Camping In Belgium - Potterers Cycling Club

The Potterers Cycling Club
Pottering in Kent since 1971
The Potterers Cycling Club
Pottering in Kent since 1971
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I have always loved Belgium. It is a place that really understands people's needs and provides the main ingredients for a cycle tour; chips, beer, good cycle routes/paths, varied topography, friendly people and lots of nice little campsites. My first experience of this Belgium was finding an ice-cream van stationed on a viewpoint overlooking the La Sambre. It had been a hard climb and it was hot. I approached the van trying to work out how ask for an ice-cream, when the seller said, "I know what you want" and gave me chilled bottle of Jupiler (then 35BF).
I am not sure how I located campsites then, I rather think I looked for triangles on a Michelin map or a local tourist information leaflet. I still have vague recollections of some campsites; one with a wild west bar, a static caravan site without showers and that campsite outside Namur, now under a supermarket, that had a brothel just beside the entrance, “ That's handy I thought, having a bar so close"
After years of camper-vanning with family and dogs, now suddenly free, I went back to cycle-camping. My first trip was to follow the Maas/Meuse, go up the coast to Rotterdam then inland and follow it down to Verdun. Lots of campsites along the Belgian coast so no worries, I thought. Who cares if it is the Saturday night following a couple of weeks of fantastic weather and every Belgian is enjoying the sea-side. It is not easy to find a safe place to wild camp in this crowded country but I managed it. I was so thirsty the next morning, I found an early-opening paper-shop, grabbed the cheapest and nearest bottle of water and brewed up in the nearby park. Tea made from sparkling mineral water is not to be recommended.
I had the proper cycling maps for the Netherlands and list of campsites. I had the same for France. But at the end of my trip I was still unsure of Belgian campsites. I use a small Garmin GPS, an eTrex30 to be precise, a fantastic device, better than their newer models. I use POIs, points of interest, which are lists of interesting places that can be downloaded on a GPS and then you can navigate to what ever interests you on that list. Campsites, Camra pubs, hill forts (you can create your own POIs), British mountains and you can find lots of these POI lists on the internet. If you use Open Street Map (OSM) based maps on your GPS then you can also search these maps for campsites and other sites of interest because the information is embedded in the actual OSM map. Information that is totally NOT reliant on the internet or phone signal. Just don't forget the spare batteries.
Of course all of this needs to be prepared before a trip. I plan my route and find out about campsites from the web:- www.ukcampsites.co.uk for GB; www.camping.info, www.anwbcamping.nl and www.alanrogers.com for Europe. These are not cycling specific and many of their **** sites do seem to offer outside discos that last until 4am. A few years ago I discovered Fietsers Welkom, a Dutch organisation that promotes cycling and inspects venues and assesses their suitability for cyclists. They also provide the Fietsers Welkom sign that ensures a welcome for the cyclist. The display of this sign outside a campsite means that cycle-campers can arrive and pitch their tents at any time (on the trekker field of course). The campsite is never too full for cyclists, fabulous. When I search for campsites I use google.nl, the terms fietser and camping plus the country (even the whole phrase translated into Dutch). Thus I found a 'Google My Maps' page featuring over 200 cycle friendly campsites each with details and a short review. I have used about 15 of these sites and have found them excellent, for lightweight camping that is. Just one or two small problems, it is all in Dutch and the web address is 147 characters long. It is easy to make sense of each review by using Google Translate and often there is a link to the campsite's website. Some of the information is bang up to date but often of it is quite old, so do check.
I can always help with requests for further information and the full http internet search address of the link titles shown below. Just contact me on my email address (chris@cboucher.co.uk)
Happy camping!

Links
“OpenFietersMap” for GPS maps
Campings in Belgie

Chris Boucher
usque ad mortem bibendum
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