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Holland's Secret City

ESSENTIAL CULTURE The striking, torpedo-shaped Bonnefanten Museum (250 Ave. Céramique; 31-43/329-0190; www.bonnefanten.nl), designed by Italian architect Aldo Rossi in 1995, houses old masters on the first floor and contemporary art on the second. Highlights include numerous Rymans, Rubenses, and Van Dycks, Robert Mangold's Red with Green Ellipses, and a minimalist steel sculpture by Richard Serra. Visit the gift shop to peruse ceramic plates designed for the museum by Sol LeWitt.

Expert Advice

WELL SUITED "I buy my Canali suits at van Overeem van Wissen (25 Stationstraat; 31-43/325-5039), near the train station. They are handmade in Italy and fit like a glove!"
HISTORY LESSON "When I'm on the Rechtstraat, I always peer in the window of Dr. M de Bruijn's Kunsthistorisch Kabinet (66 Rechtstraat; 31-43/325-0623). They have beautiful hand-drawn antique maps of the city."
BEST-KEPT SECRET "The ambience at Restaurant Château Neercanne (800 Cannerweg; 31-43/325-1359; lunch for two $70), a mile from town, is hard to beat. There's a calm that you don't find in Maastricht."
COCKTAIL HOUR "The new lounge-bar at the Hôtel Derlon (6 OLV-Plein; 31-43/321-6770) is superb. The design is very modern, with mirrors everywhere, and the restaurant has this red light in the center that's surrounded by a curtain of glass."

Quick Stops: Five Local Favorites 1. There's always a line at Olivier Bonbons (55 Kesselskade; 31-43/321-5526), where the handmade chocolates come in every shape and flavor: liquor-filled, topped with nuts, or just plain and delicious. 2. Most brown cafés serve vlaai, the region's version of pie. Try apple or cherry. 3. The strongest cup of coffee in town can be found at Blanche Dael CoffeeLovers (2 Ruiterij; 31-43/356-1944). Buy some freshly roasted to take home at the Maison Blanche Dael shop (28 Wolfstraat; 31-43/321-3475). 4. Dutch women adore the creams and scrubs made by Kruidvat (32-36 Wycker Brugstraat; 31-43/325-8206), a drugstore chain. Stock up on the "anti-rimpel" vitamin E eye cream ($3.50) and the abrikozen scrub ($3). 5. 't Bassin harbor is an up-and-coming neighborhood north of the city, where brasseries, cafés, and shops spill from the 19th-century warehouses.

Art Market The European Fine Art Fair, which has been held in Maastricht under various names since 1975, is considered the most important art and antiques fair in the world. "It's like the Metropolitan Museum with red dots," according to one New York collector. Dealers save their best work for TEFAF, where it is vetted for quality, authenticity, and provenance by a committee of 130 international experts. And thanks to London gallery owner Leslie Waddington, who spearheaded the fair's modern-art section in 1993, 35 contemporary galleries now show at TEFAF, occupying 25 percent of the total floor space at the Maastricht Exhibition & Congress Center (100 Forum; www.tefaf.com; 888/388-2427; admission $37), where the fair is held. This year's fair (March 5-14) will include 203 dealers from 14 countries.

40 Number of people who arrived at last year's TEFAF in private jets

365 Number of pubs in Maastricht (one for each day of the year)


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