7 trips in the Ardennes that your children will love
Camping in the Ardennes is an adventure, especially for children. We have just returned from a week’s camping in the Ardennes and our children really enjoyed themselves! There is so much for them to discover and do. I have put together a list of what my children consider to be the best and most exciting trips in the Ardennes.
1. Bouillon Castle, full of dragons and buzzards
This large and well-preserved medieval castle towers above the little town of Bouillon (web site partly in French). A route has been mapped out in the castle with an audio tour, but we soon put that to one side. The best thing about such a large castle is of course simply exploring it. The corridors under the castle have been cut out of the mountain tops giving you the impression you are walking through caves, there are high towers to climb and cellars with thrilling vistas. The castle has more than enough to keep you busy for about three hours.
In my three-year-old daughter’s imagination there were princesses wandering around the castle and a dragon in every cellar. She thought it was fantastic. My seven-year-old son was impressed with the birds of prey show with the eagle owls, eagles and buzzards that flew just above our heads. In the high season, the show is performed several times a day in French, with a bit of Dutch thrown in. According to our children, Bouillon Castle was one of the highlights of the holiday.
2. Playing in Parc Chlorophylle
Chlorophyll, what was that again? I was reminded of the biology lessons I used to have, it means ‘leaf green’. It is a very suitable name for this recreational forest in the vicinity of Malmedy. Parc Chlorophylle is a recreational forest amid and in the trees. Aimed at children from two to twelve years of age, the park is an amazing paradise for discovering the forest. Children can climb the towers and cross the rope bridges, while learning all about the birds living there and how to forecast the weather based on the shape of the clouds. When they have tracked the animals in the animal labyrinth, they can take a final trip in the tree tops, over the tree top path. The path is not very long but it is certainly an exceptional experience for both young and old.
3. Go for a walk
A day trip in the Ardennes with your children can start right outside the campsite. The rolling landscape is amazing. It makes children intrigued to find out what lies beyond the next hilltop. It’s quite a challenge to go cycling here with children, so walking is a great way to discover the surroundings. Many campsites have even mapped out hiking routes; collect a map from reception. Furthermore, Tourisme GPS contains over 100 hiking routes in the Ardennes at various levels of difficulty that you can download on your smartphone or GPS.
4. Sailing through the Caves of Remouchamps
The Ardennes is filled with lovely caves. It’s a magical experience for children, and also for adults, to crawl so far under the ground. The most well-known caves are those at Han, but you can also find beautiful caves in Hotton and Remouchamps.
We decided to go to the Caves of Remouchamps (web site not available in English). These are actually the only caves that you can sail through by boat. During the visit, the guide leads you past the stalagmites and stalactites. The guides speak good Dutch, French and English and tell amusing tales about the history of the cave. Even our seven-year-old thought the stories were funny. After walking about 800 metres over stairs and paths, we boarded the small boat. It takes about half an hour to punt through the cave with the guide. You do have to stay alert; we had to duck down on occasion to make sure we didn’t hit our heads. The thing the children remembered the most was the fact that they were told the cave could collapse at some point: “But luckily, we have seen them now” they said.
5. Playing in the stream
Give a child a stream or river and you won’t hear from them for the rest of the day. There are numerous rivers running through the Ardennes including the Ourthe and the Semois. Many of the campsites are by a river, that are often no deeper than knee-height. Just like our campsite for this week: Camping Tonny. The children spent the week building dams, catching fish and frogs and splashing around. The best thing for them was sailing their self-made boat on the stream.
6. Houtopia: in- and outdoor playground: because every child should be a child
This children’s paradise is in Houffalize, which is not that spectacular a place in itself. Houtopia is a medium-sized indoor and outdoor playground but one with a special idea behind it. Houffalize was badly hit during the Second World War and to commemorate that and because children have a future, the playground is set up in the theme of children’s rights. Houtopia (web site only in French) therefore has an educational slant to it.
To start with, you can see a film in the form of a circus show about children’s rights in which the animal handler teaches you all about children from across the globe. It is done really well but confronting images are flashed up every so often. Furthermore, there is an indoor playground where children can learn all about subjects such as the human body, natural phenomena or traffic while they play. If they really want to go wild, there is also an outdoor playground. It’s filled with large playground equipment, climbing frames and really long slides. Don’t expect an amusement park but it’s a great day out for children aged between two and twelve years old.
7. Campsites in the Ardennes are a day trip in themselves
There are numerous campsites in the Ardennes where children can explore and discover the surroundings, they are often next to a river. We were pitched at Campsite Tonny, but you could also go to Camping Maka or Camping de la Semois, which are campsites in the countryside by a river with plenty of playing and recreational options for children. Camping Bertrix is one of the larger campsites in the Ardennes and with its swimming pool, it’s very suitable for older children and teenagers. All four of these campsites are perfect starting points for discovering the Ardennes with your children.
In the Ardennes, your children will not get bored at and beyond the campsite. There are plenty of activities for children: outdoors, but also indoors when the weather is less favourable. We had a fantastic week in the Ardennes and we hope that these tips will help you have an equally good time ahead of you.