A border that is so messed up that it must have been drawn on the map by a drunk guy who just stepped of a rollercoaster. A border that unmistakably leads to war if the two countries sharing it would not be friendly nations that both love frites-mayonnaise. It sounds like a perfect scenario for a slapstick movie, and if it weren’t true it would be ridiculously funny. But the truth is that Belgium and The Netherlands may very well have the world’s most laughable border around the village of Baarle-Nassau (NL) and Baarle-Hertog (BE). Indeed, singular, not plural! Because the borders runs right through this village. And that is not a grammatical error either, because with 30 (!!!) enclaves, including a handful of enclaves in enclaves, there are multiple borders that runs straight through streets and buildings. It has been happily dividing this incredibly weird town for almost two centuries. Let’s go there for an afternoon of anecdotes and to learn about chaotic legal implications.
What is included?
Transportation by 4* luxury coach
Guided tour by bus and foot
Entrance fees Candle Museum
A fun group of international people
A lifetime expat memory
Bus pick-up point
Square Ambiorix, t-crossing with Rue Archimède at 5 minutes walking from Schuman
Who can join?
Expat Club is known for welcoming a wide variety of international people on its trips. This creates a special, open-minded, safe and friendly environment in which everyone should feel comfortable. You do not have to be a member even, and of course Belgians are more the invited too to join us. We always welcome many solo travellers, couples, retirees, small groups of friends and on this trip certainly also families.
How to add a child ticket?
Expat Club loves welcoming the youngest expats. If you want to bring your child(ren) up until 18 years, please first add the regular adult ticket(s) to the cart and then go to the cart page. On the cart page, there is a child ticket available for just €35 (excluding lunch, it can be booked separately and paid for after the booking). You can update the quantity on the same page if more than 1 child joins.
The enclave situation in and around Baarle is unique in the world. Only few other border situations are somewhat comparable, but Baarle stands out. Many Dutch and Belgian people still think that the country border pass straight through the village, but in reality it the border is formed by a total of 30 enclaves in a small geographic area.
An enclave is a territory that belongs to State A that is fully surrounded by State B. There are even various double-enclaves, meaning an enclave inside an enclave, which completes the geographical chaos. In this case there are six Dutch enclaves in Belgium in The Netherlands. Are you still following us?
The border runs criss-cross through the village (i.e. both villages). Through roads, through houses, through gardens, often leading through absurd situations where “families are split” inside their own houses.
Within the city limits of Baarle you can see the borders indicated by special signs on the pavement, as well as the special house number signs, which either show the Dutch or Belgian flag. Did you know that one house has two numbers because the border runs straight through the front door?
The Belgian village of Baarle-Hertog consists of 22 enclaves, all fully surround by Belgian territory. It includes the small church village of Zondereigen, which is situated just across the border but inside Belgium.
The Dutch village of Baarle-Nassau consists has 8 enclaves, of which 7 are sub-enclaves in the two larger Belgian enclaves, as well as 1 enclave near the village of Zondereigen in Belgium. Also the hamlet of Castelré and the church village Ulicoten are part of Baarle-Nassau. The first is situated 11km from the centre of Baarle-Nassau and sticks out like a peninsula into Belgium, whereas the second is a bit closer but still makes no geographic sense either.
We will discover both villages during a 2-hours guided bus and walking tour. Along the way our guide(s) will continuously mark the borders while telling many remarkable, funny and ridiculous anecdotes. We will also visit the candle museum, where you can see an incredible number of beautiful hand-made candles
With Schengen and open borders between The Netherlands and Belgium it is hard to believe that smuggling was a major issue back in the days. Especially after the Second World War there was a thriving black economy by supplying “the other side” of scarce goods. Almost everyone in the village(s) was joining this illegal activity. Especially butter, sugar and Dutch gin were popular contraband. But also cattle, such as cows and pigs, regularly and suddenly showed up in the other country’s pastures.
Smuggling often took place by foot or bicycle, through forest areas for instance. Dodging the “commiezen” or custom officers was of the utmost importance, for which the smugglers or “pungelaers” had come up with many creative solutions that may even inspire contemporary smugglers. On the other side, the guardians of the law also had their ways of identifying and punishing the smugglers. During our guided tour we’ll hear some hilarious stories and learn more about the goods that have become popular in more recent years (primarily tobacco and fireworks).
Upon arrival in Baarle-Nassau & Baarle Hertog we will first enjoy a nice 3-course lunch, including one drink and coffee/tea (€27,50). Although lunch is optional, we always recommend joining because normally 80-100% of the participants do so. It’s a great way to get to know the other people in the group before we further explore this weird village. This is our menu (vegetarian options available on the spot):
Tomato soup or
Richly filled vegetable soup
Served with oven-fresh baguette and herb butter
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Chicken schnitzel with mushroom cream sauce or
Salmon-filmed roles of sole with mousseline sauce
Served with various seasonal vegetables, mixed salade and fries
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We will travel with a modern 4* luxury coach with reclinable comfort seats and a lot of leg space. The bus has an onboard toilet, bar, and air-conditioning. We depart from Place Schuman, at the bus stop next to the KBC Bank and also return there again. Parking around Schuman is not a problem. It’s for free the entire day and normally there are ample spots to park in one of the streets around the roundabout (e.g. Rue Froissart)