A couple of weeks ago, on one of the first truly summery days of the year, a friend and I headed toward the Ardennes and an experience we were both looking forward to: les Draisines de la Molignée.
Draisines are light rail cars that are human energy powered, usually like a bicycle. The Draisines of the Molignée travel back and forth on six, eight, and fourteen kilometer journeys through a verdant region of Belgium near the National Park of the Ardennes. If you choose the six or the fourteen kilometer journey, you will take your midpoint respite at the Maredsous Abbey, where you can take a tour of the Abbey’s brewery and cheesemaking facility, and of course enjoy the fruits of those labors.
We decided to take the eight kilometer journey, both having visited the Abbey, and as we bought our tickets (they are super affordable at 18 euros per two way journey for up to four people), the seller told us that we could continue on to the Abbey if we wanted to when we reached our turn-around point; in other words we could buy the next trajectory at the turn around point and simply continue on. We asked him how hard the journey was and were assured that it was not difficult but the return journey was even easier.
As we pedaled out, we went mostly through woods so there wasn’t a lot of great scenery, but it was peaceful and fun and definitely not difficult. We stopped to snap a photo of the ruin of the Chateau Fort du Montaigle looking down on us. As we gently pedaled our way along, a trio of speedy youngsters caught up with us. They were kind of tailgating us and making us feel a little pressured to speed up, which we definitely did not want to do, so we stopped and offered to trade cars with them. Happily they took us up on the offer, and we watched them speed off ahead of us as we leisurely followed behind at our preferred pace.
At the halfway point, we dismounted and headed for the snackbar. We bought a beer, a water and a little bag of chips and watched one of the workers turn the cars around on the rails, which he did by hand because there were only a few to deal with. There is a machine that does this much faster when needed.
After thirty minutes or so, we headed back. The vendor didn’t lie; the return trip was so much easier that we barely pedaled at all. It is apparently a very light grade, imperceptible on the trip up, but super easy on the way back. We had a bit of fun with that, as you can see here.
This is a highly recommended outing. Pet friendly, too, so you can take your furry friend along for the ride. Grandpa and grandma or tiny toddlers will also enjoy the fun because there is two-person seating between the pedalers’ seats! And it really isn’t difficult at all. The Abbey of Maredsous is another recommended stop: great beer, and an even better tour.