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Mons

The Angel may be an unsubstantiated myth. The monkey, on the other hand, is tangible. And the "county hall" or Maison de la Province is gloriously solid
There's a dragon as well, and a Golden Carriage, and a street called "Three Black Puddings". And an obelisk with complex sundial, barometer, thermometer and latitude/longitude co-ordinates in case you're really lost. That's just along the street from a Masonic temple with Egyptian pillars and even crocodiles on the façade.
All in all, worth a visit.
M/011

I don't know whether it's sheer good luck – as if the Angel had a cousin who was an architect – or diligent reconstruction, but the centre of Mons is human-scale, unspoilt and delightful to a remarkable degree. It's clearly been there for a long time, so that even the Palais de Justice (from 1848) or the former post-office (perhaps thirty years later) have a slight air of "new additions". One monstrous exception, alas, the grotesque bank and office-block diagonally across from Machine à Eau, let's hope it collapses tomorrow. It's a disgrace and an eye-sore.

There was a happier age when architects were capable of designs that were new, and distinctive, and functional, and held their own with their surroundings without clashing. Mons has these too, above all the Maison de la Province*, a self-assured but never arrogant block from the 1950s I found quite by accident and now want to visit with a guide.

Accident? well, yes: consulting a street-map over breakfast, I'd been charmed by street-names such as Pinmakers Street, Wasted Effort Street, Gooseberry-bush Street, Five Faces Street or Black Hare Court – and correspondingly startled by Bootle Square**. A photograph was clearly called for, but when I got there there was scaffolding on the wall where the sign should have been. The Maison du Gouvernement Provinciale (perhaps?) is on one corner of the square.


* There seems to be a conspiracy of silence surrounding this building, at least as far as Internet resources go; I can't even find out whether that is really what it's called!

** Yes, this dignified city with a history going back to the time of Julius Cæsar is twinned with Bootle (according to the tourist office) or perhaps Sefton (English-language wikipedia). No, I don't know why.