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Cycling in Wallonia


Wallonia might have less of the history to visit as in Flanders but it is no less interesting. Cities like Liege, Namur, Charleroi and further east Verviers, Malmedy, Spa, St. Vith and Vielsalm have a lot to offer. Personally I prefer cycling in Wallonia over Flanders although I love the old cities in Flanders.

Malmedy in the Ardennes
Malmedy in the Ardennes

I forgot how many times I cycled Wallonia. A typical bike ride looked like this: train to Maastricht (when I lived in Amsterdam), follow the route: Verviers, Malmedy, Vielsalm or St Vith (nice youth hostel here) and than into Luxembourg.

From Luxembourg there are several routes through the Ardennes to Bastogne, Marche-en-Famenne/Rochefort, Champlon, Huy and Liege.

Many of these towns have hotels, youth hostels and campings. Malmedy is probably a good example of a nice though touristy town. But others are just as cool.

Bastogne has a lot of history in relation to World War I and there's plenty to see here. There are many cemeteries around and if you are in this area, you should visit them.

One interesting castle is to be found in La Roche en Ardenne on a hill top. The town itself is nice enough for an overnight stop but the ruins make the stop even better.

Cycling through the Ardennes is a rewarding experience. Many of the roads are quiet and lead through scenic areas. Summers are obviously nicer periods in the year to cycle here than winters. But the winters can be beautiful too, especially if has been snowing.

Cycling, Irish Coffee and more Irish Coffee

La Roche En ArdenneThe old town of La Roche En Ardenne has a special place in my heart. Once I was doing a short trip in Belgium: Maastricht-Malmedy-Vianden-Champlon-Maastricht. It was early in the year but already around 20C. Unfortunately the last day when I cycled back from Champlon to Maastricht it had become very cold.

From Saturday evening with 20C to Sunday morning the temperature drop was almost 20 degrees. So I woke up in Champlon with cold feet and an even colder nose. But I had to move. So I cycled north, with the idea to cycle as fast as I could to get warm.

First stop: La Roche en Ardenne. This time I had little interest in the centuries old castle. I needed to get warm, so I went into a cafe. It was just open for those who were on their way to church. The bartender gave me an Irish coffee which warmed me up. I was ready for another 20 or so km.

The next stop was Hotton where I did the same thing, only now with 2 Irish Coffees. Not completely sober I went on. This ritual repeated itself another 3 or 4 times before I was back in Maastricht and in a warm train back home. I'm not sure if I kept drinking more Irish Coffee that day. But I did fell asleep in the train.

Liege about 100 years ago
Liege about 100 years ago

Liege

The main industrial city in Wallonia is Liege. Although I have been several times to Liege, I've never really liked the city, despite the interesting city center. The oldest remains of human civilization date from the 8th century but the main bulk of the old city dates from later: Middle Ages and Renaissance.

The Perron in LiegeAmongst the places to visit are:

  1. The 16th century palace of the Prince-Bishops of Liege which is built on the Place St Lambert. This is where the old St Lambert Cathedral once stood.
  2. The symbol of the city is the Perron, not far from the Place du Marche.
  3. Liege Cathedral
  4. The medieval church of Saint-James (Saint-Jacques) (14th century)
  5. A walk through the old city center is a must do.

Accommodation in Wallonia

Liege has of course plenty of accommodation including campings and youth hostels. Check Tripadvisor or Agoda.com. Whenever I cycled Belgium, I never booked in advance but during school holidays you probably don't want to take the risk.

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