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Old 11-14-08, 12:13 PM   #1
Gotte
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Help with Belgian tour

I'm looking to put together a tour of WW1 battlefields of possibly France, but definitely Belgium for next spring. We'll almost certainly be starting and finishing in Dunkirk and looking to do about 40 miles per day. I;ve been googling cycling in Flanders/Belgium, but can;t seem to get the info I want. For instance, I want to find cycle routes in Flanders, and seem only to come up with smallish routes (40/50Km). Anyone know of longer routes from North France (preferably near Dunkirk), that go into Flanders.
I'm also looking for info on cycle freindly hotels in the North France/Belgium area. Anyone know if there's a register of them.

Any other info/links would be gratefully received.
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Old 11-14-08, 12:41 PM   #2
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Since Flanders doesn't seem to be on my map, I'm not sure where it is, but if it's anywhere near the North Sea, Google North Sea Route. This guy has done part of it through France, Belgium and Holland
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Old 11-14-08, 04:13 PM   #3
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Have you been to my site ... the 2007 touring story?

http://www.machka.net/pbp2007/2007_PBP.htm

The Pre-PBP section is the main one that talks about our stay in Belgium, although we did return there again right at the end as well.

When you get to Belgium, find the vietsroute maps (my spelling could be off a little, I'd have to dig out one of the maps to find out for sure). There are three versions of these maps - one for cars, one for bicycles, and one for walkers. If you get the one for bicycles, you'll be set!
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Old 11-15-08, 08:31 AM   #4
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@machka: Almost right: It's fietsroute in stead of vietsroute (fiets=bicycle) .

For flanders (the northern and dutch-speaking part of Belgium), there are indeed a number of maps available for the "fietsroutenetwerk". That's basically a network of interconnected numbered points. The route from one point to another is signposted. Using that system, you can plan trips of arbitrary length and not get lost. Mind that not all the roads that are part of the network are paved, so not always suited for racing bikes, with a touring bike that should be no problem though.
Although it's in dutch, you might want to take a look at http://www.fietsnet.be/routeplanner/default.aspx Clicking the network points on the map will calculate the route via the network for you.

For wallonia, I know there's a network called Ravel, but I haven't used that yet.

Kind regards,
Tom
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Old 11-15-08, 09:19 AM   #5
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This page has 7 links to bike touring in and around Belgium. One of them is a trip report of a visit to WWI battlefields: http://www.geocities.com/cyclefrance2007/

Ray
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Old 11-15-08, 10:35 AM   #6
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FWIW, I don't think you need to do a lot of planning in advance.

You can go into travel / bookstores in most of the major cities and pick up excellent bike maps. Most of the bigger cities are ~50km apart, and Flanders is flat as a board. You can also stop in at the tourist centers and have them help you make hotel / B&B reservations.
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Old 11-15-08, 11:02 AM   #7
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I did some riding about LIlle and stumbled into several WWI sites. Interesting tour.. I'd even like to tag along.....Did you check with the Belgian tourist service.. Most EU countries have a website and likely a bike section.. Two links that might help out on your French part of the tour..

http://www.ffct.org/index.htm

http://www.ecf.com/
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Old 11-16-08, 03:59 AM   #8
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Thanks for that, chaps. Some great links there I'll peruse at my leisure. Machka, I have been to your site before, but not read the Flanders page. Thanks, I look forward to reading it. Raybo, great stuff. They look really informative links. Cyclezealot, I'll let you know when we're going. Where are you at the minute, California, or France? Tom , many thanks, I was hoping for something like that.

Some more questions, though (asked before reading any journals/links, which might actually answer the questions): how did you find accomadation, easy to get? expensive/cheap? We'll be looking at hotels, maybe hostels, but no camping.

Also, I seem to remember Flemish is almost exclusively spoken in Flanders - did anyone have any problems with the language? I can speak some German, and have noticed on many occassions that German and Flemish seem to share a common root. Anyone here speak German and Flemish? How close are they?
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Old 11-16-08, 04:48 AM   #9
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Also, I seem to remember Flemish is almost exclusively spoken in Flanders - did anyone have any problems with the language? I can speak some German, and have noticed on many occassions that German and Flemish seem to share a common root. Anyone here speak German and Flemish? How close are they?
I speak enough French to get by, and was able to use it in some places in Belgium. Other places, like Ieper, also had English on some of the signs because it is such a tourist town. I didn't find it at all difficult to get around or to order food, etc.

The two places I had difficulty were trying to locate and buy a sewing needle. My French doesn't extend to things like that ... and it wouldn't have helped anyway because the woman I was talking to spoke either Flemish or German. I used a form of sign language and got what I needed. The other place was using their public phones ... that was an effort in futility! You'll read about it in my account.
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Old 11-16-08, 04:55 AM   #10
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Thanks Machka, I look forward to reading your account this evening when the kids are in bed and I can dedicate some time to it.
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Old 11-17-08, 02:06 AM   #11
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I LOVE Belgium. Everything about it.

This is the map book I use for my tours of Flanders: http://www.groteroutepaden.be/grlf/v...items/552.html

And this website looks really useful as well: http://www.fietsroute.org/indexuk.htm

Do you know more about when you'll be going?
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Old 11-17-08, 07:20 AM   #12
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Thanks for that, Becnal.
I'm not sure when we're going. Maybe April or May. A lot depends on what the weather's like in the region. I imagine much like the UK (unpredictable). I'll let you know when we've fixed a date.

How do you find Flemish and German? Do you find you can understand some of it, or is it more like English and German, some similarity of words, but pretty different, other than that.
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Old 11-24-08, 06:24 AM   #13
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Machka, finally got round to reading your Flanders link. It's a great read and has really got me fired up. It really put me in the mood for getting out there. Again, many thanks for the input.
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Old 11-24-08, 09:04 PM   #14
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Machka, finally got round to reading your Flanders link. It's a great read and has really got me fired up. It really put me in the mood for getting out there. Again, many thanks for the input.
Thank you! I really enjoyed that part of the world, and want to go back there too.
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Old 07-04-09, 06:17 AM   #15
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On my site, I present several tracks in the southern part of West Flanders. The main one is : http://www.bikely.com/maps/bike-path...rne-Nieuwpoort

And this map (4 languages) is a must :

http://www.wo1.be/ned/literatuur/boe...frontkaart.htm with information (in dutch) how to buy it.

http://www.mapservice.be/frontkaart_14-18/ is the digital version with great zooming facilities.

Last edited by fietslogies; 07-04-09 at 06:22 AM.
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