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Belgium: Flanders Biking Adventure

August 1 - 7, 2022

“The best invention after the wheel was putting two of them together.

Anonymous

The region of Flanders in Belgium is a world of scenic landscapes, castles, stone-built villages, multiple languages and cultures, gourmet restaurants, and really nice people – but did you know that it is world famous for cycling?!? In fact, they recently hosted the 2021 World Road Cycling Championships as well as the Paris-Roubaix race. Belgians are crazy for the sport!

Our own Belgium Biking Adventure will take us through rich, agricultural landscapes, along bustling rivers and canals, into the countryside of Northern France (the pavés of the Paris Roubaix Race), and through the Flemish Ardennes, famous for the hills of the Ronde van Vlaanderen (Tour of Flanders). You’ll never get bored with the wide range of varying surfaces including well-maintained paved paths, dirt paths, gravel paths, and even cobblestones. You’ll also find it hard to get lost as we’ll be on Belgium’s wonderful national cycle route network for portions of this trip where there are easy to spot numbered markers at each junction. You simply need to ride by number!

Most days, you’ll choose from different mileage options for your daily ride with a short, medium, and long routes. We’ll stop in quaint villages and towns to grab lunch, explore, and relax before getting back on the trail. Our evenings are spent in accommodations that range from luxiurious remodeled 17th-century mansions to family-owned B&Bs in the countryside to award-winning hotels in the city centers.

And of course, no trip to Belgium would be complete without trying the iconic Belgian beer! Throughout the trip, your guides will share with you some of their favorite off-the-beaten-path beer cafés and restaurants. (Though you do not have to be a “beer lover” to enjoy this trip!)

Join us on our Belgium Biking Adventure as we explore the marvelous trails of Flanders – it’s a cycling enthusiasts dream!

Details

  • Dates: August 1 - 7, 2022
  • Cost Per Person: $3,600
  • Optional Single Supplement: $900
  • Activities: Biking
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Guides: TBD

Other Info: E-bikes are available for an additional fee.

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Trip Highlights

  • Biking through bucolic scenery while following in the footsteps (tire marks?) of the Ronde van Vlaanderen (Tour of Flanders)
  • Learning about Belgium's history and their role in many World War I battles
  • Experiencing trails of all sorts - paved, gravel, dirt, and even cobblestone
  • Indulging in Belgium's iconic beers and chocolates!

Please note: the biking routes for this tour are being confirmed. We have mostly listed the medium route distances below for your reference. We will provide updated information as soon as we have it!

DAY 1

Welcome to Belgium! We meet you just after lunch at our hotel in the charming small town of Tournai, about 1 hour outside of Brussels by direct train, and near the French border. With more than 2,000 years of history, Tournai began as a market town near the crossroads of a Roman road. After some group introductions, we'll get fitted for our bikes and head out on our first ride of the trip along the river Scheldt and end in a very Belgian fashion - with a stop at a local brewery! Brasserie de Brunehaut offers traditional Belgian-style beer as well as organic and gluten-free options. We'll head back to the hotel to freshen up and take a leisurely walking tour through the city center before enjoying a delicious welcome dinner. Biking Distance: 30 kilometers

DAY 2
This morning we set our sights on France! After a hearty breakfast, we'll start out from our hotel and ride on the first of two famous cycling courses on this tour - the Paris-Roubaix, one of cycling's oldest races.  It is known as a "cobblestone classic" for a reason as we'll be riding over pavés for a section of our trail. After we conquer the bumps and lumps, we'll roll on to a less choppy terrain on a very scenic gravel ride along the banks of the Marque River. This latter part of the trail is known as a ‘Voie Verte’ which are designated flat, car-free paths that are required to be below a 3% grade. We finish today's ride at the famous Jean Stablinski indoor velodrome!  We'll then relax and recount our cobblestone victories at our accommodations for the night, a gorgeous 17th-century mansion. Biking Distance: 50 kilometers
DAY 3

Today we head back to Belgium and split our time between cycling and history. We will first enjoy a scenic ride along the Canal de Roubaix and the Deule River, towards the village of Ploegsteert. Once there, we'll take a break and visit the impressive Plugstreet 1418 Experience Interpretation Center, a WWI memorial museum where you can learn about the lives of the soldiers and civilians that lived there during the war. After, we'll hop back on our bikes and head for the hills! The area of Heuvelland is known as the "land of the hills" where we can reward our hard work with a stop at another fun local brewery or continue on to our picturesque country getaway, Hollemeersch. Biking Distance: 55 kilometers

DAY 4

This morning we leave the hills for hops fields and once again cycle long the French border, towards the quaint village of Poperinge. With ideal, fertile conditions, Poperinge is well-known for growing hops - in fact, 18 of the 23 total Belgian hops growers are located in the greater Poperinge region. We'll breathe in that earthy, hoppy aroma as we glide through the fields, stopping at a local farm to learn about their livelihood and perhaps take a taste of the finished product. We'll continue on to one of the beer meccas of Belgium - Westvletern at Sint Sixtus Abbey. Westvleteren is a Trappist Brewery where the monks brew traditional beers and sell them only to support their abbey and their charitable works. Some call their Westvleteren 12 the best beer in the world! You can grab lunch and perhaps a beer on your own at the brewery's restaurant, In de Vrede before continuing on our route to the beautiful city of Ypres. After being destroyed in WWI, many important buildings were carefully reconstructed, including the impressive Gothic-style St. Martin's Cathedral and its soaring spire located in the city center. You'll have the option of visiting the In Flanders Fields Museum or the De Kazematten Brewery built directly into the ancient city walls. Biking Distance: 50 kilometers

DAY 5

After another hearty breakfast, we head out on the trail, leaving one historic town en route for another.  Along the way, we'll enjoy cycling through West Flander's largest nature preserve, Palingbeek, and along the delightful Lys River. We end our day in the picturesque city of Kortrijk, with its mix of unique and historic architecture and bustling vibe. We'll enjoy a hearty and delicious dinner at a local restaurant and turn in for some good sleep before the tour's longest rides tomorrow.   Biking Distance: 50 kilometers

DAY 6

Today we'll take on another one of Belgium's famous cycling routes - this time through the Flemish Ardennes, famous for the hills of the Ronde van Vlaanderen (Tour of Flanders)! You'll be able to choose just how much of those hills you want to tackle as you'll have the option to jump in our vans and shuttle to a flatter portion of the trail. We'll hop off the trail for a bit to visit the Centrum Ronde van Vlaanderen, a cool, interactive exhibit all about the Ronde van Vlaanderen. After, we'll continue on to the lively city of Ghent, biking along the Scheldt River. Tonight, we'll enjoy a wonderful farewell dinner, celebrating our accomplishments and reliving the memories we've made along the way. Biking Distance: 50 - 70 kilometers

DAY 7

After breakfast, we'll enjoy a short loop ride, taking in the beauty of the Belgian countryside one last time before heading back to the hotel to shower and pack. We'll then send you off on your own to catch a train back to Brussels or perhaps to another one of Belgium or France's incredible cities! Biking Distance: 20 - 30 kilometers

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Trip Accommodations

NIGHT 1 >> HOTEL CATHEDRALE / TOURNAI

Our hotel after our first day's ride offers comfortable accommodations and is located in the heart of the city, overlooking the Tournai Cathedral and just steps away from the Grand Place.

NIGHT 2 >> CHATEAU DE COURCELETTE / LANNOY

Tonight we stay in a plush B&B in a 17th-century mansion, located just over the border in Lannoy, France. The spacious rooms are furnished with antiques and overlook a beautiful park.

NIGHT 3  >> HOLLEMEERSCH / DRANOUTE

This quaint country hotel is located in lower meadows (meerschen) at the flanks of the southern slopes of Mount Kemmel. It's a perfect spot to relax after a day of cycling.

NIGHT 4 >> ARIANE HOTEL / YPRES

Tonight's accommodations are in a family-run four-star hotel that has been voted the Best hotel in Belgium, located in the heart of the historic city of Ypres.

NIGHT 5 >> HOTEL DAMIER / KORTRIJK

A charming 4-star hotel, situated in the city center of Kortrijk, with a historic facade mixed with contemporary charm.

NIGHT 6 >> HOTEL HARMONY / GHENT

Located on the river, in the oldest district of Ghent, our hotel for the night offers cozy elegance. It is the perfect location to wander the bustling streets of one of our favorite cities.

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Arrival & Departures

On Day 1, we meet in the town of Tournai, a 1 hour direct train ride from Brussels. You will most likely want to fly into Brussels the day before so that you can ensure that you arrive at our Tournai hotel with enough time. We also highly recommend arriving at least a day ahead of time to recover from your travel and any potential delays. Our adventure ends the last day of the trip in Ghent. You may choose to extend your stay in Ghent, hop on a local train back to Brussels, or continue your travels via a high-speed train to Paris, London or Amsterdam, or fly home.

What's Included?
  • Two Zephyr guides accompany each trip.
  • Double occupancy lodging is included. If you are traveling solo, we will match you with another traveler of the same gender. However, you may pay a single supplement to have your own room.
  • All of your dinners and breakfasts are included. Gratuity for these meals is also included. We have left some lunches open so that you have time to explore and enjoy the local flavors en route.
  • All your transportation is included once you meet your guides on the first day.
  • All formal beer tastings are included.
  • NOT INCLUDED Beverages, desserts, some lunches, gratuities to your guides, personal expenses and travel to and from the destination.
Weather

August in the Flanders region of Belgium brings nice mild temperatures with an average high of 72 degrees Fahrenheit with temperatures dropping down into the low 50s at night. You'll want to bring light layers that can easily be put on or taken off. Additionally, Belgium is a surprisingly rainy country so you'll want to bring a waterproof layer as it may rain.

Belgian Cuisine

Much of the Belgian cuisine revolves around cooking with beer. Which is awesome for beer lovers! Many dishes consist of a variety of meats ranging from beef, rabbit, and even horse braised in a variety of Belgian brews. Green vegetables are not commonplace and may not even be an option on a menu, however, some places have excellent, large salads.

Beer

Belgium is one of the great beer cultures of the world, and they have a very wide variety of brews for nearly anyone. Even if you don’t consider yourself a “Beer Drinker” don’t rule this trip out! Belgian beers bear little resemblance to many American brews. They range from light sweet abbey-style brews to dark spicy Cuvee Royale to bright, fruity and sour lambics.

Changes to Your Itinerary

While everything under “What is Included” will remain the same, the actual restaurants, hotels, and activities listed in our itineraries are subject to modifications. Changes that are out of our control are common – a restaurant closes or loses its awesome chef, a winery changes its visiting hours, a hotel gets remodeled, a road or trail undergoes construction. You are entrusting us to create an outstanding vacation for you and so it is possible we may take the liberty of making necessary changes (even at the last minute, during the guides’ scout trip) to the itinerary that will improve your overall trip experience. If there is any one experience that is going to make or break your trip, please discuss this with us in advance! We will attempt to keep our website itinerary as current as possible and communicate any major changes with you in the weeks prior to the tour.

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