It is the first 15 km of this long distance hiking trail (GR) of Trappist Abbeys. I will soon share with you a video about this trip.
Step 1 : Notre Dame of Scourmont Abbey
I got up at dawn to go to Notre Dame of Scourmont Abbey. It is not indeed located in the city center but about 8 km from the village of Forges. I was planning on walking to get the day off to a good start, but the lady with whom I was staying took pity on me and drove me there.
The visit of the Abbey is free and open to everybody. It is possible to visit the church, the garden and the cemetery free of charge. Unfortunately, no visit of the brewery is possible.
No product sale or tasting on site. This is however possible at the Auberge du Poteaupré
This Abbey was founded in 1850 by a community of Cictercian monks from Westvleteren Abbey. They follow the rules of St Benedict “Ora and Labora”: pray and work. Thus they developed a brewery and cheese factory. Through these 2 activities, the community contributes to the region’s economic growth while helping social charities.
What is a certified “Trappist beer” ?
There are only 12 beers in the whole world that can be called “Trappist”, all of them brewed in monasteries of the Order of Cistercian of the Strict Observance (OCSO).
Only 11 of them can claim to be an “Authentic Trappist Product”: Westmalle beer (Belgium), Westvleteren beer (Belgium), Achel beer (Belgium), Chimay beer (Belgium), Orval beer (Belgium), Rochefort beer (Belgium), Trappe beer (Netherlands), Zundert beer (Netherlands), Engelszell beer (Austria), Spencer beer (United States) and Tre Fontane beer (Italy). The Mont des Cats beer in France is not part of it. It is a Trappist beer brewed and bottled by the monks of the ND Scourmont Abbey.
This label certifies that the beers satisfy 3 conditions :
- it is brewed within the walls of a trappist Abbey
- it is brewed by or under the supervision of the monks,
- most of the income from brewing the beers is used for charitable purposes.
Notre-Dame of Sourmont Abbey offer a hotel service for spiritual retreats. Contact the Hospitality Father for more information :
Hospitality of Scourmont Abbey
Route du Rond Point, 294
Tel. +32(060) 21.05.11
Fax : +32(060) 21.36.96
Email : email@example.com
Step 2 : Auberge du Poteaupré and Chimay Experience
Located 300m from the Abbey, the Auberge du Poteaupré is the brewery / restaurant / hotel of the Chimay Experience. On site, it is possible to discover and taste the products of the Notre-Dame of Scourmont Abbey.
It also has a museum, the Chimay Experience, which offers explanations on the creation of the Abbey, and the process of making beer and cheese.
I’m not going to give you a history lesson on the Abbey, the Chimay Experience explains it better than me. On the other hand, I will get into the hot topic: What is the particularity of the Chimay Trappist beer ?
The brewing process is similar to what I already explained in the article: How to make a beer ?
To make a beer, you need 4 main elements: water, malt (barley is sprouted then dried), hops and yeast. The key element of this beer is its yeast. It allows the alcoholic fermentation and also gives the different tastes and flavors of the beer. Its formula is kept a secret. It has been created and developed by the monks for generations.
The Chimay Abbey has 4 main beers and a “special” beer:
Chimay Gold (4,8%) : a fairly light beer with a malty taste. It is one of the first beers brewed by the Abbey. It was used initially as a table beer for monks and their visitors.
Chimay Red (7%) : the oldest beer brewed by the Abbey. It tastes quite light at the beginning with a slight bitterness at the end of tasting.
Chimay Triple (8%) : also known as “Five Hundred”, it was created for the 500th anniversary of the Principality of Chimay. Strong beer lovers will love its bitterness.
Chimay Blue (9%) : The beer that I particularly like. It has powerful aromas and a slight taste of caramel.
Chimay Grande Réserve Oak Aged (10,5%) : This is a special beer. Sold only in bottle of 75cl, this beer benefited from a triple fermentation and prolonged maturation in old whiskey casks.
These beers blend perfectly with the different Chimay cheeses. A beer / cheese tasting board is available at the Auberge du Poteaupré.
Bonus : the path between the Abbey and the Auberge du Poteaupré passes through the forest and is very pleasant.
Be careful, the Chimay Experience and its hostel are closed on Mondays in low season: From February to March and from November to December
Visit in FR-NL-EN with an interactive tablet
Adult : 6,5€ + 1 tasting
Reduced rates : 5€ + 1 tasting
-12 years old : Free
Rue de Poteaupré, 5 B-6464 Bourlers
Tél: +32 (0)60/ 21.14.33 Fax: +32 (0)60/ 21.54.34
Chimay Experience: firstname.lastname@example.org
Step 3 : Chimay city centre and its castle
Located 8km from the Chimay Abbey, it is easy to visit the town in one day. The city centre is quiet small. However, it is essential to visit its castle.
Did you know these facts ?
- The principality of Chimay has a Princess and a Prince. During my visit to the castle, I was pleasantly surprised to meet Princess Elisabeth. I had a lot of fun chatting with her for over half an hour. At 92, she is a real living encyclopedia !
- The castle houses a sumptuous 100-year-old-theater.
Closed from mid-November to mid-March.
July-August: open everyday from 11am to 12.30pm and 2pm to 5pm.
Other time of the year : Be careful, it is closed on mondays. During the week days, it is opened from 2pm to 5pm.
Prices (Multimedia guide included)
Adult : 9€
Reduced rates : 7€
-6 years old : Free
Rue du Château, 14
Tel.+32 (060) 21 45 31
Email : email@example.com
Step 4 : Virelles Aquascope
Located 4km from Chimay Castle, the small town of Virelles is home to an Aquascope whose mission is to protect the surrounding flora and fauna and to sensitize visitors to the protection of nature.
It is possible to organize excursions with a nature guide and to sleep under the stars in an unusual bubble accommodation.
Closed from mid-November to mid-March
July-August : opened everyday from 10am to 6pm.
Other time of the year : Be careful, it is closed on mondays. During the week days, it is opened from 10am to 5pm.
Prices (Multimedia guide included)
Adult : 7,5€
Reduced rates : 4,5€
-6 years old : Free
rue du Lac, 42 6461 Virelles
Tel. +32 (060) 21.13.63
Step 5 : Let's go to Lompret
The last 3 kilometers of this day are to reach the small village of Lompret.
The GR trail is very well marked on this track portion and the landscapes are from another time : you will meet forests of daffodils, small rivers and Santa Claus reindeer !
Where to stay :
Hotel de Franc Bois
Courtil Au Martias 18
Tél +32 (060) 21 44 75
From 65 to 120€/night
Le Jardin du Feuillet
Tel. +32 (060) 21 36 69
From 65 to 85€
For other accommodations, please click here
This long distance hiking trail of Trappist Abbeys would not have been possible without the partnership with Wallonia Belgium Tourism in France (a big THANK YOU to them for their help in the organization of this project)