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Tour d'Europe Circuit: Cycling in Benelux, France and Germany

Tour d’Europe Circuit: Cycling in Benelux, France and Germany

Overview

Bike along the rivers, hills and charming towns of the Netherlands, Belgium, France, Luxembourg and Germany for 10 days that will make you immerse yourself in a unique border region. Explore five countries on two beautiful designated cycling routes along the Meuse River and the Vennbahn Rail Trail. Ride the Tour d’Europe starting and finishing in Maastricht, the town where the foundations were laid for the European Union with the signing of the Maastricht Treaty in 1992.

The International Meuse Route is a bicycle route along the meandering River Meuse (or Maas in Dutch) between Maastricht in the Netherlands, and the French town of Sedan, boasting Europe’s largest castle. The route is over 200 km long and covers part of the RAVeL cycle-path network in Belgium and France, including four days of highly enjoyable cycling through the valley of the River Meuse, past castles, forts and pretty villages, surrounded by breath-taking natural beauty. You will cycle the entire International Meuse Route, staying in Liège and Namur in Belgium and the picturesque villages of Givet and Charleville-Mézières in France.

Leaving the Meuse Route behind, you will continue on a connecting route to the Vennbahn Cycling Trail which starts in the Walloon region in the south of Belgium. The Vennbahn rail trail is a cycle path on a former railway. It crosses three countries and is 125 km long, with a maximum average incline of 2%. It leads from Troisvièrges in the north of Luxembourg along the scenic River Our to Belgian-German High Fens-Eifel nature park.

Itinerary

Day 1: Arrival in Maastricht and Cycling to Liège | 35 km

Your trip starts from Maastricht, the oldest town in the Netherlands. In case you arrive by car you can leave it in the parking lot of the hotel where you will spend the last night of the trip. Once you are ready to embark on your journey, you will get on the first cycling section of the itinerary: from Maastricht to Liège, aka the “fiery city”. On the way to Belgium, you will follow the River Jeker (flowing into the River Meuse at Maastricht) to the picturesque village of Kanne. Shortly after, you can stop and take a look at the boats going through the locks at Ternaaien/ Lanaye, 225 m long and 25 m wide. From here, follow the RAVeL trail, via the friendly town of Visé, to Liège (or Luik, as it is called in Dutch). The last kilometres take you past tall cranes, rusty boats and old but busy industrial zones.

Day 2: From Liege to Namur | 70 km

Taking you right through the centre of Liège, the cycling path along the Meuse is very pleasant. Cycling along the John Cockerill railway you will get out the urban area of Liège, following the RAVeL path. Seen up close, the blast furnaces of Seraing are awe-inspiring. If you like decorative glass, you can opt to stop off at the Val St. Lambert crystal factory shop. Next, ride your bike on quiet back-roads, past typical Walloon villages, never far from the river, towards Huy. Just before Huy, briefly switch to the bike track along the Meuse where you will get across the Tihange nuclear reactor, another impressive industrial complex. The Grande Place square in Huy is the ideal spot for a lunch break. Continuing on the route along the Meuse to Namur, the natural landscapes will gradually start prevailing over the industrial ones.

Day 3: From Namur to Givet | 55 km

Follow the RAVeL route to Dinant. You will pass the village of Wépion, famous for its strawberries, and the Gardens of Annevoie, well worth a visit. In Dinant, take your time to enjoy the town and riverside cafes. After Dinant, you will reach the lovely Chateau Freyr. Then continue for several kilometres on the former railway from Hastière to Mariembourg. Cross the border into France and the first town you’ll get to is Givet with its imposing Charlemont citadel.

Day 4: From Givet to Charleville-Mézières | 83 km

Today you will cycle on the Voie Verte Trans-Ardennes path, along the Meuse River. One of the day’s highlights is a visit to the charming town of Monthermé. Your destination is Charleville – Mézières, known for its lovely historical town centre. If today’s stage is too long for you, don’t worry, there’s a train connection between Givet and Charleville-Mézières, which you can take on several places. Still, we definitely advise you to give it a try, as the route is beautiful and definitely worth the effort.

Day 5: From Charleville-Mézières to Bouillon | 50 km

In September 2015, an extension of the Voie Verte Trans-Ardennes path was opened. It will take you through a picturesque landscape to Sedan, famous for its castle (the largest in Europe). This is where you leave the International Meuse Route, and after lunch, you will set off towards the “Vennbahn route”. On the French side, a quiet road climbs gradually (average incline 3%) to the border. After crossing the border back into Belgium, there’s a delightful descent to your hotel in Bouillon. Opt to visit the impressive castle-fortress of Godfried of Bouillon.

Day 6: From Bouillon to Bastogne | 61 km

Make your way up and out of the pretty town of Bouillon on a narrow, ascending road and proceed through the south of Belgium. After a few kilometres, you will find yourself pedalling on country roads flanked by farmland, on a rolling plateau. You will pass many authentic villages untouched by the passage of time. Enjoy the great views, and continue to the town of Libramont-Chevigny, where you can make a half-way stop for lunch. At the end of this section of the route, you will follow another stretch of the RAVeL-route (on former railway line 163 from Libramont via Bastogne to Gouvy). In Bastogne, you’ll find many monuments commemorating the Battle of the Ardennes at the end of WWII.

Day 7: From Bastogne to Sankt-Vith | 62 km

From “Gare du Sud” railway station, follow RAVeL 163 in northern direction on one of the most beautiful bike tracks in the RAVeL network. South of Gouvy, at the end of this RAVeL route, head east to the border with Luxembourg. Shortly after, cycle through a slightly undulating Luxembourg landscape on peaceful roads to the Vennbahn route. In Huldange, the highest point in Luxembourg (558.5 m.) you will reach the Vennbahn. A little later on, you will cross the border back into Belgium. Through a beautiful landscape, the route takes you to the ruins of Burg Reuland, towering high above the village. Then you continue to Hemmeres, a German enclave, and finally to Sankt-Vith, your destination for the day.

Day 8: From Sankt-Vith to Monschau | 46 km

The cycling today is easy and pleasant on the newly asphalted bike track between Sankt-Vith and Waimes. Continue towards Belgian-German Ardennes-Eiffel Nature Park. Along the route, you can stop for a break in Montenau (and an Ardennes ham smokery), in Sourbrodt (former station along the Vennbahn railway) and in Kalterherberg where you will find several possibilities for a tasty lunch. Further on, you will leave the Vennbahn to make a detour to Monschau where you will stay for the night. Quaint and enchanting, this Eifel town boasts lovely half-timbered houses, enticing shops, friendly roadside cafes and good restaurants.

Day 9: Monschau to Maastricht | 62 km

On your final cycling day, head back from the centre of Monschau to the Vennbahn rail trail. A visit to the monumental town of Kornelimünster is a must. After a long descent, you will reach the town of Aachen, once the centre of Charlemagne’s empire. After you visit this historic town, get on a train back to Maastricht, relax and enjoy while the hills of scenic southern Limburg glide by like a protracted panorama.

Day 10: Departure

After breakfast, departure on your own.

What to Expect

Hotels

Comfortable 3-star and 4-star hotels, all in twin/double rooms with en-suite facilities. All places have been carefully hand-picked by us, and their quality is regularly monitored. We have tried to choose accommodations that offer friendly service, clean and comfortable rooms and local flavour.

Sample hotels*: Ramada Plaza Liege City****, Ibis Namur Centre*** , Hotel Les Reflets Jaunes*** , Kyriad Charleville Mézières*** , Hotel de la Poste****, Hotel Leo at Home***, Relaxhotel Pip Margraff***, Michel & Friends ****Novotel Maastricht**** 

*Please note that hotels are subject to availability. In case a particular hotel is fully booked for your desired dates, we will replace it with a hotel of equal value and quality level. We will provide exact accommodation details to you upon booking confirmation.

Meals

Breakfast is included each day. For lunch and dinner, you can enjoy the cosy restaurants along the way. Inclusion of dinners is possible upon request.

Getting there


Our recommended arrival/departure airport is the one in Brussels.

You can easily get to Maastricht with a train or bus, check here for more details.

Baggage transfers

All hotel to hotel luggage transfers on cycling days are included (maximum one piece of 20 kg per person).

Country info

  • Up-to-date travel advice on the Netherlands is available here.
  • Up-to-date travel advice on Belgium is available here.
  • Up-to-date travel advice on France is available here.
  • Up-to-date travel advice on Luxenburg is available here.
  • Up-to-date travel advice on Germany is available here.

Difficulty grade

Moderate

The route of the tour goes along quiet secondary country roads with limited traffic. The terrain is mostly flat, with an average daily distance of 60 km. Previous cycling experience and good physical shape are recommended, for enjoying the trip to the maximum (read more about difficulty grades). Renting an E-bike is also possible, which will make the cycling effortless.

Bike rental

If you don’t bring your own, you can rent a bicycle from us. Our bikes are lightweight and make excellent touring bikes with 27-gears and disc brakes. Most of our premium bikes are Koga Grand Tourer bikes or similar. Renting an E-bike is also possible. All bikes for this tour come with a defender lock with plug in chain (cable lock that is attached to the regular lock).

Terms of use:

  • The bicycle(s) may only be used for its/their intended purpose and only by the cyclists listed in the booking
  • The bike(s) must be returned to us in the same (clean) state in which you received it/them
  • You must take excellent care of the bicycle(s) as if it/they were your own. You must take every precaution against damage, loss or theft.

Damage, Loss and Theft
The renter will be held responsible for damages to or loss of the bicycle(s) or parts of it, as well as bicycle keys and chains and locks, for such an amount as is determined by us according to standard market prices. You must understand that you are not insured for damage to the bicycle(s) or for any damages to third parties.

Theft Insurance
It is possible to purchase Bicycle Theft Insurance, covering: damages arising out of the theft of the bicycle; and damages to the bicycle as a consequence of the theft. Not covered are: theft of bicycle parts; and damages arising out of attempted theft.

Route navigation

Upon arrival, you will receive detailed travel information with route maps or overview maps, route description, tourist attractions and important telephone numbers.

When to go

This trip can depart on Wednesdays between of May and September, please check our booking form for exact dates and prices.

Inclusions

Included

  • 9 overnights in 3 and 4-star hotels as listed in the itinerary
  • 9 breakfasts
  • Luggage transfers between hotels (max. 1 piece of 20 kg per person)
  • Coffee and pie in Maastricht (day 1)
  • Train ticket to Maastricht on day 9 (including bike transfer)
  • Detailed travel information including route maps, route description, tourist attractions info and important telephone numbers
  • 24/7 phone support by our local office/representative

Options and Extras

  • Single-room supplement (this applies to members of a group who require single-room accommodation)
  • Half-board meal plan
  • Bike / E-bike rental
  • Bike theft insurance
  • Helmet rental

Excluded

  • Flights and connecting land transfers to first / from last accommodation
  • Lunches, dinners, drinks & snacks
  • Travel insurance
  • Personal expenses such as phone calls, extra transfers, tips, etc.
  • Any items not specifically mentioned as ‘included’ in the programme
  • Local tourist taxes

Map

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