I heard about Thorn, NL from a friend who went there once a month for pannekoeken with her family.
The town of Thorn, NL rests on the Maas river between Eindhoven and Maastricht. It is a small town with an interesting history. The Abby church that still sits in its center dates from the late 10th century and though it’s been added on and changed over the years, the structure itself is still original containing crypts with two mummies in a lower chamber.
Most of the buildings in the town surrounding the Abby are brick painted white which is a very nice aesthetic. The sun shining on them make them look very beautiful and clean. Sidewalks and roads are all cobblestones making a bumpy ride for whoever was in the stroller, but my kids didn’t seem to mind.
The church tour is not expensive and provides a nice stroll out of the weather with art and artifacts from it’s beginning in the 10thC up to the 18th century. It’s really amazing how many architectural styles can get shoved together as churches evolve over the centuries. It’s both Romanesque and Gothic, but with many art forms inside from Belgium, Germany, France, and the Netherlands spanning over 800 years.
The church began and remained for of it’s first 800 years, an Abby. The rules of the Abby changed over the years, but at one point, membership was restricted only to 20 women of noble birth who could prove that they had 16 ancestors of noble birth – eight on their father’s side and eight on their mother’s. The French dissolved the order and made the church state property when they invaded in 1797, and it has remained a parish church since.
I enjoyed touring it. The entire place is very beautiful and so full of sculpture and paintings, it’s like walking through a museum. The crypt was interesting to me because I hadn’t seen mummies before, but they were amazingly tasteful – if that word could ever be used to describe mummies – they just weren’t the creepy, Hollywood version. Instead, the bodies seemed very tranquil and almost beautiful.
The walk around the town is nice. Quiet and peaceful. The picturesque white buildings show off the window boxes loaded with bright red geraniums very well. A small stream runs through the town and the large Maas river runs right on the edge of the town, so a river cruise is an option if you visit Thorn.
Where to eat? Though there are several small eateries, most go to Thorn for the Pannekoeken.
The Pannekoekenbakker is right on the corner by the church – impossible to miss. The decision process can be extremely difficult with over 300 topping combinations. Pannekeoken is more like a French crepe than an American pancake, only slightly thicker than a crepe. They make them the size of a medium pizza then top them with anything from fruit and whipped cream, to salami and leeks. Some varieties even come with shots of liqueur on the side.
My kids share the ham and cheese one for the meal and share one with strawberries and whipped cream for dessert. My favorite is the Gyro Pannekoeken – amazing.
If you’re going with children, ask to be seated in the basement. There is a large play are there so the kids will be happy long after the meal’s over if you want to relax and have an interruption-free adult conversation.
The pannekoeken taste great. It’s worth going there once for sure. But, for a larger family it can get expensive, especially if you add in many drinks and dessert pancakes. For a family of 6, a pancake meal can cost about $100. So, nice time, but be prepared.
So, if you’re willing to be extravagant, you can go to Thorn for just about anything imaginable on a pancake… Mexican pancake, Gyro pancake, strawberries with whipped cream, ham with cheese and leaks, amaretto with fruit, etc… And you won’t need to eat for a week. They are filling.
Antiques? There is a tiny antique shop right around the corner from the church that has birds (real ones) flying around and many more in cages that entertain the children while adults look. The antiques are mostly glassware and metal – an odd assortment, but fun to look at. My husband liked the antique tools there. There were also antique sporting equipment and old doorbells.