The River Leie meanders through the flat countryside outside Ghent, passing sleepy villages where Flemish artists once painted. They used to call it ‘The Golden River’ because it flowed through the flax fields that made Flanders rich.
This is still a quietly prosperous region of cobbled roads, fields of cows and secluded villas.
Rent a bike one day to explore the pretty landscape. Start at Drongen Abbey and follow the meandering river south for a few kilometres. Then heave your bike onto the free ferry at Afsnee and drink a coffee in Café Sfinx on the other bank.
From here, some serious pedalling brings you eventually to the Flemish Renaissance turrets of Ooidonk castle. It is still the family home of Count ‘t Kint de Roodenbeke. You can take a tour of the castle, if stately homes are your thing.
Derek Blyth’s hidden secret of the day: Derek Blyth is the author of the bestselling “The 500 Hidden Secrets of Belgium”. He picks out one of his favourite hidden secrets for The Brussels Times every day.