Weekendbreak La Roche-En-Ardenne

Weekendbreak La Roche-En-Ardenne

La Roche-en-Ardenne is a small village beside a bend of the River Ourthe in the province of Luxembourg, Belgium. Last weekend we had the pleasure of visiting this historical place and its surroundings. Locally, the town is well known for its smoked hams, kayaking and WWII decimation.

La Roche-en-Ardenne, citycentre

A little bit of history first

La Roche has a fascinating past with a wealth of history, legends, and even a ghost. It’s believed to have first been settled in the Neolithic era. It later served as a Celtic, then Roman stronghold. The town’s medieval castle was used between the 9th and 18th centuries. It provided protection to the many barges that plied their trade along the local river systems. In 1331, permission to build city walls was given by John the Blind, King of Bohemia and Poland and a Count of Luxembourg. During World War II the town suffered severe damage. Having been liberated by the Allies in September 1944, the town was recaptured by the Germans, during the Battle of the Bulge. The Ardennes Offensive was launched and the Germans entered the town again on 21st December 1944. La Roche was then bombarded with 70,000 American shells. On 11th January 1945, the Highlanders of the British 30th Corps on the left bank of the Ourthe and the Americans of the 1st Army on the right bank finally liberated the town for good. Many civilians died, 350 buildings were destroyed and 327 building were damaged. There is an American Sherman M4A1 tank and a British Achilles SP 17 displayed as monuments to the town’s liberation. Nowadays La Roche-en-Ardenne is one of the most visited places in the Ardennes.

5 things to do

 

Musee de la Batailee Des Ardennes

This museum, in the middle of the town, tells the story of the battle of the Ardennes and how La Roche was destroyed. The story is told through all sorts of memorabilia from that time, such as old uniforms, weapons and other items. In addition, video and footage tries to clarify the story. Definitely worth visiting when you’re into history or looking something to do during rainy days.

The Feudal Castle of La Roche-en-Ardenne

The Château de la Roche lies high above La Roche. From the original castle, there is a ruin left with walls, gates and waiting towers and of course and beautiful views of the surrounding area. According to survivors, the castle is haunted at night and during hot summer days, when there are many tourists. Apparently, you can still see the ghost of the clean lady on the walls of the castle. In addition to visiting the castle, there are also many activities in the castle. In the weekends there is often a medieval market with demonstrations of medieval crafts and bird watching.

La Cave du Venitien

This beautiful shop in the centre of La Roche offers a wide range of Belgium beers, souvenirs, whiskey, jam and chocolate. Definitely worth a visit when you’re looking for some local treats.

Saint-Nicolas Church

This beautiful neo-Gothic church is on the main street of La Roche and very popular with tourists. The church is from the 1900’s and is a mix of old and new architecture. Outstanding is the stained glass, made in the early 1980s by Louis Marie Londot, a Namur artist. This stained glass alights the church with bright modern colours. Organ concert concerts are held regularly with international artists.

Saint-Nicolas Church

The caves of Han

Just 40 minutes from La Roche-en-Ardenne you’ll find the mysterious caves of Han. These caves form a system of subterranean caves in Han-sur-Lesse near Rochefort. It is known as one of Europe’s largest cave complexes. The caves are the result of the underground erosion of a limestone hill by the river Lesse. In the cave, the temperature is 13°C all year and a humidity of 95%. From the centre of the village of Han-sur-Lesse, a small picturesque tram will take you to the entrance of the caves. Multilingual guides will help you discover a diversity of chambers, each one more entrancing than the last. Excavations show that the caves were always known to residents of the area. Early prehistoric objects could already be found in the water in the caves. It is assumed that people didn’t live in the caves. The excavated objects would indicate that the caves were used especially for funeral ceremonies. These prehistoric and other items can be seen in the PrehistoHan Museum.

Caves of Han

Outdoor activities

The Ardennes offer a wide range of meandering rivers, dramatic cave systems, forested hills and deep valleys. These special landscapes are perfect for outdoor activities such as hiking, mountain biking, climbing, abseiling, kayaking, horse-riding and much more. Unfortunately, the water was too low for kayaking when we were in La Roche. Apparently, this happens quite often due to little rain. Camping is also very populair in this area. Camping sites are widely available and usually located next to the River Ourthe with a gorgeous view over greenery surroundings.

Would you consider the Ardennes as a holiday destination?

 

 

 

 

5 citytrip destinations in Belgium by car

5 citytrip destinations in Belgium by car

Every once in a while you just feel like going somewhere you haven’t been before. Away from work, away from your day-to-day environment. At least I do. That’s why I’d like to go on citytrips far away, but also close to home. This can save me money, taking days of work and time! In just a short weekend of 2 to 3 days you can see so much! That’s why Belgium is perfect country to visit.

Antwerp

Antwerp is a very popular citytrip destination among the Dutch. This aint that crazy, cause you can drive to Antwerp in less than 3,5 hours (from Groningen). Daytrippers usually come to shop, but Antwerp is also very famous for it’s gorgeous, historic city centre, diamand trading and it’s ‘Vogeltjesmarkt’. And don’t forget the Belgium beers and chocolate!

Brussel

A 30 minute drive from Antwerp you find Brussels, the capital of Belgium and EU and an absolute must-see in Europe. The city has a reputation with lots of art and design. The international population makes the city a melting pot of cultures. And don’t forget ‘Manneken Pis’! This peeing little man is one of the most visited attractions of Belgium for years now. Foodies can enjoy the Belgium fries, so called ‘patattekes’’, the typical Belgium waffles and a huge choice of world cuisine.

Atomium, Brussel

Bruges

The historic inner city of Bruges (UNESCO World Heritage) makes the city very pleasing for all the tourists. Internationally, Bruges might be the most popular destination in Belgium. But Bruges has more to over than just beautiful buildings, streets and squares. Bruges is a heaven for chocolate lovers with more than 50 chocolate shops. With just a 4 hour drive from Groningen it’s definitely worth a visit!

Do you feel like hanging out at the beach? Bruges is very close to coastal cities such as Oostende, Middelkerke or Blankenberge.

Bruges

Gent

From all the Belgium cities is Gent my favorite. This student city has the best of Brugges and Antwerp and is one of the most entertaining cities in Belgium. Besides beautiful museums, gorgeous sights and cozy shopping streets Gent is also famous for it’s good night life thanks to all the cozy bars and restaurants. With just a 4 hour drive from Groningen Gent is definitely a recommenced spot to enjoy a weekend away.

Leuven

Leuven is a less known destination for a citytrip, but also definitely worth your time. The city is especially known for it’s beer, thanks to the Artois brewery. Within less than a 4 hour drive you can visit this lively student city, where you can blend in with the locals. Don’t worry about wasting your time here, you’ll love Leuven!

Which cities have you visited and do you visited them by car?