North of Duisburg the Rhineland’s heavy industry gives way to a peaceful, agricultural region dotted with small towns, the place names and flat terrain reflecting the proximity of the Dutch border. Under the Holy Roman Empire the Duchy of Cleve counted for something – famously supplying the English king Henry VIII with one of his wives – but these days the region is mainly of interest as an excursion from the Ruhr, with hourly trains from Duisburg making historic Xanten a magnet for day-trippers. Beyond it, placid Kalkar preserves a more low-key charm.

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