In the Footsteps of Monks and Knights

For one weekend we suggest you go back in time to see what Walloon Brabant was like in the Middle Ages!

From Villers-la-Ville to Braine-le-Château, stopping off at Nivelles, get on your bike for 72km of discovery, relaxation and culinary delights! The route can also be done by car.

Day 1

A monk’s life in Villers...

The route begins in Villers-la-Ville where you can visit the 12th-century abbey, part of Wallonia’s protected cultural heritage!

Travel back in time and immerse yourself in the life of monks thanks to Slate, the interactive tablet. See how the abbey looked in the Middle Ages. Besides the more traditional tours, learn about a variety of themes: wander around the 5 impressive gardens, learn everything about beer production at the microbrewery, meet passionate winemakers at the Villers-la-Vigne vineyard or participate in many spectacular and enchanting events such as the Choir Night!

This place is truly remarkable and is a must-see in Walloon Brabant.

sdr

Be enchanted by this wonderful place, the old stones have some stories to tell… And enjoy a picnic in this magical and tranquil place or grab some food at the Chalet de la Foret just a stone’s throw away.

Ardoise Abbaye de Villers © FTBW (6)

Cycling on the RAVeL

Get back on your bike and head to Nivelles!

Follow the ‘points of interest’ network and when you reach Genappe, take the RAVeL 141 line for maximum safety and enjoyment through the woods and fields of Walloon Brabant!

 

Tourism Office of Nivelles

Rue de Saintes, 48
1400 Nivelles
www.tourisme-nivelles.be

Visit the Saint-Jacques district, a stone’s throw from the Collegiate church and explore the pretty little streets, where 15th-century pilgrims would have come on the Way of St. James.

Quartier St Jacques © FTBW (2)

Beautiful Nivelles!

Do you know about Charlemagne? Of course, the king and emperor of the Franks, son of Pepin the Short! Well, you should know that his great great aunt, Gertrude, was the first abbess (yes, a woman in power in the 7th century!) of Nivelles abbey. On the site today stands a majestic building dedicated to her, the Collegiate Church of Sainte-Gertrude. Do not miss this gem of Walloon Brabant, it is well worth a visit!

You will also pass other iconic buildings and remains, so keep a look out, or request a guided tour at the Nivelles Tourist Office.

Time for a snack!

You have to try the Târte al Djote, a speciality of Nivelles!  The custom is that before eating it hot, you prick it with a fork and add a big chunk of salted butter.

What exactly is it?

It is a delicious savoury tart, with the key ingredients being bètchèye (fermented cheese made from skimmed cows’ milk) and chard, but also eggs, chopped parsley, sliced green onions and… butter!

Rest and relaxation!

In Nivelles, it is nice to wander around the pretty streets or around Dodaine Park, where you can enjoy a peaceful walk.

It is also nice to have a rest. After this great day, settle comfortably in your accommodation of choice.

Tempted by the comfort of a 4-star hotel? Try the Nivelles-Sud Van der Valk hotel. Prefer somewhere more sociable? Then choose from the guest houses and B&Bs on offer. Some of them, such as Gîte à Ittre, are bicycle friendly.

Day 2

Medieval Braine-le-Château...

Ready for a cycling tour? To reach Braine-le-Château we suggest you follow the points of interest and cycle along the Brussels-Charleroi Canal. On the way you will notice a square farm, typical of the Brabant region, the Castia farm or the farm of two towers (between points 39 and 35), the Lock of Ronquières (point 68), Ittre marina (point 34) and the old Clabecq steelworks (point 21). A wonderful ride ahead!

Chateau de Braine-le-Chateau

Braine-le-Château gets its name from the feudal castle founded in the 13th century by the Lords of Trazegnies. Turned into a stately home at the end of the 15th century, the Castle of the Counts of Hornes is a real gem. The estate and gardens of this private property are open for guided tours and events such as the annual concert.

Braine-le-Château also boasts other treasures from the Renaissance era. For example, the Braine-le-Château tourist office is located in the Bailiff’s House. So who was this Bailiff? During the 16th century he was the person responsible for dealing with criminal matters.

The Bailiff’s House

If you were sent to the Bailiff’s House, you would be praying to not end up in the stocks! On the village square, the stocks were a device used for punishment where criminals would be publicly shamed during the Old Regime. Not a nice place to be then! The ones in Braine-le-Château date back to 1521. This protected heritage monument is unique in Europe.

Tourism Office of Braine-le-Château
Royal Syndicat d’Initiative

Maison du Bailli
Grand-Place 20,
1440 Braine-le-Château
www.braine-le-chateau.be

Everything you need to know about snails?

Not far from the centre of Braine-le-Château, visit the Saint-Véron snail farm. At this heliciculture farm you can learn everything there is to know about snail farming, from the laying of eggs to the ‘collection’. You can speak with the staff who are passionate about their work and will be happy to share their knowledge with you. Don’t hesitate to book.

The shop offers a range of snail-based options from amuse-bouche to main dishes. Two Sundays per month, the owners serve diners a menu of dishes featuring snails.

escargot

It is now time to start heading back to the starting point. However, depending how much time you have, there are some other sites along the way. In Ittre you can stop off and visit the Marthe Donas Museum, a tribute to this great Belgian artist. Very close to there is the Tournette Golf Course where you can practice your swing and admire the pleasant landscapes around Haras de Baudemont. You can also take a break in Nivelles for a nice glass of something on the terrace or even in Genappe!