Following the waterways through Belgium-to-Luxembourg dipping into France along the way.

Our ride through Belgium-to-Luxembourg was the start of our journey across Europe. It began with the North Sea crossing from Hull to Zeebrugge. We had a calm and relaxed crossing enjoying the hospitality of the P&O North Sea Ferry a great dinner and smooth bottle of red wine. 

We landed early morning and within minutes were off the ferry at the start of our new adventure.


Schedule

  1. Day 1 - Zeebrugge to Brugge
  2. Day 2 - Brugge to Ghent
  3. Day 3 - Ghent to Dorlou
  4. Day 4 - Dorlou to Mons
  5. Day 5 - Mons to Malonne
  6. Day 6 - Malonne to Anseremme
  7. Day 7 - Anseremme to Haybes
  8. Day 8 - Haybes to Montherme
  9. Day 9 - Montherme to Buillon
  10. Day 10 - Buillon to Montmedi
  11. Day 11 - Montmedi to Longwy
  12. Day 12 - Longwy to Luxemourg


Our ride descriptions give an account of the ride that we completed. As part of the description we also provide links to google maps and elevation profiles based on mapping data available through the internet. The ride profiles are smoothed to give what in our opinion is a more beneficial view of the profile. We use paper maps, GPS and on line data to plan and conduct our rides. We are happy for you to use our descriptions, but be aware that we do not guarantee the accuracy of the information provided as situations surrounding any ride change over time.

Belgium-to-Luxembourg - Day 1 - Zeebrugge to Brugge

The profile for this part of the Belgium-to-Luxembourg ride is pretty well flat so is not included.

Ride Description

For the start of our Belgium-to-Luxembourg ride the North Sea was flat calm and we had a good night’s sleep. As we ate our breakfast both of us were excited with nervous anticipation. 

The only map that we had was a basic overview of the Belgian cycling network and Garmin-Asus Nuvifone phone with Google maps. We needn’t have worried. After short ride west along the coast road we picked up the route 27 towards Brugge, which was clearly signposted. 

The route was through peaceful countryside and mostly on dedicated cycle lanes or back lanes or following the Belgian Waterways with no traffic. Even the ride into Brugge centre was straightforward. Infact the whole ride from Belgium-to-Luxembourg was superbly signed. 

We sampled our first Belgian coffee in the main square before finding tourist information and directions to the only camp site, “Camp Memling”.

After pitching the tent we went back into town to explore the sights and sounds of ancient Brugge, with its windmills.....

..... churches....

...... old buildings and canals. 

After cycling all over the town and desperate for liquid refreshment we discovered an Irish bar which happened to be showing Andy Murray playing Tsonga in the Wimbledon semi-finals. We were glued to the TV and had to have more than one beer by the end of the match. Our ride back to the campsite was slightly wobbly.

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Belgium-to-Luxembourg - Day 2 - Brugge to Ghent

The profile for this part of the Belgium-to-Luxembourg ride is pretty well flat so is not included.


Ride Description

There were quite a number of touring cyclists using the Brugge campsite. We chatted to a French trio who were heading in the same direction as us on the long distance Belgian waterways route number 5. This follows the canal most of the way to Gent, but where we continuing from Belgium-to-Luxembourg they were heading further down into France. 

Despite the threat of heavy rain it was warm and mostly sunny . The ride along the canal banks was easy. As it was Saturday there were lots of Belgian cycling club groups speeding along but except for a few barges cruising along the canal it was very peaceful.

Eating our lunch we were privy to a view of a beautifully preserved windmill, frames like an oil painting. 

Our new found French friends caught us up and we cycled with them into Gent along the side of the canal. We had researched a camp site at Blaameersen, but they seemed to be confident there was another closer to the town so we followed them. After a while it was apparent that they didn’t know exactly where it was so we stopped to ask the way. A friendly lady told us that there was only one camp site and that it was at Blaameersen. Steve felt more than a little bit smug. The lady said she had a big house but only a small garden otherwise we could have stayed there. 

Steve‚s smug grin was wiped off his face when he was pushed to the front to lead the whole party to the site. Fortunately he had entered the location into the sat nav so it was not too daunting. 

We checked into the site, shopped for food and pitched the tent. It was a nice site with pitches partitioned by hedges. The facilities were good and showers were free. However it was next to the highway and the traffic noise was continuous. Ok for a one night stop, (actually we ended up staying longer).

Ghent Day Off

The following day was set aside for Ghent sightseeing. After a leisurely breakfast it started to rain heavily. As we lay in the tent waiting for it to stop we realised that water was coming through the fly sheet in a fine spray and as the rain increased it started to form droplets on the inside. This was a brand new tent! Obviously we could not camp with our tent letting in water, so we packed our gear to keep it dry and switched to a hikers cabin for the night. 

As it was Sunday there was little we could do to solve the problem so we spent the day sightseeing in Ghent ending in the Celtic Towers Irish bar to watch Andy Murray and Roger Federer in the Wimbledon, men’s final. Despite our hopes and lots of vocal support in the bar, Andy couldn’t overcome Federer’s supreme play, so we went back to the site disappointed. 

Like Brugge, Ghent has lots of history and several centuries ago it was a major city in Europe on a par with London and Paris in terms of size and commercial activity. Following the various disputes between the French, locals and the Dutch, Ghent was forced into decline. Today it is still a thriving city with a large tourism element. The cathedral and four major churches lie along Limburgstraat and with the tourist throng we visited them all, along with the Mason’s Guild House and the Castle of Gerald the Devil. It was the lead up to the Ghent festival and stages were being erected along the river ready for the various performances. 

The next morning we were on the phone to Vango, our tent supplier. After working our way through the "gatekeepers" we finally spoke to Rob. He understood our situation and had no hesitation in arranging a replacement tent to be shipped by DHL for a pre-noon delivery the following day. The rest of the day was spent washing, reading, blogging, editing photos and generally taking it easy, before countinuing our Belgium-to-Luxembourg ride.

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Belgium-to-Luxembourg - Day 3 - Ghent to Dorlou

The profile for this part of the Belgium-to-Luxembourg ride is pretty well flat so is not included.


Ride Description

We were packed and ready to continue our ride from Belgium-to-Luxembourg at 9.00am but had to wait in the bar, drinking coffee for the DHL man to arrive. From the tracking number we knew the tent was en-route from Brussels. Exactly at 11am he arrived and we set off with two tents as Steve wanted to make a small awning out of the first one. We had planned a route on-line using the Belgian Waterways and had what seemed to be a complicated list of different route numbers, each to be followed for 2-3 kms. In fact most of the way was along the long distance route 30 and the other numbers referred to local routes. 

Our Belgium-to-Luxembourg ride took us along the canal. We cycled for a while with a retired lady of about our age who lived nearby. She told us tales of her cycling adventures around the World. Although she didn't tell us her profession we assumed from the other details that she was a retired airline pilot. 

The Belgium-to-Luxembourg route took us along the canal to Oudenaarde then followed local cycle routes along quiet country lanes and through rolling farmland to Ronse. It was a struggle to find the town centre and a supermarket to get food for supper. By now it was 4pm and we couldn't resist having a beer in the town square. 

The nearest campsite was about 4.5km from town and the beer had gone straight to our legs. After about 3km we stopped to ask a local man for directions. He pointed us along the road and 'up the hill'. The last 1km was about a 15% gradient and there was no sign of a campsite. Another cycle tourist was coming down the hill, also looking for the site. We knocked on a door and were told it had closed and was for sale. 

This meant a further 8km ride to the next site. There were a few more big hills but the scenery, through beautiful forest and past amazing ancient farmhouses kept us going. Steve had drawn a sketch map of the Google one to save his phone battery but when we arrived at the spot there was nothing there, just a lonely farm lane and no signs for a site. With visions of having to pitch the tent at the side of the road we again had to do some door knocking but eventually found a lady who knew exactly where we were looking for and pointed us down the road to the 'Camping a la Ferme' at Dorlou. 

This was a lovely quiet site on a working dairy farm with shower and toilet in the barn. A Dutch couple, Henry and his wife (forgotten her name already) arrived just after us, cycling the Camino de Santiago from Holland, through Belgium and France to Spain. 

We pitched the new tent, Steve cut off a piece of the old one to make an awning for the doorway and we crossed our fingers that this one would be waterproof before hitting the sack for a well earned night's sleep.

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Belgium-to-Luxembourg - Day 4 - Dorlou to Mons

The profile for this part of the Belgium-to-Luxembourg ride is pretty well flat so is not included.

Ride Description

The tent had held up well to the overnight rain and we woke up dry. We bade farewell to Henry and his wife and Steve drooled over his array of special gadgets, a sat nav, a charger for batteries from the dynamo and a nifty little spirit level on the handlebars to tell you how steep the hill is. 

We continued our Belgium-to-Luxembourg ride on the road and navigated our way across country to Ath. Tourist Information there was very limited. According to our guide there were two Ravel routes crossing the town but the staff only knew about route 4. They did have details of a campsite at Mons so we had a coffee and found our way back onto the canal on route 4 south. 

After about 40 mins cycling it started to pour with rain and we had to don our ponchos and find a bit of shelter from the deluge under a tree. A lock-keeper came past in his van and told us that 20 meters further, round the bend was a bridge. By the time we got there the worst of the storm had passed. Turning off the canal we continued on the road and through another heavy deluge of rain. 

For lunch we sat on a bench in a small town with our waterproofs on and ate sandwiches in the drizzle. The weather improved a little (ie it stopped raining) and we reached Mons by 4pm. It had a pretty, traffic-free square with plenty of bars, fountains and a tourist office. Just off the square was the area tourist office that had maps of the Ravel cycle routes. 

The campsite was just outside the town centre and there were several other touring cyclists staying there. Steve befriended an English couple in a caravan and persuaded them to let him leave his phone with them to charge overnight.

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Belgium-to-Luxembourg - Day 5 - Mons to Malonne

The profile for this part of the Belgium-to-Luxembourg ride is pretty well flat so is not included.

Ride Description

The intention was to leave early but first we had to wait for the English couple in the caravan to get up to retrieve the phone, then we had another visit to the tourist office and some shopping to do. It was 10.15 before we were rolling. 

The whole of today's route was along another of the Belgian Waterways routes, the Canal de Centre.

Leaving Mons the canal heads towards the hills and by way of four separate boat lifts, gradually climbs to the top of the plateau.

The canal lifts are a magnificent feat of engineering, using hydraulic power to lift the boats and have been designated as World Heritage sites.

However, they have now been replaced by a much quicker and equally impressive, if not quite so quaint, single lift.

The route along the old Canal Historique passes through several pretty towns as well as the four boat lifts. There were a few leisure boats using the old lifts. All the working barges use the new lift. The sun was shining and there were hardly any other people on the towpaths. As we approached Charloise there was lots of heavy industry along the canal banks on both sides, and no towpath through it. There were no route signs so we had to navigate our way through the city and find a way back onto the canal. From there it was another 40kms to the campsite at Malonne. As it leaves Charloise the canal starts to sweep in long curves, making its way through the hills. We began to realise that the approach to campsite which was marked as about 1km from the canal was bound to be uphill. It was a 13% gradient which, on tired legs and with bags full of food, was a bit too much and we both finished the day pushing. Luckily the camp shop sold bottles of beer so we collapsed on the grass and guzzled the beer before pitching the tent. A young Irish man arrived soon after us on his bike and we spent the evening swapping tales of our travels.

Malonne Day Off

Day Off - Malonne

It was time for a rest today and we wanted to visit Namur as we had been told it was a beautiful city. We planned to cycle there along the canal but missed a route sign and ended up on the busy road most of the way. We climbed up to the citadel, standing on a huge rock outcrop at the confluence of the canal and the river Meuse. Other than this there was little of note except that the Tourist Information had free Internet ( and was a good place to shelter from the rain) and there was a cafe with delicious pizzas.

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Belgium-to-Luxembourg - Day 6 - Malonne to Anseremme

The profile for this part of the Belgium-to-Luxembourg ride is pretty well flat so is not included.

Ride Description

During the night there was yet more heavy rain which continued in the morning. We cooked breakfast and packed the gear in the tent, waiting for it to stop long enough to take the tent down. Eventually about 10am there was a short window to get quickly packed and set off. It was only about 20 mins later that we had to stop to don the ponchos as another heavy storm hit. 

We continued our Belgium-to-Luxembourg ride along the road from Malonne, over the hills, to Profonderville. At the top we stopped for coffee. We created quite a stir as we walked into the bar, crowded with smartly dressed Belgians enjoying a Saturday morning beer, with our cycling shorts and overshoes.

After a lovely snaking descent through a forest we arrived at Profondeville, a lovely town on the banks of the river Meuse. The river was brown and swollen from the heavy rainfall and the bars and cafes were deserted. We set off to follow the river upstream on the Ravel 2 cycle path. This is also the route of the Camino de Santiago de Saint Jaques. The track was a mixture of smooth cement, tarmac and ancient cobbles with a strong headwind and still more rain.

We reached Dinant at about 2pm and wanted to visit the Citadel and the Leffe Abbey, home to the famous beer.

After shopping we cycled a bit further up-river past the Rocher Bayard to find a sign to a campsite up a narrow side road through the Lesse valley. Arriving at the site in warm sunshine we pitched the tent quickly, thinking it would dry nicely, and hung out load of wet clothes and washing to dry.

Within 15 mins the heavens opened again and there was a torrential thunder storm. The river, just 50 yards away, started rising and we had fears of a repeat of our 2002 experience in France. To add further insult we forgot that one bag had been left out in the rain and it was the one with Steve's computer in it. It has not worked since. By the time it stopped it was too late, too wet and too cold to go anywhere except the campsite bar which had a log fire and Leffe beer.

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Belgium-to-Luxembourg - Day 7 - Anseremme to Haybes

The profile for this part of the Belgium-to-Luxembourg ride is pretty well flat so is not included.

Ride Description

We never did get a chance to go to the Leffe Brewery, but we reckoned the 7 euro entrance fee was better spent on the product than seeing how it was made. So before we set off we headed back into Dinant to get a photo instead....

..... as well as the bridge showing art of the Sax Festival. 

From here our Belgium-to-Luxembourg route followed the Ravel route along the main road at the side of the river to Hastiere. As it was Sunday the road was fairly quiet. Just south of here we crossed the border from Belgium into France. 

The rain meant that we had our heads down and so we didn't see any of the sights at Givet and rushed straight on through, trying to find the beginning of the French via verde route which continues up the Meuse valley. 

Once we found the signposted route it was a relief to get off the busy road and onto the smoothly tarmacked cycle route following an old railway route at the side of the river. The rain stopped and the sun came out and suddenly it was fun again.

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Belgium-to-Luxembourg - Day 8 - Haybes to Montherme

  • Distance         31km
  • Max Elevation  202m

Belgium to Luxembourg - Haybes to Montherm Ride Profile

Ride Description

As we had no milk we decided to get breakfast at the hotel in the village. For E10.50 there was a help yourself buffet with fabulous croissants, dry cured ham and local cheese. 

The Belgium-to-Luxembourg ride continued along the banks of the Meuse, increasingly snaking and meandering through forested slopes and passing through the towns of Fumay and Revin. 

By lunchtime we reached Montherme, the point at which we would leave the Meuse to continue along the Samoy (Samois in Belgium). Passing alongside the canal lock on the way into the town there was a boat with a man at the helm who was wearing no clothes! Luckily the yardarm was carefully positioned to save Karen's embarrassment. 

From here we turned east and followed the Samoy (known as Samoi in France) river, a tributary of the Meuse. There was no dedicated cycle track on our map but as we started to climb the first hill we noticedc an old railway line following the river for about 8km through beautiful beech forest. At Thilay it ended and we were back in tarmac for a gradual climb up to Les Hautes Rivieres. This part of the valley was more industrial than we expected, lying on the Belgium / France border with winding narrow road access. 

Shortly after we crossed the border again back into Belgium. Suspecting rain we decided to camp at Bohan. It was very cold and we donned all our our layers. Tea was a miserable affair as we huddled in our tent.

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Belgium-to-Luxembourg - Day 9 - Montherme to Buillon

  • Distance        49km
  • Max Elevation 431m

Belgium-to-Luxembourg - Montherme to Buillon Ride Profile

Ride Description

Morning rain meant we were late getting up and packed. It was almost 10-00 before we set off. There were some unexpected guests for breakfast but unfortunately we had just packed all the food. 

We rode through the town of Bohan that we hadn't bothered to venture into the night before and were surprised to find a number of bars and restaurants that we could have gone to instead of staying in our tent for dinner.

It was overcast and although we were only at 300 meters it felt very cold. Back in Belgium again the river was now named the Samois. It was a lovely ride with a long climb up to the village of Hauteroche with a great view across the river. This was our lunch stop. 

The Belgium-to-Luxembourg ride continued through more lovely scenery and spectacular views before dropping down into the historic town of Buillion with its citadel dominating the town below.

Tourist information helped us to book the cheapest B and B we could find, which unfortunately meant a steep climb for about 600 meters to get there.

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Belgium-to-Luxembourg - Day 10 - Buillon to Montmedi

  • Distance        62km
  • Max Elevation 440m

Belgium-to-Luxembourg - Buillon to Montmedi Ride Profile

Ride Description

In the morning we took Steve's computer to a local repairer, but they pronounced it totally dead so they copied our hard disc onto our spare drive. We cycled back up the hill to the B and B, picked up our gear and continued up the hill to its peak at 325m on the border between Belgium and France. We so enjoyed the descent that we missed our turning. We retraced our steps and found a road through the Bois de Sedan. It was the first time that the sun had shone in two weeks.

It was like riding through Dalby Forest (near our old home in North Yorkshire)without the people. The road was 12km of smooth tarmac with no cars, through beech and coniferous forest and mostly down hill. Just into the forest we met an old gentlemen who stopped and enquired of our nationality. He then proceeded to rabbit on, in French about the English being here during the war and sang some old French song to us. Once out of the forest we rode on minor roads through small french villages. None of them had any food outlets so we had to head back onto the main road and found a restaurant run by two fat ladies. We were just too late for lunch, but they made us some sandwiches and frites.

The Belgium-to-Luxembourg ride once again cut off the main road and followed the river along the valley, eventually climbing a steep mound to find the memorial to the heroes of the Fort of Villy la Ferte. This was the last fort in the infamous Maginot Line formed by the French to halt a potential invasion of the Germans from the east.

This fort like others in the Maginot Line was made up of huge bunkers with reinforced concrete walls about 2meters (12ft) thick, linked together with tunnels. 

Guns were mounted in turrets made of at least 150mm thick steel. A bloody battle was fought here.

These pictures show the effects of some of the shells that hit the steel turrets....

..... ultimately dislodging this one.

Finally after three days of hard bombardment and fighting the last of the 104 soldiers manning the fought were killed. Ironically they were not killed by direct fire, but were overcome by the carbon monoxide fumes from the cordite of their own munitions as they were fired. 

It was a sobering experience and we both left the scene in contemplative mood.

We approached Montmedi along the main road and were toiling up a long slow ascent into a head wind when we were cheered on by a group of road workers putting out signs. They kept overtaking us and pointing to the 70km speed limit sign to encourage us. As the name suggests the old Citadel town of Montmedi, which is visible from miles away stands on top of a hill and you guessed it, we had another steep climb to the top to reach our camp site.

The municipal site was cheap and quite with several other cycle tourists there. It was worth the climb and we looked around the old Citadel at dusk.

It is apparently the only citadel in the area that has an inhabited center and after years of neglect following heavy bombardment during the war it is now being renovated. 

It had a bloody history and a plaque talks of the 2500 men of the garrison that were either killed or taken captive during the World War One battle on th 27th August 1914.

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Belgium-to-Luxembourg - Day 11 - Montmedi to Longwy

  • Distance        48km
  • Max Elevation 376m

Belgium-to-Luxembourg - Montmedi to Longwy Ride Profile

Ride Description

Today we planned to ride to a campsite on the outskirts of Luxembourg. The Belgium-to-Luxembourg route followed a small river valley on quiet back roads. It was scenic and pleasant with intermittent sunshine but it seemed to be constantly up and down with a strong head wind. The towns all had traditional buildings in a warm yellow sandstone. Longwy is one of the towns that make up a conurbation in the area where the Belgian, French and Luxembourg borders meet. It was difficult to sort out the best way through it. A Korean cyclist that we met at Montmedy had given us a cycle route map for Luxembourg, we just had to find our way onto it. Deciding that we'd done enough cycling for one day we went into the Tourist Information to find where the nearest campsite was. It was about 25km distant so we booked into a hotel. Just around the corner was a lively bar and the only restaurant in town served good Italian food.

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Belgium-to-Luxembourg - Day 12 - Longwy to Luxembourg

  • Distance        48km
  • Max Elevation 376m

Ride Description

We went out of Longwy to the north, briefly passing through Belgium and then into Luxembourg. The cycle route was a smooth tarmac, traffic free road with good signposting. We hardly saw any other cyclists and found our way easily to the campsite which lies just on the side of Route 8. 

It was about 1pm when we arrived and the camp reception was closed from 12-2pm. A long queue of caravans and campervans were waiting at the gates so we just rode past them through the pedestrian entrance. Immediately they all jumped out of their cars and made a queue at the door of the office, making sure we didn't get there in front of them. 

The site seemed very crowded and there were lots of people walking about dressed very smartly, wearing conference badges. It turned out to be a German Jehova's Witness conference.

We cycled into the city along their fantastic cycle route and didn't see a single other cyclist . It was warm and sunny.

We did the city walls and enjoyed perusing the wonderful foods on the markets.

About 3pm we set off back to the campsite as there were black clouds gathering. Unfortunately we mis-timed it by about 5 mins and got absolutely drenched in the downpour.

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