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Noord Brabant

Wedged between Zeeland and Limburg, this Dutch province shares a long border with Belgium, and is culturally linked to its southern neighbour. Don't be surprised to encounter Catholic shrines at crossroads and some of the Netherlands' more interesting villages. Cafe culture is lively, superb Brabantine beers include the Netherlands' only Trappist brews, and city calendars are studded with festivals. Richly historic towns like Breda and Den Bosch bear remnants of ancient canals and ramparts, while postindustrial younger siblings Eindhoven and Tilburg revel in contemporary culture. Home to Vincent van Gogh (who hailed from Zundert, south of Breda), Noord Brabant gives its artists pride of place in great museums. And the rural landscapes, river valleys and woods that inspired them are all easily accessed via a superb cycling network.

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