A new network of cycling paths has been developed in the Ardennes
region. Known as RAVeL (Réseau Autonome
des Voies Lentes or ‘independent network of slow paths’),
the system is made up of disused railway lines and old canal towpaths,
now reserved and adapted for the exclusive use of pedestrians, cyclists
and wheelchair users. It will eventually consist of 2000km (1240
miles) of paths and will be linked to similar paths in neighbouring
countries. Further information is available from RAVeL
Flanders, the more northerly and flatter part of the country,
is just as well-equipped for cyclists and there are many kilometres
of signposted cycling routes. Bicycles may be hired at larger railway
stations and can be reserved in advance. They can very often be
carried on trains at no extra cost. Many hotels will make arrangements
for luggage to be taken to the next destination during cycling tours.
Although a highly developed country, Belgium has beautiful countryside.
The hilly country in the Ardennes region features
forests, lakes and caves. Flanders offers opportunities
for coastal and forest walks. For further information about the
marked trails, contact the tourist boards. Numerous other activities
can be practised, including canoeing, horseriding, caving, kayaking,
climbing and fishing. A full range of watersports is also available
on the coast.
Belgium is well known for its hundreds of varieties of high-quality
beer. There are beers of all colours and types, brewed using different
methods and ingredients including wheat beers, fruit beers, red
beers, amber ales and ‘spontaneously fermented beers’,
to mention but a few. Each beer has its own distinctive glass and
special label. Six kinds of trappist beer, brewed by monks to ancient
recipes, are made in Belgium and some breweries are open to the
public. Trappist breweries open to the public include
the Bières de Chimay brewery at Bailleux
and the Rochefortoise brewery at Eprave. Visits
to the Rocheforteoise brewery must be booked by
fax and confirmed 2 days in advance. These beers can all be sampled
in Belgium’s many cafes, restaurants and pubs.
Belgium’s large number of excellent restaurants testifies
to the high esteem in which the Belgians place food. The country
has the highest number of Michelin stars per head
of the population, and is the only country in the world where US
fast food chains have been consistently losing money. The visitor
has an array of fine restaurants, sophisticated cafes, and pubs
to pick from. Specialist tour operators offer gastronomy trips where
visitors can learn how to cook Flemish dishes using
local produce and beers.
Belgian chocolate has an excellent reputation and some chocolate
factories are open to the public, though it is often necessary to
book in advance. The Chocolate and Cocoa Museum on
the Grand-Place in Brussels is open from Tuesday to Sunday. The
Chocolaterie Jacques in Eupen near Liège
is open to the public from Monday to Saturday. Groups of more than
ten people need to book in advance.
I and II
Flanders contains Passendale and Ypres.
These battlefields can be visited, and there are many museums commemorating
the war dead and informing the visitor about these terrible events.
The In Flanders Fields Museum (telephone number:
(5) 723 9220) is an authority on the region and the impact the war
made upon it.
In Ypres at 2000 hrs each day, the Last Post is sounded under the
Menin Gate. A number of commemorative events are organised by regional