Haspengouw, in the Belgian province of Limburg, is the second largest fruit region in Europe. It’s a very charming region, all year round. In April, Haspengouw turns into a blossom sea, with numerous of blooming fruit trees. The flower buds open slowly and grow into juicy fruits in the summer months. For me, a weekend in Haspengouw feels like a vacation in my own little country. In this article, I list up 5 must do’s in this fruity region.
1. Walking among the fruit trees
There are numerous walking routes that lead you through the fruit plantations of Haspengouw. My favorite is the “pear orchard walk”, which starts at the church of Zepperen. The walking route (8.5 km) leads you through the villages of Zepperen and Hoepertingen, as well as through the many apple and pear orchards that these villages count. The route is indicated by signs with a red blossom. Note: in the summer months, it may happen that these signs are less visible because they are covered by a bunch of pears 😉 Therefore, it can be useful to purchase a card in advance (Sint-Truiden tourism). The walking route attracts many visitors in the blossom season, but the walk is also worthwhile in the summer months and in autumn!
Moreover, don’t let the church of Zepperen pass you by! The Saint Genoveva Church, built in two different architectural styles, houses special murals from 1509.
2. Wine tasting
Every year, I try to explore a European wine region, just think of the Champagne region in France or the Moselle in Germany. But did you know there are also wine domains in Belgium!? The rolling landscape of Limburg makes wine growing possible in various places. An overview of the Limburg wine domains can be found on the website of Visit Limburg. In summer, some domains organize a “wine terrace” between the vines. Perfect spot to discover the Belgian wines!
3. Spotting surprising works of art in the middle of nature
If you love to see art in open space, you definitely have to go for a walk in the green surroundings of Borgloon. There, you will find some surprising works of art, wich allow you to look at the environment in a different way. The eye-catcher is ‘Reading between the lines’ in Borgloon, a special work of art built from steel plates. The floating chapel in Helshoven (Helsheaven), a more recent work, is still on my ‘to do list’.
4. Apple picking
As the end of summer approaches, the harvest season starts in Haspengouw. Every year, fruit company Jacobs organizes several picking days in autumn. A tractor takes you to the fruit plantation, where you can pick your own bio fruit. Believe me, that apple pie will taste even better when you picked the apples yourself! 😉 A fun fall activity! More info on the website of Jacobs Fruit.
5. Staying at a fruit company
You’re convinced of a vacation in Haspengouw, but you are still looking for an idyllic place to stay? Well, in the summer of 2019, I’ve stayed in B&B De Fruithoeve, situated in the rural village of Schalkhoven, near Borgloon. You stay at a fruit company, which makes the experience complete, off course. B&B De Fruithoeve is runned by Jan and An. An immediately gives you a warm home feeling. The B&B has 2 guest rooms, 2 family rooms and a holiday home. The rooms are named after the apple varieties that are grown on the company.
You can rent electric carts and bicycles to explore the region, and you can also make a guided walk among the fruit plantations of the company. The owners can give you all the information about this. In that way, you can learn a lot about the daily activities on a fruit company. Did you know, for example, that hail can be prevented by a hail cannon to protect the harvest?