Day Trips: Le Quesnoy, Cambrai, and Ghent

This week, I visited three new cities, one of which was in another country! The proximity and accessibility of new places is one of the reasons I love living in Europe, and this week was a huge reminder of that.

Tuesday was a jour férié for Armistice Day, so nothing was open — a friend suggested we attend a memorial ceremony in a neighboring town called Le Quesnoy (le kay-nwah). It ended up being one of the loveliest French towns I’ve seen! We began the day following the parade around the city, finishing with a memorial service. The town was liberated by New Zealanders, so most of the monuments are dedicated to them.

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It’s tiny, but very unique. It was founded in 1150, and there used to be fortifications built all around the city that were protected by a moat. After the Armistice ceremony, we climbed around on the hills and were rewarded with some amazing views.

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After Le Quesnoy, I tagged along with a few friends who were going to see another city close by, called Cambrai. It had a tower that was (yet again) older than America. The only thing I remembered about it was that Proust’s Auntie lived there, and he wrote about it in his In Search of Lost Time series.

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Then, on Saturday, my friend and I decided to go to see Ghent, a little city in Belgium! We had free train passes, which means that the whole voyage cost nothing but the money spent on snacks and postcards when we got there.

First, we took a Val city bus to the border, then we walked across. Here I am on the border:

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The city was beautiful! The cathedral and canals were two of my favorite views, and when we toured Gravenstein Castle we got a view of the whole city from above.

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Here’s Gravensteen, a medieval castle and museum. There was a room full of medieval torture instruments, and a guillotine model with an original blade…

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Gent was FULL of bikes. There’s even a bike road! We saw fewer cars here than I’ve seen anywhere else I’ve been…and way more parked bikes.

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It was a great day. Thanks to my friend Dana for suggesting the trip, and for being great company!

Day Trips: Le Quesnoy, Cambrai, and Ghent

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