Another weekend in Meetjesland
I remember my first acquaintance with Meetjesland as a relaxing experience, far from the city hustle, enjoying beautiful nature and small villages. This second time around was no different! With its many hiking and biking trails, Meetjesland is the perfect getaway for those looking to clear their mind and get a taste of rural life. Add a wonderful B&B and an exceptional gastronomic restaurant to that and you got yourself the finest equation to fully recharge your batteries over the weekend!
Visit of the Van Eigen Kweek farm | Beekstraat 21, 9971 Kaprijke
Not many people know this about me, but I grew up on the farm of my grandparents until I was about six, when we moved to a house in a nearby village. Nowadays I'm a real city person, but farm life always brings back childhood memories in me. At farm Van Eigen Kweek, you can buy eggs, fresh milk, all sorts of products made with that milk, as well as meat. Sarah and Benny, who form the young farming couple, are really passionate about what they do and they love to share their love for authentic products with their clients. That is why, on Saturday around 11:00, Benny invites people to discover their farm, telling them about the stress-free life of the pigs, the special care given to the milk cows and the life cycle of the meat cows. A very pleasant and instructive 30 minutes tour, even for me!
Stay at B&B De Lievde | Haantjen 2, 9920 Lovendegem
To make the most of your weekend, book a stay at B&B De Lievde, where you'll be received by the lovely Kathleen. Her beautiful house counts three rooms for guests (of which two were named after her daughters) and was decorated with taste (with hints of her husband's passion for hunting). On top of that, there is an outside swimming pool, a big garden and a wellness! All the ingredients for a luxurious stay in a quiet environment. Kathleen will make sure your stay is as comfortable as possible and since she's a Viva Velo ambassador, you can have your rented bicycles delivered at her door.
Cycling along De Lieve
De Lieve is the oldest canal of Flanders, connecting Ghent to the Zwin since the 13th century. It used to have an important commercial role, but nowadays it most importantly forms a peaceful setting that is very well suited for biking, since it runs through lands that are totally flat. On the 't Liefken voor Altijd map, you'll find the Reigerroute (available here), a 50 km biking trail that will take you through gorgeous pieces of nature, meeting herons and castles along the way (Kasteel Diepenbroeck, Kasteel van Lovendegem, Dreefkasteel and Kasteel Ten Velde).
Practical information: Start at number 30 on the map (which is very close to B&B De Lievde) and work your way through numbers 28 - 15 - 13 - 9 - 59 - 7 - 61 - 6 - 10 - 12 - 22 - 23 - 25 - 32 - 34 - 37 - 31 - 27 - 17 - 78 - 11 - 24 - 30. If 50 km seems a little too ambitious for you (I might have thought so too), you can take the shortcut going straight from point 34 to 30, back to the B&B. You will encounter signs at crossroads with the numbers to help you navigate, but just in case, the Vlaanderen Fietsland app might be of help.
Lunch at 't Oud Liefken | Stoktevijver 65, 9930 Zomergem
Biking the Reigerroute starting from B&B De Lievde, a stop at ‘t Oud Liefken is perfect for lunch (you will find it at number 59 of the route). Notice that canal De Lieve has inspired more than one name around here… ‘t Oud Liefken is this kind of typical, old café you can find in small Flemish villages, but with a somewhat young vibe thanks to the sympathetic owners who have enhanced it with cozy and vintage elements. The café also boasts a charming terrace with views over open fields, perfect for sunny days! On the menu you’ll find their famous spaghetti, but also a few surprisingly great salads.
Dinner at 't Aards Paradijs | Merendreedorp 65, 9850 Nevele
I mentioned it in the introduction, another asset of Meetjesland is definitely this gastronomic restaurant called ‘t Aards Paradijs. Chef Lieven Lootens (another Lieve, I swear I’m not kidding you) is really passionate about cooking and does so with respect for the finest products. He specializes in vegetables and that makes a vegetarian like me very happy. I’ve never quite tasted vegetables like this before in my entire life! From beginning to end, the experience at ‘t Aards Paradijs is exceptional. From the warm welcome by his wife Isabelle, to the high level gastronomic experiences, this restaurant is truly unique. You can choose between the menu with seasonal products or the vegetables menu (around €80,00) and they offer the possibility to have matching wines throughout the evening. Bon appétit!
Hiking along the Oude Kale
Sunday starts with the most decadent breakfast at B&B De Lievde. Whether sweet or savory, you’ll find everything you might possibly crave for on the buffet Kathleen prepares. She even finds time to make things herself, such as jams and juices. Don’t worry too much about the calories, because you’ll be walking them off hiking the Oude Kale! The 7 km hike (available here) will take you into the wild, across one of Meetjesland’s best preserved pieces of nature, meeting a few herds of cows along the way. Walking in the morning dew, your head will get all clear!
Picnic thanks to Jürgen kookt | Gentstraat 30, 9971 Lembeke
The last missing link to make this rural weekend complete is a picnic and Jürgen can help you out with that! He mostly caters events but he’s very flexible and dynamic and will prepare you a picnic basket (or rather a picnic tote bag) if you ask for it. Just send him an e-mail or a text message in advance! Since we did the hike right after breakfast, we picked up our picnics afterwards and ended up enjoying them at the Huysmanhoeve instead (a small domain that boasts a cafeteria to provide you with the necessary drinks). Don’t forget a blanket!
This journey through Meetjesland requires a car, since you’ll be going from one corner of the region to the other. From Brussels, it will take you about 1h15. You can park your car at B&B De Lievde.