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The Belgian treasure chest of Wallonia — the UNESCO Cycle Route

© Foto: Henning Angerer

The Belgian treasure chest of Wallonia — the UNESCO Cycle Route

Bike Touring Collection by MYBIKE Magazin

5-10

days

3-6 h

/ day

310 mi

12,600 ft

12,150 ft

There are endless cultural and historical highlights to discover on a cycling Tour through the south of Belgium. The treasure chest of Wallonia is richly filled: time-honoured cities with more than a thousand years of history; imposing cathedrals; impressive, huge bell towers and silent witnesses of the industrial revolution that helped the region to early prosperity. Magnificent castles, botanical gardens and, of course, the traditional monastery breweries for which Belgium is so well known. All of this comes together on the UNESCO cycle route in a round of exciting discoveries.

Wallonia, which is mainly French-speaking, has its own very special charm that is difficult to describe. Even if the days of industrial boom are now a thing of the past in many places, the glamour of early prosperity can still be admired and clearly felt in many areas. Whether in the façades of the proud bourgeois houses of western Wallonia or in the east around Liège – which was heavily influenced by coal mining – you can find traces of a glorious past. Due to the region's complex history, you’ll also encounter a mix of the most diverse cultural influences.

UNESCO honours this rich cultural heritage with many awards, whether in the form of Gothic cathedrals or historical monuments, such as the locks on the Sambre, the steelworks and coal mines in Hainaut or the Binche Carnival. The UNESCO cycle route connects all these sights on a route that shows you the natural beauty of Wallonia too. Wherever possible, you'll be on car-free cycle paths. This is thanks to the many canals and disused railway lines that have been converted into so-called RAVeL cycle paths (Réseau autonome des voies lentes = independent network of slow paths). Even today we benefit from the relics of the industrial revolution. So, what could be more natural than to discover the treasures of this exciting region on a cycling adventure?

With over 11 stages and a total length of 498 kilometres (310 mi), you’ll enjoy many quiet cycle paths and side roads. You can get to the starting point of the route in Tournai by train via Brussels, and you’ll also pass various stations along the way. This allows you to change your plans spontaneously or cycle individual daily stages. Get in the saddle and discover for yourself how much Wallonia has to offer!

MYBIKE presents all the important highlights along this cycle route in a mini-guide.

On The Map

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Tours & Highlights

  • Map data © OpenStreetMap contributors
    Intermediate
    04:12
    43.8 mi
    10.4 mph
    875 ft
    825 ft
    Intermediate bike ride. Good fitness required. Mostly paved surfaces. Suitable for all skill levels.

    Your journey through Wallonia's treasure chest begins in Tournai, the second oldest city in Belgium. On the Grand Place with many historical treasures, two buildings are particularly eye-catching: the Cathedrale Notre Dame and the Belfry, the oldest bell tower of its kind in Belgium. In order to explore the cultural treasures of this venerable city in more detail, you should …

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  • Intermediate
    02:27
    24.2 mi
    9.8 mph
    950 ft
    800 ft
    Intermediate bike ride. Good fitness required. Mostly paved surfaces. Suitable for all skill levels.

    Some fascinating, cultural treasures of the Hainaut region await you again on the second stage. You leave Mons and first visit some smaller villages and testimonies of the local industrial history. The area used to belong to the northern French coal mining area. Renatured spoil heaps, waterways built for cargo shipping and former quarries are the silent witnesses of this …

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  • Intermediate
    01:59
    21.2 mi
    10.7 mph
    525 ft
    425 ft
    Intermediate bike ride. Good fitness required. Mostly paved surfaces. Suitable for all skill levels.

    You leave Binche via the RAVeL 108, one of the many Belgian cycle routes that were laid out on former railway lines. Here you can cycle carefree away from the car traffic and enjoy the landscape in peace. The bike path leads you almost dead straight to the south. Only after about 15 kilometers do you reach the next town, …

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  • Intermediate
    01:29
    15.1 mi
    10.1 mph
    575 ft
    625 ft
    Intermediate bike ride. Good fitness required. Mostly paved surfaces. Suitable for all skill levels.

    Before you leave Thuin again, you should take a quiet look at the old town, because in addition to the almost obligatory belfry, a few other buildings survived the turmoil of the war largely unscathed. Today you follow the peacefully flowing Sambre all day long, which will bring you to Charleroi. Except for a short detour to the surrounding hills, …

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  • Intermediate
    03:47
    39.3 mi
    10.4 mph
    1,200 ft
    1,200 ft
    Intermediate bike ride. Good fitness required. Mostly paved surfaces. Suitable for all skill levels.

    From the Sambre to the Meuse - today's stage is also shaped by the water. At Tamines you leave the banks of the Sambre to follow a former railway line to the Meuse and cross a ridge in the process. But here, too, you will encounter various small lakes, so that you are never too far from the water. Thanks …

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  • Intermediate
    01:18
    11.5 mi
    8.9 mph
    900 ft
    350 ft
    Intermediate bike ride. Good fitness required. Mostly paved surfaces. Suitable for all skill levels.

    Dinant is only a small town, but definitely worth a longer stay. It not only impresses with its location in the Meuse Valley, surrounded by impressive rock formations. There are also some architectural highlights to be admired here. The citadel towers high above the city on the rocks. The church of Dinant dates back to the 13th century and is …

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  • Intermediate
    02:37
    25.8 mi
    9.9 mph
    1,150 ft
    1,525 ft
    Intermediate bike ride. Good fitness required. Mostly paved surfaces. Suitable for all skill levels.

    The days of the completely flat stages on canals and along river banks are now slowly numbered. After all, you're in the Ardennes. Nevertheless, the route still guides you as gently as possible through the hilly landscape and avoids the worst inclines. From the core of Ciney, the river Bocq leads you to Hamois. Now it goes uphill, past the …

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  • Difficult
    04:26
    39.4 mi
    8.9 mph
    2,575 ft
    2,200 ft
    Expert bike ride. Very good fitness required. Some portions of the Tour may require you to push your bike.

    Topographically, this is the most demanding stage of your tour. In the second half, two longer and quite steep climbs await you. You get higher and higher in the mythical Ardennes. You will be rewarded for the effort with panoramic views that you will not soon forget. But the first kilometers of the stage are largely flat, always along the …

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  • Difficult
    02:44
    24.4 mi
    9.0 mph
    1,900 ft
    1,150 ft
    Expert bike ride. Very good fitness required. Mostly paved surfaces. Suitable for all skill levels.

    You leave Spa and only drive a good ten kilometers uphill. But since you are on a disused railway line, the gradient percent thankfully is kept within limits. Slowly but surely you gain height. Although you are moving on a completely car-free bike path, you may soon hear engine noise. After you pass through the village of Francorchamps, you are …

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  • Intermediate
    03:12
    35.8 mi
    11.2 mph
    850 ft
    1,525 ft
    Intermediate bike ride. Good fitness required. Mostly paved surfaces. Suitable for all skill levels.

    Waimes is the highest municipality in Belgium. Accordingly, most of today's stage takes place at altitudes of more than 500 meters above sea level. Thanks to the low-incline routing of the former railway lines, however, it never gets steep. With the high moor Hohes Venn, a very special landscape awaits you. The high fens, devoid of settlements and people, is …

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  • Intermediate
    02:51
    29.2 mi
    10.2 mph
    1,125 ft
    1,500 ft
    Intermediate bike ride. Good fitness required. Mostly paved surfaces. Suitable for all skill levels.

    The last stage of your journey through Wallonia takes you a little further west, always near the German and then the Dutch border. The cultures and languages merge here in a unique way. Sometimes it is easy to lose track of which language is spoken in which village. But you can actually communicate somehow anywhere. You pass Kelmis and Moresnet …

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Collection Stats

  • Tours
    11
  • Distance
    310 mi
  • Duration
    31:03 h
  • Elevation
    12,600 ft12,150 ft

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The Belgian treasure chest of Wallonia — the UNESCO Cycle Route