Odile and Fabian from Thimister set off on an adventure

Through an interview, the Fédération du Tourisme de la Province de Liège invites you to discover the trip taken by this charming little family for three days in the east of the province. Odile, her partner Fabian and their young daughter set off to discover this magnificent region on the Three-day tour of the lakes... Follow our tracks and be inspired by this story!

Could you start by introducing yourself and explaining what inspired you to embark on this adventure?

My name is Odile, I’m 31 and I live in Thimister with my partner Fabian. I’m a primary school teacher in Gemmenich, but I’m also passionate about nature and adventure.

My partner and I take advantage of every holiday to set off on an adventure, whether big or small. Before our daughter was born, we cycled part of the GR in Canada, we crossed Slovenia and Croatia by bike and when our daughter was 3 months old, we cycled for 5 days in Chimay and France. All this while bivouacking.

We have a one-year-old daughter. You might think that this would be a serious obstacle to going on an adventure, or even that it means staying at home, but I actually don’t think so. Life is what you make of it, isn’t it?

What attracted you to this multi-day itinerary?

When I discovered this Tour of the Lakes (the 3-day version), close to home, I thought it would be perfect for an adventure for three.
The length of the route, the fact that it’s a circuit, the type of road surface and the variety of landscapes made it a very attractive tour.

The roadbook was clear and precise. All we had to do was get on our bikes and attach the trailer...

What were your fears before you set off?

The day we left it was cold and foggy. Sleeping outside is nice, but in the rain with a baby, it’s not so appealing. Our little one had already slept in a tent when she was 2 months old and that experience had gone well, but now that she’s older we weren’t sure how she would react, especially as we have a small 2-person tent for the 3 of us to share.

Fortunately, she went to sleep in the evening after only a few minutes. We were also hoping that it wouldn’t be too hard physically, as we only ride ‘non-electric’ bikes and we didn’t have much training either.

In the end, you were soon reassured after the first few kilometres...

Those three days did indeed seem timeless. Following a river, crossing large forests, being alone, coming across a great tit and a shrike, having dinner by the lake, hearing our daughter laughing in her trailer... What more could you ask for?

What’s more, we discovered a few places and routes that we didn’t know about despite knowing the region well.

But did you encounter any difficulties?

If I had to mention one drawback, I’d say that the route is almost exclusively on tarmac, which is practical if you have a trailer to pull, but less bucolic than paths. Some of the signs were also less clear, particularly near Eupen, as the signposting logo is not same as the others. Having said that, I’ve learned that these signs will soon be replaced by the new points-nœud signs from Liège province.

The other less positive point was the weather, which didn’t allow us to take full advantage of Lake Bütgenbach, for example.
When we got there, however, our daughter wanted to get into the water for a swim. She grabbed our fingers... and went into the water up to her torso! Without flinching. We couldn’t believe it.

What aspects did you like the most?

Among the positive points, I have to mention the signs. They allow you to be free, meaning you don’t need a map or a mobile phone. That’s a luxury these days.

Each signpost brings you closer in tune with the present moment and surrounding nature. And then there are the lakes, which are very pleasant. We immediately felt like we were on holiday.

The roadbook helped us choose our bivouac and meal sites, as there were several possible stops to recharge our batteries, both for us and for our baby. We stayed at the “Bienvenue Vélo” labelled campsite at Les Charmilles in Ovifat, where we were made very welcome. Everywhere we went, there was a place to leave our bikes and refill our water bottles.

To sum up, what will you take away from this experience?

In the end, what we’ll remember is that Belgium is wonderful. My training as a nature guide has enabled me to explore many splendid corners of Wallonia and to become aware of the natural riches all over our country.

The geology of the region is very varied, which means that you can enjoy very different landscapes over short distances. This means that you can encounter several different ecosystems in one trip, as was the case on this tour of the lakes.



Photo credits: Odile Loozen