Rudi Catrysse - Fietsen Catrysse
Rudi Catrysse runs one of the oldest go-cart hire businesses on the Belgian Coast. Hiring out carts is far more than a job to Rudi, it’s his passion. ‘For my fiftieth birthday, I don’t want a party, I’d much rather buy a new go-cart.’
The love for go-carts runs through my veins. My great-grandfather was a cart manufacturer in Middelkerke and both my grandfather and parents hired out go-carts. My grandfather opened this business in 1936.
So, I was born amid the carts and have never known anything else.
As a child, I was allowed to help drive go-carts in and out and gloried in it. I dreamt of taking over the firm one day.
I stepped into the business on my 18th birthday and, needless to say, wanted to change everything straightaway. The go-carts my father bought were blue, the bicycles grey. Not the most appealing combination for children, so I introduced cheerful colours and new trends. Step by step, and thanks to my parents’ financial support, I was able to expand; we have more than 400 seats now. During the summer it takes us over an hour to put all those carts out. A stunning sight, one that has been immortalised by hundreds of tourists
Our loyal customer base has evolved over time and now the third and fourth generations are hiring go-carts here.
Some bring old snapshots and want the exact same go-cart for another photograph, this time round with their children. The retro Volkswagen van that seats two children is our most popular go-cart. We also have a couple of cool electric cars we are converting into rental carts.
A Fiat 500 is our latest showpiece. Our shop oozes nostalgia and transports you back to 1900. That is no coincidence. I am senior alderman of De Haan and actively involved in the municipality’s artistic heritage. And the go-carts are true coastal heritage. In my grandparents’ days, the go-cart hirers were all members of one huge family: cousins, nieces and nephews, children and grandchildren, all living along the Belgian Coast. A bit like the funfair scene, which, more often than not, tends to be in hands of extended families too.
Meanwhile, we’re the only ones of our family that have stuck with it. We work hard; the go-carts take up a lot of time and require buckets of energy. If your heart and soul isn’t in it, you don’t have a hope.
Every cart I buy is like welcoming another baby into the family.
Over lunch, no minute goes by without someone bringing up the carts. I’ll be turning fifty soon but I have no need for a party. I’d much rather buy a new go-cart; that gives me just as much pleasure.
When it comes to my business, I’d do anything. My job is my hobby. I have always had a fascination for interior design and architecture and go-cart hire combines the two, from decorating our shop window to choosing the colours of the carts. My four children, two daughters and two sons, work here during the summer. There is no successor yet. My main hope is that I’ll be able to celebrate Fietsen Catrysse’s centenary in 17 years’ time.
Fietshuis Catrysse - Leopoldlaan 16, 8420 De Haan, +32 (0)59/ 23 43 77
Due to the corona crisis, opening hours and timetables may vary. If in doubt, it is best to contact the entrepreneur himself.
Are you going out in your own country more often this summer? Subscribe to our newsletter and receive monthly tips for recreational excursions in West Flanders!