Ardennes – Overview
The Ardennes present as a wide and high schist plateau often incised by deep, steep-sided valleys.
Agricultural plateaux with gentle reliefs and more uneven expanses of forest characterize central Ardennes. The landscapes of central Ardennes follow the open-field system, with meadows the dominant feature. That system organizes the cultivated land into rings around the village centre. An initial belt comprises open meadows on plateaux, low slopes or valley floors. The poor to moderate soil quality and harsher conditions of the higher Ardennes plateaux encouraged the development of pastural farming as the main form of agriculture. Ploughed land covers part of the plateaux and low slopes. The woodlands, largely formed by growing numbers of softwood trees, are divided into sparse plots or dense forest on lower-quality soils.
The reforestation with softwood species is linked to the move away from farming in the late 19th century. Finally, note the unique evolution of the northeast Ardennes plateaux in contact with the Pays de Herve, which has seen the development of bocage-type landscapes defined by partially enclosed meadows. The housing, which is relatively uniform, is characterized by villages and hamlets. They are somewhat concentrated to the west but less dense to the east. The traditional centre is generally formed by houses arranged in a loose order, randomly positioned and separated by gardens and meadows.
Sources: FRW – CPDT
©Photographs: Mark Rossignol