Condroz – Overview
Surrounded by the Sambre and Meuse to the north, Condroz is a vast undulating plateau stretching out on both sides of the Haute Meuse Valley.
Erosion has shaped the Condroz relief into successive waves alternating between ridges of relatively hard sandstone and softer limestone depressions, giving Condroz its unique natural structure. The plant cover accentuates the impact of this specific topography on the Condroz landscapes: gentle slopes used for ploughing, valley floors covered in meadows and heights topped with woodland.
The rural landscape characteristic of Condroz follows the open-field mixed model. That method of organizing rural areas refers to an open agrarian landscape set aside equally for meadows and unenclosed crops. Based on a concentric structure, it features a central housing area surrounded by a ring of pastures, followed by a second ring set aside for crops and, finally, a final ring allocated to woodland. Condroz's geology provides further insights. The lower limestone slopes with thin or even inexistent soils accommodate the meadows; the gentle slopes with well-drained soils and nutrition-rich silts are used for crops and finally the sandstone ridges, which break down into sandy infertile soils, are intended for woodland.
Condroz villages, often positioned on low slopes or slightly below the peaks, are characterized by a dense grouping of buildings extending along the ridges. Other villages form on the valley ledges. The location of buildings is quite variable and shaped more by wanting to give the house a good aspect than aligning with the road network. In cases of joint ownership, the villages still have an airy structure with many tree-filled spaces. Outside these, housing is less common and represented by large farms or châteaux with strong heritage dotted on the landscape.
Sources: FRW – CPDT
©Photographs: Mark Rossignol