Rochefort (A town at the crossroads )
In the Middle Ages, the power of the prince-bishops of Liège extended beyond the Ardennes. From Liège to Bouillon, fortresses were erected to protect the communication and trade routes. In Rochefort, two roads crossed: a castle was built here, along with a town, surrounded by a wall. While the site was strategic, the town was unable to develop, caught between the imposing castle and the hill. Rochefort will never be a sprawling town.
A - The Cistercian Our Lady of Saint-Rémy Abbey Voir sur la carte
Our Lady of Saint-Rémy Abbey, which stands in a Famenne forest, is hidden from sight and holds treasure! Within its walls, a cathedral of cooper produces Rochefort Trappist beer, one of the best in the world.
In 1230 Gilles de Walcourt, lord of Rochefort, decided to found an abbey for the Cistercian nuns on his land. The abbey enjoyed two centuries of peace. When the cloistered nuns handed over to monks, the monastery was destroyed time after time. After the French Revolution, the abbey embarked upon a second life… In 1899, Trappist monks from Achel brought with them their brewers’ know-how. It was the beginning of a new story…
Rue de l'Abbaye,8
Tel : 0032(0) 84 22 01 40
Web : http://www.trappistes-rochefort.com
Although the abbey is not open to visitors, a walk goes alongside the Tridaine spring, whose water forms the basic ingredient for this nectar.
Did you know?
The architectural style of the Cistercian abbeys favours geometric shapes and pure lines. The painting and stained-glass windows are simple and austere.
B - Trappist beer Voir sur la carte
Although beer has been brewed in Rochefort since 1595, the monks of Saint-Remy Abbey call upon the know-how of their brothers in Chimay to produce a more refined beer. Its variants are denoted by figures: 6, 8 and 10, multiples of pleasure for the palate…
Did you know?
The Rochefort figures do not correspond to the alcohol content, even though they are close. They indicate the density of the must in degrees Baumé. The 6 has an alcohol content of almost 7.5%, the 10 one of 11.3%!
The Rochefort Trappist beer is, however, the most alcoholic of the 11 Trappist beers in the world. Its specificity lies, above all, in the quality of the abbey spring water (the Tridaine spring) and the special yeast grown within the abbey. Its production method is a jealously guarded secret. Served in a Trappist glass or a stoneware tankard, it is drunk cool or cold.
C - The ruin of the count’s castle Voir sur la carte
The walls that block the horizon in Rochefort are all that remain of the fortified castle that gave its name to the place. Excavations have revealed the foundations of a square keep, part of the primitive castle of the Montaigus. In the 17th century, Jean Ernest de Loewenstein, count of Rochefort and Prince-Abbot of Stavelot, converted it into a palace. In 1811, the castle was sold as national property: from being a fortress, it became a quarry and was taken down stone by stone. What a sad fate!
The castle had a turbulent existence, besieged many times owing to its strategic position, converted into a palace, nationalised and then used as a quarry by pragmatic locals. Today it is a centre of history and archaeology.
Tel : 0032(0) 84 21 44 09
Web : http://www.chateaurochefort.be
Did you know?
The lord of Rochefort accompanied Godfrey of Bouillon to the Holy Land – and came back alive.
D - The Malagne Gallo-Roman Archaeopark Voir sur la carte
A stone’s throw from the centre of Rochefort, the Malagne Gallo-Roman Archaeopark recreates the environment and the life of one of the biggest Roman villas in northern Gaul. Around the remains, the ancient Gallo-Roman farm has been restored, with its animals, its crops and its workshops. The Roman house, superbly restored, radiates an unrivalled sense of gentleness. Definitely not to be missed!
Rue du Coirbois,85
Tel : 0032(0) 84 22 21 03
Web : http://www.malagne.be
E - The tourist train Voir sur la carte
A good way of exploring unusual places in the town: the stone bridge, the Lorette cave, St John’s Cross, the view over the Castle of the Counts, the ‘Rond du Roi’ panoramic view, the fresco, the velodrome, the Malagne Archaeopark, the Parc des Roches recreational centre, etc.
Time: +/- 60 minutes
F - Reception and tourist information site
Syndicat d'Initiative de Rochefort- www.valdelesse.be