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In Orval we can visit the old abbey (from the 12th to the 18th century) which has been destroyed during the French Revolution. Only beautiful and evocative ruins are remaining. We cannot visit the lively new abbey because of the closing rules. Together they make a prestigious place.

The history of the abbey starts with a charming legend. Mathilde de Toscane, who used to be suzerain of the county of Chiny, aunt of Godefroid de Bouillon and owner of the land of Orval would have lost her wedding ring in a fountain. She prayed Notre-Dame and a trout appeared from the fountain holding in its mouth the precious ring. The Countess would have said « Vraiment, est ici un Val d’Or » (really, this place is a Val d’Or). As a show of appreciation she would have given the monks the necessary lands to build an abbey. The name and the shield of Orval come from this legend.

Monks respect the rule of Saint-Benoît and live with their work in poverty. But the maintenance of such a community and buildings require other resources which are obtained from farms, forge and numerous donation made to the monastery.

After centuries, the abbey is still successful with vicissitudes from outside events: wars, troops passing, lootings and fires!

In 1637, the French troops of marshal Châtillon looted the abbey and put it on fire. During the French Revolution, the community counted 59 members. On June 23rd 1793, the revolutionary troops, under the lead of general Loison from Damvillers, looted and put the abbey on fire once again. In 1926, monks want to come back in Orval. The new owners donate them the lands of Orval. A new community gets rebuilt and the leader is Dom Marie-Albert van der Cruyssen. Her perseverance, tenacity as well as plenty of donations, helped to build a new abbey. It adjoins the old one and was established in 1948. The monastic life continues in Orval.

The abbey of Orval had its own forge which was famous in the 17th and 18th centuries. The water was coming directly by a tunnel made by cut Jurassic milestones from the pond of Neufmoulin. This tunnel, made by the monks, bordered 600 meters of the actual road from Limes to Orval. We can still see its entrance when we go on the forest circuits of the walk Orval-Margny-Villers-devant-Orval.

An impressive aqueduct made with cut stones subsists in the middle of the dike.

A hostel has been reconstructed in 1932 on the foundation of the old court house. It has then been destroyed and renovated.

Near the abbey, appears the castle of Orval which is the private property of the family Otreppe de Bouvette.

The hiking from Orval to Chameleux across the forest is one of the most beautiful we can advise. It leads to the Gallo-Roman site of Chameleux.

Visites : www.orval.be



  • Syndicat d'initiative de Florenville sur Semois
    Esplanade du Panorama 1
  • +32 (0) 61 31 12 29

Opening hours of the Tourist Office

From Monday to Saturday : 9:00 > 17:00
On Sundays and public holiday : 10:00 > 17:00

Christmas Day : 25 December. New Year's Day : 1 January
Carnival Sunday in Florenville

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