Belgium is not (only) French

Belgium is not (only) French

Writer: Jeroen Maes:
During my time here in Valencia, I’ve noticed that foreigners always think that I speak French. When they ask me ‘where are you from?’ and I answer with ‘Belgium’, the first reaction in 95% of the times is: ‘so you speak French?’. No, that’s not correct.

It’s totally true that there are French speaking people in Belgium, but it seems that a lot of people don’t know that Belgium – this little country – is separated in 3 parts. In the Northern part, we have the ‘Flamish’ part, where people speak the Dutch language. In this part there are living 6,5 million people.

The Southern part of Belgium is what we call ‘Wallonia’. The habitants of Wallonia speak French, but this part of Belgium is covered by only 3,5 million people.

Last but not least, in the very Eastern part of Belgium is a small German part what we call the ‘German-speaking community’. This part is adjacent to Germany.

To understand why this small country is separated in different parts, we have to look back in the history of Europe, before and during the French Revolution.

The main reason why most of the foreign people think that I speak French could be because you think about Brussels when you hear Belgium. It’s correct that most of the people in Brussels speak the French language. A lot of them are bilingual, but their mother language will be French.

To end this story, one more fact. Our royal family is by nature a French speaking family. The reason behind this is because back in the days, French was the language for elite people, and Dutch for the poor people. To be clear, this is no longer the case.

By Jeroen Maes