Courtray (Dutch: Kortrijk, French: Courtrai) is a city in Flanders, the northern part of Belgium. It is the capital and biggest city of the arrondissement of Kortrijk, which comprises some 278,160 inhabitants (1 January 2007). The wider municipality comprises the city of Kortrijk proper and the towns of Aalbeke, Bellegem, Bissegem, Heule, Kooigem, Marke, and Rollegem.
The city is situated on the Leie River, 42 km (26 miles) southwest of Ghent and 25 km (15 miles) northeast of Lille in France. Both Kortrijk and Lille are part of the same transnational Eurodistrict urban area with around 1,900,000 inhabitants.
As the biggest city of southern West Flanders, Kortrijk has many schools, a university, hospitals and shopping streets.
Kortrijk is a nice Flemish provincial city, it has a good balance of tradition and innovation/modernism. It was seen as the Texas of Flanders, one of the richest and most economic developped areas in Flanders. It used to be the centre of the linen industry and is still known as an important textile industry region.
It is a very important historical place in Flanders because of the Guldensporenslag (Battle of the Golden Spurs) on the 11th of 1302, in which an underequipped Flemish army defeated the superiour French troops. 11 July is the official national day of Flanders.
Kortrijk has always been famous for shopping, and in 2010 a big shopping centre was opened in the heart of the city. There are numerous traffic-free shopping zones, and lots historical sites in the city centre.
Kortrijk can be easily accessed by various types of transport:
Kortrijk's main railway station is an intercity train station. Situated in the heart of Courtray, you have easy connections to Ghent, Antwerp, Mechelen, Brussels, Bruges, Ostend, Ypres and Lille, France.
Next to the train station there is a large bus station, giving access to regional bus lines and a well constructed city bus network. Eurolines buses stop at the train station or at the Kinepolis cinema, outside the city. The Kinepolis site has good connections to the train station.
Thalys/Eurostar/TGV lines do not stop at Kortrijk. There is a direct connection to the Lille Flandres and Lille Europe train station (30 minutes by train) however. Accessing Courtray from England/Paris through stopping in Lille is easier to do than going to Brussels and taking the regional train in Brussels.
Kortrijk has an inner circle, the R8. This highway is connected to the A19 (Ypres/Ieper), E403 (Bruges/Brugge, Ostend/Oostende, Tournai/Doornik) and the E17 (Lille/Rijsel, Ghent/Gent, Antwerp/Antwerpen, Brussels/Brussel).
Courtray has a well-formed bus system, offering easy transport to main spots like Kortrijk Xpo and most surrounding cities.
As Kortrijk is a part of Flanders, the main language is Dutch. Most of the inhabitants will be able to help you in English or French.
Kortrijk offers one of the biggest car free areas in Belgium where one can shop or have drink on a nice terrace. One of these streets, the Korte Steenstraat, was the very first pedestrian street in Belgium.
In the heart of this pedestrian area, a large covered shopping centre, named K in Kortrijk, opened during spring 2010. This shopping mall makes the pedestrian link between the Lange Steenstraat and the Veemarkt-square and offers some 90 large stores.
Just across the 'K' you'll find a small multicultural neighborhood filled with Kebab restaurants, phone shops and bazaars.
Paul's Food Boutique right behind the 'K' shopping centre offers amazing fresh hamburgers with lots of vegetarian options.
Frituur Groeninghe is a famous 'Frietkot' which was once elected the best Frietkot of Belgium. Belgian fries as they should be, including lots of vegetarian options.
The Vlasmarkt, right in the city centre, is the alternative microcentre of the region with a record store, a tattoo parlour, and especially some relaxed cafés and terraces.