A Taste of Flanders - Ghent
Flanders is one of the regions and communities of Belgium. Historically, the name referred to a region located in the north-western part of present-day Belgium and adjacent parts of France and the Netherlands. Both in the historical and the contemporary meaning, the demonym associated with Flanders is Fleming, while the corresponding adjective is Flemish. The City of Brussels is the capital of Flanders, though not fully under its jurisdiction.
Over the course of history, the geographical territory that was called "Flanders" has varied. From around 1000 AD, Flanders historically meant to English-speaking peoples the land situated along the North Sea from the Strait of Dover to the Scheldt estuary with ill-defined southern borders. It came to refer specifically to the County of Flanders, lasting from 862 to 1795, whose territory was situated in the northwestern part of what is now Belgium (the Belgian provinces of West Flanders and East Flanders), with extensive portions in what is now northern France (French Flanders), and a small area that is now part of the Netherlands (Zeelandic Flanders). Through marriage, the County of Flanders was joined with most of the rest of the Low Countries around 1400 AD, and it lost its independence. Most of the county's territory became part of an independent Belgium in 1830, and during the 19th and 20th centuries, it became increasingly commonplace to refer to the entire Dutch-speaking and northern part of Belgium as "Flanders", including the Belgian parts of the Duchy of Brabant and Limburg. In the late 20th century, Belgium became a federal state in which the Dutch-speaking part was given autonomy as the Flemish Community and the Flemish Region ; these two entities were effectively merged, and Flanders now refers to the territory of the Flemish Community, which has partial jurisdiction over Brussels, its capital.
Flanders has figured prominently in European history. During the late Middle Ages, Flanders' trading towns (notably Ghent, Bruges and Ypres) made it one of the richest and most urbanized parts of Europe, weaving the wool of neighbouring lands into cloth for both domestic use and export. As a consequence, a very sophisticated culture developed, with impressive achievements in the arts and architecture, rivaling those of northern Italy. As part of Belgium, Flanders was initially the poorer half of the country to industrialized Wallonia. In the second half of the twentieth century, however, there has been a gradual shift of political and economic power to Flanders, which, having modernized its economy, is now more wealthy and prosperous than its southern counterpart.
Geographically, Flanders is generally flat, and has a small section of coast on the North Sea. Flanders borders France to the west, the Netherlands to the north and east, and Wallonia to the south. The Brussels Capital Region is enclaved within the Flemish Region, while Voeren is an exclave of Flanders between Wallonia and the Netherlands. Flanders is agriculturally fertile and densely populated, with a population density of almost 500 people per square kilometer (1200 per square mile).
Belgium is a foodie's paradise, and you don't have to go into one of the many Michelin starred restaurants to enjoy it. Based in the beautiful medieval city of Ghent, explore everything Ghent has to offer whilst sampling some of Belgium's most famous gastronomical delights.
Suggested itinerary for Coach Tour Holidays and Group Travel
Depart the UK.
Travel to Dover for the ferry crossing to Calais then onto your hotel in Gent.
In the morning, we include a two hour guided walk of Ghent including its main sights and attractions. Walk along old squares and streets enjoying the different architectural styles. See the Belfry, St. Bavo's Cathedral, the Castle of the Count and the famous Graslei with its many canal side cafés and restaurants. Finish the tour at Frituur Filip, a renowned food outlet offering the best Belgian frites (french fries) in town. In the afternoon, enjoy a tasting of another of Belgium's favourite pastimes...beer! Gruut Brewery, located in the city centre explains the different processes and gives the opportunity to taste its beers which use a special spice instead of hops. Tonight, we include a meal in De Witte restaurant, a traditional Belgian restaurant offering great views of Graslei
This morning is free to enjoy Ghent at your own pace. Why not take a guided boat cruise on the canal and view the city from a different angle or visit the old meat hall, now housing shops and cafés and experience the wonderful aromas. We then include a chocolate demonstration at a local chocolatier with the chance to taste the famous pralines that Belgium is so famous for, before enjoying afternoon tea and scones at a traditional Belgian restaurant close to Friday Market Square.
Return to the UK.
Travel to Calais for the ferry crossing to Dover and journey home.