I promised to share my experience in Mons, Belgium since it’s not every day that I get to visit farther away places for work. I went there for the Mons Livre book fair, with a departure on Friday 23th, and return after the event on Sunday 25th November. Here we go with a little guided tour!
Work comes first, so let’s talk about Mons Livre, which took place in the Lotto Mons Expo, a big event hall, where I immediately went to set up my booth upon my arrival in the early Friday afternoon. The organization was so sweet, all the exhibitors were nicely greeted and got a welcome package with various info and a water bottle – overall, the booth setup was quick and smooth.
During the week-end, the fair was open to the public from 10h-18h. Other author friends had formerly notified me that there were many visitors – if I remember correctly, there were 8.000 registered visits last year – and they didn’t lie, seeing as the halls were crowded from the very beginning. When noone was at my booth, I alternated between advancing on IllusFairy’s next chapter, as well as talking to my lovely neighbour. Both of us had been placed next to one another, seeing as we were the only manga artists there.
Mons Con photo by Marcel Vanden Bemden
Speaking of my lovely neighbour, I’d like to introduce you to her: Lostmemory Coralie, author of “Numéro Invalide“. When the organizer told me she would come in a wheelchair, I wasn’t sure about how to address her, but she was so sweet right from the beginning. To make things short, an operation went wrong several years ago, and since then, her health has slowly been deteriorating, but she keeps on fighting, sharing her story as a manga to spread hope and support other victims of medical errors. I was amazed to see how strong she was to continually stand up to doctors and justice, and she is just such a kind and adorable person. Please show her some love and spread the word about her comic, she deserves it<3
And while we’re at the acquaintances, I was also able to meet again with Manon Elisabeth d’Ombremont, a dark fantasy author. We had met three years ago during a convention and it was nice to see her again after all that time. If you like plots with dark twists, I invite you to discover her world as well!
After setting up my booth, went straight to my hotel to drop my stuff before visiting the city. I had chosen the Congress Hotel Mons Van der Valk, which I didn’t expect to be so greatly located – it was a 10min walk away from the center, and a 2min walk away from the Lotto Mons and a shopping center. Honestly, it was the first time I could wake up late and go by foot to a convention, and it felt great XD
Anyways, what can I say about that hotel except that I totally love it? It was clean, with a free parking lot, a nice staff and perfectly located. To relax in the evenings, I adored the jacuzzi bathtub. Since I had booked it around 10 months in advanced, I had been able to get a Junior Suite at a very affordable rate.
For general travels at a cheaper rate, I recommend you Booking, for which you can sign up by using my personal link if you’re not there yet. I know I’m shamelessly promoting it right now to get a commission out of it XD, but if you use this link, it allows you to get a 10% cashback on your first stay. Besides, I really enjoy this website, seeing as it allows you to cancel hotels up to 24h before your check-in (I’m used to booking hotels at a cheap rate before I even got events confirmed – if I happen not to be accepted, I can easily cancel it without fees), and after three stays, you get into a “genius program” which allows you to save 10% on various hotels (it worked for me, so I guess it’s like that~).
Hotel Congrès Mons Van der Valk (photo from their website)
Anywaays, going back to Mons, I used my Friday afternoon to wander through the city. I love the elder architecture back there, and the shopping streets also had some original shops beside the classical big companies we’re used to see everywhere.
What I appreciated most concerning the location of the hotel was the fact that the Grands Prés Shopping Center was directly next to it, and I could easily get something to eat in the evenings – really, it was just in front of the Mons Lotto where I was working, and I could pick up a warm take-away and head straight back to the hotel at the other side of the street. The first day, I got something from Asie à Tik, an Asian food restaurant which is super yummy. I’ll always remember their foie gras and mango sushi!
Otherwise, I discovered a cheaper way of eating complete meals while being abroad. Usually while being in a hotel, I used to order room service, go to a restaurant, or eating cold sandwiches, seeing as there are rarely kitchens in the room – all of which are often pretty expensive alternatives. In Mons, I discovered that the Carrefour supermarket within the shopping center offered to reheat food in an oven or microwave for free – basically, you could just reheat any of the numerous takeaways in the supermarket, which were way cheaper and still as good. (and that’s it for the random tips for traveling artists who try to save money:D)
Some night photos taken in the Centrum of Mons
Overall, I had a nice week-end with a kinda vacation feel to it. I will probably not go back seeing as there are too many expenses involved, but I’m glad to have been given this traveling opportunity and to have met wonderful people!
Have you already been to Mons? Where do you like traveling?