Fagne-Famenne – Overview

Fagne-Famenne takes the form of a vast depression crisscrossed by an extensive network of watercourses.

Sprawling between the Condroz plateau and Ardennes woodland, Fagne-Famenne has a somewhat uneventful relief, with alternating strips of woodland and meadows surrounded by villages. One area with an unusual landscape, the 'Calestienne', contains the schist depression of Fagne (west of the Meuse) and Famenne (east of the Meuse), making the transition towards the edge of the Ardennes plateau. This narrow limestone ledge is marked by elongated hills called tiennes.

In this natural context, communities have largely formed in the south of the region, looking for areas of contact between the limestone plateau and schist depression, which are more suitable for building villages. This rural structure led to the open-field system in Fagne-Famenne, with meadows the dominant feature. How the soils are used depends on the different levels following the relief. The schist valley floors with poor wet soils accommodate meadows and orchards, with some hedges surviving as rows of uncut shrubs. The nutrition-rich ledges of the limestone plateau are filled with open crops whilst the steeper slopes and tiennes, with very poor soils, are covered in woodland and calcareous grassland. These grasslands, once grazed by sheep, conceal a natural environment with exceptional biodiversity. In Famenne, most villages have dense housing, with very close but not adjoining buildings. Often positioned on a slope, the villages lie on different levels across the relief whilst carefully avoiding the bottom of the depression. In Fagne, scattered housing often fills the areas between villages.

Sources: CPDT – FRW

©Photographs: Mark Rossignol

 

In practice