The region of West-Zeeland-Flanders is home to Groede, the crucible of the Groese paptaart, a tart with a mushy (‘pap’) middle, akin to custard. The good people of this rather artistic place are nicknamed as ‘custard faces’ (‘papvreters’). In the old days, when local farmers went every autumn to pay their tithe to the landowners, they were offered the tart.
The name Groede first appeared early in the 1100s. A real village centre took shape a couple of centuries later. It has been marked through the tides of time – as so much of the region – by floods. From 1583 to 1612 it lay submerged, with only the church tower standing above water.
The Grote Kerk is the centre. Its oldest part, the tower, dates from the 14th century, the northern nave from the 15th, the southern from the turn of the 16th. Its historic pulpit was gifted by descendants of Jacob Cats. The writer and statesman spent several years in residence on what is now the Catsweg, as dike supervisor, an exalted role in water management. Today his statue, next to the church, keeps an eye on the nearby café terraces.
The church too has seen its role evolve. It has been remodelled to function both for church services and for non-religious cultural events.
The streets of Groede are lined with picturesque gables, the houses being in the Flemish style. On Slijkstraat, the Vlaemsche Erfgoed legacy museum. History comes alive here: small bijou shops, artisanal workshops and an inn for an overnight stay with a historic vibe.
That history has stayed intact in and around Groede is thanks to its status as a ‘Red Cross’ village, marked by the red cross clearly visible on the church roof. The village was mainly spared during the Second World War, and has lived, along with nearby polders, to tell its tale. You can follow in Cats’ (dry) footsteps along the village and coast route ‘Droge voeten door Jacob Cats’.
Groede is close to the sea and the Cletemspolder, an enchanting area of dunes with walking trails, a raft, plank paths and stepping stones to cross the water. The allure of the Groe beach is for each season; you’ll find pavilions on, and in, the dunes.
To explore Groede and its surroundings under your own steam is a delightful option. You can enjoy it even more by having a guide join you. The guides of the Gidsenteam Zeeuwsch-Vlaanderen always add an extra dash of fun and adventure.
The Groede Festival is one of several annual events. A whole weekend long, the entire village hosts shows of music, dance and theatre, including the enduring favourites of parlour concerts and an art market. See more about events in Groede on our Events Calendar.