West Flanders / three countries
West Flanders and three countries
This one week tour combines many different aspects of south-west Belgium: three countries, medieval and mondern history with the Great War of 1914-'18 and the culture of beer brewing. Starting in Bruges you will go to Nieuwpoort, and then to Diksmuide. This town is well known for the "Trenches of Death" and the Yser-tower, reminding us of the Belgian resistance against German occupation. Then a bike ride to Ypres, the very center of the trench war. The memory of the war is kept alive in Ypres by the impressive "Last Post" ceremony which is carried out every day at 8 PM.
The "South-west Corner" is also the region where the hop is farmed and the best Belgian beers are brewed. You will visit the St. Sixtus brewery, where the Trappist monks make the Westvleteren trappist beer. Of course you will enjoy a glass of this beer, by many considered to be the best in the world.
Last but not least you will visit the French harbor Dunkirk in the most northern part of France and the medieval town Sluis, in the most southern part of the Netherlands.
Character of the tour
This one week tour is easy to do: no hills, flat or slightly waving lands as far as the eye can see.
Day 1 Saturday, Bruges Arrival at the barge, bike ride to Plassendale/Oudenburg.
Day 2 Sunday, Oudenburg - Nieuwpoort - Veurne Ride along the coast to Nieuwpoort, where the river Yzer flows into the North Sea.
Day 3 Monday, Veurne - Dunkirk - Nieuwpoort Biking on inland bike paths and small roads through a nature reserve to Dunkirk, known for its role in WW II and the repatriation of 300.000 British soldiers.
Day 4 Tuesday, Nieuwpoort - Fintele We bike from Nieuwpoort along the river Yzer to Dixmude. The Yzer was the frontline between Belgian and German forces at the beginning of the Great War. Visit of the Yzer-tower, symbol of Flemish identity as well as a monument expressing the wish of "never war again". Docking in a very pleasant and picturesque spot named Fintele.
Day 5 Wednesday, Fintele - Dixmude After all atrocities of the past few days we're going to see one the nicest things of this region. It is the origin of many great Belgian beers and the "hop barn" of the whole country. Visit of the St. Sixtus abbey, home of the Westvleteren Trappist beer. Considered to be the best beer in the world!
Day 6, Thursday, Dixmude - Ypres - Plassendale. Today a visit of Ypres, visit of the historical centre and the Flanders Fields' Museum before we will go to the Menen-gate, well-known for its Last Post ceremony. Bike ride on converted railroad tracks to our mooring of today.
Day 7, Back home to Bruges A varied tour through the northern part of the Flemish small-scale farmland with Belgian "White-Blue" cows and barley fields. Cross the border to the Netherlands to visit Sluis, a medieval fortified town.
Day 8, tour ends after breakfast.