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MBVW
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of Urbanism
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Logo Plus Beaux Villages de Wallonie

4 villages

Presentation

The region appears as a wide and high rocky plateau with many different reliefs: stone, valleys with often very deep hillsides, undulating agricultural plateaus or large forest areas, which are particularly characteristic of the Central Ardennes.

The landscapes of the north-east Ardennes, on the other hand, have evolved uniquely. Adjoining the Pays de Herve, the north-eastern plateau has witnessed the development of bocage-type landscapes.

Natural heritage

The region appears as a wide and high rocky plateau with many different reliefs: stone, valleys with often very deep hillsides, undulating agricultural plateaus or large forest areas, which are particularly characteristic of the Central Ardennes. The area belongs to the Openfield model, a landscape with unfenced fields.

However, on the high plateau of the region, the poor to average quality of the soils and the harsher climate conditions have encouraged the development of grazing as the main agricultural activity. This means that the cattle eat the grass on the spot. The woods are divided into plots or dense forests. Due to the abandonment of agricultural practices at the end of the 19th century, these days you will see more and more coniferous trees in the forests. As for cultivated land, it occupies part of the plateau as well as the less steep hillsides.

The landscapes of the north-east Ardennes, on the other hand, have evolved uniquely. Adjoining the Pays de Herve, the north-eastern plateau has witnessed the development of bocage-type landscapes. This is a rarer configuration where hedges or shrubs close the meadows partially. The habitat is relatively homogeneous throughout the region, characterised by groups of houses in villages and hamlets. To the west, the charming villages are rather concentrated, while they are less dense to the east. The traditional core of the village is generally made up of houses arranged in a disorderly fashion and separated by gardens and meadows.

Heritage buildings

The traditional Ardennes building was designed to respond to the difficult climatic conditions, namely the cold and damp. To protect from the cold and reduce catching the wind, you can see that the materials used on the outside are low-thickness stones and a gently sloping roof. To further limit heat loss, the general shape of the building is a square, block floor. The orientation of the building also plays a role.

The gables of the houses, lit by many windows, face south to maximise solar gain. Whereas access to the different parts of the house is usually made through the eastern wall. The walls are windowless to protect the house from the cold northern winds and the western rain to the north and west. Inside, the arrangement also contributes to the overall protection of the house. Adjacent to the living area, the barn provides an effective thermal buffer thanks to the heat released by the livestock. Finally, stored under the roof, the hay reserves are a natural insulating mattress.

The dominant buildings are the so-called “single-block three-section farms”. You can see many of them in the charming villages of the Ardennes. It is a single block farmhouse divided into three narrow sections: the dwelling, the stable and the barn. These are massive one or two-storey buildings with a slightly sloping slate roof. We can recognise the oldest traditional houses by their roofs, made of “chèrbins”. These are thick pieces of asymmetrical slate set in a bed of clay. On the façades, shale and shale sandstone are very characteristic rocks of the region; stones with grey shades constitute the majority of the masonry. Previously, we used to cover the stones with a light-coloured plaster or whitewash.

Maison du Tourisme du Pays de Bouillon en Ardenne
Quai des Saulx, 12 6830 Bouillon
Tél. : +32 (0) 61 46 52 11
Site web

Maison du Tourisme de la Forêt de Saint-Hubert
Place du Marché, 15 6870 Saint-Hubert
Tél. : +32 (0) 61 61 30 10
Site web

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The association Les Plus Beaux Villages de Wallonie (The Most Beautiful Villages of Wallonia) oversees a network of 31 villages, bearers of a strong territorial identity and reflecting traditional architecture. It is committed to promoting the rural, cultural and natural heritage of Wallonia and is a part of the development of local and responsible tourism.