Date: 22nd September 2022
Travelled: 110 kms from Namur in Belgium to Hautmont in France
Visited: Aulne Abbey and Thuin Beffroi
Stayed: Hautmont Carpark, free, N50.25170, E03.91700
Budget: 120 days @ €101 per day
Another day on the road starts as usual, having had breakfast and serviced the Hymer we make a start to get out of the city. Rather than the freeway we take the alternate which follows the River Sambre toward Charleroi. We eventually turn for Aulne and the adventure begins as we follow our GPS.
A couple of low narrow tunnels later we cross the canal to find the road to the abbey is closed with no alternate provided so it’s back through the tunnels onto the main road and drive down to the abbey from the opposite direction.
So 10 kms later we turn for the abbey again to find ourselves driving on what may be Belgiums worst road.
We finally arrive at the Abbaye d’Aulne, The ruins of the abbey church pictured above. Founded in 657 AD as a Benedictine monastery, it would continue to flourish despite being plundered more than once and the odd fire. This gigantic complex had only been completed 50 years when it was attacked, looted and burnt to the ground in 1794. One section was restored to become a hospice but it’s now a wedding venue and hotel. A new village church was added.
Whilst it’s an interesting walk, the information panels are only in French and they are so badly weathered you could not read them anyway. There are a couple of nice cafes near the canal and lots of people walking or riding the tow-path adjoining the canal but the abbey, only us.
We have lunch before returning to the worst road in Belgium again, another 5 kms of broken concrete.
Our next stop Thuin is only 10 kms away once where back on the D road. I’m constantly reminded by the Hymer how bad the Belgium D roads are as we bounce our way to Thuin. Famous for its Beffroi or belfry, Thuin and its narrow medieval streets are a shocker in the Hymer, we find a parking spot, but I wonder how where ever going to get back out.
Anyway the ladies at the tourist office are very helpful, we pay our €3 pp (seniors), she unlocked the door and leaves us to our own devices.
With our ears still ringing we find our way out of the tower, thanking the ladies in the tourist office and getting back to the Hymer.
Back in the Hymer we flip a coin, deciding to cross over into France for the evening. The are no aires within a reasonable drive and I’ve had enough of the Belgium roads shacking the Hymer to bits. So we set the GPS for an aire in Hautmont about 20kms on the French side of the border.
The roads are much better as soon as we cross the border which is good, however the GPS with not display the road map for France which is bad. I had purchased the latest European data base of map card (2022) before leaving Australia and I fear it’s corrupted somehow. Luckily I kept the old card (2017) and it works.
We arrive safely in Hautmont and spend a quiet night…
Michael + Pam