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89km (55 miles) SE of Brussels; 27km (17 miles) NE of Huy; 54km (33 miles) NE of Namur

Fervent, lively Liège (pop. 190,000), straddling the Meuse and with a backdrop of Ardennes foothills, has been dubbed "La Cité Ardente" ("the Passionate City"). Nowadays it exudes in part the aura of an aging industrial gloom, but that seems to fade next to its gracefully down-at-the-heels 19th-century monuments, and remnants from the time of its powerful ruling prince-bishops. Liège has always had an independent spirit. Its 12th-century charter decreed that the pauvre homme en sa maison est roi (the poor man is king in his home) -- an attitude still vividly alive in Liège today.

The Town Mascot -- Liège's most beloved symbol is Tchantchès, a puppet that has been the spokesman of the streets since the 1850s. He's usually dressed in a blue smock, patched trousers, tasseled floppy hat, and red scarf, and he's constantly either grumbling or espousing every noble cause in sight -- the personification of your average, everyday Liégeois. A statue of Tchantchès stands on place de l'Yser in the Outremeuse district.