Ardennes is your paradise if you are looking for a holiday destination full of tourist attractions like castles, caves, history, mountains, tiny villages, sports activities and nature all at one place. Ardennes is a wonderful region which is rich in flora and fauna, has amazing forests of broadleaf and fir, splashing rivers and mountains. The beautiful region has so many natural and unspoiled areas with breathtaking views and romantic environment. You can also explore the traditional villages which are nested in the mesmerizing valleys and are rich in arts and crafts.
If you are a sports and outdoor activities lover, Ardennes is again a great place for cycling, trekking, climbing, mountain biking, horse riding, kayaking, canoeing and fishing. In summer the mountains are a wonderful hike and in winters then turn into ideal spots for skiing, snow scooter racing and tobogganing. Ardennes is also very famous for its amazing traditional cuisines and cheese. It is easy to find accommodation in the region for almost every budget from a wide range of choices.
There are numerous museums, cemeteries and memorials which keep reminding about the two World Wars that Ardennes has faced. The primary location of Ardennes is Belgium and Luxembourg, but the region stretches up to Germany and France.
History of Ardennes
The strategic location of Ardennes was used as a battleground for many European Powers. Ardennes was part of the Luxembourg which was a member state of the Holy Roman Empire. France occupied the region in 1793. The region was restored to its previous geographical situation which resulted in Ardennes becoming part of the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg. When Kingdom of Belgium was established in 1830, Ardennes became a disputed territory between Belgium, Luxembourg, Netherlands and even France and Great Britain were involved in the dispute. The Grand Duchy of Luxembourg abandoned 63% of the region and gave it to the Kingdom of Belgium in 1839.
Ardennes was also widely known as impenetrable area for large-scale military with vehicles because the area has a very difficult terrain. However, Germany was successful in penetrating through this area to enter and attack France from where they least expected. Germany did it in both World War I and World War II. In fact, three major battles took place in Ardennes which are Battle of the Ardennes (1914), Battle of France (1940) and the Battle of the Bulge (1944-1945). Most of the towns had suffered huge damage during the wars.
8 Wonderful Things to do in Ardennes
There are numerous and countless things to do in Ardennes. There are many villages and we have detailed blog posts for them as well. We would like to mention some notable attractions below.
Durbuy in Ardennes
Durbuy is famous for being the smallest city in Belgium or perhaps the smallest in the world. This is the oldest town in Ardennes region. Durbuy is a must visit in Ardennes where you can stroll through the cobbled streets, enjoying the architecture of old stone houses. At the north-eastern side of the city you will find a 300 million years old rock which is called Homalius Rock or Roche a la Failze. It looks like a U-turn because of the sea-sediments which formed into these layers over millions of years. The city has many other attractions like mini-golf, parks, sculptures and a private castle.
La Roche en Ardennes
La Roche en Ardennes is a beautiful small town in the region where you can enjoy walking and sunsets. The town has many nice restaurants and souvenirs shops for visitors. There is a beautiful park along the river Ourthe where you can relax and enjoy a picnic. There is also a lovely medieval castle in the town where you can reach by walking up a hill from the middle of the town. The views from the top of La Roche en Ardennes are mesmerizing for everyone.
Bouillon in Ardennes
Bouillon is also a small city built along the river Semois and is a delight for the visitors. You can take a day trip to Bouillon and enjoy the lovely hill, castle and the surroundings. The castle in bouillon is built on a hill from where you can see the lovely views of the city. This castle was built in the 11th century and was renovated and expanded many times until the 17th century. The castle is the highlight of the city as it is big and very well maintained. There are several cafes and restaurants in Bouillon which offer traditional delicacies.
Mountains in Ardennes
Here is the list of some of the highest mountains in Ardennes which should be mentioned for the climbing lovers.
- Weiber Stein, which is 692 meters.
- Baraque Michel, which is around 674 meters.
- Baraque de Fraiture, which is 652 meters.
- Lieu-dit, which is 589 meters.
- Kneiff, which is 560 meters.
- Buurgplaatz, which is 559 meters and is located in the Grand Dutchy of Luxembourg.
- Napoleonsgaard, which is 547 meters and is also located in the Grand Dutchy of Luxembourg.
- Croix-Scaille, which is 504 meters and is located in Belgium near its border with France.
Market in Bomal
This is a big and famous market and people from everywhere flock to visit this place which is set on every Sunday in Bomal. The market has something for everyone either its food or clothes or books. There are stalls of fresh fruits, vegetables, cheese, meat and bread. There are also stalls for flowers and regional delicacies. There are also stalls for clothes, shoes, toys and books and many other accessories. You can walk in the market for hours and enjoy the special atmosphere of this regional market. It really feels that the whole region has gathered in one market. There is a river nearby which is an ideal spot for picnic. You can buy food from the market and enjoy it while sitting near the river.
The Labyrinth of Bavaux-Sur-Ourthe
This giant Labyrinth is formed by planting 600,000 maize grains over an area of 11 hectares. You are surely going to be entertained by the huge size, riddles and challenges of the maze. This is a wonderful place to enjoy and test your problem-solving skills. It is better to go early morning if you want to avoid sun burn and take food and water with you.
Dolmen of Weris
A particular type of a megalithic tomb which is mostly dated from the early Neolithic time is called a Dolmen. Some of these old Dolmens can be found in the small village of Weris in Ardennes. The biggest tomb is more than 10 meters long. This big Dolmen can be found just at the beginning of the village. There is a car parking area from where you can take a 5 kilometer walk that will take you on a Dolmen watching tour. There are several similar but smaller tombs on this path.
Museums in Ardennes
Here is a list of Museums to visit while in Ardennes.
- Grand Curtis Museum
- Abbey Notre Dame
- Musee des Beaux-Arts de Liege
- The War Museum
- Blegny Mine