European Cathederals Tour (Fall 2023)

In July 2023, when my wife encouraged me to take my European History vacation, the initial premise was to tour World War I and World War II…

European Cathederals Tour (Fall 2023)
Eglise Saint Severn, Paris (October 3, 2023)

In July 2023, when my wife encouraged me to take my European History vacation, the initial premise was to tour World War I and World War II battlefields, but along the way I visited a view of the famous (and not so famous) Cathederals and churches across France, Belgium, Germany, and the Netherlands. And I saw one synagoue.

Powered by Red Bull and Ibuprofen (for my COVID symptoms) I didn’t stop to research the lesser known churches and was texting with my wife, but now I’ll review and provide links.

After waiting for the immigration officals to show up in CDG for over an hour, I finally got my Sixt rental car, and figured out how to drive a manual transmission for the first time and managing to avoid an accident on traffic circles, I headed for Meaux. I stopped at the Decathalon and a mall for some coffee and bought a pair of cheap hiking shoes.

Planning for the first day in Meaux!

After attending the Museum of the Great War (which I highly recommend) I headed to Château-Thierry on the A4 after winding my way through the Meaux suburbs and stopped for lunch and parked along the Marne and went exploring and to try to find some lunch.

A perfect September day for fishing!

After a freshly made seafood Pizza (not what I expected for Mediterrean, but now I know) I got back on the road to make to the American Memorial in the hills, but didn’t make it and instead headed to Belleau Wood.

Crossing the Marne (September 28)

The stained glass in the chapel overlooking the cemetary with the AEF patches and the names of all those that died engraved on the wall was holy ground.

Not a church, but certainly holy ground

After Belleau Wood, I headed for Reims to check into my hotel, a bit jet-lagged but probably already picked up COVID. This would be the last night I slept well.


Notre Dame in Reims was shelled during Verdun, so much of what you see below was reconstructed in the 1920s.

I spent my first night on the continent in the suburbs and took and Uber into central Reims for the evening.

Sept 28 (late afternoon)

After having some more great French beer and Escargot for the first time, I head back to Notre Dame to see it at night!


After making a left instead of a right on the way outside of Reims and deciding not to go to Verdun, I headed North (proabably on the A34) so I could hit Bastogne for my 2nd night.

Saint-Charles-Borromée Church of Sedan (1601)


Protestant Temple of Sedan (1562)

Clervaux, Luxembourg

Oddly enough, I did not take any pictures of churches in Bastogne on my 2nd day in Europe but I did run across this in Clervaux the morning of my 3rd day on the continent.


Sts Côme et Damien in Clervaux (1910)

St Vith

After back in Belgium, and struggling to figure out how to use the automated gas pumps between Clervaux and St. Vith I went St. Vitus Parish Church

St Vitus (1959)

After St. Vith, I hit the road again, passing through Malmedy then made my way into German passing through the Huertgen Forest

I stopped at a park 30 minutes outside of Aachen


The evening of Day 3 in Europe, when I already started having moderate COVID symptoms I walked 4–5 miles from the suburbs to downtown Aachen to the cathderal where Charlemagne was crowned.

Roermond, Netherlands

The next day, I headed north and stopped on Sunday morning in Roermond. There was a Sunday service going that I peeked in, but did not feel comfortable to join.

MunsterKerk (13th Century)
Minderbroederskerk (1307)

Grave, Netherlands

Having parked my car in the outskirts of Grave, I wandered into the city and went inside St. Elizabeth’s Church as I headed towards the John Thompson Bridge. See

Inside an organ was playing baroque music, which seemed on brand.

And outside there was a cemetary

After stopping for snack (and tasting these not very great “Bitterballs.” They were hot and fresh but I do not recommend. Fortunately, I’d make up for it in Arhnem with a tasty meal later in the evening. I headed north through Eindhoven stopping at the Waal.

Arnhem, Netherlands

St. Walburgiskerk (1375) from the Airborne Monument

I used some hotel points at stayed at a Holiday Inn Express not far from John Frost Bridge. After I walked the bridge I went to the Airborne Monument and you can see St. Walburgiskerk and St. Eusebius to the north.

Below is the St Eusebius Church which is actually only a musuem now and I didn’t go inside.,_Arnhem

St. Eusebius Church (1560)
Arnhem Synagogue, build int 1964

See for more information the Jewish communities in Netherlands and Arnhem.

Ghent, Belgium

After walking across the John Frost bridge, I hit the road, knowing I’d have the longest amount of travel in front of me as I had a flight to catch to London on CDG with nearly 500 KM. I drove south through Best, stopping to spend some more at another Decathalon and had the best coffee I’ve ever had at this American themed McDonalds

A real latte!

After having a great lunch with a former collegue outside of Antwerp (I think! ) I headed south and stopped in Ghent for a few hours. I really want to go back there someday! Below is

Inside St Bavos


Having gotten lost a couple of hours north of Paris, I ended up missing my flight to London, and experience some confusion after returning my rental car because there were two Ibis hotels right next to each other. The staff were extremly patient, having experienced this a lot!

The weather was pleasant and I couldn’t resist another Grimbergen.

One of my favorite beers of my trip!
Notre Dame Construction

After a tasty lunch I wandered South and went inside Eglise Saint-Séverin

The oldest cathederal I visited, first built in 560 AD

My Other Travel Blogs

More pictures are available here!