As a god in France during a weekend in Breda

By: Naline Outdoor fanatic | Read time: 7 minutes
  • Breda centrum

Breda’s story is tucked away behind historic facades, in hidden courtyards and amid monasteries and castles. It is a story filled with royal allure, flourishing industry and culinary gems. I immerse myself in it for two days, and have a drink in a former sugar factory, I sleep in a former monastery and feel like a god in France amid the vineyards.

Day 1: Breda’s gems

Breda’s city centre breathes history on every street corner. If you really want to get to know the city, you’re best starting at the Stedelijk Museum. The collections of religious art and the alternating exhibitions take me on a journey through the history of Breda from the Middle Ages to today. It is a taster of what I would see with my own eyes as soon as I left the museum and wandered through the city centre.

Breda’s Royal Roots

Breda’s Royal Roots

The allure that the royal family gave to Breda is clearly visible in the city centre. The Dutch royal family Nassau resided here in the 15th and 16th centuries. During their 150-year stay, they left their mark, such as the castle they lived in, Grote Kerk in which the first prince of Orange was buried and my personal favourite, the picturesque Begijnhof.

Tip: All locations reminiscent of the Nassaus can be seen during ‘The Historic Kilometre’ city walk, for which you can buy a booklet at the Grote Kerk.

Buitenkant Grote Kerk Breda Begijnhof Breda

The museum on the street

During my city walk, there was no escaping the colourful paintings on facades and walls. It’s the Blind Walls Gallery: the museum on the street that transforms grey spaces in Breda into lovely works of art. Each of the murals tells a piece of the story of the city’s history. Using the Blind Walls Gallery app, I follow a route past well-hidden spots, such as the ‘Lonka Girl’, painted on what appears to be a random house. The app tells me that a sugar-sweet story hides here.

  • Twee mannen kijken naar een van de kunstwerken van de Blind Walls Gallery in Breda

Sugar-sweet Breda

Traditionally, West Brabant is an important producer of sugar beet, with Breda as the centre of the sugar industry. It therefore appealed to big names such as Hero, Kwatta and Lonka. Lonka opened its first factory in 1920 on the spot where the Lonka girl is now painted. Another well-known factory is De Faam, near the station. In this old factory, I now walk into Brouwerij Frontaal. In the industrial brewery café, they serve brands such as Man on the Moon, Bulldog and On a Whim. Proost!


"Brouwerij Frontaal is also on the Explore Creative Breda walking route. In addition to De Faam, this also takes you to other special local entrepreneurs, such as BAAI and the creative incubator STEK on the Haveneiland." 

Ode to the Brabant spud

In Breda, you have plenty of choice when it comes to delicious and original restaurant experiences. I opt for Jongens van Zand en Klei where, under the slogan ‘Let’s make our potato great again!’, they serve the most amazing dishes. As such, I enjoy a tasting of potato snacks with the crunchy potato basket with exotic filling for my main dish. After this dinner, there’s no way you will never say Brabant spuds are boring again!

Sleeping in a monastery

Sleeping in a monastery

It’s time for me to go to my bed in Hotel Nassau. If we’re talking about Breda’s icons, this is one place you must see. Once the courtyard houses of nobles, later a monastery, it is now a unique luxury hotel. The hotel rooms are on a labyrinth of corridors filled with unexpected nooks and there are sensational works of art in the hotel rooms. Anyone staying for breakfast does so in the former church where you look out over the little chapel while the sunlight shines through the stained-glass windows.

Hotelkamer van Hotel Nassau Breda

Day 2: The secrets of Oosterhout

It is not only the lively city centre that makes Breda a popular destination, but the vast countryside is also literally around the corner. I previously explored natural green gems such as Mastbos and Markdal, but on this visit to Breda I am combining a day in the city with a trip to the nearby city of Oosterhout. And with good reason! One of Breda’s best kept secrets is hidden at less than 13 kilometres from Breda’s city centre.

As a god in France with the nuns

Here, I find myself amid the Heilige Driehoek (Holy Triangle), three adjoining monastery complexes in Oosterhout. The eye-catcher is Sint-Catharinadal, a 750-year-old convent that is still inhabited. This estate also has as vineyard that wouldn’t be out of place in France. The nuns and volunteers guide visitors around the estate on Wednesdays. So, I wander through the lush vegetable and fruit garden where the nuns have their hands in the soil. There are endless rows of vines inside and outside the monastery walls, all cared for with love and attention until it is time for harvest.

A culinary dream

And that harvest is what has gained Sint-Catharinadal national fame. The 7.5-hectare vineyard supplies grapes for an average of 40,000 bottles of wine. Looking out over the vineyard with the monastery in the background and sipping on glass of Chardonnay matured in oak, I feel like I am in the French wine regions. That feeling is reinforced when I grab a table for lunch at the adjacent winehouse Blauwe Camer.

In the former cowshed of this monastery complex, they now serve real quality dishes with ingredients from the kitchen garden and accompanying wines. The result is a lunch with allure. It is befitting of the estate, of this stunning area and of a visit to Breda that I will not forget any time soon.


"Entrepreneurs Maikel and Tessa tell me that they want to honour the products from the nuns’ garden with their menu and then in a way befitting the monastery and their own culinary dream."

Tip: The Barony of Breda

Catharinadal is located in the Barony of Breda, an area of vast countryside with ancient forests. If action is your thing, one of the best MTB tracks in the Netherlands (8.2 km) is in Boswachterij Dorst. You can start the course from Pannenkoekenhuis De Hannebroeck or park at ’t Haasje recreation park where you can also hire mountain bikes. You can catch your breath afterwards at the lovely Natuurpoort BOS & Co.

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