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New trails to discover Wallonia's most attractive villages
Wallonia's prettiest villages are working together to offer a complete getaway experience encompassing places to eat, accommodation and hiking trails.
The organization Les Plus Beaux Villages de Wallonie turns 25 this year and a new campaign makes it easier to plan a visit, including typical restaurants and cafés with the best food and drink, the most enchanting hotels, B&Bs and campgrounds, the most beautiful hiking trails, architectural and natural wonders, the best local artisanal products and special events.
Currently numbering 31, the villages must meet stringent requirements including outstanding natural settings – woods, rivers and ponds, pasturelands, architectural distinction – châteaux, churches, housing stock uniformly of a certain period, and sometimes archeological assets.
The villages have now been organised into various car, bicycle and pedestrian circuits with different themes. The available hospitality offer – hotels and inns, campgrounds, food establishments - is provided to make trip planning as easy as possible.
Special events this year will include the 75th anniversary of the Battle of the Bulge, the westernmost part of the bulge being the village of Celles which happens to be one of the 31 villages.
There will also be a Nuit Romantique involving 10 of the villages. Additionally there are guided tours, local produce markets, folkloric events, races and the street theatre extravaganza that is the renowned Festival of Chassepierre. Or you can just plan a quiet day in the country.
The organisation has as a basic tenet that it must strive to maintain a balance between helping to enhance the beauty of the countryside and village environments, and the legitimate demands of the inhabitants of not living in an anachronism, which is not always easy to achieve.
Tourism is a very welcome economic boost but it is also planned carefully so as not to degrade the locals' quality of life. Organisers say the result is that people are happy to visit and local residents are happy to welcome them.