city was built up, so that students are not bothered by cars
Moreover, Louvain-la-Neuve has a very rich student life, which is centered around three main organizations:
- The kots à projets: groups of students living together who organize various activities throughout the year depending on their specific project/interest. Some of the largest activities conducted by certain kot-à-projets include: the 24h Vélo, the 10 Miles of Louvain-la-Neuve, the Welcome Spring Festival, the Brassicole, ...
- The Cercles: associations composed of students from the same faculty. They organize the "baptêmes" (initiations) at the beginning of the year. Each cercle has a bar open every night from Sunday until Thursday. Furthermore, the cercles also organize big events in Louvain-la-Neuve such as the "Bal des bLEUS", the "Bal des Lampions", the "Two Weeks of Beer", and the "Bal des Busés".
- The Régionales : They are similar to the Cercles, except that they are composed of students from the same region of Belgium. They organize Cultural Weeks and Carnivals.
To conclude, there is at least some sort of activity occurring almost every day in Louvain-la-Neuve during the week thus leaving no time for boredom :) !
Here is a short video of Louvain-la-Neuve made by the talented Eduardo Mattiello (big thanks to him!), a member of the amazing 2015-2016 Brazilian crew :