8 Day Belgium Ardennes Tour
This is a 7 Night, 8 Day tour where we spend 2 days on the Ourthe, then 3 days canoeing down the Semois river and a final day on the Lesse which are all rivers in the south of Belgium in a region called the Ardennes.
The Ardennes are remote, hilly and wooded and offer beautifully quiet streams in dramatic surroundings.
Choose your own dates and we'll do our best to arrange it.
Fully Guided whilst on the river & trail
Full minibus support throughout
Transfer to & from Arrival/Departure point
All accommodation in B&Bs & small Hotels
All breakfasts, lunches and evening meals
Canoe the Lesse, Semois and Ourthe rivers
See some beautiful Chateaux and villages along the way
Visit some small museums about WW2 and Medieval times
Taste some Trappist Beer and visit the Monasteries
All canoes, paddles & life-vests
The price is €2415 per person.
Groups of more than 14 can be accommodated on special request. A private tour for 1 or 2 persons can be arranged with a surchage.
The tour meets & departs from Brussels Midi Railway station at about midday or at close airports by arrangement.
The Ourthe, the Semois and the Lesse are all tributaries of the Meuse which flow through the Ardennes, the rural and largely wooded hill country in the south of Belgium in French speaking Wallonia.
On the Ourthe we will paddle a 21km (13m) stretch from Nisramont to Roche-en-Ardennes through the beautiful Gorge Herou, and then on the next day a further 20km down to Hotton.
We will then paddle the Semois which winds its way through a deep wooded vally in the far south of the country. We shall canoe a continuous stretch from Chiny down to Bouillon over three days. A distance of about 80km (50 miles).
Finally we will canoe a 24km (15m) stretch of the Lesse river from Houyet to Anseremme, following the river as it meanders through a deep and wooded valley to the Meuse. The valley famously follows the route of a small local railway in a valley which has no road. We will pass the the tiny National Park of Furfooz, with its Roman ruins and also the splendid Chateau Walzin.
Day 1. Arrival and first meeting.
You will be met at our arranged meeting point by our guides for your transfer to the Ourthe valley. This is usually Brussels Midi Station for those guests arriving by train from London (or elsewhere).
Alternatively arrangements can be made for arrivals at Brussels airport, or the airport at Charleroi.
We will meet you off the train that arrives at Brussels around about midday. The drive to the Ourthe valley and Roche-en-Ardennes takes about 1 hour 30 minutes. We will stop somewhere for a picnic lunch where we will discuss the trip and go through the maps. If time allows we can visit the small town of Rochefort on the way
On our arrival at Le Midi Hotel in the centre of La Roche-en-Ardenne we will unpack and relax before settling down to dinner on our first evening.
Day 2. Our first day on the Ourthe
Today we will paddle the Ourthe river from Nisramont back to La Roche.
We will canoe through the beautiful Gorge Herou and negotiate some minor rapids as the river meanders wildly.
Somewhere near the small village of Maboge we will pull over on the bank, or on an island, for a picnic lunch. After lunch the river opens out into a wider valley as it approaches La Roche.
We remain at the La Midi tonight.
Day 3. Continuing on the Ourthe river.
After breakfast we will find our canoes on the riverbank at La Roche and continue downstream to Hotton. The river is calmer now and doesn't meander quite as much.
We will rendezvous for our picnic lunch near Rendeux before continuing our way downstream.
A short drive will take us to the L'Embarcadere Auberge at Chiny. If time allows we can visit the Trappist Monastery at Orval.
Day 4. First Day on the Semois
Today we start our canoe trek down the Semois which we will follow for three days. Today we start from outside our hotel and paddle down to Chassepierre.
This river sits in a deep wooded valley and winds it's way leisurely through some beautiful countryside.
We will stop for lunch below Florenville; those with enough energy can walk up the hill to the town.
After lunch the rivers takes some big turns before arriving at Chassepierre where we will be staying at Le Vieille Ferme.
Day 5. More meanders on the Semois
Today we continue to wend our way down the green Semois valley. After leaving Chassepierre the forest encloses us as we pass Sainte-Cecile and an old Monastery at Conques. We pass a huge ox-bow lake here where one of the bends in the river has been long abandoned.
Shortly afterwards we pass under the disused railway viaduct (now a footpath) as we come to Herbeumont. High above the village you can see the ruins of a medieval castle destroyed by Louis XIV of France. We can stop here for our picnic lunch and climb up to visit if we wish.
After more sweeping bends in the river we re-approach Herbeumont from the other side and then progress on to Mortehan. where we will stop.
After packing our canoes away we shall drive the short distance to Boulloin where we are staying at the La Poste Hotel.
Day 6. A final day on the Semois river
Today we will continue our paddle down the Semois from Mortehan down to Boulloin. Once again the river meanders through the deep valley.
Somewhere along the way will choose a place for our lunch before the river slows down on its approach to the town. The river is dammed at both ends of town so at the upstream end we have to portage a few yards, before paddling through.
We will again be staying in La Poste.
Day 7. A ride down the Lesse river
After breakfast we will drive to Houyet (about an hour) to begin our descent of the Lesse river down to Anseremme, following the river as it meanders through a deep and wooded valley to the Meuse.
The valley famously follows the route of a small local railway in a valley which has no road. We will pass the the tiny National Park of Furfooz, with its Roman ruins and also the splendid Chateau Walzin.
At the end of the day a very short drive will take us to our hotel: the Castel de Pont-à-Lesse, which we have canoed past earlier!
Day 8. Farewells and the time to leave
After a leisurely breakfast we will return to Brussels in time to catch the midday train home, or the appropriate flights as has been arranged..
Le Midi, La Roche-en-Ardenne
For the first two nights we are at the Le Midi Hotel in the centre of the small town of La Roche-en-Ardenne on the banks of the Ourthe river.
The town has a ruined medieval castle. During the Battle of the Bulge at the end of World War 2 the town was liberated in 1944, then re-taken and finally liberated again in 1945. A small museum in the town can be visited.
Chausepierre La Vieille Ferme
On the third and fourth nights we are at the La Vieille Ferme, in the pictureqse village of Chassepierre on the banks of the Semois.
We will be able to leave our canoes besides the river and walk to the hotel which is only a few yards away.
Bouillon, La Poste
For the fifth night we will stay at the La Poste Hotel in the centre of Bouillon. This town straddles the river and is overlooked by an imposing castle.
The town is famous for Godfrey of Bouillon the leader of the First Crusade and the first ruler of the Kingdom of Jerusalem.
Auberge de la Lesse
We shall stay at the Auberge de la Lesse for the last two nights. It is situated on the banks of the Lesse, and has some lovely hiking nearby.
What we see
We will not be able to visit everything listed on these pages. Many of them are close to where we stay or canoe and some of the others we will be able to visit in-between our paddles and hikes.
Trappist Breweries: We will make every effort to visit Orval for those that are interested and we can endeavour to find the beers themselves wherever we are staying.
LE PLUS BEAUX VILLAGE DE WALLONIE: This area of Belgium has numerous small and pretty villages. These are some of the ones that we pass by on our travels.
Celles: close to the Lesse river.
Gros-Fays, near the Semois
Laforêt, near Vresse on the Semois
Ny, near Hotton on the Ourthe
Wéris, near Hotton on the Ourthe
Museums & Sites Florennes - Musée Spitfire
Rochefort - Museum of the Countal Castle
Rochefort - Malagne the Gallo-Roman
La Roche-en-Ardenne - Museum of the Battle of the Ardennes
Bouillon - Musée ducal
Villers-Devant-Orval - Musée Historique et Monastique de l'Abbaye d'Orval
Villers-Devant-Orval - Pharmaceutical museum Caves (grottos) of Han-sur-Lesse
An old panoramic train will bring you to the entrance of the caves, a guide will lead you through 3km of increasingly beautiful chambers and passages and a romantic exit on barges on the subterranean river.
Castles and Gardens
The Feudal Castle of La Roche Perched on the Deister rocky spur, this site has over time housed a Neolithic residence, a Roman, the house of the Kings of the Franks. Overhanging the city and the Ourthe, nestled in the middle of nature, it truly makes La Roche "The pearl of the Ardennes". Despite all the changes endured by the castle the actual ruins with their towers, arrow slits and oubliettes, have retained the feel of feudal times.
The Castle of Bouillon This castle-fortress is the oldest and most interesting remains of feudalism in Belgium with the first fortifications from the 8th century. It was built on three rocky outcrops and is characterised by a labyrinth of corridors and huge vaulted halls. The castle became first famous due to Godefroid, the leader of the first Crusade (1096).
The Castle of Veves If Cinderella ever hosted a ball, it must have been there. This picturesque, turreted feudal castle dates back to 1410. Perched dramatically on a rocky outcrop overlooking the picturesque village of Celles, it is still lived in by the same family and is fully furnished. It illustrates what life was like from the Middle Ages up to the 18th century.
The Castle of Lavaux-Ste-Anne This castle portrays seigniorial life in the 17th and 18th centuries. You’ll never see another castle like this medieval oddity, a moat-encircled collection of domes with an impressive collection of stuffed animals inside. There are also three museums: a museum of daily life in the 17th and 18th centuries, a museum of rural life in Famenne in the 19th and 20th centuries and a natural history museum.
The Castle and Gardens of Freyr Named after the Scandinavian goddess of beauty, Freyr (1554) is located along the River Meuse. Most of the orange trees originate from the Court of Lorraine and are nearing 350 years old, which are brought inside during the winter. The gardens are in the style of Le Nôtre and are surrounded by mazes made of hornbeam hedges. The castle and gardens are listed as a Major Walloon Heritage Site.
The Chevetogne Provincial Estate The Chevetogne Provincial Estate is the perfect destination for day trips, weekends and stays devoted to relaxation and leisure activities. The vast estate has everything a family could want, all in one place: leisure areas, paths for strolling through woods and gardens, sports fields and fabulous playgrounds, all in keeping with the vast scale of the site.
The Citadel of Dinant On a cliff above the River Meuse, the citadel offers views of the town and countryside. This fortress was built in 1051 to defend the city against invaders. It is reached either by cable car or by the 408 steps cut into the hillside.
The Abbey of Maredsous Built in 1872 by Benedictine monks in a neo-Gothic style, this monastery offers pilgrims and tourists a beautiful architectural ensemble. Take a guided tour of the church and grounds including the gardens, library, cemetery, school and workshops.
Walking in the Ardennes by Jeff Williams
This guidebook describes 32 varied day walks and one longer route in the Ardennes, an area which lies mostly in Belgium but extends into both Luxembourg and France, with easy access from the English Channel ports. It's an area of beech and oak-forested hills divided by deep, winding valleys with wide, shallow rivers. Medieval castles and fortified farmhouses abound, perched above the villages. The walking possibilities are endless, all without the large height gains that are a feature of routes in the European Alps. Relics and museums of the WW2 'Battle of the Bulge' abound, a bonus for military history enthusiasts. Given the huge variety of other entertainments including kayaking, cross-country biking, even just playing at the water's edge, it's a great family destination. And there's the beer? This guide is illustrated with clear custom-made maps and contains lots of information about the vivid history of the area, as well as all the practical accommodation needed to plan a trip, including accommodation, food and drink and advice on when to go.
Good Beer Guide Belgium by Joe Stange and Tim Webb
Recommended reading in the Rough Guide to Belgium, this guide to breweries, beers, and bars is acknowledged as the standard work for Belgian beer lovers, even in Belgium itselfBuilding on 20 years of research, this is not just a beer guide, but a side door into the culture of a nation. Information for tourists traveling to one of the great beer nations includes comprehensive advice on getting there, being there, what to eat, where to stay, and how to bring beers back home. Tourists are guided to more than 600 quirky beer cafés of every style and genre, and also given background history and an insight into all of Belgium's eccentricities. Full-color throughout with both province-by-province and city maps, this guide is suitable for both leisure and business travelers, as well as for armchair drinkers looking to enjoy a selection of Belgian brews from their local beer store.
The newly updated, full-color Rough Guide to Belgium and Luxembourg is the definitive guide to this underrated corner of Europe. Detailed accounts and crystal-clear maps reveal every nook and cranny of both countries, from the best Belgian beer bars to comic shops, chocolate, and carnivals.The Rough Guide to Belgium and Luxembourg is packed with historical context and well-informed insights into the superb sights, museums and galleries of the big cities Ghent, Bruges, Antwerp, Brussels, and Luxembourg City but it also departs from the urban centers for the forests and moorland of the Ardennes, the windswept beaches of the north coast, the WWI sites of Flanders, and Luxembourg's remote hamlets.You'll find gorgeous photography and color maps throughout, plus author picks, themed itineraries, and, of course, the lowdown on the best hotels, cafés, restaurants, and shops across every price range, giving you clear, balanced reviews and honest, first-hand opinions.
Belgium: Long United, Long Divided by Samulel Humes
This concise history describes the traditions and transitions that over two thousand years have developed in Belgium in a sense of shared identity, common government, and a centralized nation-state - and then over a few recent decades paved the way for Flemish-Walloon schism that now threatens to break up Belgium. It responds to the question: Why does a government, unified for more than 600 years, no longer seem capable of holding together a linguistically divided country.
In tracing the evolution of Belgian governance, Humes describes why and how the dominance of French-speaking propertied elite eroded after having monopolized the land's governance for centuries. The extension of suffrage, combined with the rise of literacy and schooling enabled labor and Flemish movements to gather sufficient momentum to fracture the Belgian polity, splitting its parties and frustrating its politics. The presence of the European Union (EU) and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) has, in a tangential way, enable the Belgian separatists to discount the merit of a national government that is no longer needed to defend the country militarily and economically.
Ardennes 1944: Hitler's Last Gamble by Anthony Beevor
From the bestselling author of Stalingrad, Berlin and D-Day, Antony Beevor's Ardennes 1944: Hitler's Last Gamble tells the story of the German's ill-fated final stand. On 16 December, 1944, Hitler launched his 'last gamble' in the snow-covered forests and gorges of the Ardennes. He believed he could split the Allies by driving all the way to Antwerp, then force the Canadians and the British out of the war. Although his generals were doubtful of success, younger officers and NCOs were desperate to believe that their homes and families could be saved from the vengeful Red Army approaching from the east. Many were exultant at the prospect of striking back. The Ardennes offensive, with more than a million men involved, became the greatest battle of the war in western Europe. American troops, taken by surprise, found themselves fighting two panzer armies. Belgian civilians fled, justifiably afraid of German revenge. Panic spread even to Paris. While many American soldiers fled or surrendered, others held on heroically, creating breakwaters which slowed the German advance. The harsh winter conditions and the savagery of the battle became comparable to the eastern front.And after massacres by the Waffen-SS, even American generals approved when their men shot down surrendering Germans. The Ardennes was the battle which finally broke the back of the Wehrmacht.