Vehnbahn bike ride – Day 1 – Mesch (NL) to Eupen (BE)

By Alwin Hendriks

BELGIUM / NETHERLANDS – The title is slightly incorrect, because we didn’t hit the Vehnbahn for one second on this first day of our bike ride holiday. We took off in one of the most southern villages of The Netherlands, named Mesch, to drive our bikes to Eupen, Belgium.

This bike ride goes through a part of Belgium where the effects of the fact that Belgium is multilinguistic (French, Dutch, German) can be seen at one of its best. This bike ride goes through the Voerstreek, and through the original ancient duchy of Limburg. A bike ride really through a so-called borderland, crossing different country and language borders.

Distance: 35km

PUBLISHED : 6th June, 2019
LAST MODIFIED : 20th June, 2019

1. Directions and maps

I will try to explain you the directions of the first day of our five day bike ride. Although we planned our directions around the bike track called Vehnbahn, this day we would not ride on the Vehnbahn for even 1 meter. That is also because one of us (me) arrived very late this day, due to some traffic problems and other circumstances, so we had to make the route a little bit shorter to still be able to arrive at our destination on a somewhat reasonable time. Normally from Mesch we would have followed the river Voer till its source, and then head a little more eastwards, to find a branch of the Vehnbahn for the first time, and head towards Eupen. Eupen was our destinations the first day, the capital of the East Cantons, the german speaking region in Belgium.

Directions

As said, we started at the village called Mesch. A village at the border with Belgium, at the most far south of the province of Limburg, in The Netherlands. Mesch is situated at the small river called Voer, which flows in the well known big river called the Maas, not far away from Mesch. From Mesch we followed the river Voer till its source, passing the villages of ‘s-Gravenvoeren, Sint-Martens-Voeren and Sint-Pieters-Voeren. The source of the river Voeren is in the village of Sint-Pieters-Voeren. From there we headed via Aubel and Welkenraedt towards our destination of Eupen.

Maps

FA 190529 Vehnbahn 1 – Mesch (NL) to Eupen (BE) – #
Strava map
FA 190529 Vehnbahn 1 – Mesch (NL) to Eupen (BE) – #
Google maps – terrain

2. The ride is off -> enjoy the pictures…

As I arrived (extremely) late this first day, we were quickly preparing the bicycles and preparing the car to wait for us for five days in order to start our journey..

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Mesch

This village has a history that goes back to the 9th century. The village then grew as a settlement around the village chuch, which is the second oldest church in The Netherlands. Mesch is now part of the municipality of Eijsden-Margraten. It was an independent municipality till 1943. It was the first village in The Netherlands that was liberated from the Germans, during the German occupation in WWII.

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Sint-Pancratiuskerk (Mesch)

As already mentioned, this church is the second oldest church in The Netherlands, as it was built in 9th century. The masonry was done in a Roman building style. The church was founded by canons (some sort of priest) from the more or less nearby town of Aachen (Germany). Around the church developed a settlement, which now still is known as the current town of Mesch.

It is not far located from the oldest church in The Netherlands, that one is located in Maastricht, and was built around the 5th century.

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Sint-Pancratiuskerk (Mesch)
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Sint-Pancratiuskerk (Mesch)
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Sint-Pancratiuskerk (Mesch)

Sunset in Voeren

From Mesch we further followed the river Voer into the so called Voerstreek, and the so called municipality of Voeren. This is really a wonderful region for its landscapes and for its strange atmosphere. This strange atmosphere gives somebody the feeling to be in so-called no-mans-land. The last is less amazing as expected. Because this area has a history of different owners and different languages.

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Lost in borderland

As mentioned before, this region is characteristic for its linguistic and strange Geo-political borders. Here, where we are at the village of Sint-Pieters-Voeren, we were looking for the directions to go towards the town of Aubel. Nowhere there was a sign to be found with the directions towards Aubel, although it is at about 5km distance of Sint-Pieters-Voeren. Why? Because Sint-Pieters-Voeren belongs to Flanders (Belgium dutch speaking state), and Aubel belongs to Wallonia (Belgiums french speaking state). Apparently there is not too much interest in connecting the two states with each other at times…

For one who is looking for directions this can be frustrating. At the same time this is one of the reasons that gives the region its particular and nice mysterious borderland feeling of being in no-mans-land…

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