Twin Towns & Surrounding Towns and Villages

Birstall is twinned with Rixensart in Belgium. Rixensart is situated 15 miles south of Brussels. It is a large parish made up of three villages, Rixensart, Genval and Rosieres. The combined population is about 15,000.

The main feature of Rixensart is its chateau. Unusual, in red brick, the chateau dates back to 1631 and is home of the Princess de Merode. The chateau is open to visitors during weekends and holidays.

Genval is known for its lake, good for a Sunday afternoon walk after lunch at one of its many restaurants including the Chateau du lac, a hotel/conference complex. There is also the facility to play bowls or take part in the many watersports.

As Rixensart is only 20 minutes drive to the centre of Brussels, a visit to the capital is a must. The Grande Place (main square), is one of the most beautiful squares in the world. Take a walk down one of the narrow bustling streets, 'Rue des bouchers' for example and absorb the atmosphere created by the many restaurants and cafes who are enticing visitors in search of fun and relaxation. The ambience is heightened by the many street performers who attract crowds of onlookers to a variety of artistic talent.

There are so many places to visit in Brussels - Mannequin Pis, The Royal Palace, The Atomium, China Tower, galleries and museums, craft markets and the Planetarium - the list is endless.

Also near Rixensart (15 minutes) is Waterloo. You can visit the Visitor Centre, the museum, the panorama and climb the 'Lion' monument, with 226 steps, to view the famous battlefield where Wellington defeated Napoleon. If you enjoy theme parks, a nearby market town can offer 'Walibi' or 'Aqualibi'. In the north of Belgium you can visit the picturesque town of Brugges, and to the south there is Dinant, Namur and, of course, the beautiful Ardennes.

Belgium is also home to many culinary delights. You can sample a few of the 300+ artisanal beers along with Belgian cheese. You can try sausages, mussels and 'frites' (chips). There are the delicious 'gauffres' (waffles), biscuits, patisserie and of course the famous and very special Belgian chocolates.

For other souvenirs Belgium is famous for its lace and pewter.

No matter how often you go, there are many places to see and things to do; Belgium has so much to offer and the people of Rixensart are so proud to be able to share it with us.