Located in the heart of the Ourthe and Laval valleys, in the Deux Ourthes natural park, the town offers its limpid rivers and unspoiled nature.
By Florence Pirard
This peaceful village, nestled in the hollow of the Ardennes massif, is hidden in the center of the province of Luxembourg, between the towns of Bastogne and Saint-Hubert. The architectural heritage of Sainte-Ode is rich and varied. You will discover religious buildings, castles, mills, bridges, farms … but also small heritage and heritage of memory, with cemeteries and war memorials commemorating the two world wars.
Until 2019, only one classified property was listed in the town of Sainte-Ode: an exceptional tree, an ash tree, protected since 1993 in the hamlet of Magerotte (Tillet). Now the Pont de Fosset has come to complete the list; it was taken over as a monument for its architectural, historical, artistic, landscape and social interest.
In 1986, the old bridge, which had become useless with the construction of a new neighboring structure, was threatened with destruction. The population of Sainte-Ode mobilized to obtain his rescue. However, it took many years and many steps to obtain its restoration in 1996. The work was carried out by the municipal staff, who received specific training in heritage restoration. Currently, the bridge still crosses Laval and is used by walkers, but prohibited for car transport. A chapel dedicated to Saint Roch, housing a monument commemorating the victims of the 1940-1945 war in Fosset, is located nearby.
Located in the center of a beautiful walled cemetery, the church of Saint-Martin d’Amberloup was built in 1734 and then transformed in the 19th century. It is an imposing building completely plastered, topped with a slate roof and whose facade is surmounted by a high tower. The name Amberloup would be of Celtic origin: amber (river) and wolf (pond).
In Lavacherie, the Saint-Antoine-et-Saint-Aubin church was built in 1836 on the site of an old chapel. Neo-Gothic in style, the building is also plastered and includes an entrance tower. Renewed in 1960, the stained-glass windows owe their design to the painter Louis-Marie Londot (1924-2010), who also produced the stained-glass windows for the Saint-Remacle church in Marche-en-Famenne.
The Saint-Ouen de Tillet church was completely rebuilt in 1953 following its demolition during the Second World War. It is characterized by its beautiful bell tower topped by a high octagonal slate spire. The architect, Victor Sarlet, also designed the Saint-Martin de Rechrival church, in an identical style.
Read also> Seven ice cream makers to visit in Wallonia and Brussels
Mills and farms
On the Bastogne road in Lavacherie, after the Ourthe bridge, the Gottale mill was already in operation in the 15th century. The current building dates from the 19th century. The mill was also used to supply the village with electricity before ceasing its activity in 1914. Today, although the infrastructure has disappeared, one can still see behind the building the old diversion canal of the Ourthe and the remains of the wheel. The village of Lavacherie had its heyday during the 19th century, thanks to the clog industry.
The castle-farm of Laval is a group of buildings comprising a main house, two wings of outbuildings around a farmyard and a small neo-medieval keep. Defensive moat elements frame three sides. Of this first building, built in 1385 and destroyed around 1410, only a cellar remains covered with a schist vault. Rebuilt between 1661 and 1715 and modified in the 19th century, the seigneury, for lack of descendants, was abandoned to a succession of individuals. Currently, it is assigned to both farming and tourism.
Many nineteenth-century farms dot the landscape. These buildings, typical of Ardennes architecture, are generally built in whitewashed rubble and topped with a slate roof. They are divided into three or four cells comprising lodgings, stables and agricultural parts. Two fine examples of these farms can be found in Tonny, but also in most of the villages and hamlets of Sainte-Ode.
Read also> Discovering Enghien, city of art and history
Dry stone walls
Little known and sometimes forgotten heritage, dry stone walls are often present in the Sainte-Ode region. From land intended for cultivation or grazing, stones are the only material present in these constructions. No binder or mortar: the art of walling lies in the assembly and wedging to make a stable and resistant structure.
Structuring the landscapes, dry stone walls and low walls are found everywhere: dividing walls in gardens, along roads, in support of banks and streams, crop terraces, constructions such as shelters, stairs, bridges … Made with a heat-accumulating material, the dry stone wall constitutes a semi-natural environment welcoming to many species: insects, arachnids, reptiles, birds, small mammals, lichens, ferns, mosses, but also flowering plants. It participates in the ecological corridors essential to maintaining biodiversity throughout the territory.
Since 2016, a European Interreg “Greater Region” project has been developing actions to preserve this heritage: inventory, restoration of walls, training and awareness projects. This project brings together seven French, Luxembourg and Walloon partners (the Deux Ourthes asbl natural park, the Haute-Sûre Forêt d’Anlier natural park and the Walloon Heritage Agency).
In Sainte-Ode, around a hundred dry stone walls have been listed, with a higher concentration in Rechrival and Sprimont. In 2017, a wall was restored by a group of interns at Tonny. In 2020, new training courses will be organized in Sainte-Ode, but also in other municipalities in the region. Completely free, they are accessible to everyone. If you wish to attend a dry stone demonstration, meet on Sunday May 10 in Houmont (Sainte-Ode) for the festival of the Deux Ourthes natural park. You will be able to discover many associations and local craftsmen there. Activities are also planned for children.
Did you know ?
Sainte-Ode is made up of twenty-five villages and hamlets: Amberloup, Sainte-Ode, Tillet, Lavacherie and Aviscourt, Fosset, Herbaimont, Ménil, Sprimont, Tonny, Le Jardin, Acul, Beauplateau, Chisogne, Gérimont, Houmont, Hubermont, Laval, Magerotte, Magery, Milliomont, Pinsamont, Rechimont, Rechrival and Renuamont.
For lovers of walks
Sainte-Ode and its villages and hamlets offer you an attractive and picturesque stay. For lovers of wide open spaces and walks, whether you prefer to walk, mountain bike, bike or even on horseback, kilometers of marked paths are ready to stretch out under your feet.
Every Sunday of the year, a “balâne” is organized in Tillet. After a little training in the care and driving of the donkey, you will set off on the hiking trails accompanied by a guide and will be able to enjoy the benefits of the nature walk in peace with your companion, who will gladly carry your bags or little tired children. A nice way to explore nature.
Sainte-Ode is also a land of character. Producers and artisans offer products from authentic know-how: beers, cheeses, cured meats, pralines, honey, sugar tarts … Still for gourmets, the Champimont mushroom interpretation center offers, for children and large, a didactic discovery of these mysterious organisms.
If you wish to extend your visit for a weekend, many accommodation options are available: hotel, bed and breakfast, lodging (rural, on the farm), furnished (tourism, vacation), camping . You just have to choose! www.sainte-ode-tourisme.be