Introduction

Historic Binche once sported an opulent palace-castle of Mary of Hungary, sister of mighty Charles Quint. That’s long gone, but the town still maintains sections of historical city walls, has a scruffily attractive main square and a sizeable 17th-century church (Collégiale St-Ursmer). For most of the year the town has a rather grey and slightly forlorn look. But all that changes for a week of carnival festivities that are some of the world’s most unusual. If you’re anywhere near during Mardi Gras, Binche is an absolute must.