Breathtaking Belgian Ardennes
Often forgotten and overlooked, the Belgian Ardennes is an undiscovered gem.
A vast and exciting landscape, The Belgian Ardennes extends through the south of Belgium and into Luxembourg and France. Amongst the dense forests and rolling hills, there are numerous charming towns and villages to explore. Once the scene of fierce battles in both World Wars, it is a real paradise for nature lovers and undeniably the most enchanting part of Belgium. This southern Belgian region offers an alternative to the busy and industrial north, with life moving at a slower pace. This is not only a destination for those interested in history – its unspoiled beauty offers something for everyone.
This tour encapsulates the essence of the Belgian Ardennes. Discover a cultural experience contrasting with those available in the larger cities of Belgium. Discover beautiful landscapes as you enjoy a scenic train ride and relaxing river cruise. You will also get the chance to sample the flavours of Belgium with a beer and chocolate tasting. And what’s more, visit the spectacular Jardins d’Annevoie, one of Belgium’s most famous gardens. A mere 3h30m drive from Calais, the towns and villages of this neglected and undiscovered area of Belgium offer plenty to visitors who are looking for something different, without having to travel too far from home. Furthermore, should you want to travel on the North Sea ferries, it is only a 2h30m drive from Zeebrugge and is a lovely scenic route.
Dates throughout 2023
Having crossed the Channel at Calais, make your way through France and Belgium. Enjoy your first sight of the rugged and natural Ardennes landscape as you travel to your hotel in La Roche-en-Ardenne or Dinant. If time allows, begin exploring the area.
Scenic Train – Yvoir to Ciney
This morning we head to the quaint little town of Yvoir to take a scenic train journey throughout the heart of the rugged Ardennes landscape to Ciney. Pass through at a leisurely pace, while you take in this unique landscape that’s scarred by the fierce battles of the 20th century. Its meandering rivers, rolling hills, deep caverns and thick forests all make up this magnificent though often forgotten area of Belgium.
You will alight the train in Ciney, a slightly larger town than Yvoir, with a long history stretching back to the Roman period. Ciney has also been brewing its signature beers since 1450 – take the afternoon to stroll around this lovely town at leisure and perhaps try one of the local beers with steak-frites.
Dinant and the Jardins d’Annevoie
We spend the morning in Dinant, a pretty town that has become famous for both the imposing citadel perched high above the River Ourthe, and also for being the birthplace of Adolphe Sax, the inventor of the saxophone. The quirky (and free) ‘La Maison de Monsieur Sax’ is worth a quick visit, as is the cathedral with its onion-shaped dome. We then enjoy a 45-minute river cruise along the River Meuse, watching the stunning scenery including the Bayard rock, the Love island, the Bridge St John and the River Lesse.
In the afternoon we visit the Jardins d’Annevoie. These truly magnificent 17th Century water gardens are full of ornamental lakes, fountains, water jets and cascades, all fed by gravity and without the use of any artificial power. Each May, the gardens hosts a Venetian Carnival Festival, a truly remarkable spectacle featuring people parading in full Venetian Carnival costumes. The gardens are regarded as some of the best, not only in Belgium, but also in the whole of Europe.
Please note the Jardins d’Annevoie are closed from 9th November 2020 – 27th March 2021
Chocolate and Beer!
In the morning we head to Chocolatier Defroidmont, on the outskirts of Érezée. This is a unique place in an idyllic location. The museum tells the story of Philippe Defroidmont and his family, delving deep into the process of chocolate making “from cocoa bean to praline”. You may even get the opportunity to taste some of their produce at the end of the tour!
After a morning at the museum, we head for La Roche-en-Ardennes, for some time to potter around this famous town, and perhaps find a bite to eat or to explore its recent history. La Roche-en-Ardennes is also home to the Battle Museum, which is well worth a visit if time allows. The museum describes the fundamental role played by British troops in the liberation of the villages on the left bank of the River Ourthe between the 3rd and 16th January 1945.
To round off our last full day surrounded by these lush landscapes, we head to the famed Brasserie d’Achouffe. Here we tour the brewery that is home to ‘La Chouffe’ beers and is renowned for its different varieties, as well as the ‘Chouffe’ gnomes found on the bottles. The tour around the brewery is followed by a tasting of 4 beers!
If time allows, take in some final sights and buy your souvenirs before departing from Ardennes.
If you are interested in extending your visit, there are a number of additional attractions in the Ardennes worth visiting. Exciting attractions include the Ardennes battlefields, Belgian breweries and the Caves of Han where you can explore the underground caves with its amazing creations carved by the River Lisse.
For those who enjoy castles, the Freÿr Chateau is located on the banks of the River Meuse and the grounds evoke a feeling of Versailles with gardens in the style of Le Nôtre. The superb Chateau de Lavaux combines Middle age and Renaissance architecture. The only Ardennes castle set in open countryside, it hosts three museums.
Castel de Pont-á-Lesse, Dinant ***
Located in the heart of the Ardennes, this renovated manor house is only three miles from the town centre of Dinant. The hotel rooms have satellite TV and black-out curtains for a comfortable sleep. Free bottled water and Wi-Fi are available in each room. The hotel has a bar, a restaurant and a terrace. The heated indoor swimming pool is a nice place to relax and swim a few laps. Free coach parking on-site.
Floréal Hotel, La Roche-en-Ardenne ***
Located in a characteristic building amidst its own beautiful grounds, this holiday resort has its own heated outdoor pool, mini-golf course, tennis court and bowling lane. The Floréal La Roche-en-Ardenne offers a wonderful base on the banks of the River Ourthe and is just 900 yards away from the historical town centre. Coach parking on-site.
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|Dates||Half Twin||Single Supplement|
|Dates throughout 2023||From £325.00 per person||From £79.00 per person|
Prices are also available on request for travel by air or by train.