Founded nearly 1,000 years ago, the interesting market town of Binche (38 mi/61 km south of Brussels) still has some of its original fortified walls, which date between the 12th and 14th centuries. Binche is best known for its annual Mardi Gras carnivals, when some 1,500 revelers, known as the "Gilles," weave through the streets while thousands more look on. In their bizarre, clown-like costumes, with white, feathered headdresses as tall as 4 ft/1 m, the Gilles create quite a show (it ends with a spectacular shower of fireworks). If you go, be sure to visit the Carnival and Mask Museum as well as Bonne Esperance Abbey.

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