- The Ardennes
- The Mosel Valley
- Luxembourg City
September 26 - October 5, 2024
- Outstanding hotels, in every respect: location, hospitality and service, comfort
- Bruges’s legendary guildhalls, Flemish art, and soaring bell tower
- Ieper’s remarkable Menin Gate “Last Post” ceremony, In Flanders Fields Museum, and reconstructed Gothic Cloth Hall
- Belgium’s most famous monk-crafted beers: St. Bernardus, Chimay, and Orval
- The Ardennes region’s cut river valleys and “most beautiful villages”
- Luxembourg’s “Little Switzerland” region; scenic Mosel wine country; and the historic heart of Luxembourg City
Let’s delve into western Europe’s timeless center: Belgium and Luxembourg. We’ll explore the exquisite craftsmanship of Flanders – centered in the trading centers of Bruges and Ieper; we’ll fold into the cut valleys of the meandering Meuse, Semois, and Sûre Rivers; and we’ll perch on Europe’s finest promenade – overlooking the melting pot nerve-center of Luxembourg City.
Our hubs for this trip will be the Flanders city of Ieper / Ypres – remarkable for its rich medieval cloth trade, and its World War I history and resilience; a chateau-hotel on the Meuse River in the Ardennes region; and Luxembourg’s “Little Switzerland” – the Mullerthal.
We’ll be about exploring the defining art, architecture, city design, and culinary experiences of Flanders: Europe’s mirror-image of British East Anglia – hugging the English Channel, and historically poised to be in the center of international banking and shipping. We’ll also seek (as we always do) the bucolic side of life: the Belgium of natural beauty, steep valleys and subterranean grottoes, and monk-made beers. And we’ll look forward to Luxembourg’s charms: boating on the Mosel River, Riesling and Chardonnay vines stretching up the sunny, steep slopes; ancient castles – beautiful in their natural settings and restorations . . . that stood in the way of the Allied advance that ended World War II in Europe. Stories will be all around us, waiting for our discovery.
Day 1 – 2
Depart the US today on your overnight flight to Brussels! We will provide a suggested flight itinerary for you, and our travel agent is available assist with your flight arrangements.
After your overnight flight, our group will convene at the Brussels airport.
We’ll meet our chauffeured transportation for the drive into Flanders, and the ancient trading city of Ieper / Ypres. (In this lovely multi-lingual country, we’ll get used to seeing names spelled in both Flemish and French.)
We’ll check into our lovely hotel: a perfect base for walking around Ieper’s small historic center. The main square features one of Europe’s most stunning community buildings – the ancient cloth market. The entire square is a feast for the eyes: historic guildhalls, with atmospheric restaurants spilling into the square itself. Enjoy a nice Belgian beer, and relax!
After a delicious breakfast at our hotel, we’ll meet a local guide, who will introduce us to Ieper’s significance to the development of manufacturing, banking, and trade in the late-Middle Ages; Flemish architecture; and the city’s importance during World War I. We’ll discover the “Last Post” ceremony, that takes place nightly at the Menin Gate. It’s a moving tribute to those unknown soldiers who were lost “In Flanders Fields” . . . and a fixture of the city’s cultural expression since 1928.
In the afternoon, we’ll drive to Poperinge – center of hops production in Belgium, and center of a “convalescent center” during World War I. Nearby, we’ll discover the most acclaimed monk-brewed beer in the world, at the Trappist Westvleteren monastery (or, at the café on site). We’ll also plan to visit the nearby Saint Bernardus brewery outlet.
This evening, we invite you to join us as we witness the “Last Post” ceremony at the Menin Gate. Overnight, Ieper.
Today, we’ll drive across northwest Flanders to the canal-side city of Bruges – one of Europe’s architectural masterpieces. Enjoy exploring by foot and by canal boat; climb the famous belfry for the ultimate bird’s eye view of the city. Other highlights will include the Gruuthusemuseum – a magnificent Gothic home, built in the 15th century for the merchant family who controlled the production of “gruit” – key to making beer (and revealed on location!); and the adjacent Church of Our Lady.
We’ll depart Flanders this morning, driving into an increasingly undulating countryside. We’re entering the French-speaking region of Wallonia – dominated by the at-times-heavy Ardennes Forest, and upland, bisected by meandering rivers that have cut pronounced valleys. It’s a region of pretty, rural villages; and castles, often perched on rock outcrops above the rivers. We’ll make our way to a castle – the Chateau de Wallerand – our home for the next two nights. Our chateau is astride the big Meuse River, which rises in France, crosses Wallonia, and joins the lower Rhine in Holland. It’s a lovely region – in the perfect union of forest, valley, and water.
Dinner and overnight, Chateau de Wallerand.
Today, we’ll explore the details of this beautiful place: grottoes and subterranean caverns; the scene from the water; and some of Wallonia’s “most beautiful villages.” We’ll explore the valley of the small Viroin River; the town of Chimay – home of another celebrated monk-brewed beer; and pretty villages, featuring gardens, and an embrace of their natural settings. Dinner and overnight, Chateau de Wallerand.
We’ll continue our drive deeper into the low mountains of the Ardennes. Near the Belgian village of Bouillon, we’ll be treated to a viewpoint of the River Semois cutting a near-360 degree path below. Today’s highlights will include stops in Bouillon – home of one of Europe’s most famous crusader knights; the nearby Abbey of Orval; and our drive into lovely Luxembourg. We’ll spend the next three nights in Luxembourg’s Mullerthal – “valley of the mills,” in a region nicknamed Little Switzerland. Dinner and overnight at the Hotel Au Vieux Moulin (“Hotel at the Old Mill”).
After a delicious breakfast, we’ll explore the Mullerthal. Not far away is one of Europe’s most striking castles – Vianden Castle – with a lovely village at its foot. It’s a day for scenic drives; lovely walks; samples of local food and drink – in a country known for its joie de vivre and high living standard. Dinner and overnight in the Mullerthal.
Day 9 – 10
Today, we’ll explore the nearby valley of the Mosel River. We’ll embark on a relatively short cruise – Luxembourg on the west bank; Germany on the east bank. And we’ll marvel at the vines growing straight up from the river. We’ll stop later in the morning for lunch and to sample the products of one of Luxembourg’s most famous wine producers.
In the afternoon, we’ll drive into Luxembourg City. We’ll enjoy the view from the walking streets that border the high city center – one of Europe’s best “urban views.” Enjoy an opportunity to explore on your own. We’ll have a farewell dinner this evening back at our hotel, and a final overnight in this beautiful place.
The following morning, we’ll drive to the Luxembourg City Airport for our connecting flights home. Cheers!
- Comfortable ground transportation
- Accommodation with breakfast in high-standard boutique hotels; 4 lunches and 4 dinners
- All activities/admissions per the itinerary
- Guide and concierge service throughout the trip
$5,897 / person (double occupancy; single room supplement, $900)
What's Not Included
Price does not include airfare, alcohol, other meals, or trip insurance.
I've traveled extensively and have never had a trip that felt as intimate and custom-tailored as this. The planning, flexibility, and attention to detail were second to none. The level of professionalism and our guides' extensive knowledge of French history, their ability to tailor outings to our individual interests - I could go on and on. A top shelf trip of a lifetime. Thank you, Caroline and Chumley!
Explore Up Close provides the ultimate travel experience with a boutique, personalized touch. They curated each day of a recent France trip perfectly - with a mix of learning, exploring, relaxation as well as great company from our fellow travelers and guides!
If you want first-class service within a small group of traveling companions that you can really get to know, then definitely consider Explore Up Close.
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Please note, all trip participants should wait for confirmation from Explore Up Close that the trip has the minimum sign-up required to be a “go” before purchasing airline tickets.
Explore Up Close will provide a recommended flight itinerary for your consideration, which is intended as a helpful suggestion. We encourage travelers to choose airfare depending on their personal preferences, as some travelers may prefer to travel independently and meet at our destination, or may wish to extend their travels at the beginning or end of the trip. Our travel agent is available to assist you with booking flights and trip insurance.
Again, please confirm with Explore Up Close before purchasing your airline tickets or making additional travel arrangements!