Welcome to our Bouillon travel guide, your ultimate source of information on the charming and historical town located in the Ardennes region of Belgium. Bouillon is a must-visit destination for anyone looking to explore the natural beauty and rich culture of the region. Known for its stunning medieval castle and picturesque setting on the Semois River, Bouillon offers a wide range of activities and attractions for visitors to enjoy.
Travel to Bouillon
Getting to Bouillon is easy, as the town is located just off of the E25 motorway.The closest trainstation near Bouillon is located in Libramont. From there, bus line 8 will bring you to Bouillon in 45mins.
A brief history of Bouillon
Bouillon is a historical town located in the Wallonia Region of southeastern Belgium, nestled on the Semois River in the Ardennes. It has a rich and intriguing past dating back to the Middle Ages when it was a lordship within the Duchy of Lower Lorraine, serving as the primary seat of the Ardennes-Bouillon dynasty in the 10th century. Bouillon became famous for its ducal title, which was connected to the town.
In the 11th century, Bouillon was held by the counts of Ardennes, who were invested by the German kings with the dukedom of Lower Lorraine. Because Bouillon was their primary stronghold, they were often referred to as the dukes of Bouillon, although Bouillon was not yet a duchy at that time. The town was later acquired by the bishopric of Liège in 1096, and the bishops subsequently styled themselves as dukes of Bouillon.
In 1482, Bouillon was received by Guillaume de La Marck. Despite Liège taking it back twice during the following century, Bouillon eventually became a formal dukedom, which passed down by marriage to Henri de La Tour d’Auvergne in 1591. The duchy remained in this line until 1794 when Bouillon declared itself a republic, ultimately being annexed by France the following year. Following the Napoleonic Wars in 1815, the duchy was incorporated into the newly established Grand Duchy of Luxembourg. Subsequently, when Belgium was formed in the 1830s, Bouillon became part of it.
Best things to do and see in Bouillon
Wander around the Town Centre
Wander around the town centre of Bouillon and discover its hidden gems. This picturesque town offers visitors a chance to step back in time and admire its historic architecture. Walk along the narrow streets and discover the local shops, restaurants, and cafes that offer a taste of traditional Belgian cuisine.
Visit the Castle of Bouillon
Visit the Castle of Bouillon, one of the most remarkable monuments in the province of Luxembourg in Belgium. The castle overlooks the town of Bouillon and the river Semois and stands proud on top of a ridge surrounded by trees. This castle is a must-visit for history buffs, as it dates back to 988 and offers a taste of the medieval history of the region.
To reach this marvelous piece of architecture, you’ll have to hike up the ridge through the small town streets. Once you’ve entered, you’ll make your way through a drawbridge and explore the interior of the castle and its fascinating history. Don’t forget to head down to the basement where you can still take a peek at the former dungeons and torture chamber. You can finish off your visit with a panoramic view over the gardens from the 16th-century tower.
The Bouillon Belvedère
Are you looking for a scenic hiking experience and a breathtaking view of the city? Look no further than the Bouillon Belvédère. This lookout tower stands at a height of 385 meters and offers multiple levels from which to admire the picturesque town below. The hike to the Belvédère starts at the Pont de Cordemoy, where you’ll follow hiking trail number 7. The trail is steep and winds through the forest for about 30 minutes before reaching the bottom of the tower. Be prepared for a workout as you’ll need to conquer a total of 161 stairs.
If you’re unable to hike the trail, it is possible to reach the Belvédère by car. However, be aware that the road leading up to it is rough and rocky and may potentially damage your vehicle. For a truly unforgettable experience and to fully appreciate the natural beauty of the area, it is highly recommended to hike the trail.
Visit the Giant’s Tomb (Le tombeau du géant)
Le Tombeau du Géant, or the Giant’s Tomb, is a must-see destination for those visiting the picturesque village of Botassart near Bouillon. This panoramic lookout point offers stunning views over one of the meanders of the Semois river and is steeped in legend and history. The name originates from a local Gallic hero who, according to legend, was so tall and strong that he threw himself off the cliffs of Rocher des Gattes rather than be captured by Roman soldiers.
To reach Le Tombeau du Géant, you can drive from Bouillon in about 15 minutes. There are free parking spots available, but they can be crowded during peak season. Motorhomes are permitted to park during the day, but overnight parking is not allowed. Alternatively, you can take a bus from Bouillon to Botassart, and then walk for 20 minutes to the lookout point.
For a more active option, consider taking a medium hike from Bouillon to Le Tombeau du Géant. The total distance of the hike is around 13km and offers the chance to experience the natural beauty of the area.
For more info, maps and the hiking route: check the page about “The Giants Tomb“