Hidden amongst the magnificent landscapes and delightful towns, are plenty of stories waiting to be told. For extra excitement you can experience many of these stories from the saddle of your bike and, along the way, get to know one of the most beautiful and family-friendly EuroVelo routes available in the area. Join us on the Meuse Cycle Route, a treasure for history lovers, and discover the cultural gems it has to offer, that will have you pausing your ride and immersing yourself in the past.
However, if you are planning to visit some of these spots in the next few weeks, please be aware that some places could be closed due to covid-19 restrictions. Check the official websites for the latest available information.
Stand in awe of majestic buildings
Wherever you look whilst cycling along the Meuse Cycle Route, you can spot historical artefacts, dotting the landscape, serving as physical monuments to the past. Imposing cliffs and towering castles, fortresses and churches compete for your gaze along with plenty other examples of magnificent architecture on this cycling adventure.
At the start of the itinerary, at the Gateway to Champagne and Burgundy, it would be impossible to overlook the Fortifications of Langres. With its high ramparts and numerous church towers it encircles the historical centre and promises magnificent views. The fortification exhibits historical features as far back as the nineteenth century and retains its original form as it emerged unscathed the surrounding from the surrounding military action of the Great War.
Another building that certainly impresses with its contrast of sober elegance and pinnacled towers, is the Church Notre-Dame de l’Assomption, situated on the lush and rich Argonne foothills in Mont-devant-Sassey. It was built in the 11th and 12th centuries and houses Roman and Gothic architectural and sculptural treasures.
Continuing along the Meuse Cycle Route in France, you will come upon Europe’s largest fortified castle, the Castle of Sedan, which is certainly not to be missed. The castle was built in 1424 and was substantially enlarged throughout the following centuries. This gave rise to its name “the Giant of Sedan”. Follow in the footsteps of princes, soldiers and servants that once inhabited the castle or visit the museum for an in-depth experience of their daily lives.
Another must-see sight along EuroVelo 19 is one of the over fifty UNESCO listed belfries in Belgium and France, the entirely circular tower Belfry of Namur. Constructed in 1388, it was originally part of the city wall and became a belfry in 1746. Its famous public clock, named “cloche-porte” (clock- gate), commanded the opening and closing of the city gates.
Located directly on the German-Dutch border, you will find the sturdy, brick-built 17th century Arcen Castle, watching over the lily-covered pond. Although an impressive building, it has earned its popularity due to the surrounding gardens, which is one of the most varied flower and plant parks in Europe. Occupying a size of 32 hectares, it is full of diverse scents and colours, such as the rose gardens, unique stone formations and waterfalls, the tropical house Casa Verde and the oldest fig tree in the Netherlands. In 2020, the Arcen Castle Gardens were once again awarded the 'Most beautiful excursion destination in Limburg' by the ANWB.
Succumb to the charm of quaint towns
With all the medieval towns and idyllic villages, travelling along the EuroVelo 19 – Meuse Cycle Route takes you on a journey through time to places steeped in history.
Known as one of Belgium’s most authentic and beautiful villages, Oud-Rekem intrigues with its well-preserved sights, such as the pharmacy or distillery, making you feel as if you are strolling through an open-air museum.
Further along the route in North Brabant you will find the town of Grave, the most besieged city of the Netherlands. With its medieval alleys and vistas, paved with cobblestones and full of historic buildings, it makes you feel as if you’ve stepped into a different era. The town hosts many monuments, including the great St. Elisabeth Church and allows visitors a glimpse of its fascinating history with the Graafs Museum.
Just before the EuroVelo route turns onto the Dutch seaside, you will pass through the little, picturesque town Brielle. It is one of the best-preserved fortified towns in the Netherlands, offering more than four hundred sites of interest to visit. If you wish to see the town in full swing, visit on the 1st of April, when the day of the revolt against the Spanish in the Eighty Years' War is celebrated.
Lose yourself in the sheer variety of museums along the Meuse
The EuroVelo 19 – Meuse Cycle Route is certainly the ideal route for museum lovers. With ample offerings for art enthusiasts, foodies and history buffs, you can easily find one that is of interest and that allows you to dive into the rich history of life along the Meuse.
For those who want to enjoy a cold beer and simultaneously learn more about this particular beverage’s history, the Beer Museum in Stenay is definitely one for a little stopover. Occupying the old provisions store in Stenay citadel, the museum’s collection traces the history of the art of brewing and its traditions from around 12,000 years ago to the present day.
For a more adventurous experience along the EuroVelo 19, the Blegny-Mine near Liège, Belgium could be the right museum for you. Equipped with jacket and helmet, you can take a mining elevator down 30 to - 60 metres below the ground to discover one of the four authentic coal mines in Europe, recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage site.
Finally, when arriving almost at the end of EuroVelo 19, in Hoek van Holland, the Atlantikwall Museum along the seashore is worth a visit. Situated in bunkers that formed part of the Atlantic Wall, it displays relics from the Second World War, transporting you to a time when German soldiers awaited the Allied invasion.
EuroVelo 19 – Meuse Cycle Route is currently being promoted via a Long-Term Management Agreement (LTMA), aiming to sustain transnational activities and collaboration between the countries that are part of the route. It was signed by the partners when the successful EuroVelo 19 - Meuse Cycle Route joined the EuroVelo network in March 2019. You can read more about EuroVelo 19’s LTMA on this page.
Author: Antonia Tornow