Saint-Walfroid - Orval
A - Saint Walfroy’s Hermitage Voir sur la carte
The Sylvia Arduina may be untamed and inhospitable, but it nevertheless remained inhabited. This vast territory needed to be evangelised – so said the Frankish Kings! The hermits were the first scouts. One of them, Walfroy, settled in Margut. He was not alone… A few kilometres away, in the middle of the forest, monks founded Orval Abbey…
The St Walfroy’s Hermitage route
This lovely walk of about one kilometre around the church passed by numerous religious edifices while looking down over the entire region…
> A leaflet presenting the route and the sites is available in the church.
The abbeys route
The hermitage site is an outstanding spot. Overlooking the region, the hill embraces the landscape of Chiers valley. A walk goes along these cuestas.
Distance: 13.5 km
Waymarking: orange rectangle
Time: 3.15 h
Start: Margut village square
To go further afield
Topo guide, Les Ardennes à pied (The Ardennes on foot), published by the French Hiking Federation. Walk No 31.
B - The Abbey Voir sur la carte
On the fringes of the Gaume, the warm limestone colour of the Cistercian Orval Abbey radiates an atmosphere of peace. The vicissitudes and shocks of history have not extinguished the flame that brings life to Orval, a haven of peace that remains distanced from the hustle and bustle of the modern world.
Tel : 0032(0) 61 31 10 60
Web : www.orval.be
The abbey Voir sur la carte
In 1070, exhausted travellers arrived in Orval: a long journey had brought them from southern Italy to this deep forest of northern Europe. The local lord, Arnould de Chiny, offered these monks part of his estate to build a monastery and a church. Curiously, the first monks left the site after 40 years, for unknown reasons. A small community of canons continued with the construction work. It was a huge task: they asked for help, and requested to join the Cîteaux order, which was expanding rapidly at the time. Dependent on the community of Bernard of Clairvaux, the monks completed the abbey in around the year 1200. For five centuries, the abbey led a discreet existence. The story could have come to a end in 1789 when the revolutionary troops destroyed the sumptuous abbey. A hundred and twenty-five years later, the ruins rose from their ashes when the Belgian government decided in 1913 to rebuild the site. The new monastic complex was inaugurated in 1948.
Tel : 0032(0) 61 31 10 60
Web : www.orval.be
Did you know?
In the 11th century, monks left Cluny Abbey and wanted to live apart from the world, in an isolated region: this was to be Cîteaux! The new order spread throughout Europe. Opposed to the luxury of the Cluniacs, the Cistercians adopted austerity and the rigour of a life devoted to prayer and manual labour. The Ardennes offered them untamed and remote land. “Trees and stones will teach you what you can never learn from masters…” (Saint Bernard).
C - Blacksmiths Voir sur la carte
In the collective imagination, monks are brewers, but they were also iron and steel workers! The Cistercian Order is at the basis of the development of iron and steel in Europe. From 1173, four furnaces were erected in Chiny. But the finest witness that still endures can be seen along the way from Florenville to Virton. The coal market illustrates the formidable prosperity of this industry, at the time ideally located on the borders of the Land of Liège and the Kingdom of France.
Meet and savour Voir sur la carte
The Ange Gardien inn
It houses a unique treasure: the ‘Little Orval’. This beer owes its origins to a royal decree requiring the monks to brew three different beers: “one for king and clergy, one for the monks and the third for beggars”. You can taste the second of these at the Ange Gardien and nowhere else on earth, as it is not marketed. Although it has a lower alcohol content, it nevertheless retains its full bitterness and coppery hue.
D - Meet and savour Voir sur la carte
The Gengoulf brasserie
In Villers-devant-Orval, you can taste an excellent beer, the ‘Gengoulf’, which is produced by four friends who appreciate the good things in life and wanted to please their wives by offering them a beer that was less bitter than the traditional local beers.
And if you are wondering where the little ‘trick’ that characterises it comes from, don’t look too far.... it’s quite simply the taste of friendship!
More information :
rue des Hawys, 24
Tel. : (+32) 061/29 22 39
Web : www.gengoulf.be