What is it ?
The GR trail of Trappist abbeys is a marked hiking trail that connects the 3 Walloon Trappist abbeys : Chimay, Rochefort and Orval.
There are two sections :
From the Notre-Dame de Scourmont abbey (Chimay) to the Notre-Dame de Saint Rémy abbey (Rochefort) – 174 km.
- From Notre-Dame Abbey of Saint Rémy (Rochefort) to Notre-Dame d’Orval Abbey – 116 km.
I did the first stretch in a week.
What to Visit ?
From Chimay to Rochefort, it is interesting to stop at several places :
Access is only possible to the church, the gardens and the cemetery. Tasting of the Chimay beer (and cheese) is available at the Espace Chimay, located in the Poteaupré inn, 1 km from the abbey.
- Aquascope of Virelles: a protected nature reserve which includes an education center to environmental issues.
- Brewery des Fagnes was created 20 years ago. It has a small museum that explains the 150 years of brewing. Of course, I do not forget the tasting. Their triple is terrible with a slight fruity taste of banana.
Brewery la Lesse : it is a social purpose cooperative with 3 objectives (relocation of the economy, job creation in rural areas and self-management). It seeks to reduce its carbon footprint on the environment. Beers are organic.
Brewery Saint Monon : Open to the public every Saturday, I did not have the time to pass by. However, you can enjoy their beers in Rochefort at the café la Gourmandise.
Chimay Castle: Did you know that it has a magnificent theater? I met Princess Elisabeth, 92, a pleasure to listen to, a real living encyclopedia.
The caves of Neptune : the underground river is worth the visit !
The Caracole Brewery: Located in the small village of Falmignoul, it was created in 1765 and brews beers in the Belgian tradition, some of them still with a wood fire technique.
Notre Dame de St Remy Abbey : There is a very nice walk in the forest between Rochefort and the Trappist abbey. Unfortunately, on site, it is not possible to visit the brewery, the abbey and its cloister. However, the entrance to the church is definitely worth a visit.
Which route ?
Several routes are possible. The detailed maps of each section are on the GR trail website :
a downloadable guide book in pdf format with complete step by step information (price: 10 €)
Free downloadable GPX tracker. Very useful on Google maps
GPX, GPS ?
For anybody that is not really a geek person , please find below a small tutorial on how to create your GPS map on google maps:
- Download the available gpx file here
- Connect to “Google My maps“
- On the left, import the GPX files that you have already downloaded.
- That’s all ! The trappist abbey trekking map will appear.
I did not follow at all time the official trail because I was short on time. Please find below my route day by day:
Days 1 & 2 (15km)
Arrival in Chimay by bus and visit of the city during the afternoon.
The morning after : Visit of Notre-Dame de Scourmont Abbey and the Chimay Experience
Afternoon : Visit of Chimay Castle and Virelles Aquascope
Night in Lompret
Be careful, in low season, the Chimay Experience and Castle are closed every monday.
Day 3 (17km)
Morning : walk from Lompret to the caves of Neptune
Afternoon : visit of the Bewery des Fagnes
Night in Nismes
Day 4 (30km)
During the day : walk from Nismes to Falmignoul
Visit of the Caracole Brewery (before 5pm)
Night in Falmignoul
Day 5 (27km)
During the day : walk from Falmignoul to Rochefort
Visit of the Brewery la Lesse (before 5pm)
Night in Rochefort
Day 6 (5km)
Small trek up to Notre Dame de Saint Rémy of Rochefort Abbey and beer tasting in cafe La Gourmandise
How to know I am on the right path ?
The trail is marked in yellow and red (from Chimay to Rochefort) or in white and red (from Rochefort to Chimay). Impossible to miss it !
To Chimay :
The easiest way is to arrive at Charleroi railway station and then to take the 109a bus to Chimay
Approximately 1,15 hour driving time
Horizon bus ticket directly on sale in the bus for 3,5€
During the trek :
There is not a lot of public transport on the way… Bus are working mainly early morning and at the end of the afternoon. So it is perhaps better to plan beforehand how many kilometers you are able to walk every day.
From Rochefort :
Jemelle railway station is located 4km from Rochefort. The trains that leave from there go to the main belgian cites : Namur, Bruxelles, Mons… No worry to go back home !
Gr by bike ?
Yes it is possible but it is not the same path as the trekking trail. You have to take the RaVel.
RAVeL is composed of more than 2000km of greenways built from old railway tracks. It crosses Flanders, Wallonia, Nord-Pas-de-Calais, Luxembourg and Germany. Very convenient on bike but also on foot!
Unfortunately, on the some part of the way, there will only be the national road.
Where to sleep ?
Please dowload here the list of Hotel, B&B, campsites along the way from Chimay to Rochefort
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)