The Call of the Wild in The French Ardennes

Less than two hours from Paris, The French Ardennes remains one of the lest-explored, greenest and – in places – wildest areas of France. 

Most of it was designated as a Parc Naturel Régional (PNR) in February, 2012 – recognising it as a rural area of outstanding natural beauty.

French holiday makers to the region already know exactly what to expect here: a “great outdoors” where it’s possible to commune with nature, and spend day-after-day in the open air enjoying the sights and sounds of one of the most unspoilt regions of France.

Not surprisingly, this is all reflected perfectly in the choice of accommodation, range of activities, and many of the attractions that are available to visitors.  It’s the kind of place where you can sleep in the trees or in hammocks, go walking with donkeys, and learn to climb rock-faces or trees.  The full list is on a ‘Great Outdoors of The French Ardennes’ map.

So what’s new for 2017?

The latest accommodation available to visitors is the Cabane et Vallee, located within the French regional nature park.  The two woodland huts which sleep 2-4 people, are in the village of Haulmé village in the remote and wild Semoy Valley to the north of the region.  Prices start from €120 a night; and there are many outdoor activities nearby – including canoeing, climbing, walking and cycling.  A new cycle path for 2016 – La Transsemoysienne – along the Semoy river also runs past these new woodland huts.

A Wellness Village – Kotas Nordic Spirit – in the tiny village of Ferme de Flamanville is also enjoying its first full season, after opening to the public at the end of last year.  Each one of the four comfortable and well-appointed Nordic kotas has its own pontoon by the lake for fishing and relaxation, while the wellness area itself includes a spa and a traditional Finnish sauna.  Open all year, prices start from €95 for 2 people per night, including breakfast.

A “Megalithic Monument” is also scheduled to open in the heart of the Ardennes forest this Autumn.  The French Ardennes’ location, landscape, and rich history has given rise to countless legends, fairy tales and folklore, and this new attraction is positioned close to the best.  It is here that Philippe Boudart has built his fantasy world, overlooking the highest point of the Ardennes – La Croix Scaille – and where upright stones for the shape of a chariot facing the sunrise.

Finally, from mid-September to mid-October, visitors to The French Ardennes will once again be given the chance to join guided tours that go deep into the forest to hear The Deer’s Bellow.  Starting from Launois-sur-Vence, the cost is €14 per person.  Places are limited and booking is required (Tel: 03 24 35 02 69).

Further details about The French Ardennes, meanwhile, are featured in the new, 2016 edition of the Discovery Guide to The French Ardennes which can be ordered by emailing info@ardennes.com, or by telephoning +33 324 56 06 08.

And for further information, visit http://gb.ardennes.com.

Cover image (c) Luc Viatour