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Often forgotten and overlooked, the Ardennes is an undiscovered gem. A vast and exciting landscape, it extends through the south of Belgium and into Luxembourg and France. Among the dense forests and rolling hills, there are numerous charming towns and villages to explore. This southern Belgian region offers an alternative to the busy and industrial north, with life moving at a slower pace. This is not only a destination for those interested in history – its unspoiled beauty offers something for everyone.
This tour encapsulates the essence of the Belgian Ardennes. Discover a cultural experience contrasting with those available in the larger cities of Belgium. On this tour, discover beautiful landscapes as you enjoy a scenic train ride and relaxing river cruise. And what’s more, visit the spectacular Jardins d’Annevoie, one of Belgium’s most famous gardens. A mere 3h30m drive from Calais, the towns and villages of this undiscovered area of Belgium offer plenty to visitors who are looking for something different, without having to travel too far from home.
Morning departure from the Essex area. Crossing the Channel at Dover, we shall make our way through France and Belgium. Enjoy your first sight of the rugged and natural Ardennes landscape as you travel to your hotel in La Roche-en-Ardenne. If time allows, begin exploring the area before your evening meal at the hotel.
Day 2 Scenic Train – Yvoir to Ciney
This morning we head to the quaint little town of Yvoir to take a scenic train journey throughout the heart of the rugged Ardennes landscape to Ciney. Take in this unique landscape while you pass through at a leisurely pace, scarred by the the fierce battles of the 20th century. Its meandering rivers, rolling hills, deep caverns and thick forests all make up this magnificent, though often forgotten area of Belgium.
We will alight the train in Ciney, a slightly larger town than Yvoir, with a long history stretching back to the Roman period. Ciney has been brewing its signature beers since 1450 – take the afternoon to stroll around this lovely town at leisure and perhaps try one of the local beers with steak-frites?
Day 3 Dinant and the Jardins d’Annevoie
This morning we visit Dinant, a pretty town that has become famous for both the imposing citadel perched high above the River Ourthe, and also for being the birthplace of Adolphe Sax, the inventor of the saxophone. The quirky (and free) ‘La Maison de Monsieur Sax’ is worth a quick visit, as is the cathedral with its onion-shaped dome. We then enjoy a 45-minute river cruise along the River Meuse, watching the stunning scenery including the Bayard rock, the Love island, the Bridge St John and the River Lesse.
In the afternoon we visit the Jardins d’Annevoie. These truly magnificent 17th Century water gardens are full of ornamental lakes, fountains, water jets and cascades, all fed by gravity and without the use of any artificial power. Each May, the gardens hosts a Venetian Carnival Festival, a truly remarkable spectacle featuring people parading in full Venetian Carnival costumes. The gardens are regarded as some of the best, not only in Belgium, but also in the whole of Europe.
Day 4 Depart
After breakfast, we shall head homewards, stopping en route at the charming City of Bruges before making our way to Calais for our return ferry crossing
Your Hotel: Floréal Hotel, La Roche-en-Ardenne ***
Located in a characteristic building amidst its own beautiful grounds, this holiday resort has its own heated outdoor pool, mini-golf course, tennis court and bowling lane. The Floréal La Roche-en-Ardenne offers a wonderful base on the banks of the River Ourthe and just 900 yards away from the historical town centre. Free Wifi is provided in the rooms. The wonderful surroundings are perfect for forest walks, mountain bike trips and canoeing on the river.
Executive coach travel throughout
Return Dover – Calais ferry crossing
3 night’s accommodation at the Floreal Hotel
3 course dinner each night *
Breakfast each morning
One-way train journey from Yvoir to Ciney
45 minute sightseeing river cruise in Dinant
Entrance to the Jardins d’Annevoie
A Tour Manager to escort the trip
*set menu with choice of meat or fish for main course Supplements
Single room supplement £50 for the 3 nights
Places on this trip are extremely limited and early booking is essential.