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      December 2010 > Dreaming of spring in Flanders and Bruges

Dreaming of spring in Flanders and Bruges

Ferme du Vert sign, FranceWe arrived at Zeebrugge, relieved to ditch the sea legs after a somewhat rough crossing, and ready to start the drive to our first auberge. I felt quite smug at the ease at which we disembarked the ferry - no queuing up for passport control or to collect bags with this option! I was also very excited about the prospect of seeing the auberges we use in France 'in the flesh'.

The first auberge, la Ferme-du-Vert, was tucked away in a small, typically French village. It's a charming farmhouse - despite the shutters being missing from the front of the building for refurbishment - with a large courtyard in which, even in November, I could picture myself seated in the sunshine and enjoying the peace and tranquillity - with a glass of good wine. The decor is French chic with blue and white toile furnishings in the reception, and pretty white-painted furniture combined with distressed oak and a lovely wood burning stove. I was equally impressed with the subtle colour schemes in each room and the attention to detail. Monsieur Bernard informed me that he enjoyed interior designing and picking out the colour schemes himself and clearly took great pride in this! I felt slightly guilty for suggesting it was Madame Bernard’s handy work! The smell of cooking enticed us into the restaurant, which was cosy and inviting, and we were soon enjoying an extremely enjoyable lunch.

Le buffetAfterwards, we wound our way through rolling hills, passing through villages with old churches and half-timbered farmhouses. Our resting point for that night was the Ferme Auberge des Chartroux, another working farm. As we were headed up the farm track, there were chickens clucking and the faint sound of mooing cattle. Other than that, all was peace and quiet. And what a wonderfully warm welcome awaited from Madame Delianne! As a new starter at Inntravel, I had been told what delightful people I would get to work with - but the Deliannes really exceeded my expectations. After four or five courses of beautiful home-cooked food, I practically had to roll into my cosy bed that night, feeling very stuffed full!

Northern FranceThe next day, as we headed on through the landscapes of Flanders, I imagined the history of the area and what took place in these fields. Looking at the peaceful and pastoral countryside, with its fields and hedgerows, you would be forgiven for thinking that nothing bad had ever happened here.

Warm welcomes and great food seemed to have been a common theme on my trip. Our arrival in Bruges was no different. It was a nice contrast to be in a bustling city after the wide open landscapes of Picardy and Flanders, and our excellent directions soon brought us to the Hotel Bryghia, in the heart of Old Bruges, a charming area of little streets, canals and bridges spanning out in all directions.

Bruges was everything I had hoped it would be and more. My friends had been saying to me prior to the trip, “Oh, you'll love Bruges” - and I did! The city offers great shopping, outstanding unique hotels and wonderful art and architecture - what’s not to like?

For dinner, we decided to watch the world go by and soak up the atmosphere from a café in the market square. I had my heart set on a nice Belgian beer and asked the waiter for what looked like a large jug for us to share. Imagine my surprise when we got one each! Well, when in they say. There was only one thing we could have ordered to go with it - moules-frites, of course.

Posted: 17/12/2010 08:17:55 by Peter Williamson, Inntravel | with 2 comments
Filed under: Belgium, France, gastronomy, nature

Peter Williamson (Inntravel)
Thanks to Alysia - and others - who pointed out that the inns described here are not in Normandy (as originally stated), but in Flanders, Picardy and Bruges - hence the change in the title. Have a good Christmas...
22/12/2010 09:41:19

Alysia Hunt
Having travelled Laura's path many times, even stayed at the 'Old Farm' - carrot soup every night! I know what a lovely area it is... but it's not Normandy. This could be the makings of a future Christmas quiz - guess which country I'm in.
Well done to the team for such care and interesting places to see and stay. Merry Christmas.
20/12/2010 09:14:03

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