2Xplore Flanders Fields – Battlefield Tours website: www.2xplore.be
The villages of Beselare, Passendale, Zonnebeke, Geluveld and Zandvoorde lie in the middle of the West Flemish ridge. These five villages were completely razed by the war, not a single trace of them remained. The complete destruction of the region during the First World War did not deter the tireless Flemish, who built five new villages from the ashes in the 1920s. “Passchendaele” became a byword in the history of the Great War. You can explore the battlefields or visit the Memorial Museum Passchendaele 1917 (located in the beautiful Château of Zonnebeke, 2km), which is an ideal starting point for a visit to the old battlefields and an absolute must for tourists and specialists. If you are looking for a unique front experience, then you can relive one day of the battle: 4 October 1917. The Australian attack can be followed by walking over a disused railway bed up to Tyne Cot Cemetery, the largest Commonwealth War Graves cemetery in the world. On the road there are remains of bunkers, you receive military-historical information and you also get to know the personal stories of the men who fought here back in 1917. The new visitor centre of Tyne Cot Cemetry offers you a unique view over the former battlefields and contains much information on Tyne Cot Cemetery and the fallen of Passchendaele. In these villages some 40 monuments and memorial plaques remind us of the gruesome past of the area. Beside the many British cemeteries, Canada, Australia and New Zealand also have national memorials here. Most others are in memory of individual units of soldiers.
Ypres (10 km), a city with a very rich and varied past. You can visit the Menin Gate, one of the most famous Commonwealth war memorial in Flanders. Every evening at 8 pm, the Last Post is sounded. The In Flanders Fields Museam faces the visitors with the consequences of the Great War. It will confront you with life and death in the Ypres front region. “Ypres: a city to experience, discover and enjoy” (http://www.toerisme-ieper.be/)
Zonnebeke and its villages are not only known for their rich cultural heritage, but also for their picturesque landscapes , country lanes and numerous woods. The most famous of these are the Polygon or Doel Woods (68ha) with more than 5 km of hiking trails. The historical chateau grounds (10ha) in the centre of Zonnebeke also invite you to a brisk walk.
The community of Beselare is widely known as witches’ village. It was known to be haunted in several areas during the 17th and 18th centuries and even up to the First World War. Figures such as Calle Bletters, Tanneken Van Hulle, Meele Crotte and Sefa Bubbels are brought to life in the witches’ parade. The parade takes place every two years on the last Sunday of July referring to the death of Sefa Bubbels on that very day in 1750. There is also a bronze witches’ monument on the market square as well as a magical herb garden. A special witches’ path takes you along the haunted places of the past end ends in a typical Beselare pub that serves a fitting wiches’ beer. (http://www.heksenstoet.be/en/)
Today, Passendale is not only associated with the First World War, but is also internationally renowned for the cheese which has been produced in the locality since 1932 and bears its name. Visitors are given a unique glimpse into the art of cheese-making. The Old Cheese Dairy is much more than a museum, it gives an experimental and interactive introduction into cheese and its different facets. One can not only smell and feel the cheese, but tasting it is also part of the game. (http://www.zonnebeke.be/fr/toerisme/toerisme.htm)
Recommendations to discover unique places and to experience a wonderful moment:
Cycle & Walk Network
The Westhoek has extensive networks and gives you a nice day in a recreational way.
Hop museum and Belgian Beer Wall (Poperinge)
The collective Belgian Beers is unique in Flanders and Belgium. It is an integral part of the Hop museum.
Discover the new wine area on the slopes of the hills. A landscape with photogenic places and breathtaking panorama.
Tobacco Museum in
Domein Palingbeek and Zillebeke pond
Creative animation in Beselare for everyone with a lot of activities (www.creakid.be)
Bellewaerde (2 km)
Plopsaland (40 km)
The North Sea (40 km)
The snowy mountains in the middle of the city (http://www.ice-mountain.com/) (15 km)
There are a lot of restaurants, snack bars and cafes in the neighborhood. In the cottage, you can find a lot of information about the region.