Laforêt (The Legends Walk from one of the most beautiful villages of Wallonia )
Upon entering Belgium, the Semoy becomes the Semois: a border river which, at one time, was a place of smuggling and tobacco growing. These days, the joy of living, Belgian style, can clearly be seen here.
A - Vresse-sur-Semois Voir sur la carte
Vresse-sur-Semois, nestling on the banks of the Semois in a forest setting, has inspired many a landscape painter. This village, lying on the edge of the province of Namur, is on a human scale, as is the little Saint-Lambert stone bridge that takes you across into another world, that of the imaginary Ardennes.
Did you know? Voir sur la carte
The apron on Saint-Lambert’s bridge is so narrow that only pedestrians, cyclists and horse riders are able to cross! This architectural particularity is said to result from a decision taken by Saint Lambert himself, the patron of Vresse. He wanted to prevent Saint Agatha, patron of Laforêt, from coming and spreading the Christian faith in his lands – and she travelled only by horse-drawn carriage!
B - La Glycine Voir sur la carte
In the early 20th century, Vresse-sur-Semois became the village of painters, the rendezvous of all the artists in the region. José Chaidron, owner of La Glycine hotel, founded the ‘Vresse School’ in around 1920. This was to become a reference in the world of landscape artists. Countless temporary exhibitions have been held there over the past seventy years and more. Writers and famous people often come to La Glycine for its special atmosphere. The Belgian painter Léon Frédéric (1856-1940), from the nearby hamlet of Nafraiture, produced a number of works based on the surrounding forest. These days, the hotel is the headquarters of the Namur Ardennes tourist office.
Did you know?
The painter Albert Raty (1889-1970) came and settled in Vresse early on. He carried the mystery and poetry of the Ardennes beyond the borders, bringing others to love the region’s valleys, forests and rivers. He always based his work on the things he saw and felt. His canvases are extraordinary documents of the Ardennes now gone forever. He is and always will be the 'Master of Vresse'.
C - Reception and tourist information site Voir sur la carte
Maison du Tourisme de « l'Ardenne Namuroise » - www.ardenne-namuroise.be
D - The tobacco village Voir sur la carte
Laforêt has retained the typical character of the villages found in the southern Ardennes. Laforest prospered when tobacco was grown on the alluvial banks of the Semois. Bearing witness to this past, a few tobacco driers still stand in the centre of this village brimming with character.
E - Walking Voir sur la carte
The ‘Trellis Bridge’ (Pont des Claies) through the ages
Below the village, a wooden footbridge made of trellises is thrown across the Semois in summer. This is the legacy of the tobacco growers, who once used it to reach the fertile soil along the river bank without having to go all the way round… The walk will take you there.
Distance: 3 km
Waymarking: red rectangle
Difficulty: easy (N.B. the trellis bridge only crosses the Semois in summer)
Time: 1 h
Start: the walk starts at the church in Laforêt
F - The Legends Walk Voir sur la carte
Laforêt has retained the typical character of southern Ardennes villages.
From the village fountain, as you go along you will discover, at the corner of a narrow path or a bend, the wild hunter, the white lady, the satyr, the devil, the gnomes or the werewolf...
Distance: 2 km
Waymarking: blue cross
Time: 1 h
Start: the Pinocchio workshop in Laforêt.
Tip Voir sur la carte
At the end of the walk, in Mawhotte, a picnic site has been set out.
Did you know? Voir sur la carte
Laforêt prospered when tobacco was grown on the alluvial banks of the Semois. Bearing witness to this past, a number of driers stand in the centre of this beautiful village, brimming with character.
G - One of the most beautiful villages of Wallonia Voir sur la carte
Far moved from the main roads, this quiet, peaceful village is the perfect place to walk. It is perched on the side of a hill going down towards the Semois. Its forest, full of beech trees, is one of its riches.
Below the village, a number of shale quarries, widely exploited in the past, hollowed out cavities that can still be seen today. A few driers also bear witness to the tobacco once grown here.
A seignory of the Duchy of Bouillon had its court of justice here and built a magnificent fortified farm in the 17th century. A wash house dating from 1865 stands in the centre of the village surrounded by a huddle of shale houses, many of which have been restored to look identical from the outside.
Tel : 0032(0) 83 65 72 40