Euro Space Centre

Euro Space Centre has been on my wish list for quite some time and recently I managed to visit there recently. It is one of the best places to visit in Wallonia with kids, to encourage those budding young astronauts and scientists.

The first thing to stop and see at Euro Space Centre, soon after the car parking, towards the entrance is the actual (decommissioned) Europa 2 rocket. This is visible even when you see it from the highway.

As soon as we entered, I realized that it is easily possible to spend an entire day at Euro Space Centre. The first point is for Preparation for Space Travel which has a few games to test alertness and attentivity like the precision wall where you have to tap a particular colour in a grid of changing colours. It is very much fun for older kids & adults alike. The height may not be suitable for younger kids though.

The next point is the Space Tour which started every 20 minutes. This is the perfect place to start if you’re with young kids who are keen to learn more about space. The tour takes about 1:30hrs and begins with a room filled with interesting quizzes. After some time, the next room talks all about the various planets and the history of space travel. The tour goes on up to the training area.

The next stop is the most exciting spot in Euro Space Centre - Training Area! There are 6 different activities to try here for everyone and 3 more on certain special days (or any day if you go on a group tour)! All these activities can be done by kids if they are taller than 110cm (except Free Fall where the requirement is 130cm).

© Euro Space Center

The first activity was what I’ve been wanting to try ever since I had heard about Euro Space Centre - Free Fall Slide! This is a 7m tall slide that simulates the experience an astronaut would experience when doing a spacewalk i.e., in space. The feel was definitely exhilarating. The initial bit of the slide isn’t even touching your back and then it’s a smooth slide, thanks to gravity! An absolute delight it was.

©  Euro Space Center

The 2nd experience that I was really looking forward to, was the Space Rotor experience. As the name suggests, it is a rotating cylinder that lets you experience the spinning sensation of an astronaut during a rocket take off. Once I got into the rotor, it initially began to spin slow and then the speed increased which I was expecting, but what I didn’t expect was the ground to get lowered!!! Thanks to Centrifugal force, which is more powerful than gravity at this point and you don’t slide down to the floor but keep hanging there, stuck to the walls of the rotor!!! Between Free Fall & Space Rotor, I thought Free Fall would rank 1, but I’m mistaken, Rotor is sensational!!!

© Euro Space Center

The next experience is the Mars/Moon Walk. Remember seeing those videos of astronauts jumping and walking on the surface of the moon? This is exactly that experience. With the help of a VR Headset, the experience has been made all the more relatable. Space Flight Unit is entirely a VR experience where you operate the spacecraft from takeoff to landing on the surface of the mars.

About the Author: Bhushavali is an Indian travel blogger, currently living in Belgium. Her background in art history gives her the interest and insight to explore the historic & heritage sites in Belgium. Her primary interest is UNESCO Sites and she has visited 14 of the 15 Belgian UNESCO World Heritage Sites as well as the UNESCO Global Geopark. Visit her blog here: My Travelogue by Bhushavali.

The next experience is perhaps every kid’s favourite - the 5D Movie. This is a short 6 minutes short animated fictional movie with the backdrop of a moon landing. The 3D experience with the rocket coming to the face coupled with moving chair and vibrations and surround sound and more, all the senses of the body were really activated during the short, gripping space story in just 6 minutes!

The last experience we tried, which was very educational as well, for younger kids, is the traditional Planetarium. This is perhaps the smallest planetarium that I’ve been to with a seating capacity of around 20 people. Being so small, it is effective in its own way! A movie about man’s conquest over space runs for 25 minutes. After a short intro about the solar system, various planets & the geological conditions there, it starts talking about the history of manned & unmanned space missions and continues with the various unmanned rovers currently present in all the planets. The movie finishes with a wonderful series of photographs captured by these rovers, with the blue dot on the sky - the earth!

Apart from these 6, there are 3 more experiences - rotating chair, multi-axis chair and zero gravity wall in the Training Area which are open only for group visits or overnight stay visits.

TOP TIP: An excellent way to experience all the activities here with your friends, at your own pace, would be, either to persuade your school teacher to plan a school trip or plan your birthday party at Euro Space Centre or team building activity at Euro Space Centre

© Euro Space Center-dbcreation.be

After these experiences, the last thing to do in the interiors is to explore the Mars Village. The space begins with a video about how life on board a spacecraft is. These are real footage of various astronauts during various missions of theirs. Then there are a couple of challenges (video games) to estimate what an astronaut would be required to carry on a space mission etc. Then there’s a lot of educational videos about the various researches happening on Mars, esp., in the aspect of the possibility of life thriving there. The Mars Village ends with a remote-controlled Mars rover (like a remote-controlled toy car) which is absolutely super fun, especially for toddlers and kids.

Apart from these, there’s also a place dedicated to Yuri Gagarin, the first-ever human to venture into space in 1961. There were also showcases dedicated to Dirk Frimout, the first-ever Belgian Astronaut to have gone to space in 1992 and Frank de Winne, the first-ever Belgian to have commanded a space mission in 2009.

EURO SPACE CENTRE BY PUBLIC TRANSPORT: Euro Space Centre is open for individuals / families only during school holidays and weekends. If you depend on public transport, it is a good idea to choose a weekday during school holidays to visit Euro Space Centre. If you visit during weekend, the best option is to bring your bike on the train to Poix Saint-Hubert and then ride the last 11km.

Last but not the least, I’m not kidding, set aside at least 30 minutes for the Astronaut Shop! There are so many awesome things to buy from elaborate DIY experiments to space-themed décor to books to small things like keychains & toys. It is impossible to decide what to buy in less than 30 minutes!

Even after you get out of the main building, there are still so many things to do outside. The first stop would be, of course, to see the actual Europa rocket & art installation depicting Hermes Space Shuttle. There’s a playground, obviously, space-themed! There is a way-marked trail called the Space Walk, that goes all around the entire premises of Euro Space Centre called Cosmic Valley! Halfway through this walk is a clock. Can you guess what kind of clock would be at Euro Space Centre? If you said, Sundial, you got that right! Close to the car parking, is the Solar System area which has a huge ‘Sun’ with lights on it and the ‘planets’ are all around it. Finally, when you’re absolutely tired after doing so many activities, there’s the Voyager Café to fill your tummy!

 

PLACES TO VISIT NEAR EURO SPACE CENTRE

REDU - VILLAGE OF THE BOOKS

Découvrez Redu - Village du Livre à Saint-Hubert, en terrasse© WBT - David Samyn

Very close to Euro Space Centre, is Redu. This tiny little village hardly has 6-7 streets with a population of 400 people, but has more than 15 book shops of which 2 specialize in English books and 2 in Children books!

It was in 1984, during the Easter weekend, that the first-ever second-hand book market was organized here a Redu. People all over Belgium were invited and then, in 1984, this 3-day event had more than 15000 visitors! Today over time, more than 2 million people visit this little village per year. To date, every year, during Easter the second-hand & rare books market happen here. Apart from this, there’s another major event in August - The Night of the Books, when all the book stores are open till late at night, there’s a book reading session with a bonfire, workshops, street dancing and theatre performances and finally some incredible fireworks show!

I was absolutely amused to visit the MUDIA museum here! I really did not expect an extensive fine art museum in the middle of Belgian Ardennes! There are more than 300 masterpieces here. That said, this is perhaps the quirkiest fine arts museum I’ve ever been to! The art literally comes to life! Some paintings have an interactive digital display beside in which certain characters from the art come to life and perform something! I bet you, this is the most fun fine arts museum in the world!!!

  • Redu location: asbl "Redu Village du Livre"Place de l'Esro 63,6890 Redu
  • MUDIA location: Place de l'Esro 61,6890 Redu
  • Buy your MUDIA Tickets here

LIBIN - LE SENTIER DES NUTONS

Le Sentier des Nutons (Nutons trail) in Libin is a very short 1.8km trail around a waterbody but is filled with quite a few Nutons! Nutons are little characters from the local legends. These tiny dwarfs lived in the rocks and came out at night to help the locals by fixing their shoes, tools etc. They are the friends of nature, trees, animals and flowers. Some are tiny, the size of mushrooms and some are a bit bigger, the size of foxes.

The first pit stop is the little wooden cabin to check the map that shows the location of the Nutons and then start walking. There is a ‘book’ to begin with, then an art installation, then the first sculpture of Nuton that’s hugging a little fox and sleeping inside a box! As you walk, there are quite a few Nutons, hiding from plain sight and watching from behind the trees!

There are 3 sculptures, 2 art installations and quite a few silhouette cutouts to look for! At the end of the trail is a small playground which is the perfect finish for this short walk with your little ones!

  • Sentier des Nutons location: Rue d'Houssy, 6890 Libin

HATRIVAL - ECURIE DES ILES

Hatrival© WBT - Bhushavali Natarajan

While hiking and biking may be excellent ways to get into the Belgian Ardennes, another awesome way to explore the forest of Saint Hubert in Belgian Ardennes is on a horse! Either riding on horseback or on a horse cart!

While Ecurie des Iles organizes classes for horse-riding, it is possible to experience horse carts in the forests of Saint Hubert. Depending on the number of people in your group, it could be a big or a small cart. If you’re on the big cart, you get your snacks & drinks during your ride. In the smaller cart, you get back to the stables and get your snacks there. If it is rainy or too sunny, the cart has a tent too!

The route goes through the village of Hatrival initially and then it enters the forest. No matter what the season is, how the weather is, riding a horse cart in the forest, with the wind blowing on your face, while hearing the tik-tok sound of the horseshoes, it is just a fabulous feeling.

ECURIE DES ILES TOP TIP: If the weather is windy or chilly, wear an extra jumper or wrap a shawl. The horse runs pretty fast and it can get very cold!

ACREMONT - SHEEP FARM

© Bergerie d'Acremont

Have you seen the authentic Belgian sheep? Well, you can see 250 of those here at Bergerie d’Acremont. Not just see them, but also pet them, drink some sheep milk and taste some sheep cheese as well! They feed the sheep only with grass and hay and not soy or corn or silage in order to manufacture the best dairy products.

BERGERIE D’ACREMONT TOP TIP: If you have visited Bouillon Castle, you might have spotted the cheese storage in one of the underground cellars there. It belongs to Bergerie d’Acremont and that cheese is called the l’Oeillet du Chateau. While the cheese cannot be purchased at Bouillon Castle, it can be purchased here!

Bergerie d’Acremont also has a holiday home, so you can stay here at the sheep farm in a small village in the middle of the beautiful countryside of Wallonia.

WHERE TO STAY NEAR EURO SPACE CENTRE

©  Steve Collin

EURO SPACE CENTRE

The best place to stay while visiting Euro Space Centre is of course Euro Space Centre itself! It is possible to book the ‘Space Room’ here for a family (Orion Mission) on all weekends, and it is also possible to book the space for a large group of more than 10 people (Mission Discovery) on certain specific weekends. It is a whole package where you get to try all the 10 simulators again and again for the 2 days, complete with breakfast, lunch and a 3-course dinner! Wait, it gets better - A movie night at the large auditorium is included as well!

LA BARRIÈRE DE TRANSINNE

La Barrière De Transinne is a very charming hotel just about 2km away from Euro Space Centre and 3km away from Redu. Being centrally located between Euro Space Centre and Redu it is a perfect spot to get pampered for an evening and spend the night. Yes, there’s a wellness area complete with sauna, hammam and relaxation room making it perfect after you spend a day or hiking or biking, before heading to Euro Space Centre the next day. The rooms have a garden view or forest view and if you manage to get a ground floor of a garden view room, you have the entire backyard to spend the night outdoor as long as you want.

LE FOURNIL

Located in the heart of Redu, with its own gourmet restaurant, this is a small and charming hotel with just 11 rooms. Redu, being a typical village, staying at Le Fournil is the ideal way to discover the quiet and peaceful life in the charming villages of Wallonia.  

About the Author: Bhushavali is an Indian travel blogger, currently living in Belgium. Her background in art history gives her the interest and insight to explore the historic & heritage sites in Belgium. Her primary interest is UNESCO Sites and she has visited 14 of the 15 Belgian UNESCO World Heritage Sites as well as the UNESCO Global Geopark. Visit her blog here: My Travelogue by Bhushavali.

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