The Promenade Verte is a route of 63 km that allows walkers and cyclists to circle Brussels while discovering its history and nature. Here are some tips on how to walk or cycle the Promenade Verte.
Did you know that there is another Ring in Brussels, other than the one that is repeatedly on the traffic news for being blocked? This other ring takes you through the city’s outermost districts at a leisurely pace, on foot or by bike. It offers an alternative to traffic queues and junction altercations. Its route makes the most of green spaces sandwiched between urbanized and industrialized areas. And you will discover hidden forests, parks, allotments and orchards that you might otherwise never have known existed.
The Ring is called the Promenade Verte. It’s a well-signposted 63 km loop around Brussels, which takes in parts of the Sonian Forest, the Woluwe valley, the Pajottenland, and various forests, lakes and parks on the way.
You can choose to go clockwise or anti-clockwise. You can get on and off it as you please. In some places there are separate routes for pedestrians and cyclists. The signposting not only helps you to follow the route, but also gives you information about the parts of the city that have been crossed.
The Promenade Verte is divided into seven sections, each highlighting different facets of the landscape of the Brussels-Capital Region. If you are planning to walk the Promenade Verte, you could choose the section nearest to you first and then move onto the other sections. If you are on your bike, it’s possible to complete the route in a single day.
1. HEYZEL PLATEAU AND ROYAL PARKS
- Start: Place Saint-Lambert, 1020 Brussels
- End: Parc du Doolegt (rue de la Marne)
- Distance: 6.6 km
- Discover: the royal domains of Laeken, the Chinese Pavilion, the Japanese Tower, Les Jardins du Floriste (the Gardens of the Florist), an outstanding panorama of the city, the impressive Schaerbeek Station.
2. BETWEEN SENNE AND WOLUWE
- Start: Parc du Doolegt (rue de la Marne), 1140 Evere
- End: Hof ter Musschen (boulevard de la Woluwe)
- Distance: 7.1 km
- Discover: a more urbanized part of the Promenade Verte of interest to amateur historians. Check out the Brussels Cemetery where famous local politicians like Jules Anspach and Charles de Brouckère lie buried, as well as the banished French painter Jacques-Louis David.
3. WOLUWE VALLEY
- Start: Hof ter Musschen (boulevard de la Woluwe), 1200 Woluwe-Saint-Pierre
- End: Parc Tournay-Solvay (chemin des Silex)
- Distance: 9.8 km
- Discover: the landscaped parks and valleys of Woluwe, the Tournay-Solvay Park with its classic rose garden and well-maintained hedges, the Mellaert Ponds with their rowing boats and water birds, the picturesque Bezemhoek quarter.
4. FORET DE SOIGNES TO UCCLE
- Start: Parc Tournay-Solvay (chemin des Silex), 1170 Watermael-Boitsfort
- End: Nature reserve Kinsendael (chaussee de Saint-Job)
- Distance: 8 km
- Discover: that there is more green in Brussels than you probably thought. Explore the ancient cathedral of beeches that is the Sonian Forest, part of the huge woodland that used to stretch from here to the north of France. Ideal for your halfway picnic (if on your bike)!
5. VOGELZANGBEEK TO GELEYTSBEEK
- Start: Nature reserve Kinsendael (chaussee de Saint-Job), 1180 Uccle
- End: la route de Lennik/Lenniksebaan
- Distance: 11.2 km
- Discover: that even Anderlecht contains green, although this leg is mostly urban. Discover the Brussels Canal with industrialist factories, a rare glimpse of the Senne river, the Bemptpark with its model trains, and the green of the Vogelzanbeek nature reserve.
- Start: la route de Lennik/Lenniksebaan, 1070 Anderlecht
- End: rue Kasterlinden
- Distance: 7.2 km
- Discover the landscapes of the Pede Valley painted by Pieter Bruegel the Elder, the quiet lanes and numerous farmsteads and the Pajottenland, and the tranquility of the Scheutbos where you might catch a glimpse of grazing Scottish Galloway cows.
7. MOLENBEEK VALLEY
- Start: Rue Kasterlinden, 1080 Brussels
- End: Place Saint-Lambert
- Distance: 9.5 km
- Discover the King Boudewijn Park, with its waterfowl and animal farm, the forests of Laarbeekbos and Dielegembos, before ending up right back where you started.
A READER’S EXPERIENCE OF THE PROMENADE VERTE
Blogger Rebecca provides travel tips on the Belgian capital for various newspapers and magazines. Here she describes her experiences of cycling part of the Promenade Verte.
“On Sunday afternoon I join a group of cyclists for a 20 km tour of the southern section of the Promenade Verte. The event is run by Pro Velo, a non-profit organization which aims to promote cycling. It also organizes running themed tours to suit all tastes – on surrealism, bars, Art Nouveau architecture and Brussels’ green spaces.
“We start our tour at four o’clock on the map, outside the rather uninspiring Hermann-Debroux metro station. However, we swiftly turn our backs on the lanes of traffic and shoot down an underpass and into a park. Here our guide pauses before one of the themed Promenade Verte panels to explain our route.
“The plan is to continue the section of the Promenade Verte until reaching Erasme metro. Our guide says that cycling the whole route in a day is theoretically possible. She points out that some parts of the route are fairly undulating and demanding though. Including the part I’m about to cycle today!
“However, just to put distances and demands in perspective, she also points out the route of one of the GR long-distance footpaths. These are trails for the serious walker, traversing Europe from the North Sea to the Mediterranean, and passing through the more interesting parts of Brussels on their way. Just imagine walking that far!
DISCOVER SOME SECRET LOCATIONS!
“On the first part of our tour we cross Parc Seny and ride past a ruined château and English-style garden. Then we arrive at Boitsfort, well supplied with Italian restaurants and with a market in full swing in front of the town hall. We cycle along the Chemin des Silex with its reed beds and ponds and briefly enter Parc Tournay-Solvay. This would be a particularly scenic ride with the sun out, but unfortunately the sky is threatening rain.
“We pause here to wander round a vegetable garden and orchard. A notice warns sternly that only members of the community growers can pick the fruit! By now it is drizzling and time to press on, and I resolve to stop by the rose garden and second ruined château another time.
“As we continue, our group can hear trains heading into Luxembourg station. A new RER line is under construction here. Our guide points out that after England, Belgium had the first railway line on the continent, only three years after independence. Of course nowadays there are traffic problems of a different scale to deal with. We negotiate a muddy slope under the railway, and emerge the other side into the Forêt de Soignes, in an avenue of ancient trees.
“Next, we make slow progress through the forest, and the next challenge is cobblestones in Uccle. We go as far as Linkebeek, all the time remaining within the Brussels border. Panting, I climb to the Plateau Engeland, using all the gears on my bike; and then suddenly I am careering down a cobblestoned route in the rain. I’m desperately hoping that my brakes won’t fail and glad to be riding a knobbly-tyred mountain bike and not a racer or heavy electric contraption.
“Shortly afterwards, we are pelted by typical Brussels rain, and our soggy group is forced to take shelter under an evergreen hedge for what seems like a long time. We know that we will not make it to Erasme, but the remainder of our ride still takes us past allotments, a model railway and a new cycle section opened by the community just hours earlier. We even get to see a small slice of the Senne and some disused factories beside it. I peer dubiously into the murky waters trying to ascertain if the guide is right about the presence of fish.
“Then we pass by newer grey industrial sites and finish, bedraggled, damp and tired, at the Brussels-Charleroi canal (1833), joined to the earlier Willebroek canal (1560). These days it no longer transports coal, but plenty of enormous barges still pass along it carrying something or other. I should know, I row in it, and have to contend with the waves!
“If you want to walk or cycle the Promenade Verte, I would encourage you to do so. I’ll definitely try it again. Maybe on a warm sunny day with baguette and cheese and a bottle of red in the rucksack. Perhaps I should even get up early and attempt the full loop ….”
The Promenade Verte is an excellent opportunity for walkers and cyclists to discover some hidden treasures of BrusselsTweet
MORE INFO ON THE PROMENADE VERTE
- From the Brussels Environment Agency you can find details in French and Dutch, including a 71-page (yes, 71 pages!) brochure with mini-maps of the route.
- Easier might be to download the gpx file from RouteYou or follow it on the RouteYou app.
- To rent a bike for the day in Brussels, there are many possibilities such as Cyclo and ProVelo.
- Any questions on how to walk or cycle the Promenade Verte, just drop me a line.
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