Brunch & Culture • La Cité Miroir
Remember when I told you about the sumptuous Art Deco swimming pool in Roubaix that was turned into a museum? I pleasantly discovered Liège is home to a similar cultural project! I'm a big fan of historic places that are given a new purpose, especially when it is done with great respect for the building's original state and beauty. As such, let me guide you through 'La Cité Miroir', a place that will surely satisfy your hunger for inspiration, in the same way 'Le Petit Pressoir' will satisfy your hunger for veggie food.
The building originally opened its doors in 1942, in the middle of war, under the Nazi regime, and was intended as more than just a place for swimming. There were also baths, a café and a dance club for instance, to make it a true place of social emancipation. It is local modernist architect Georges Dedoyard who designed it as a majestic boat, inspired by the German Bauhaus style. This inspiration translated into omnipresent symmetry, elementary shapes (cube and sphere), clean lines and pure materials (concrete and glass).
Unfortunately the building lost its splendor over the years and it eventually had to be closed down in 2000 for security reasons. Some years later the project was picked up again and after subsequent renovations, the building was reopened in 2014 under the name 'La Cité Miroir' as a cultural center, a meeting point, a place for art and memory. It is with much respect for the original idea that this cultural project is led, as its name suggests: a gathering, a mirror of the past, a place for reflection and introspection.
Nowadays 'La Cité Miroir' welcomes 90.000 people a year who come to visit its temporary exhibitions (for instance 'Oliviero Toscani: Razza Umana', an exhibition by the renowned photographer who made the very famous Benetton ads, open until April 1st 2018) and two permanent exhibitions that embody the center's function of memory ('Plus jamais ça! Parcours dans les camps nazis pour résister aujourd'hui' and 'En lutte. Histoires d'émancipation').
Should you feel hungry, whether before or after your visit to 'La Cité Miroir', I highly recommend a small place called 'Le Petit Pressoir' (En Neuvice 37, 4000 Liège), which is just a 10 minutes walk away. As you might have guessed, they are specialized in super healthy juices, but that's not all they have to offer. They also serve 100% vegetal dishes that are made with seasonal products from local suppliers. So no fixed menu, but instead an ever changing offer of equally delicious and healthy food.
As for the interior, don't expect anything fancy or trendy, but instead a decoration that suggests a visit to your imaginary vegetarian grandmother that pours lots of love into plates of food that will do you good. Think mismatched chairs, lots of frames on the walls and old sewing machines. The warm atmosphere combined with the friendly service will have you feel at home real quick!
This city guide is suited for Saturday and Sunday. The train will take you from Brussels to Liège in 1h20 (to visit the above mentioned addresses it is best to go to station 'Liège-Palais' instead of 'Liège-Guillemins'). By car it will take you a little more than 1 hour.