Exclusively for TheMerode, Beatrice, founder of “les racines élémentaires” and journalist at Le Soir and Francis, founder of "Les Etats d'âme" and journalist at La Libre,  are sharing “behind-the-scenes” anecdotes of their interviews with hundreds of personalities.

They will in turn, play the game of switching roles between interviewer and interviewee,  giving their own stories – with hindsight, depth and reflection.


For an immediate dive into their authentic selves, each speaker will be respectively introduced by a personality. Laurette Onkelinx will do us the honour of introducing Francis Van de Woestyne, while Melchior Wathelet will give a special introduction to Béatrice Delvaux.

Béatrice Delvaux created “Les racines élémentaires” ten years ago, and Francis Van de Woestyne, “Les Etats d’âme” five years ago with a common goal: discovering the women and the men behind their work, their action, making their souls speak, listening to the words, respecting the silences, seeking the meaning in life.

They have been listening to the narratives, life stories, happiness’s and misfortunes of hundreds of public figures such as . Hearing their doubts, their heartbreak, their screams of pain, their passions, their rebellions across one, two, or sometimes three hours of conversation. The result: stories from which we do not emerge unscathed.

This is the subtle and generous exercise mastered over the years by those two renowned Belgian journalists, one for Le Soir, the other for La Libre Belgique, whose paths are surprisingly parallel.

Exclusively for TheMerode, Béatrice and Francis will deliver “behind-the-scenes” anecdotes of these meetings. They will in turn, play the game of switching roles between interviewer and interviewee,  giving their own stories – with hindsight, depth and reflection.

Francis Van de Woestyne’s book, “Etats d’âme” will be on sale during the event. Feel free to bring your own copy. Have your book signed by the author himself.


Beatrice Delvaux is the Chief Editorialist of Le Soir since 2011. She holds a Master degree in economic and social sciences from Namur University. She worked at the International Monetary Fund in Washington before joining Le Soir in 1984 and heading up the economics department for ten years. In 2001 she became editor-in-chief of the   Together with the Flemish journalist Stefan Michielsen, she is the author of the book “Le bal des empires” (Zes huwelijken en een begrafenis.”), about the death of a certain Belgian capitalism. She is also a columnist for De Standaard.

For ten years now, she has been conducting “Les racines élémentaires”, long personal interviews that delve into the roots of a personality and always start with the same question: ‘You would not have become who you are if…’. Since the summer of 2012, more than 160 personalities have told their stories to Béatrice. A real kaleidoscope. A mosaic of testimonies. All the life stories are like a thousand pieces of a puzzle.

Francis Van de Woestyne has spent his entire professional career at La Libre Belgique and has risen through the ranks: fact checker, local and regional journalist, political journalist, head of the political department, editor-in-chief, editorialist. Over the years, he has specialised in writing about ‘behind the scenes of negotiations’, editorials and in long format interviews. He has written several books of interviews: with Elio Di Rupo, Didier Reynders, Antoinette Spaak. He received the Belfius Press Prize in 2003 and 2020.

After the accidental death of his son Victor on 4 November 2016, he initiated “Etats d’âme”, a series of interviews with key international personalities in which he seeks to understand the foundations of commitment, the motivations in their work and in their life. In these interviews, which he has extended to include philosophers, writers, artists, scientists and sportsmen, he also discusses spiritual life: what is the meaning of life and death for them? The aim of these meetings, which encourage hindsight, time and reflection, is to look for the man or woman behind the work or action.

To date, around one hundred interviews have been conducted. Thirty-six have already been published in a collection by “Les Impressions nouvelles”.With his wife, Patricia Vergauwen, he also created the Fonds Victor, in memory of their son: the aim of the Fonds Victor is to encourage young people to read. https://www.lefondsvictor.be/


6:30 pm : Welcome

7 pm : Conference and Q&A

8 pm : Conversation continues at TheMerode Bar

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