Four Abroad

Christine, Angela, Peter and Richard venture into the Ardennes

Following Rando Velo routes: RV2 “The Namuroise” and RV7 “L Ardennaise”

We travelled on different trains, so met up with Peter and Richard in Brussels for an onward train journey to Tienen where we planned to spend the night before starting our route: Rando Velvo (RV2) from Hoegaarden to Bouillon.

Setting out from Tienen
Setting out from Tienen

We had a comfortable hotel and we explored the town a little to find somewhere to eat. Not a great deal on offer so we settled for a small restaurant in the square.

The following morning we quickly found the beginning of RV2 at Hoegaarden and settled down to enjoy a well maintained traffic free route stopping for lunch in Namur, strategically situated on the confluence of the Sambre and Meuse rivers and visited the Citadel. Then our riverside route took us into Dinant where we arrived a little wet due to afternoon rain.

The city’s association with its most famous son, Adolphe Sax, the inventor of the saxophone makes for an interesting little tour. The town’s main bridge has many colourful replicas along each side.

great cycling facilities, well maintained, traffic free
Great cycling facilities, well maintained, traffic free

A brief visit by cable car to the Citadel. It saw heavy fighting in 1914 and in 1944. As we left Dinant the weather looked a little better but it remained cold and overcast most of the day. We climbed a few hills and cycled through quiet villages. We had emergency rations with us but were still keen to find somewhere for lunch – it was not to be – we did find a shop and purchased picnic supplies and so lunch was had in the main square area, before moving on. We were pleased to get to our next accommodation, getting there a little early we were slightly concerned as it was closed, however we eventually received a warm welcome, enjoyed a hearty evening meal and delicious breakfast.

Now on route to Bouillon quite a lot of climbing but gradient manageable.. No café’s so we felt lucky to find a shop. We sat on a wall in the early afternoon sunshine waiting for it to open at 2 p.m.

I thought the downhill run into Bouillon was never going to stop! We checked into the very comfortable Hotel de la Poste, strolled around this pretty town, close to the French border, and enclosed in a loop of the River Semois. Crowned by a Chateau , it is an intriging old place with three drawbridges, where you can wonder through courtyards and battlements and through dungeons fitted with weaponry and instruments of torture. Also fabulous views down the Semois valley. The following morning we had time to visit The Archeoscope Godefroid de Bouillon and its exhibition on the Crusades and Arab culture.

River Semois and Chateau at Bouillon
River Semois and Chateau at Bouillon

Here we started route RV7. After that wonderful decent into Bouillon there is a pay back! Richard managed the extremely steep climb out, the rest of us walked. We had a lot of climbing to do before eventually reaching a plateau, again very quiet countryside so, later in the day, we felt lucky to find a restaurant near the railway station in a small town for lunch. We still had some way to go before arriving at Les Trappeurs, Tenneville. Our overnight stay described as a “cosy wooden nest at the edge of the Ardennes forest.” It is classified as a Passive House/Sustainable Building, a voluntary standard for energy which reduces the building’s ecological footprint. We were welcomed by Barnard and his son Victor. That evening we enjoyed a delicious gourmet meal – after that day’s cycling – we deserved it!

Cycling onwards through some of the wildest scenery in the Ardenne we arrive in La Roche-en-Ardenne, crowned by romantic castle ruins and its superb outdoor activities: kayaking/rafting along the River Ourthe, climbing, horse riding and caving. After coffee Christine and Richard went up to the castle and Peter and Angela visited the Battle of the Bulge Museum. Many of the Ardenne villages were bombed to rubble with a heavy loss of life.

A beautiful ride to arrive in Durbuy. Tucked into a narrow ravine beside the river, below bulging wooded hills, it welcomes many day trippers in season. With its 18thC stone houses, set around a cobweb of cobbled streets, it is a treat to explore. The food on this trip has been excellent. Here we ate in a one hundred year old stone house, a delicious set menu and enjoyed an evening stroll back to our hotel.

Our last day’s cycling saw us leave Durbuy on a brilliant sunny morning to cycle into Liege, our final journey on RV7. It was outstanding, although in a couple of places due to work upgrading the route we had to make a couple of detours. Aided by his Garmin, Peter guided us very ably into the centre of this vibrant city and to our hotel. After a much needed shower and change of clothes, guides/maps in hand off we went to find a typical Belgium restaurant, which, with Christine and Richard’s expertise, we did. A memorable meal on our last evening.

The following morning, Richard left on an earlier train leaving three of us to have a look around Liege. A walk alongside the river, a coffee, visit to the Cathedral, then Peter had to go. Leaving two: Christine and Angela. Not content with challenging cycling we decided to make for the rue Hors-Chateau from which 400 steps ascend the very steep Montagne de Buerent up to the citadel. Well worth the lung wrenching trek, the views are superlative over the city and the countryside beyond. Then to investigate the city’s onnection with Georges Simenon and the Maigret novels. Finally we went back to the hotel to collect our bikes and train/Eurostar home.

Mileage 240 miles over 6 days
4,380 metre climbing
530 metre highest point
Downloaded RV2 and RV7 GPX routes on to Garmin
MapsMe and GPX Viewer
Paper cycling map of area

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Angela Feaviour
May 2019