Wallonia Advanced Riding Tour 2024

 Friday 13th – Saturday 21st September 2024

Tour Overview

Where’s Wallonia? One of Europe’s best-kept biking secrets, according to Bike Magazine.

It’s a region in Belgium that’s famous for the Spa Fancorchamps race circuit (amongst others), the WWII Siege of Bastogne and Battle of the Bulge, the world-famous Trappist beers of Chimay, Rochefort and Orval. But that’s not why we’ve organised a tour to the region. No, this tour has been arranged purely and simply because the region has some of the best riding roads in Europe, starting within a couple of hours of the Eurotunnel terminal in Calais.

Taking in some amazing sights along the way, this 9-day tour includes 8 nights quality accommodation, with 5 nights in 4* hotels and 3 nights in 3* hotels, all on a bed-and-breakfast basis.

Tour Highlights

  • La Couple – the German WW2 V2 rocket base
  • The beautiful baroque and gothic architecture of Mons
  • The eclectic collection of old cars and bikes at the Mahymobiles auto museum
  • The site of the Battle of Waterloo
  • Chimay’s street racing circuit
  • Gedinne’s rough-and-ready road racing circuit (which is all public roads, so we can do a few laps!)
  • Hitler’s secret bunker in Brûly-de-Pesche
  • Stunning views over the Ardennes countryside
  • The stunning rock formations of the Rocher Bayard
  • Maison Leffe beer museum
  • Bouillon Castle (as featured in Game of Thrones)
  • Medieval ruins of Herbeumont Castle
  • The Battle of the Ardennes museum at Roche-en-Ardennes, and numerous WW2 tanks from the Battle of the Bulge
  • Spa Francorchamps race circuit
  • Reinhardstein Castle
  • Strepy-Thieu Boat Lift
  • The historic city of Lille

Tour Itinerary

This is a 9-day tour with 8 nights accommodation and with 7 superb riding days based on recommendations by the experts at Bike Magazine as well as our own knowledge of the area.

Day 1 : Friday 13th September – Arrive in Folkestone

We arrive at our hotel close to the Channel Tunnel terminal at Folkestone, ready for an early start the following morning.

Day 2 : Saturday 14th September – Folkestone to Mons (186 miles)

After a hearty breakfast we take the short ride to the Eurotunnel terminal to get our train under the Channel and into France. Leaving Calais our first stop will be La Couple, the vast WW2 bunker built to house V2 rockets. After exploring this incredible site, we ride through the French countryside and the Parc Naturel Scarpe-Escaut before crossing into Belgium via a memorial to American dispatch riders to our overnight stop at the 4-star Martin’s Dream Spa Hotel in the centre of the historic city of Mons.

Day 3 : Sunday 15th September – Mons to near Cerfontaine (135 miles)

We start our first full day in Wallonia with a visit to a real Sherman tank outside the Mons Memorial Museum (which doesn’t open until 10am so visit the day before!). From Mons we take the N526 to the mad jumble of automotive exotica that is the Mahymobiles Museum on Leuze-en-Hainaut, passing the beautiful chateau at Beloeil (worth a stop if automobile museums are not your thing). From the auto museum we take the bendy N529 and N533 past the Ronquières Inclined Plane which lift boats up a steep hill and on to the Battle of Waterloo memorial – a huge artificial hill topped with a statue of a lion on a plinth. There is also a museum of the battle here, and it’s on the site where William II of the Netherlands was wounded during the Battle of Waterloo in 1815. From here we ride through Charleroi, the old industrial heartland of Belgium, and the wide open plans we’ve been riding through so far change into what’s known as High Belgium. Sleepy farmland soon turns to wooded hills and valleys, and the roads get more wiggly. Our overnight stop is a 4* spa resort on the shore of Lac de L’eau d’Heure.

Day 4 : Monday 16th September – near Cerfontaine to Bouillon (150 miles)

Another epic day’s riding begins with a ride over the Barrage de la Plate Taille dam (optionally visiting the inside of the dam) and to the town of Chimay, famous not only for its beers but also the Circuit de Chimay, the pit complex being on the side of the main road! Leaving the grid we head out along the N589 to the French border post in Regniowez before turning north to Brûly-de-Pesche. It was here, in this quiet village, that Adolf Hitler stayed in the final days of the Battle of France. It was his HQ for three weeks from 6th-28th June 1940, until he signed the Armistice near Compiègne. We will visit the Wolf’s Ravine, with its bunker, chalets and Hitler’s private quarters, as well as the command post and the map room. We will return to riding to clear our minds of the past on the epic roads of the region, stopping at the many viewpoints to take photos, as we head to the second racetrack of the day, the infamous roads Circuit de Gedinne. This is like the most obscure of the Irish road circuits, a 3.14-mile triangle of public roads that outside the racing bears little semblance of a racing circuit. It is surprisingly topsy-turvy, with deep troughs and steep climbs making for a thrilling ride, even at sensible legal speeds. From Gedinne we continue south and get our first taste of the Walloon swithcbacks as the road wrestles down into the Semois Valley. Turning left at Vresse we head up the other side of the valley via a spectacular sequence of S-bends and deep, high-camber turns to the Point de Vue Frahan viewpoint, with its epic view of the huge bend in the Semois and the picturesque village of Frahan nestled within it. A further 20-minutes or so of curve-thrashing takes us to our overnight stop overlooking the impressive fortress of Bouillon Castle.

Day 5 : Tuesday 17th September – Bouillon to La Roche en Ardennes (132 miles)

Starting the day on the N865 east out of Bouillon we continue the winding roads of yesterday, except faster as the road is more open. It’s all fun and games all the way to Herbeumont Castle. Repeatedly destroyed by French troops during the Thirty-Years War, it was finally captured and dismantled in 1657, but it’s still worth looking around the current restored version. Heading south on the N83 and N88 we make our way to Orval Abbey, an 890-year old monastery famous for the Trappist brewery within its walls. The monastery has a recently renovated welcome centre where you can learn more about their beers and brush up on your Cistercian scripture. As profits from the beer sales go towards running the monastery and other good causes, perhaps consider purchasing a take-out for later. Leaving the temptations of the monastery (now there’s a sentence!) behind we plunge deeper into Wallonia’s Deep South by way of the N88 as it wiggles towards Virton, before turning onto the tiny Rue de Meunier to Habay-la-Neuve. The second half of the day (yes, all the above was just half the fun!) navigates through towns and villages that changed hands during WW2. This is Battle of the Bulge country, where a surprise German offensive created a deep bulge into Allied held land during winter 1944/45. Using the N848 and N803 we will trace the route taken by the German Panzer Lehr division as it spearheaded the southern advance quicker and further could be supported by their own resupply convoys. We will pass through the towns of Poix-Saint-Hubert, Bure and into Rochefort, the last town taken by the Panzer division before they ground to a halt. Between 3rd and 5th January 1945 the British evicted German forces from this area in the Battle of Bure, before going on to liberate more towns and villages, including our overnight stop of La Roche-en-Ardennes before linking up with American forces further east. Our overnight stop is another 4* hotel, this one family run and set in a tranquil location next to a river and in the Ardennes forest just outside of La Roche-en-Ardennes.

Day 6 : Wednesday 18th September – La Roche-en-Ardenns (0 miles)

A day to relax in the tranquil surroundings of our accommodation, or take a walk / ride into La Roche-en-Ardennes (25 minutes walk away) to visit the town itself. With the Feudal Castle of La Roche-en-Ardenne providing spectacular views over the town and surrounding countryside, the wonderful Battle of the Ardennes Museum and the 1.2Km wooded trail of the Game Park where we may see a stag and his herd, as well as a large family of wild boar, and maybe some fallow deer.

Day 7 : Thursday 19th September – La Roche-en-Ardennes to Spa (126 miles)

Back on the bikes after a good rest we head out to ride through history. Leaving via a lively 30-minute ride to Bastogne on the N834, which burrows into the landscape, whips through the village of Bertogne and past tank turrets that signal our arrival at one of the most famous battlegrounds of the Second World War. Bastogne is famous for holding out against immense pressure from an overwhelming opposing force over the Christmas of 1944. Completely cut off from resupply, elements of the 101st US Airborne Division helped hold Bastogne until Patton’s Third Army punched a hole through the encircling Germans. We can visit the 101st Airborne Museum and read up on the Siege of Bastogne first hand, or take the N874 out of town and visit the Memorial du Mardasson, which is now part of the smart new Bastogne War Museum. Rejoining the N874 we ride through the villages of Neffe and Mageret, a route which formed the outer defensive road West, where the American Combat Team Cherry slowed the advance of Panzer Lehr before they bypassed Bastogne and headed for their strategic target – the River Meuse and ultimately the port of Antwerp. Our next stop on this history-filled route is Houffalize, where on 5th January 1945 ninety RAF Lancaster Bombers flattened the town to cut of the route of the retreating Germans. The town is now home to a 40-tonne German Panther tank that was thrown into the river by a mighty bomb blast during the raid. We avoid the motorway when heading north, taking the N860 as it scribbles its way towards the Ourthe River. We then follow this as it meanders north providing us with yet more great riding as we make our way to Stavelot and the splendid Spa Francorchamps race track museum. A wacky space, the undercroft of Stavelot’s Abbey, it is chocka-block full of famous racing machines from Formula One/Two/Three , GT racing and motorcycle racing. The track they raced on is only 6 miles away and is worth a visit too, even if there’s no racing taking place. We can take a tour to get an insight into what goes on behind the scenes of this iconic race circuit. Our overnight stop is in the city centre of Spa itself, allowing us to explore the historic city in the evening.

Day 8 : Friday 20th September – Spa to Lille (209 miles)

Our final full-day’s riding on the continent begins with a morning dose of corner-carving on the N697 as it twists west for an hour before flowing into Durby, where a perfect cake stop in the shadow of the chateau awaits. With just 11,000 residents, this is one of the smallest cities in Europe, and is worth a short walk from the car park to explore. We leave the same way we arrived – the road is so good it has to be ridden twice – then cut north-west onto flat terrain to the second castle of the day – Chateau de Modave. Hidden down a long tree-lined avenue the gardens are free to wander around. Plunging back into thick woodland once more at Celles, the furthest west any German units got during the Battle of the Bulge, we take the long way to Dinant via the awesome bends above Houyet and streak across countryside to the bridge at Givet. We then follow the Meuse north on the spectacular N96 as it trickles along the river’s west bank. Dinant itself is an unusual town, known for being the home of the inventor of the saxophone, Adolphe Sax, the main bridge is lined with colourful versions of this iconic musical instrument. Above the bridge sits the rounded tower of the Notre-Dame church, itself dominated by a military citadel perched on a huge, sweeping cliff face. Dinant is also famous for producing Europe’s hardest biscuit, the Couques de Dinant, which is sweetened with honey and pressed into a wooden mould before baking. The local take on quiche, “flamiche” is much easier on your teeth, but both should be tried whilst in town. Bellies full we search out the brilliant tarmac between Anhee and Maredsous Abbey. Like many fabulous Walloon roads, the route inherits the brilliantly erratic winding of the river it follows at the bottom of a steep valley. With a final flurry of curves on the small but well-surfaced N971 past Maredsous Abbey we leave the Ardennes and head back into Walloon farm country. We pass through Mettet, another town which is home to a road-racing circuit (famous for its super-moto racing) and turn onto the N40 and pass through Mons where our Walloon adventure really began, then make our way back into France and on to our overnight stop in the city centre.

Day 9 : Saturday 21st September – Lille to the Channel Tunnel (73 miles)

An early morning start takes us to the Eurotunnel terminal at Coquelles just outside Calais where we catch our return train back to Blighty. The tour ends when we leave the train on English soil, and make our respective ways home, full of memories of what has been an epic adventure in a place hardly anyone is aware of!

Map

Map of Wallonia Tour Route

Additional Information

This tour is limited to a maximum of 8 riders, with / without pillions, plus the tour manager. Accommodation is on a bed-and-breakfast basis, in double/twin rooms.

Places will be allocated strictly on a first-come, first-served basis, with a 10% non-refundable deposit required to secure a place.

Note the tour will only operate once a minimum of 4 bookings have been received. In the event that the tour is unable to operate, all deposits will be refunded. A final decision on whether the tour will operate will be taken no later than one month prior to the start date.

Final balances will be due 6 weeks prior to the start of the tour. Should the tour be cancelled by Inner Circle Training Ltd, all money paid will be refunded.

PRICES

The following prices apply to this tour:

Solo Rider, own room – £2,250

Rider & Pillion, shared room – £2,500

2 Riders, shared room (double bed) – £2,900

WHATS INCLUDED

This tour has been developed by Paul Beattie of Inner Circle Training Ltd to provide an opportunity for participants to develop their riding skills under the guidance of our advanced riding instructor. Inner Circle Training Ltd is not a Tour Operator, and tours organised by us are riding tours with accommodation and tunnel crossing booked to enable the route to be followed.

Before you go

  • Participant’s Handbook with all pre-trip information
  • Access to Paul Beattie for questions relating to the tour
  • GPS route file including daily route files and waypoints for all points of interest

En Route

  • Hotel bed and breakfast accommodation on an individual or couple basis (most rooms have a double bed, some twin beds)
  • Standard of accommodation is 5 nights 4* and 3 nights 3* hotels.  All rooms have private bathrooms.  Most hotels have restaurants and bars.
  • 2 evening meals, including your Welcome & Farewell Meal.
  • Local overnight hotel parking charges, subject to hotels terms and conditions.
  • Channel Tunnel return crossing included in the tour price

Tour Manager / Advanced Riding Instructor

  • Motorcycle Tour Manager on motorcycle to accompany the group and manage any incidents or issues on tour.
  • The Tour Manager will provide a daily briefing covering the following day’s route and points of interest
  • The Tour Manager is a fully-qualified Advanced Riding Instructor (BTECH L3, RoSPA Diploma, DVS ERS Trainer, IAM Examiner) and will be on hand throughout the tour to provide advanced riding tuition if required.

Not Included

  • Personal travel, accident and medical insurance (covering matters such as medical expenses, repatriation, cancellation, curtailment, loss or damage to property) – PARTICIPANTS MUST HAVE THEIR OWN TRAVEL & MEDICAL INSURANCE
  • UK & European Breakdown Insurance – PARTICIPANTS MUST HAVE THEIR OWN UK & EUROPEAN BREAKDOWN INSURANCE
  • Entrance fees to sights and parks, optional excursions, meals (all except where stated).
  • Personal spending money, tips, souvenirs or other extras.
  • Personal documentation (eg visas, passport), vaccinations, motorcycle documentation
  • Fuel, oil & other motorcycle consumables
  • Toll road fees, traffic fines or other charges relating to breach of the law
  • Any other item not specifically included in the price.

This tour will be a guaranteed departure once at least 4 bookings have been taken.

USEFUL INFO

What type of bike do I need?

Any modern motorcycle capable of the motorway speed limit (70mph) and comfortable for all-day riding would be suitable. Riders with pillions should ensure the bike chosen is comfortable for their pillions!

What riding experience do I need?

You should be comfortable riding for a full day, 8 hours with breaks, on a wide variety of road types – the route includes autoroutes, smooth wide main roads, narrow minor roads and some single-track roads. All roads are asphalt and there are no dirt roads on this tour.

Do I have to ride in a group?

No! This tour, like all others organised by Inner Circle Training, is intended to provide you with the opportunity to “ride your own ride” so that you can put advanced riding techniques into practice. There may be occasions where we ride as a group, but these will be by choice, not necessity!

What is the group size?

This tour is limited to 8 riders (with or without pillions) plus the Tour Manager.

Is this tour suitable for a passenger?

YES! This tour has been designed with passengers in mind, with the longest riding day being 210 miles. Each day has at least 3 breaks – one in the morning, lunch and one in the afternoon – plus multiple opportunities to stop to take photographs, visit sights, etc.

Can I cut short any of the days?

Yes. Should you wish to cut short a riding day, please speak to the Tour Manager who will work out a shorter route to the hotel, where possible.

Is there a support vehicle?

No. On this tour the Tour Manager will offer you support, but you should have UK & European Breakdown cover as well as Travel & Medical Insurance.

What will the weather be like?

Rainfall remains quite low in September with just a few short showers divided throughout the month. The average temperature during the day is around 15°C, in the afternoon, things often heat up to around 18°C before dipping to 11°C in the evening.