We begin in Maastricht. The city is the capital and cultural hub of Limberg (this is The Netherlands, but not Holland)! However, in less than 3 miles, you will already be in country number 2! Heading South East into Belgium, the route takes you to the beautiful city of Tongeren, the oldest in Belgium.
At around 38 miles you arrive in Huy (Google Photo). Huy is home to the finish of the La Flèche Wallonne Spring Classic. The race finishes, at the summit of the Mur de Huy (Wall of Huy), a climb of about 1 km with an average gradient of 10% and sections of 20%. Huy has also been featured in the Tour de France four times since 1995 (most recently in 2015).
The Mur de Huy itself is not on our route, but it will take you almost to the foot of the climb. From Huy we join the cycle path along the River Meuse (Google photo), initially through the city of Namur, the town of Profondeville to reach Anhee. 4 miles further if you have a room in the larger town of Dinant.
4,000 ft of climbing, mostly in the morning as the afternoon is all alongside the river.
From Anhee, it’s a very easy 4 mile ride along the Riverside path to the town of Dinant. It’s a beautiful town and probably worth a hour of your time. At the very least take in the views from the main bridge (Pont Charles de Gaule) of the steep cliffs that surround the town and the fortified Citedal (now museum) that overlooks Dinant. Leaving Dinant means leaving the River Valley and it’s a classic Belgium climb – it lasts 1 mile with a steepest gradient of 16%.
At the 13 mile point you will rejoin the river valley path before then linking up with an old railway line cycle path for a few miles. At 29 miles the town of Vireux-Molhain marks arrival in France, the return to the Meuse Valley and the end of the hills for the day. From here you are mostly following the riverside cycle path (Google Photo) for the remainder of the day.
At 36 and 38 miles respectively, the neighbouring small towns of Haybes and Fumay are the most obvious options for lunch. The cycle route mostly hugs the river, but a very short diversion will take you into either town to find cafes and shops.
Charleville and Mézières were originally separate communities on opposite banks of the Meuse, but today it is a combined town of 50,000 inhabitants. The town is “World Capital of Puppetry Arts”!
4,600 ft of climbing, like the first day this is mostly in the morning as the afternoon is on the riverside.
It’s a day with a considerable amount of climbing – which starts straight from the off. It’s 10 miles on small roads in France before we are back across the border into Belgium. The pretty village of Vresse-sur-Semois (16 miles) is a potential refreshment stop. Paliseul is only other real opportunity before Saint Hubert.
Saint Hubert (46 miles) is the town with the most eating options with lunch potential. The afternoon route picks its way through some more open farmland to reach Bastogne (64 miles) – the town is well known in cycling circles and you will find evidence of the Liege-Bastogne-Liege Spring classic. The town was also central to the Battle of the Bulge in WW2 and again you will see evidence of this heritage – including a museum and the Sherman tank which is resident in the main square.
The final section to Wiltz crosses the border into Luxembourg on the former railway line bike path between the towns (google photo). The path is excellent with a mostly downhill run into Wiltz.
More hills today, with around 7,000 ft of climbing, again the toughest sections are in the morning.
We head east from Wiltz towards Kautenbach. The snaking road follows the river before soon joining a fantastic cyclepath right down on the river. At Kautenbach (6 miles) we turn north and turn uphill! There follows a 3 mile climb up hairpin bens with some wonderful views. Luxembourg roads are good (really good!) and most quiet in this region, so while this section leaves the cycle paths behind, it’s wonderful cycling terrain.
The town of Clervaux is pretty and historic (Google photo) – at 19 miles it has coffee stop potential and the castle here offers a further diversion if you wish to stop off for a little longer. From Troisvierges (26 miles), much of the route is on the fabulous Vennbahn – the former railway line running through Germany, Belgium and Luxembourg. The railway line was placed into the lands of Belgium under the Treaty of Versailles at the end of WW1, and sectionms of the path which are ostensibly in Germany are in fact in Belgium (with fields on both sides of the path in Germany).
The town of Sankt Vith (43 miles) is the obvious place for refreshments. From here it’s back into the Vennbahn (Google Photo) for much of the way to Monschau. There are the odd section on small roads around the Belgian/German border.
The day’s climbing stats adds up to around 6,000 ft.
The final day is a little shorter. After a short and rather unkind early climb out of the valley in which Monschau sits, it’s straight back onto the Vennbahn (Google photo) for around 12 miles to Roetgen, again much of this path is passing through Germany, but the path itself is inside a 30m strip of Belgium (see day 4)! At Roetgan we we cross back into Belgium (properly Belgium) with a six mile section through deep forest on the way to Eupen.
Eupen has found itself to be in the possession of various nations over the centuries. In 1919, after the First World War, the Treaty of Versailles transferred Eupen from Germany to Belgium. Today German remains the official language in Eupen, and the city serves as the capital for Belgium’s German-speaking Community. Beyond Eupen, there are 5 more miles to the smaller town of Limbourg. Either are good refreshment stops.
After Limbourg, the route turns to the north and via cycle paths arrives in Aubel (34 miles) another attractive town with eating options. In a further 6 miles we cross one final border – from Belgium back to The Netherlands.
The final stop of the tour might just be Valkenburg (Google photo). It’s a very pleasant town for visitors with a historic castle and busy town centre. Valkenburg is well known to cycling fans too. f. The city has hosted the Road Cycling World Championship a record five times and stage finishes of the Tour de France in 1992 and in 2006. The city’s Cauberg hill is been the finish of the Amstel Gold Race and it will be the final climb of our tour as we head west towards Maastricht, only 6 miles to go from here.
Only 3,000 ft of climbing as we come down from 1,800 ft on the edge of the Hohes Venn (High Fens) to only 170ft in Maastricht.