Laura et Seb, les Globe blogueurs
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Slow travel with the family
A family trip to the Ardennes
The Ardennes region is a land of legends, forests and mysteries, a land waiting to be explored, slowly, to allow it to reveal all its intricacies. That's what we did, on foot, by bike and by boat, on a 10-day family holiday. Between Belgium, Luxembourg and France, the Ardennes unfurled magically before us on this fabulous three-fold journey.
8 mins OF ESCAPE
Hiking in the heart of Belgium's Ardennes forest
Our exploration of the Ardennes begins in Belgium. Step by step along the countless hiking paths, we share our enjoyment of the forest. Rays of light filter through the tall straight trees to fall on some wonderful features. In the Ninglinspo valley, a natural slide and a waterfall offer a dreamlike setting for our family outing. This is the ideal place for a peaceful walk, a game of hide and seek or an observation of the local plant life. The beauty of this forest bursts into view and can be fully appreciated from the panoramic viewpoints. The treetops, exalted in their summer hues of green or the ochres of autumn, seem to be the work of impressionist painters.
At Nisramont lake, the dazzling ferns and reflections on the water capture our attention. Another choice spot for admiring the superb Ardennes scenery. Here, you can do so from the water, aboard a canoe or its inflatable equivalent, the packraft. A soft mode of travelling that's safe and accessible to children and allows you to get close to nature.
Finally, our nature excursion would not be complete without this original experience in Gouvy: the barefoot trail. The idea is simple: you remove your shoes and walk on a path where different elements (earth, vegetation, stone, wood, etc.) take it in turns to tickle your toes and hone your senses. It's a little strange at first but we soon realise that it's a great way of reconnecting with your surroundings. It's also a sensory experience that's particularly amusing for children who enjoy the sense of freedom and the fact that this activity allows them to break all the rules. As for the parents, they enjoy a pleasant return to childhood.
Our son is filled with wonder
A journey from the middle ages to the present day, in Luxembourg
In Luxembourg, it's our imagination's turn to be stimulated. Clervaux castle stands majestically over the town, inviting us on a journey through time. Without moving, we travel to different time periods. The structure of the castle sends us first to the middle ages, where our son imagines being a knight while we admire the works of art. Then, inside the castle, we're thrown into modern history by a permanent photographical exhibition, "The family of man". Some 500 photos form a UNESCO Memory of the World collection, making us reflect on the issues of humanity and the differences between peoples, but also on what unites us.
What better way to encourage humanist values in our children as well as developing their taste for art. Each photo leads us to discuss together what we see, how we feel and what we understand by it. It's so refreshing to hear the children's views. In terms of photography, Clervaux is a key site, hosting many contemporary photographic displays that we're able to admire in the gardens. Even more opportunities to be surprised, amazed or enchanted while discovering the town's heritage.
We pursue our sympathetic and captivating tour by searching for other castles. There are many here, including Wiltz, Bourscheid and Vianden which are all invitations to invent new legends and imagine endless stories. The icing on the cake is the stunning beauty of Haute-Sûre lake that suddenly appears along the way. Shrouded in mist on the backdrop of a dense green forest mirrored in perfect symmetry on its surface, this lake makes a beautiful picture postcard of the Ardennes. A poetic way to end this exploration of the Luxembourg part of the Ardennes.
Bike ride in the nature park of the French Ardennes
We approach the end of our wonderful stay in the Ardennes, on bicycles. Our journey wouldn't be complete without an exploration of the French Ardennes. We start by following the Trans Ardenne cycle path. It's over 130 km long, but for now we only cover the section between Haybes and Revin. The River Meuse flows gently across the French Ardennes, revealing the region's heritage and countless little villages.
We particularly like the village of Fumay. Our son is very happy in the child trailer, but that doesn't stop him escaping now and again to explore for himself.
A journey that began in the dark green density of the Ardennes forest of Belgium, to end amid the pastoral greenery of the Ardennes region of France
Rivers have that relaxing power that can be so pleasant and we stopped many times, to admire a passing swan and her cygnets or to explain how a lock operates. In the afternoon, we enjoy the tranquillity of the River Meuse with another soft mode of transport, an electric boat.
Finally, we visit the Ardennes nature park in the company of a nature guide. Thanks to him, our son is filled with wonder at the sight of trees felled by beavers, the giant nest of a stork and a whole platoon of tadpoles! Our guide helps us to understand the intricacies of this habitat and the special link that exists here between man and nature. All over the nature park, there are a number of family walks of a few kilometres, just waiting to be enjoyed.
A journey that began in the dark green density of the Ardennes forest of Belgium, to end amid the pastoral greenery of the Ardennes region of France. The green theme has accompanied us throughout our exploration of this decidedly natural and authentic land that's perfect for a family adventure.