Provence is just 2 hours drive from Brussels, in Torgny


You can't go any further south in Belgium than Torgny. This village in the Gaume bulges into France. It is unique in more ways than one.

The Gaume tended to be overlooked in geography class. It was its big brother to the north, the Ardennes, which received all the attention. Unfairly so, as this region, more or less bordered by Florenville and Chiny in the west, Ethalle in the north, the region of Arlon in the east and on Belgian territory the French border in the south, is worth a visit for various reasons.

The contrast between the Gaume and the Ardennes could hardly be starker. The Gaume is characterised by a 'cuesta' landscape. Alternating layers of uneven thickness formed soft and hard sedimentary rocks, such as marl, shale and clay, and limestone and sandstone respectively, through which the Rivers Semois, Vire and Ton easily cut through, or are blocked. This explains the asymmetrical cuestas: one hillside is steep while the other gently slopes. The mild microclimate of the region is also noticeable. In Torgny, the average annual temperature is significantly higher and the amount of rainfall much lower than in the Ardennes, thanks to its lower altitude in the lee of the Ardennes massif and its rapidly warming limestone soil. And the residents of the Gaume are open, uninhibited, even a bit brash compared to their rather reserved and less talkative northern neighbours.

Besides the gentle topography, the friendly climate and the openness of the people, other aspects help create the southern Provençal atmosphere in which Torgny basks. Like viticulture on the favourably oriented cuesta. Or the architecture, in particular the soft yellow bricks of the houses with a lintel showing dates between 1741 and the end of the 19th century, the ornate roofs with hollow Roman tiles, the originally pink plastered facades of the farmhouses (18th and 19th centuries) - some of which are listed buildings - and two public washing areas with lovely roof trusses (17th and 19th centuries). Or the exceptionally rich and varied flora and fauna in the limestone grassland of the Raymond Mayné Nature Reserve, where some flowers and herbs evoke Provençal landscapes: real thyme, wild marjoram, pasqueflower or the dozen or so orchid species that bloom here throughout the seasons. The Early spider orchid is worth a mention in this regard, as Torgny is the only place where it grows in Belgium. Exotic insects, including the mountain cicada and the praying mantis, rare butterflies such as the six-spot burnet and various reptiles, such as the sand lizard, blindworm and field snake, also live here. Far too many to list!

But don't miss out on these sights either on your way back up north: the vault of Our Lady of Luxembourg and some minor landscape elements such as the cast iron village pump and the five stone and iron Calvary, mission and field crosses.