West Flanders


Flanders is often dismissed as being flat and boring but if you take time to get to know it, you find a land of delightful small towns and villages where the shopping streets have not been smothered by the international chains which are turning most European towns into identical clones.  The very flatness of the countryside means that you see breath-taking sky-scapes which are constantly changing. 

The  people are friendly, and without making the same fuss about it as the French, just get on with producing equally good, if not better, food. 

Most important of all, it is the home of some of the world's top beers and should be a place of pilgrimage for anyone who considers themselves a beer enthusiast.  Even on a cold grey winter's day Flanders has its pleasures.  Sit down by the fire in some country pub, full of character, with a plate of the hearty local beef stew (but call it 'carbonade flamande' and it sounds much more expensive!) and a strong, warming Abbey ale at hand and you'll agree that 'Flanders' can be translated as 'Heaven'!

Great places to visit in West Flanders

Lo, a small town that most guide books overlook, is our favourite base for exploring West Flanders, and we've been going there at least twice a year since 1987.  It's a very pleasant town in its own right and home to De Oude Abdij Hotel.  Here's a Short Guide to Lo which tells you about some of our favourite places.

Alveringem, another attractive small town quite close to Lo, is on our regular list of essential places to visit, so here is a brief Guide to Alveringem.

Poperinge, the HOP capital of Belgium, is a must for any self-respecting beer tourist, so here's a Short Guide to Poperinge, with tips on our favourite bars and restaurants and pointers to some useful shops.  The town's own website is at www.poperinge.be Every three years Poperinge holds a Hop Festival at the time of the harvest in September.  The bad news is that the next one is in 2008; the good news is that you can find pictures and a report on the 2005 hop harvest here.

Ieper in Flemish or Ypres in French is one of the most common destinations for visitors from the UK.    It is the site of the Menin Gate memorial, commemorating thousands who fell in the First World War but have no known grave, and the Last Post is sounded here every evening.  It also has museums about WWI and you can go on battlefield tours from here.  But don't think that it's a morbid place.  It's a lively town, with lots of good shops, bars and restaurants, and an impressive main square.  Ieper's website is at www.ieper.be You can click on the EN in the top corner to go to the pages in English but at present there aren't many of them, so go back to the Flemish pages and click on all the links.

Westvleteren, a hamlet in the middle of nowhere, but world famous as the home of St. Sixtus Abbey, where they make what has been called 'the best beer in the world.  Our Westvleteren page tells you something about the abbey and the beers, and features an interesting little story - but don't let it stop you tasting the beer . . .

Great places to buy beer in West Flanders

We never fail to visit! - Click here to discover our favourite beer shops

 

 

Return to Belgian Secrets page Return to John & Jeannette's home page

      Return to MCW home page   

Return to Sussex Japan Society home page