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Charleroi is the largest city in Wallonia, the French part of Belgium. The city was namely known as the dark and polluted heart of the heavy industry, but the city council has done a lot to change this image. Furthermore, Charleroi is the birthplace of comic strips, many comic strip heroes have a statue in the city: Lucky Luke, the Marsupilami, and Guust Flater.
The city has 215,000 inhabitants, including the surrounding urbanizations there are more than half a million people living in greater Charleroi.
Charleroi lies in the south of Belgium, on the banks of the Sambre river, it is in the heart of the old mining area and is therefore also called "The Black Country".
In 2001 the city's airport was chosen by budget airline Ryanair to operate cheap flights, this airport has been called Brussels-South Charleroi Airport ever since. This surely gave an impulse to the local economy, however far from sufficient.
After closing the mines and with the disappearance of almost all the steel industry, Charleroi struggles with high unemployment, the chemical industry can still be found and glass is still being produced in Charleroi.
With the new business park Aeropole, near the airport, the city hopes to attract new companies.
Seven kilometers north of Charleroi lies the airport Brussels South Charleroi Airport. As the name already indicates it functions as an alternative airport for Brussels and is used by budget airlines such as Ryanair and JetAir. The number of passengers has increased to 3 million a year by now.
Charleroi has a subway system that consists of a horse-shoe shaped ring around the city and two lines to the suburbs Gilly and Anderlues. There are plans to expand the network with the support of the European Union, furthermore there is a good network of bus lines.
The city can be reached easily, around the conglomerate Charleroi there is a horse-shoe shaped road (R3), that connects to the A15 on the north side and in that way it forms a complete ring around the city. There is also a ring road around the center, called "la Petite Ceinture" where there is one-way traffic, you can drive around easily in the city.
Parking is no problem in Charleroi, except when there is a fun fair. During the Sunday market it can also be very busy in the center. Moreover it is recommended to park your car in the parking lot of your hotel or in a guarded parking garage. Car theft is not unusual in Charleroi.
Charleroi has limited hotels to offer in the city center and near the airport, there are no four or five star hotels.
For more information about Charleroi, we recommend Google, and the following sources: