Charleroi, or Charlwah as I have heard it pronounced by a local, is by far and away the most rundown city I’ve seen in ages. Up til now Milford Haven had had that dubious honour but Charleroi definitely beats it into a cocked hat for derelict buildings, rundown buildings, strewn litter and graffiti, wasteland and old rundown and derelict industrial areas. I’d long wanted to visit simply because I knew it was a historical place, something to do with Bonaparte on his way to the battle of Waterloo.
The reason I first went in was because my TomTom decided to play up badly. I’d only got a message from TomTom a few days before saying they would no longer support my device as it was classed as ‘obsolete’ by them. In other words, they wanted me to dispose of it and buy another one lol I’d never been happy with TomTom mapping and a few other things about the company so I had decided to get a new SatNav and this time but a Garmin. I was hoping that Charleroi might have a decent shop where I could buy one.
While there was a massive regeneration going on in the new city centre, the shops were very limited in Charleroi and consisted mainly of rundown independents selling tobacco, food and cheap clothes. I walked the entire city from end to end and corner to corner and there was nowhere that sold anything like SatNav’s. Luckily after messing around at teatime with my TomTom after about an hour I got it working but as a SatNav is quite important to travelling I was still intent on getting a Garmin as soon as I could.
I did not take any photos of Charleroi: I was dedicated to one task and to photo nothing but rundown misery was not my thing that day. And non stop misery was pretty much all I saw.
Update: Almost a year after visiting, I read this article on the BBC website about Charleroi.