Paul Verlaine has Ardennes roots



If you don't know much about the life of Paul Verlaine, you may be surprised to discover a hiking trail with his name that starts from the Grand-Place of Paliseul, in the Belgian Ardennes, "wild as the devil, with very gentle inhabitants." While it is true that the poet was born in Metz on 30 March 1844, this is due only to the chance postings of his military father. "In the land of my father, one sees countless woods, Where wolves’ eyes sometimes gleam in the shade, And the blueberry is black at the foot of the green oak." And people have looked in vain for his origins in Lorraine.  It was indeed in Bertrix, in the heart of the Belgian Ardennes, that his grandfather worked as a notary and his father, Nicolas-Auguste, was born.

And it was in Paliseul, between the Lesse and the Semois that, as a child and teenager, Paul spent many summer holidays, from 1845 to 1873, at his aunt's house in the heart of the village, which he described as, "a pretty site high up on a hill, which remedies somewhat the harshness of the roofs that are too uniformly made of slate." He liked to roam, to discover "the slate villages with their blue roofs, the grazing and ploughing around them." He fished for trout in the Semois and hunted game at the Château des Abys in Opont. Autumn is stunning in this beautiful region, so why not explore it in the poet's company?