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Vresse in the Semois Valley: discovering the villages which used to produce tobacco

  • Walking or hiking

This easy, well-signed walk essentially follows the course of the Semois and features a number of natural and cultural landscapes. Along the way, you will discover villages which once grew and produced tobacco. Among these is Laforêt, considered one of the prettiest in Wallonia.

Practical information

Start: church of Vresse
Distance: 13 km

Follow the Semois' riverbed

From the picturesque village of Vresse, the route goes over the old stone bridge ‘Pont St. Lambert’ (18th century). Alongside the Semois the trail crosses woods and fields as far as the Naglémont viewpoint, 340m above sea level and the highest point of the excursion. From the heights you have a wide vista of the Semois valley with the two localities of Alle and Mouzaive in the foreground and vast forests behind them.

This region is notable for the tobacco industry. Following some steep paths you will often recognise signs of its agricultural history, such as old tobacco dryers and ‘tobacco villages’ like Mouzaive and Laforêt. In certain places, time seems to have stopped. Just before Laforêt, a glance at the ‘Pont de claies’, a rustic bridge made from branches that makes it possible to cross the river in summer, is worth the detour. Similarly, a hook into the village of Laforêt, with its typical Ardennaise houses and its ancient tobacco dryers, is worth the effort. Laforêt is among the most beautiful villages in Wallonia.

Route/Points of Interest

  • From the car park (S) near the church, take a left in the direction of ‘Pont St Lambert’ (1).
  • Cross the brook and then follow the signs with red bars (No 9 on the map) upstream. After about two kilometres on the forest track, first descend to the right (a panel indicates ‘Le rivage’) and then to the left, passing near an old tobacco hut.
  • A little after that the path comes out of the forest and crosses some verdant meadows. Shortly before Chairière, the trail follows a little track, passing in front of a large campsite and heads towards the N945.
  • Immediately after crossing the main road, the steep climb to the panoramic Naglémont viewpoint starts on a broad forest track. Nearly 150 metres after the second turning in the wood, take the small track which suddenly turns to the right. After several minutes you’ll arrive at a panoramic viewpoint with a bench (2).
  • Several hundred metres further on, the signage directs you on a steep path which drops down to the right. This little winding path towards Mouzaive is pretty testing on the legs.
  • Having arrived at the bottom, keep right, first across the N945, then pass over the Semois on a small pedestrian bridge.
  • At the ‘Mon Manège à Toi’ restaurant (3), turn right into the Rue d’Alle and climb up in front of the church. A lovely bench in front of a wooden cross is an inviting place for a break.
  • Keep to the left. At the following Y-junction, keep right and take the Rue de Lingue, which passes in front of another tobacco hut. This lane leaves the village and emerges on to a forest track. Follow the latter.
  • The trail first passes over a small bridge (‘Pont de Rebais’). After crossing it, keep to the right. The path runs alongside the river to the ‘Pont de claies’ (4).
  • A little further on, you can turn left to get to the village of Laforêt (5). In the village you pass an ancient wash-house.

The route on the way back. The last section of the walk again follows the course of the Semois as far as the road that links Laforêt and Vresse. The motorway bridge then leads you to Vresse.

Prepare your walk

Make sure you wear good hiking boots and comfortable walking shoes. Be careful if it has been raining: some of the walks down can be slippery and tiring. A walking stick will also help for the way up.

Always take some snacks and water with you.

Along the way

In the village of Laforêt you can sit down in front of the ‘Epicerie du Serpolet’ and complete the day by sipping a fine Trappist ale. You’ll find a number of restaurants en route, especially at Vresse. At the Maison de Tourisme (formerly ‘La Glycine’ hotel) you can learn more about the painting movement known as ‘The Vresse School’.

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

If you were to draw a straight line on an atlas northward from the Massif Central in France to the North Pole, the only area of high ground the line crosses is the Ardennes, shared between Belgium, Luxembourg and Germany – but mainly belonging to Wallonia, the southern part of Belgium!

Information on the walk

Difficulty

Easy

Length

Maximum distance13 Km

Duration

Maximum duration4:00
The information provided is an indication only. We advise you to inquire directly with the organisers of the event that interests you before you leave.