A stay in history – Ardenne
By Emilie Aires
Treat yourself to a stay in history in the green and mysterious heart of the Ardenne
Anyone who is familiar with the Ardenne (Belgium) will know how enchanting the place is with its winding valleys, its charming villages, its wild forests, and its characteristic landscape of craggy rocks and sparkling streams. It is a region that has been inhabited since the beginning of time, and where you will find prehistoric menhirs or standing stones, old Gaulish roads, Roman villas, medieval castles, stone farmhouses and old mills – poignant vestiges of past epochs.
intoHistory would like to take you into the heart of this mysterious Ardenne that does not give up its secrets to the casual visitor – a country of dwarves and fairies, and demons and witches that populated the stories recounted by the old sitting round the fire, while the fog held their isolated hamlets in its grip.
Treat yourself to a stay in Ardenne’s history – an adventure that you will not find in tourist catalogues! Discover our choice of authentic period lodgings, and the stories they have to tell.
A post-war atmosphere in the smallest town of Europe
The Aisne valley has many memories and tales to share as you explore its wild nooks and crannies, or as you sit round a cosy log fire. Here you will find enchanted standing stones, swirling autumn fogs, mushroom-scented forests, and unpretentious friendliness from the local inhabitants. The little town of Durbuy, with its flower-filled, gently meandering cobbled streets, invites you to explore and discover its slate-roofed houses and their legendary stone walls. You will be warmly welcomed when you stay at the Tante Alice guesthouse.
The wealthy ironmasters
Grandvoir is a tiny hamlet near Neufchâteau in the Ardenne, a stock-breeding area on the edges of the vast Anlier game forest. The old castle, with its four wings set round an ancient cobbled courtyard, is situated on the banks of a fish-filled river. The site has most probably existed from Roman times, and was fortified in the Middle Ages. Although unobtrusive, the estate was nevertheless home to several important families and witness to their turbulent histories. Grandvoir today is a beautiful, three-star château-hotel, with a restaurant and its own wine cellars. It is not unusual to hear deer belling at the start of autumn.
The wheel of time on the banks of the Lesse
Sometimes fierce, sometimes cajoling, the River Lesse leads you to the Belvaux gully and the magnificent Han Grottoes that were formed in a legendary age. Upstream, farms and houses seem to be hiding away in the tall, dense forests of the Ardenne. In a bend of the river’s arm, you will be stirred by an ancient flour mill and sawmill, that has existed since the 16th century. The millwheel’s paddles generate electricity for the family and its guests. Cross the wooden bridge that spans the ford and give in to the charms of the Moulin de Resteigne and its guest rooms.
Memories of 1944: the resistance and the 101st Airborne Division
The Battle of the Ardennes (The Battle of the Bulge), has been the subject of many films and even more books. The Isle La Hesse manor house in Bastogne bears poignant memories of the conflicts that raged in the besieged town. The men of the 101st Airborne Division were billeted in the house itself, which General McAuliffe took over as his headquarters. ‘Nuts’ Castle, was a key war theatre towards the end of the Second World War. Through its family history, you will be given an insight to the tragedy of December 1944. This very comfortable gite, in the middle of the woods of the Ardenne, is just a step away from the new Bastogne War Museum, the Mardasson Memorial, and the Recogne German War Cemetery.
Between fortress and leisure castle
Are you looking for a convivial place to stay with your family, or perhaps, somewhere to relive the luxurious era of the Mosan Renaissance? Look no further than the Château de Harzé Hotel! This old fortified manor house at Aywaille will thrill you; and those who love legends and mysteries will not lose out either! The story has it that, a long time ago, the village squire’s daughter was seduced by the young lord of the manor. Sadly for her, this young rake went off to war, whereupon she fell victim to somnambulism and in her sleep would sing as she wandered round the castle walls.