Abbaye Notre-Dame d'Orval

Sites Sewn
As the battleground for two world wars, Belgium is also big on remembrance. North, in Flanders’ fields, it is hard to remain unmoved by the mute testimony of the many cemeteries housing the fallen soldiers from the Great War. In the south, the Mardasson Memorial and Bastogne Historical Center commemorate those who fought in the Battle of the Bulge in World War II.

A meditative moment could well take place at Abbaye Notre-Dame d’Orval, which offers an engaging tour of the ruins of the old abbey during the summer and fall, if not of the active Trappist community. But the fruits of their labors — cheese and beer — are always available at a nearby alfresco café, a restful site from which to view the abbey. Other than a weaker version they make for themselves, the monks brew only one Orval beer. Naturally, it’s one of the most distinctive in the world, and a fitting benediction for any Belgian beer exploration.

Belgium Checklist:
Sunset on the canals in the city of Bruges.

Flanders Tourist Office
(212) 584-2336

Where to stay:
Kempinski Hotel Dukes’ Palace, Bruges,
Hotel Heritage, Bruges,
Monasterium PoortAckere, Ghent,
Hotel Julien, Antwerp,
De Witte Lelie, Antwerp,

Where to eat:
De Karmeliet, Bruges,
Belga Queen, Ghent,
‘t Zilte Restaurant, Antwerp,

Beer Degustation:
De Groote Witte Arend, Antwerp,
Den Dyver Restaurant, Bruges,
Belga Queen, Ghent (or Brussels),
’t Hommelhof, Watou,
In Brussels, stay at Hotel Amigo
Courtesy Hotel Amigo

Where to stay:
The Dominican,
Hotel Amigo,

Where to eat:
Comme Chez Soi,

Beer Degustation:

Where to stay Outside Brussels:
Château du Lac, Genval,
Dolce La Hulpe, La Hulpe,

Wallonia Tourist Office
(212) 758-8130
Fine dining at Den Dyver Restaurant

Where to stay:
Château des Thermes, Chaudfontaine,
Manoir de Lébioles, Spa,
La Vigie Bed & Breakfast, Spa,
Le Sanglier des Ardennes, Durbuy,
La Grande Cure, Marcourt,
 Domaine du Château du Bois d’Arlon, Arlon,
L’Hostellerie du Peiffeschof, Arlon,

Where to eat:
Restaurant l’Art de Vivre, Spa,
Cuisinémoi, Namur,
Lemonnier, Lavaux Sainte-Anne (near Namur),
L’Air du Temps, Noville-sur-Mehaigne (near Namur),

BEERS TO TRY (among many others):
Duvel, De Koninck, Kwak, DeuS, Rodenbach Grand Cru, Poperings Hommel Bier, Malheur Bière Brut, Drie Fonteinen Oude Geuze, Boon Oude Geuze, Westmalle Tripel, Saison Dupont, Trappistes Rochefort 8, Orval

Christmas Beer Festival
December 17-18: A selection of 150 Belgian Christmas and winter beers in Essen,

Zythos Bier Festival
April 28-29, 2012: The country’s largest beer festival, this year in Leuven,

Carnival in Binche
March 5-7, 2012: An annual elaborate celebration prior to Lent

July 3 and 5, 2012: A costumed festival, where the people of Belgium celebrate the country’s history,