Cycling in “De Vlaamse Ardennen”

After a long silence there’s a strong motivation to bring you a longlist of inspiration for low carbon trips: Rome and Vienna by train, sailing, hiking, camping, … We’ll dive right in with a lovely trip we did last weekend to Flanders cycling paradise: De Vlaamse Ardennen.

We left from Brussels on Saturday. It took us only 20 minutes by train from Brussels South to Denderleeuw. We took our folding cycles but you can just pay 4.5€ more to take your normal bike on the train. With Tine being pregnant we made it a short cycling trip (35km) through nature, from Denderleeuw along the Dender river to Geraardsbergen and then to Brakel where we slept.

You can easily extend the cycling part by starting your trip in Aalst (43km), Dendermonde (55km) or even start cycling from the Schelde or Brussels. We knew it was going to be a wet day so even with rain pants on, cycling for 2 hours was enough.

We slept in one of the cabins of B&B De Groeneweg in Brakel. A great glamping getaway in nature with views on a beautiful orchard for only 55€ per night. The host is kind and super helpful so don’t hesitate to ask her whatever you need. The breakfast basket is worth its 10€ p.p. so if you’re not on a tight budget you want to go for that one. These “pods” are actually part of the “Trekkershutten” network, located close to GR hiking routes and big cycling corridors through Europe.

For diner there’s plenty of impressive restaurant options around… but most were already fully booked two weeks ahead, so make sure to reserve and check the menu prices before booking: Moeder Agnes, La Granja, De vijf seizoenen or La Villa.

On Sunday we slept a little longer than average, took a late breakfast and went for a lovely walk in the woods. Based on the application of Wandelknooppunt it is really easy to determine your walk in the surrounding woods. You just save or remember the numbers of the “nodes” and follow the indications along the path. It works exactly the same as the “fietsknooppunten” for cycling routes in Flanders.

During our hike we had a picknick. After returning to the B&B we packed our bags and started cycling back to Geraardsbergen…through the rain. Surprisingly, Tine enjoyed the weekend so much that she kept a big smile even through the pouring rain.

As for the culture part, except for the windmill we visited, you might have spotted a Manneke pis on the background of the second picture… Geraardsbergen claims that their manneke pis is actually older than the Brussels one. (note: it looks exactly the same and both original statues were made around the 1450’s).

Before heading back home we still went for pancakes in Montana – nothing special but cosy to warm up during heavy rainfall. A little sun would have surely invited us to visit Geraardsbergen more extensively, but we had our portion of nature so were totally satisfied.

To go back to Brussels on Sunday evening we took the train from Geraardsbergen. There’s a direct train from Geraardsbergen back to Brussels every hour.