Spotlight on Ardennes

February 22, 2017

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Stretching vastly across four countries, the Ardennes is an incredibly imposing and sublime landscape. The wooded forests beckon you to get lost within them, the rivers wish to wash you away and the Medieval towns tell stories of days long gone.

That it was once the grounds of intense battle during both World Wars, you would hardly believe. Nature’s resilience has truly proven itself here as the land has continued to regrow and renew in spite of the horrors it has seen. Though many humbling tributes to the World Wars can be found throughout the Ardennes, it, in itself, is a memorial to those that lost their lives there as the peaceful quiet pays respect to what was once the sound of crashing weaponry.

Things to do

  • To visit the Meuse River during your stay in the Ardennes is imperative. The deep turquoise waters run through unassuming villages, under steep cliff sides and round dense forests and, though often serene, it has a temper.
  • Take a hike through the thousands of kilometres of trails. A particular favourite is the Ninglinspo River Hike. The landscape surrounding this mountain river can often appear Congo-esque, with rich colours of blue waters and green trees colouring miles of forest.
  • Step back in time in any of the medieval hamlets through the Ardennes. Sedan is perhaps the most popular, with the château attracting huge amounts of tourism yearly.
  • Steep yourself in military history at the American Cemetery. Set amongst beautiful greenery, striking white of the crosses and memorials create a stunning contrast.
  • Head into the woods to the Parc Argonne Découverte. Fantastic for little ones, you can enjoy nature, as well as discover the wildlife they keep, including wolves. Just make sure you don’t come off the path.
  • An entire underground world exists beneath the Ardennes; wander through a network of otherworldly underground caves. Neptune Caves, for example, are filled with black waters that suddenly drop off at a point, the depth of which no one yet knows…

What to eat

  • For fine French dining, look no further than L’Essentiel. The stripped back décor maintains high levels of chic, perfect for a romantic evening.
  • It’s easy to see why people can’t walk past Une Gaufrette Saperlipopette without gawping at the delicious home baked treats. Sweet tooths, head here.
  • Though landlocked, L’Entre Sambre et Mer, a family owned restaurant, is famous for serving only the freshest fish. The maritime interior makes it perfect for lunch, or dine al fresco if the weather permits.
  • Le Médiéval is perfect for history-buffs, situated on one of the oldest streets in Sedan.

What to drink

  • The section of the Meuse River that runs through Dinant is bursting with bars and eateries. Le Monaco is open early for a coffee, or pick up a pint of Belgian beer later in the day. For partygoers there’s the stylish Bellagio Lounge Bar, open until the early hours.
  • La Quai Son, a quaint pub, sits on the river which reflects the trees above. It looks up at a castle that appears even more magnificent when lit up at night.
  • Au Bureau has a brilliant Western design, with chandeliers, striped wallpaper and dark wood throughout. Perfect for beers and cocktails.

How to get there

The French Ardennes is just 3 hours from Dunkirk and only 3 hours 20 from Calais, so you can catch our Dover ferry over to either port. From our Amsterdam port, you can be in the Belgian Ardennes in just 3 hours. There’s also our Newhaven-Dieppe route, from here you can be in the French Ardennes in under 4 hours.

 

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