“Billions of blistering blue barnacles!”

Quoting Tintin’s friend Captain Haddock, small son starts running when he sees the angular frontage of Musee Hergé. After taking the train to a small town outside Brussels, and walking through a grey shopping centre, Tintin’s profile, peering into the distance is a welcome sight, whether you’re a fan or not.

With his enduring energy, distinctive quiff and exuberance, it’s hard to believe that comic strip hero Tintin first appeared in 1919, captivating children from several generations. The 90th anniversary of his first appearance as a comic strip in Le Petit Vingtieme seemed like a good excuse to take my Tintin obsessed son to the spiritual home of everything Georges Remi, Tintin’s creator.

The building is quite a sight, with high ceilings and angular colourful walls, complete with poured concrete floors and feels like a fitting tribute to Herge’s massive creative output.

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The first room shows his early life and his early illustrations which give a flavour of what was to come, leading into another room on Herge’s advertising work, before you descend a floor and find yourself immersed in the world of Tintin.

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There’s lots to see, and small son wasn’t sure where to start. There’s plenty of pictures, early drafts and facts about the creator and his most famous work, including info on the characters -not just his beloved dog Snowy (known as Milou in the original) and constant friends Captain Haddock, Professor Calculus plus ne’er do well ‘twins’ Thompson and Thomson, but also the wealth of background characters that appear in the 24 books.

We had incredible fun having a picture taken in the midst of a Tintin scene, and there are interactive elements, plus models of the shark submarine from Red Rackham’s Treasure and a rocket model, used as the inspiration for Destination Moon and Explorers on the Moon.

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Although small son was eyeing up a 5,000 Euro Tintin model in the gift shop, we managed not to spend anything in here. It’s still worth a browse as is the on-site café. We both danced back to the train to Brussels eager to re-read the books.

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We stayed at the Hilton Bruxelles City, just north of the centre after a painless Eurostar journey from London. Travelling around Brussels is affordable and easy, with efficient trams, trains and buses, reasonably clear signage and plenty of helpful English speakers around. We stayed overnight before taking the train on a Sunday to the small town of Louvain-la Nouvelle, not to be confused with Louvain (Leuven). We’re grateful to Sally Murray Travel Counsellors for doing all the bookings for us!

Musee Herge is giving a day of free entry on Sunday, 6th January, but admission is usually 12 Euros for adults. Closed Mondays.

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