From the woods to the seaside – why The Ardennes is the best choice for a family vacation
There is one huge secret to vacationing, which not many people share and know: yes, you can have it all! It is possible to embark on a trip, enjoy the woods and live to the max while experiencing various activities.
The Belgian Ardennes is a region which welcomes you with lush, extensive forests, rolling hills and ridges but the best part is its proximity to other major spots which should be seen at least once in a lifetime. Here is a collection of ideas that will guide you from the oxygen filled forests through castles and small towns to major spots and the best beaches Belgium has to offer: from the woods to the seaside, from The Ardennes to the ocean.
Top activities along the way:
Discover the Belgian Ardennes, an enchanted forest
Choosing a holiday park as your base is a great idea, because it will give you the freedom and comfort only your own vacation home would offer. From Vallée les Etoiles vacation park, you will have access to the best routes which can lead you into the heart of The Ardennes. The magical forest, home of many myths and tales, is one of the best places to explore by hiking or riding a bike. Pick one of the routes and get sucked into the versatility of the region, walking along fresh brooks, winding roads and stumbling upon castle ruins and bubbly little towns. Take your time, this isn’t one of those challenges where you have to walk the roads as fast as possible, so enjoy the scenery and schedule stops along the way to enjoy a fresh local beer in a small medieval village.
Experience the authentic town of Rochefort
Located in Blaimont, Vallée les Etoiles is the ideal starting point if you would like to feel the pulse of the region. You know how it is, living like a local will bring the entire experience closer, offering you more insight into the heart of the landscape. You can easily do this by visiting the small and highly authentic town of Rochefort, situated at a mere 30-minute drive from the park. One of the best places to see here is the Rochefort Abbey, famous for its spiritual life and brewery, being one of the very few Trappist beer breweries in the entire world. Also called Notre-Dame de Saint Remy, the abbey welcomes visitors in moderation. You have to call in advance to schedule a visit, and the ideal months to do this is are June and September. You can find their craft beer in Rochefort, so get prepared for aromas of roast wheat, figs, cherries, nuts and dark chocolate, with a prominent hint of caramel and herbal touches of hops.
Embark on a castle tour: Castle of Vêves, Castle of Freÿr
The Castle of Vêves occupies a rocky platform just outside the village of Celles, in the province of Namur, Belgium. According to tradition, the site has been occupied by castles since the time of Pippin of Herstal (7th century). The building emanates an aura of mystery with its towers reaching to the sky, one can almost imagine a princess with flowing long blonde hair, lowering her locks for the prince of her dreams. The castle is open for visitors and offers you the chance to enjoy entire centuries worth of architecture and history. The castle of Freÿr, with its gardens in the style of Le Nôtre is located on the left bank of the Meuse, between Waulsort and Dinant. Dating back to the Middle Ages, Freÿr offers visitors a lush and picturesque landscape, with exquisite ponds and bubbling fountains, adorned with orange trees with their specific and delicate perfume. These are the oldest orange trees in Europe and have been overlooking the gardens for the last 350 years.
A day trip to the town of Bruges
Bruges is located at a 2-hour car ride from The Ardennes and Vallée les Etoiles, but boy is it worth the drive! This truly is a town which will lift your spirit and fill you and your entire family/group with sensation tickling experiences. This is the place where everything comes together in perfect harmony: classical boat rides with medieval architecture. Colorful gingerbread houses with exceptional squares and parks. Museums filled with the wonders of the Flemish Primitives and restaurants housing the best Michelin star chefs, ready to blow your mind with their newest creations. An amazing jewelry box of a town, it encompasses everything the Belgian culture has to offer, giving you an entire backpack of memories without boasting or being uncomfortably extravagant.
Go to the seaside: Blankenberge and De Haan
The shoreline is a 68 km strip with pristine sandy beaches, world class resorts and amenities. Blankenberge has a variety of bars and restaurants, waiting for you to help unwind after a long day of sunbathing and seaside fun. It also offers a promenade speckled with food stalls and shops, huts which you can rent out for the entire day and the hot destination being the Blankenberge Pier which has a renowned restaurant, brasserie and bars. De Haan beach is for the adventurous, you can choose to rent a bike (or bring your own) and cycle along the coastal path. It is probably the best way to experience the Belgian coast and get captivated by the gorgeous Anglo-Norman style cottages and villas in the region. The beaches are quiet and dreamy, so it probably is the perfect place to rent out some sun chairs and enjoy the beach as if it was your own private section (it will most certainly feel like that).
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