- Walking or hiking
This well sign-posted walk enables you to discover the cultured landscape of Brabant and the surroundings of the ancient Cistercian abbey of Villers-la-Ville. Alternating between hills and valleys, forests, wide open spaces and cultural curiosities, this is an especially interesting ramble.
The route takes you to several old farms, chapels, a windmill, a castle and a church. You can easily extend the walk with the help of a map. Before or after completing the journey, a visit to the impressive ruins of the abbey, which gives you an idea of its past grandeur and importance, is well worth the detour.
Route/Points of Interest
- From the car park in front of the old windmill/baker’s shop (now the ‘Moulin de Villers’ restaurant) first follow the Abbey road, pass the gate of the Abbey and walk on to a crossing with a car park and tavern.
- From there on the route is waymarked (yellow rectangles). At the crossing, keep left and follow the rue de Quatre Chênes (Four Oaks). The road goes uphill alongside a wall.
- Higher up you can see to your left the imposing entrance to the abbey courtyard, before the road swings to the right and passes two chapels.
- Eventually you arrive on high ground with a wide open view, and then a crossing called the ‘Quatre Chênes’ (1), where you turn left.
- At the following junction, turn right towards Marbais and continue straight ahead on the main road.
- The route now descends along a sunken path as far as a meadow. Cross this meadow (passing in front of an old swivel gate) and take a small alleyway that leads to a steep path descending towards the Villers road. Cross that, and take the bridge (2) to cross to the other bank of the Thyle.
- You should see a watermill on the right. After the bridge, take a little detour to the right and climb as far as the (private) château ‘Le Châtelet’.
- The main path moves away from the bridge and turns sharply left, passes a sunken road and crosses the forest to climb uphill near the village of Rigenée.
- Up on the high ground, you come to a crossing. Turn left and go down a farm track with a glorious view towards Villers (3).
- The farm track descends towards the river Thyle and a farm, where it turns left into the rue du Moulin d’Hollers. After several hundred metres, you arrive at the Thyle.
- Take the bridge across it, then immediately turn right on to the riverside path.
- Before the next bridge, the path turns left and you reach the rue de Sart, in front of the church (4).
- Cross the road and the church square, then by-pass the school and turn left into the rue Jules Tarlier.
- Continue straight ahead, passing a school, and keep going past a car park. The signage drops down to the right towards the N275, then turn left.
- Follow the leftward route for about 100 metres and pass under the railway line on the right.
- The trail climbs right into the rue des Bougeois up to its highest point (in front of house No 10), where a stepped path turns left. This comes out at the ‘Sentier Pêtre’, which passes in front of fortifications (wooden panel: ‘Sentier Nr 41 Rulette Pêtre’) and an old electricity enclosure.
- The trail opens out into a road, where you must turn left. A little further down, at the extremity of the bend, turn right directly on to the forest path.
- Because of a construction site you won’t find any waymarkers at the next crossing. Keep going straight ahead on the main path which, after 600 metres, takes you to the old abbey wall.
- The path widens and turns right to drop into the rue de l’Abbaye. Passing through the Porte de Namur, the road leads to the old Abbey vineyard (5), and then passes under the railway track to return to the car park.
Prepare your walk
Make sure you wear good hiking boots and comfortable walking shoes. A walking stick will also help.
Always take some snacks and water with you. Please note there is no café nor restaurant along the trail.
Next to the impressive abbey ruins stands a private château ‘Le Châtelet’. For dining possibilities at the ‘Moulin de Villers’ restaurant with a lovely large terrace at the abbey and the casual but friendly ‘Le Chalet de la Forêt’ tavern situated in the basements of a 13th century windmill.
In the downloadable brochure below, we have selected one of the best walks per province: natural gems, family friendly paths, memorable views along the way, trails sprinkled with history… One even will introduce you to the iconic abbey beers.
A walker's guide to Wallonia