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Getting to Orval, etc

Discussion in 'Benelux' started by BrewerMike, May 15, 2013.

  1. Hi guys,
    Still trying to plan out my honeymoon to Belgium for this July. We will be in Paris for 2 nights, and then in Belgium for 12 nights. So, we will have a lot of time to explore. We want to try our best to rely on public transportation, but there are a few spots we want to visit that seem a bit difficult without renting a car. So, I wanted to check to see if this is true. We haven't even nailed down where we are staying, but it's likely we will stay in Ghent, Antwerp, and possibly Leuven. We've been advised by a few that it's not necessary to stay in Brussels but to stay just outside and visit. I'd like to get down to Orval, maybe Rochefort. Would it be to our benefit to actually stay down there somewhere, or stay in Namur? Or if we stay in Leuven can we get down there by train, or do we need to rent a car? This forum has been a great resource to research best places to visit, etc. So, right now we are just trying to make up our minds on where to stay and how to best access certain places that seem a bit more difficult to get to. Thanks for any help.

    Mike
  2. Erzengel

    Erzengel Aficionado (220) Germany Sep 8, 2008

    If you are on your honeymoon-trip and your wife isn't as much interesting in beer like you, not renting a car would be a great mistake. You'll loose too much time using buses - on a normal beer-trip it is possible without car, but I'll bet you'll be killed for spending a whole day each sitting in trains / busses :)
    DStoked likes this.
  3. Luckily for me, my wife is pretty much just as interested in beer as I am. This is why we chose Belgium and not another romantic destination. It won't be a 100% beer-centered honeymoon. But probably 85%. So, any idea of the best way to get to the southeast region or value in staying down there? We'll definitely be spending most of our time around Brugge, Ghent, Brussels, Antwerp. But I'd hate to neglect any other regions with great things to see and/or taste.

    Mike
  4. Get Tim Webb's Good Beer Guide to Belgium book. You will be very disappointed if you don't. You will need a car to visit most of the breweries in Belgium and unlike US Breweries many are not open to the public and those that are are only open during certain hours. There aren't a lot of places in the southeast although I do enjoy Millevertus near Luxembourg. Dinant is a good place in the southeast to stay as Caracole, Chimay and LaChouffe are fairly close as well as the beer museum in Lustin. There is certainly nothing wrong with staying in Brussels for a couple of days as they have some fantastic bars as well as Cantillon. Ghent, Antwerp and Brugge are also great beer places. I would also recommend contacting some of the tour guides there as they can get you into breweries that aren't open to the public as well as possibly some of the Trappist places. One I have used is Regnier De Muynck, his facebook page is https://www.facebook.com/beertourism?fref=ts. With just two people using him may not be affordable, although he is very reasonable, however if he has other tours lined up when you are there he often lets others join in if the other group agrees. His email address is [email protected]. Again, get Tim Webb's book-it is essential for planning a great trip.
  5. DStoked

    DStoked Savant (320) Ohio Sep 28, 2011

    Was just there for a week, and our car was the best decision we made. Rented a VW Golf 7 from Eurocar (i think) for about $330 for 6 days. Very well worth it. The GPS was indispensable too. Trying to use public transportation to visit this breweries will be very, very difficult and inconvenient.

    If you're on your honeymoon, you'd best go to and stay in Brugge. It's beautiful. That's where I'd take my wife if I took her to Belgium.
  6. DimensionX

    DimensionX Savant (325) Oregon Oct 1, 2010

    You will need a car if you want to visit the countryside. Maybe it is possible without one but clearly not easy and probably not a fun way to spend your honeymoon.

    Brugge is really incredible but insanely touristy and there is basically nothing open at night.
    Ghent is an amazing and vibrant city that just happens to have a goddamn castle sitting right in the middle of town. Brussels is kind of insane, I would not recommend driving in Brussels, it looked to be one step short of Mumbai traffic wise.
    The Belgian countryside is really lovely and worth a visit, rent a car.
  7. lwhcchh

    lwhcchh Aficionado (110) Oklahoma Aug 31, 2010

    You will need a car to get to Orval but it is worth the visit. In addition, you will need a car to get to many of the other breweries because they are in rural areas off the beaten track. Unless Orval is having their annual open house or you are somehow connected to the beer industry as a brewery or distributor, you are not going to get a tour of the brewery. Sorry, because it is interesting. They do some things a little different. Orval is in a beautiful area and the ancient ruins are fun and interesting. Nice gift shop and a great visitor and tasting cafe just down the road. I suggest you spend some time up in West Flanders on the French border, perhaps Ieper. Very close to Watou the home of St. Bernardus and Wvestleteren. Although you won't be able to go into the abbey, they have a nice visitors center where you can eat, drink the world's finest beer (IMHO), and perhaps purchase a few. There are many other breweries in the area and Ieper has an excellent World War I museum and related monuments. I would also include Bruges and Brussels on my beer itinerary. Some of the best beer bars in the world are in both cities. Period. Just check out the Beer Advocate beer guide to those places. That said, your other plans look great too! You will have a great trip. Looking forward to my next visit!
  8. WillCarrera

    WillCarrera Savant (460) Ohio Oct 11, 2010

    I'm going in about a week, renting a car the whole time. Look at Orval on a satellite view on google maps. No way you're getting there without a car. Hit up Fantome in Soy, it's in the same general area. Maybe there are places to stay in Bastogne, which might also be cool if you're into WWII history. If you do get a car, every single person I've talked to has recommended springing for the nav system, which, given the street layouts over there, seems like a good idea. Also don't miss Brugge. It's not the best beer location in Belgium, but is stunningly beautiful. It is touristy as hell, but I loved it, even the boat tours (which is the kind of thing I usually hate), there's really nowhere like it.
  9. DaveJanssen

    DaveJanssen Savant (305) Germany Apr 17, 2008

    I got to Orval by train and bus, and rochefort by train and hike but for those two I would recommend a car if you wanted to visit. At orval you (probably) won't be drinking a lot of stronger stuff so driving won't be as much of an issue. I would perhaps suggest passing on rochefort if you are tight on time. You can't have their beer there and the abbey isn't open to the public. At orval there is a tasting room and you can tour the ruins of the old Abbey.
  10. Rental car ! ! ! ! !

    If you need some further advice, please do not hesitate to ask !

  11. If you are lucky you can pose for a picture with a monk at Rochefort, later he gave us a six pack of 10's for the road.

    https://www.flickr.com/photos/47961647@N02/4395392618/
  12. The highway leading down to Orval was under construction for a bit. oh yeah, they also had photo radar in 2 spots. just warning you.
    i got close to Orval but opted to go to Soy instead.

    don't bother to go to Chimay. just some polite advice.
  13. jimpdx

    jimpdx Zealot (95) Oregon Jan 10, 2012

    We are doing a similar trip (but 10 year anniversary, and doing Belgium then France). Dave, do you know if the Orval shops and tours are available Sundays? We are trying to get to Soy/Fantome on Saturday then Caracole Satu afternoon and evening.
  14. DaveJanssen

    DaveJanssen Savant (305) Germany Apr 17, 2008

    I don't remember for sure but they didn't seem to be closed at any time. From their website it looks like they are both open on Sundays. The tour part was to walk around the ruins of the old grounds (they don't let you in to the new monastery unless you are staying there) but it was interesting.

    http://www.orval.be/en/27/Discovery
  15. Yes, you can visit Orval ruines & shop on Sunday ! They even do guided tours in July, August & September but, to my knowledge, only in French & Dutch :(

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