It’s fair to say we don’t get much snow in Belgium. But when we do, we get pretty excited about it. (As long as it’s in a weekend and we don’t have to drive anywhere.) With temperatures plummeting, the Ardennes were recently turned into a real winter wonderland. So we dug out our woolly jumpers and mittens – and went skiing!
What? Yes, even in Belgium – where the highest point above sea level is 694 m – it’s possible to ski, snowboard and cross-country ski.
Where? All outdoor wintersports slopes are in the Oostkantons, the German-speaking part in the east (province of Liège) and in the southern province of Luxembourg. Most of them are cross-country ski slopes, but on certain ones it’s possible to alpine ski, snowboard, ice skate or go sleighing.
Why? The squeaking snow under your feet, the view over the white hills, the snowball-throwing fun – and the fact you don’t have to go to the Alps to enjoy some winter magic.
Of course the slopes don’t open their doors at the sight of one meagre fleck of snow. There needs to be a certain amount of the white stuff. Ardenne-ski gives you a daily update of which slopes are open (and are given the green light), what the snow heights are and what quality it is. For the Oostkantons alone, check the website of East Belgium.
We went to a small cross-country ski station in Gouvy, right next to the border with Germany and Luxembourg. It’s one of the few with a train station at walking distance. There are four slopes: 2 – 4,5 – 6 and 8 kilometres. Renting the skis, shoes and sticks will cost you 9 euros for a day. Just pop them on and off you go!
Never gone skiing before? Neither did we! We’ve never seen a ski lift up close, let alone a black slope. But the advantage of ‘le plat pays’ this country is, is the fact a lot of the easier cross-country ski routes are, well, flat. You just have to follow the tracks. What are you waiting for?!
Good to know:
- Gloves! Hats! Scarves!
- Wear comfy and warm clothes.
- Take at least two spare pairs of socks with you.
- If it looks like it will be busy, or you’re going at the weekend, give the ski station a call and book your equipment. There’s nothing worse than sitting on a train for 3 hours, only to find out they ran out of ski shoes size 38.
- Take cash. Most places are only open a few weeks a year, and don’t invest in card terminals.
© TMBB / Hendrik Devriendt