The first city liberated by Allied forces, Toumai’s (pop. 68,000) medieval old town has a history of being bounced between various empires; it was once a Roman trading post and the former capital of Gaul. The city’s most spectacular sight is the 800-year-old Cathedral of Our Lady, known for its five steeples and treasure room. (Treasure room open in summer daily lOam-noon and 2-5pm, Su until 7:15pm; offseason 10:15-ll:45am and 2-3:30pm. ‚1.) Climb the belfry for a stunning view. (Open Mar.-Oct. Su llam-lpm and 2-6:30pm, Tu-Sa lOam-lpm and 2-5:30pm; Nov.-Feb. Su 2-5pm, Tu-Sa lOam-noon; ‚2.) Designed by Victor Horta, the Museum of Fine Arts, enclos St-Martin, is an Art Nouveau building that houses a small collection of Flemish paintings. (Open Apr.-Oct. M and W-Su 9:30am-noon and 2-4:30pm; Nov.-Mar. M and W-Sa lOam-noon and 2-5pm, Su 2-5pm. ‚3, students ‚2.)
Trains arrive at pi. Crombez (88 62 23) from Brussels’s Gare du Midi (lhr. ‚9.60). To get to the tourist office, 14 Vieux Marche Aux Poteries, exit the station, walk straight to the city center (lOmin.), and go around the left side of the cathedral. (22 20 45; www.toumai.be. Open Apr.-Oct. M-F 8:30am-6pm, Sa-Su 10am-noon and 2-6pm; Nov.-Mar. M-F 8:30am-6pm, Sa-Su 2-6pm. To get to the Auberge de Tournai (HI) 0, 64 r. St-Martin, continue straight up the hill from the tourist office or take bus #7 or 88 (‚1.10) from the station. (21 61 36. Breakfast and sheets included. Reception daily 8am-noon and 5-10pm. Reservations required during offseason. Closed Jan. Dorms ‚13; singles ‚23; doubles ‚36. Nonmembers add ‚2.50.) The area around Grand Place has plenty of options for cheap food.