Two beautiful routes along the Meuse River and the Vennbahn Rail Trail are the basis for a “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 as it is known in Dutch) between Maastricht in the Netherlands and the French town of Sedan which boasts Europe’s largest castle. The route is over 500 km long and incorporates the RAVeL in Belgium and the in France. It is a promise of 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. On our bicycle holiday you will cycle the entire International Meuse Route, staying the night in Liège and Namur in Belgium and in the picturesque village of Haybes and Charleville-Mézières in France.
Leaving the Meuse Route behind, you will continue on a connecting route to the Vennbahn which starts in the Walloon region in the south of Belgium. The connecting route follows country roads past rolling cropfields and pastures on a high plateau.
Your trip starts in Maastricht (the oldest town in the Netherlands) or nearby in Lanaken, depending on availability. Free parking at the start hotel. By way of a welcome we have arranged for coffee/tea and Limburg pie for you, to get your energy up for the trip ahead (drop off luggage at the hotel before 1 p.m.). When you’re ready, set off on the first leg of your bike tour: from Maastricht to Liège, aka the “fiery city”. On the way to Belgium you will follow the River Jeker (which flows into the River Meuse at Maastricht) to the picturesque village of Kanne. Shortly after, 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.
Taking you right through the centre of Liège, the safe cycling path along the Meuse is very pleasant. Next, follow the John Cockerill railway to make your way out of the built-up area of Liège. Follow the signs for RAVeL . Seen up close, the blast furnaces of Seraing are awe-inspiring. If you like decorative glass, 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 the Tihange nuclear reactor is another very striking industrial complex. The Grande Place in Huy is the ideal spot for a lunch break. On the route along the Meuse to Namur, nature gradually prevails over industry.
Follow RAVeL to Dinant. You will pass the village of Wépion, famous for 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 on for several kilometres on the former railway from Hastière to Mariembourg. Cross the border into France and the first town you’ll encounter is Givet with its imposing Charlemont citadel.
Continue all day on Voie Verte Trans-Ardennes, 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 a little bit too much for you, don’t worry. There’s a direct train connection between Givet and Charleville-Mézières. We advise you to start cycling because of the real beauty of this stage. If you fed up cycling, just take the train for the last part towards Charleville-Mézières. (80.0 km, possible to shorten by train).
In September 2015, an extension of the Voie Verte Trans-Ardennes was opened. It now stretches along the Meuse till past the town of Sedan in northern France. Through a picturesque landscape you will cycle to Sedan, famous for its castle, the largest in Europe. This is where you leave the International Meuse Route. After a lunch break you will set off on the first leg of the that bridges the end of the Meuse Route and the beginning of 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.
Make your way up and out of the pretty town of Bouillon by way of a narrow, climbing road and proceed on our 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 characteristic villages apparently untouched by time. Enjoy the great views! In the town of Libramont-Chevigny, you can make a half-way stop for lunch. At the end of this leg of the route you will follow another stretch of the RAVeL-route (on former railway line 163 from Libramont via Bastogne to Gouvy). In halting place Bastogne you’ll find many monuments that remember the Battle of the Ardennes at the end of WWII.
From “Gare du Sud” railway station, follow RAVeL 163 in a northerly 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 N.A.P.) 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, this day’s destination.
Progress is easy on the newly asphalted bike track between Sankt-Vith and Waimes. Zoom on towards Belgian-German Ardennes-Eiffel Nature Park. Stop off in Montenau (and an Ardennes ham smokery) and 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 the night. Quaint and enchanting, this Eifel town boasts lovely half-timbered houses, enticing shops, friendly roadside cafes and good restaurants.
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 your visit to this historic town, cycle further to Kerkrade and get on a train to Maastricht, relax and enjoy while the hills of scenic southern Limburg glide by like a protracted panorama.
After a hotel breakfast, your holiday with Dutch Bike Tours has come to an end. It’s time to make your own way home.
|Per person in a double room
9 nights' accommodation, breakfast included
|Extra night Maastricht||on request|
|Maastricht or ‘s-Gravenvoeren|
|2x Coffee/Tea with pie (day 1 and day 6)|
|Train ticket for yourself and your bike for Aken - Maastricht Central|
9 Nights included
3/4 star Hotels
Tourist tax included
Breakfast included, Halfboard optional
Detailed roadbooks with maps and tourist information
The possibility of renting our bikes
7-days a week service-hotline
Luggage transport to your next hotel
Maastricht central station
Free parking possibilities at the start hotel