One of several Trappist abbeys in Belgium, the Notre Dame d’Orval Abbey is situated in the “Pays de la Semois entre Ardenne et Gaume”, in the Luxembourg region. The beautiful abbey, surrounded by a large nature reserve, offers tourists the chance to visit the ruins of the ancient abbey; to discover the history and traditions of the Trappist monks; and to learn about their beer production methods in the abbey’s dedicated museum. The experience can be nicely rounded off at the local restaurant where special dishes are served with locally produced beer or at the abbey shop where you can buy regional products.
In 1070, a group of monks from southern Italy settled in Orval, under the protection of Count Arnold de Chimay. This Cistercian community quickly flourished: the development of economic activities from the mid-13th century onwards meant that Orval Abbey prospered. In 1252, a fire severely damaged the abbey and a series of economic set-backs made life for the Cistercians most precarious. In 1648, the Abbey of Orval adopted the “Strict Observance” as part of the Trappist movement. In the aftermath of the French Revolution, the French Army destroyed the abbey and the community was closed only to be re-founded, at a much later date, in 1926.
Today there are 12 monks in the abbey. It is possible to visit the medieval abbey ruins, the museum housed in the foundations of the 18th century buildings, the pharmaceutical museum and the medicinal herb-garden. Visitors can also enjoy an audio-visual presentation of the monastery and of the present-day monks’ lives.
There is a story behind the abbey’s foundation, the name “Orval” and its coat of arms. According to the legend, Mathilda of Tuscany lost her wedding ring in a spring whilst she was visiting the site. As soon as she started praying for the return of the ring, a trout came to the surface of the water with the ring in its mouth. Mathilda exclaimed “Truly this place is a Val d’Or (Golden Valley)” from which the name “Orval” is derived. In gratitude, Mathilda decided to establish a monastery on the site.
Shop The abbey shop offers Orval Beer and Orval cheese, Viel Or beer and cheese, religious articles, cards and various Orval souvenirs.
Brewery The brewery is only open to public once a year.
Restaurant Nearby restaurant “À l’Ange Guardien” is an unmissable stop if you want to try the excellent Orval beer and taste some typical regional dishes which incorporate Orval cheese.
Museum Only part of the Orval abbey is open to the public. However, it is possible to visit the Cistercian ruins, the Communs Abrahams (beer museum), the monastic Museum and the abbey gardens with a single ticket.
Restaurant Restaurant A l'Ange Gardien
Monday, Tuesday and Thursday from 11 AM to 18 PM
On Friday, Saturday and Sunday from 11 AM to 21 PM.
July and Augustus, daily from 11 AM to 21 PM.
Closing day (except summer): Wednesday
Opening hours shop
- Winter (from November to February): 1:30 PM- 5.30 PM
- Mid-season: 9.30 AM.-6.00 PM;
- Summer (from June to September): 9.30 AM- 6.30 PM
The abbey is surrounded by nature and there are several excellent hiking and cycling tracks in the region. Besides the ruins at Orval Abbey, another regional highlight is the Landscape Interpretation Centre of La Lorraine Gaumaise, which presents and explores both the natural and developed local landscape. The nearby forest of Chiny also offers a wide choice of sporting activities such as hiking, biking, kayaking and fishing.
Maison du tourisme du Pays de la Semois entre Ardenne et Gaume : http://www.semois-tourisme.be/
Starting point: Florenville
Arrival point: Florenville
Length: 96,7 km
Elevation: 365 m
This transnational route passes by the beautiful Orval Abbey, crosses the border the border and reaches the Stenay, a French village located in the Valley of Meuse River. Most of the route is into the woods, giving you the possibility to enjoy the beauty of this region.
Route with gps files.
Starting point: Orval Abbey
Arrival point: Ruisseau d'Herbeuval
Length: 3 km
Elevation: 239 m
This pleasant walk starts from the Cistercian Orval Abbey and reaches Herbeuval creek, located just across the French border. After an immersion in the nature, you will pass by Avioth, where there is a very impressive cathedral.
Route with gpx files.
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