A - Canoeing & kayaking: practical information
Hire a kayak or canoe:
Hire for one day. From Bohan to Tournanvaux : 6 routes from 1,5 to 19,5 kms in one or two people canoes - Boarding for groups (at extra cost)
Area at the bridge of Tournavaux (right bank, downstream from the bridge)
Attention, landing is compulsory: dam at 300 m
B - The ‘Roche aux Corpias’ Voir sur la carte
The panoramic view from the ‘Roche aux Corpias’ or raven’s rock reveals the lovely Semoy river winding its way charmingly back and forth. But gentle as it may look, the river can be merciless. The people of Tournavaux still remember when, at the end of the 19th century, these usually beautiful waters rose higher than the first floor of the houses…
C - The Blackcurrant River Voir sur la carte
Rimbaud came to see his friend Léon Poncelet in Nohan, where his parents kept a small brasserie. Usually hemmed in by steep hills, between Tournavaux and Haulmé the Semoy opens out onto a vast alluvial plain: in winter, the site radiates a unique atmosphere. The mist envelops the landscape; the hills and the river become a single element, a single colour. The poet ‘with soles of wind’ mingles his footsteps with yours.
'La Rivière de Cassis roule ignorée
En des vaux étranges : La voix de cent corbeaux l'accompagne, vraie
Et bonne voix d'anges : Avec les grands mouvements des sapinaies
Quand plusieurs vents plongent.
Tout roule avec des mystères révoltants
De campagnes d'anciens temps. De donjons visités, de parcs importants.
C'est en ces bords qu'on entend.
Les passions mortes des chevaliers errants.
Mais que salubre est le vent!
Que le piéton regarde à ces claires-voies.
Il ira plus courageux.
Soldats des forests que le Seigneur envoie,
Chers corbeaux délicieux!
Faites fuir d'ici le paysan matois.
Qui trinqué d'un moignon vieux.
Poem ‘La Rivière de Cassis’ (May 1872).
Unsuspected Blackcurrant river rolls
Through strange valleys.
To the sound of a hundred crows, true
Good voice of angels,
And sweeping forest pines lean
When several winds swoop.
Everything rolls with the sickening mysteries
Of olden-day lands;
Dungeons inspected, substantial parks;
On these banks you hear
The dead passions of knights-errant––
But how the wind restores!
Let the walker look through this lattice-work;
He’ll proceed with more courage.
You soldiers of the forest, sent by Heaven,
Dear delicious crows,
See off the cunning peasant, raising
A glass in his old stump!
(Translation by Martin Sorrell)
The Tournavaux plain
The poetry of this untamed river can be appreciated along the walk near Tournavaux: it goes to Haulmé before running alongside the wide, winding water. Superb!
Distance: 3.5 km
Waymarking: white/red and yellow
Time: 1.30 h
Start: from the town hall, cross the bridge and go along the river.
To go further afield…
Topo guide, Les Ardennes à pied (The Ardennes on foot), published by the French Hiking Federation. Walk No 6.