The GR5 Trail - Benelux and Lorraine
The North Sea to Schirmeck in the Vosges mountains
Guidebook to walking the northern section of the GR5 - 1000km starting in Hoek van Holland and passing through the Netherlands, Belgium, Luxembourg and Lorraine to Schirmeck in France. A long-distance route covering a variety of cultures and landscapes. The full GR5 from the North Sea to the Mediterranean is one of the world's greatest trails.
SeasonsA three-season trail, best between April and October. Abundant public transport links even make it possible to seize an opportunity to walk on the GR5 during fine days in winter.
CentresEnd points: Hoek van Holland and Schirmeck; numerous cities between them: Bergen op Zoom, Diest, Maastricht, Spa, Vianden, Echternach, Metz.
DifficultyThe GR5 Trail - Benelux and Lorraine, also known as 'The Northern GR5' is relatively easy: level terrain in the Netherlands and Flanders; hilly, but not difficult in Wallonia and Luxembourg; mostly gentle slopes in Lorraine. The final stages of the walk enter the Vosges Mountains, where trails are steeper. No special equipment is needed, just comfortable walking shoes; some people use trekking poles.
Must SeeVoornes Duin (Netherlands); Maten Nature Reserve (Flanders); Fagne de Malchamps (Ardennes); Little Switzerland (Luxembourg); Côte de Moselle hills and forests (Lorraine). Cities: Bergen op Zoom, Diest, Maastricht, Echternach and Metz. Museums: not just art (Pompidou-Metz); there are also museums dedicated to social history (Bokrijk), tugboats, flint, papier mâché and salt. Other highlights: historic churches and abbeys, medieval castles and modern fortifications.
Guidebook to the northernmost section of the GR5 - from Hoek van Holland in the Netherlands, through Belgium and Luxembourg, to Schirmeck in the northeast of France. Described over 49 stages, this 1000 kilometre section of the GR5 is relatively easy and ideal for those who don't want to hike up and down steep mountains - or not just yet.
Clear route description is accompanied by 1:100K mapping, together with information on points of interest passed along the way. Background information on landscape, wildlife and history is included, as is practical information - everything from clothing, equipment, food, drink and waymarking to maps, money and staying in touch - making planning and executing a trip as easy as possible.
One of the world's best long distance walking trails, the GR5, in its entirety, covers an impressive 1423 miles (2290km) on its way from the North Sea to the Mediterranean. This northern stretch - before the trail hits the depth of the Vosges - is as much a cultural experience as it is a walk through nature. Walkers will discover different linguistic communities, culinary traditions and architecture. Those partial to museums will also be in for a treat - from tugboats to wine, salt to flint, the route passes by an impressive array of interesting cultural institutions.
What it’s like to hike the Northern GR5
When to go
Getting there (and back)
Food and drink
Clothing and equipment
Staying in touch
Health and safety
Using this guide
1 The Netherlands
Stage 1 Hoek van Holland to Maasland
Stage 2 Maasland to Brielle
Stage 3 Brielle to Rockanje
Stage 4 Rockanje to Goedereede
Stage 5 Goedereede to Herkingen
Stage 6 Herkingen to Nieuw-Vossemeer
Stage 7 Nieuw-Vossemeer to Bergen op Zoom
Stage 8 Bergen op Zoom to Kalmthout
Stage 9 Kalmthout to Brecht
Stage 10 Brecht to Zoersel
Stage 11 Zoersel to Herentals
Stage 12 Herentals to Westerlo
Stage 13 Westerlo to Scherpenheuvel
Stage 14 Scherpenheuvel to Diest
Stage 15 Diest to Lummen
Stage 16 Lummen to Stokrooie
Stage 17 Stokrooie to Bokrijk Provincial Domain
Stage 18 Bokrijk Provincial Domain to Zutendaal
Stage 19 Zutendaal to Maastricht
Stage 20 Maastricht to Eben-Emael
Stage 21 Eben-Emael to Visé
Stage 22 Visé to Soumagne
Stage 23 Soumagne to Banneux
Stage 24 Banneux to Spa
Stage 25 Spa to Stavelot
Stage 26 Stavelot to Commanster
Stage 27 Commanster to Ouren
Stage 28 Ouren to Obereisenbach
Stage 29 Obereisenbach to Vianden
Stage 30 Vianden to Bleesbréck
Stage 31 Bleesbréck to Beaufort
Stage 32 Beaufort to Echternach
Stage 33 Echternach to Wasserbillig
Stage 34 Wasserbillig to Grevenmacher
Stage 35 Grevenmacher to Remich
Stage 36 Remich to Montenach
Stage 37 Montenach to Saint-Hubert
Stage 38 Saint-Hubert to Metz
Stage 39 Metz to Gorze
Stage 40 Gorze to Pagny-sur-Moselle
Stage 41 Pagny-sur-Moselle to Montauville
Stage 42 Montauville to Liverdun
Stage 43 Liverdun to Bioncourt
Stage 44 Bioncourt to Vic-sur-Seille
Stage 45 Vic-sur-Seille to Tarquimpol
Stage 46 Tarquimpol to Gondrexange
Stage 47 Gondrexange to Abreschviller
Stage 48 Abreschviller to Col du Donon
Stage 49 Col du Donon to Schirmeck
Appendix A Route planner
Appendix B Four 5-day itineraries on the GR5
Appendix C Accommodation along the route
Appendix D Useful contacts
Appendix E A little Dutch and French for hikers
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Stage 42: The café in Rogéville is reported to be closed.
Stage 39: The chambre d’hôtes in Gorze (La Renaissance) has closed.
Stage 27: The café within the Burg-Reuland castle has closed.
Stage 11 – The Kinderboerderij Lentehei, a petting zoo located near the bridge across the Kleine Nete, is a good place to stop for refreshments.
Stage 18 – As anticipated, the signpost in the forest south of Genk has been modified to conform to the description in the topoguide: the trail going to Zutendaal is the main GR5 route, and the trail leading to Genk is a variant.
Stage 20 – The new route of the GR5 through the ENCI-groeve quarry remains closed to walkers. Therefore (until the new route is finally opened), follow the alternative route described in the text.
Stage 21 – There is no longer a café in Wonck.
Stage 38 & Appendix C – The chambre d’hôtes in Vigy has closed.
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Carroll Dorgan has lived in many countries: born and educated in the United States, he taught history in international schools in Iran, Belgium, England and France, and then practiced law in the Netherlands and France. His first project after retiring was to hike the entire GR5, from Hoek van Holland to Nice. He then wrote a guidebook for the Northern GR5, published by Cicerone: The GR5 Trail – Benelux and Lorraine.View Articles and Books by Carroll Dorgan