Top 5 things to do in Marche-en-Famenne (Wallonia - Belgium)

This article first appeared in My Travelogue by Bhushavali

I've been to Marche-en-Famenne twice - once as a day-trip from Brussels just for hiking the Fond-des-Vaulx trail. Another time to stay overnight and explore Marche-en-Famenne as well as its surroundings. Here's a compilation of the top 5 things to do in Marche-en-Famenne and itineraries to suit a day trip or a weekend trip!

Le Petit Siffleur Things to do in Marche-en-Famenne


La Religieuse Things to do in Marche-en-famenne

Unicorn sculpture Things to do in Marche-en-famenne

Street art Belgium Porte Ouverte Marche-en-Famenne

PUBLIC STREET-ART
Marche-en-Famenne region is filled with so many interesting, intriguing modern art scattered all over the town. 
Here are some that I spotted. Located in front of the Famenne-Ardennes Tourism Office in Marche-en-Famenne is Elegances, a set of 3 women, as the name suggests, standing very elegantly. A short walk from there are a set of 4 sculptures depicting the old trades like chimney sweep, lace making, brewer, tanner etc and is called Les Vieux Metiers. 
At the centre of the town (Grand Place / Central Square) is the sculpture of Grand Georges who was the last march bell ringer of the town (the one who drums & marches around the town making announcements). This is a bronze sculpture made with lost-wax process. 
Very close to it, beside the church is this super adorable, super cute statue of a mom holding a baby on the lap! Too bad we couldn't find anyone to click a photo or have a tripod to get a perfect photo ourselves sitting exactly like that beside the sculpture. This is called Instant d'Amour (The Moment of Love). Very close to Hotel Quartier Latin is a huge mural called Porte Ouverte (The Open Door).
One of the very recent additions is the sculpture called La Religieuse (The Nun). Honestly, to some extent it looks slightly scary and reminded me of a similar sculpture in Trier Cathedral of St.Peter. There are 2 children crawling near her feet and her hands symbolize blessing them. Atyudarini was too fond of those baby sculptures and wanted to pose with those. 
Very close to this was the sculpture of Fontaine Ponthier which is commemorative bust of Commander Pierre Ponthier who was killed in action in combat. 
In front of Famenne & Ardennes Museum (FAM) are 2 sculptures. One is called Jeu de Naïades (Naïades Game) which represents Naïades fighting over a ball, but is really very abstract. Another one is Jo le Pingouin du Volcan (Jo the Volcano Penguin), which is a fossilized penguin with a tortoiseshell! 
One of Atyudarini's favourite was Le Petit Siffleur (The little Whistler). This is also bronze and located just before FAM. Atyudarini could really connect well with this non-chalant little boy, hands in the pocket, standing with a wide stance and whistling!!!
Another one of Atyudarini's favourite was La Licorne (the Unicorn)! This splendid bronze unicorn is frozen in a galloping motion and beneath it is a stream from Fond des Vaulx that falls in front of it as a waterfalls which crosses under the road and continue to flow on the other side. It was just exquisite! 

Where are the public sculptures in Marche-en-Famenne (On Google Maps)Elegances, Grand Georges, Instant d'AmourLa Religieuse, Porte Ouverte, Commander Pierre Ponthier, Jeu de Naïades, Jo le Pingouin du Volcan, Le Petit Siffleur, La Licorne
Walking Map of all public scultures & street art in Marche-en-Famenne: Les statues et sculptures de Marche-en-Famenne
Public sculptures of Marche-en-Famenne tickets & timings: Free; 24 x 7

Saint Remacle church Things to do in Marche-en-Famenne

Old town of Marche-en-Famenne

Rue Rosette Marche-en-Famenne walking tour

Couvant Carmes (Carmelite Convent) Marche-en-Famenne

Couvant Carmes (Carmelite Convent) Marche-en-Famenne

WALK AROUND THE CITY
Walking around the cobbled streets and tiny lanes is definitely one of the top things to do in Marche-en-Famenne. It is a renovated historic city! Like how houses, hotels, castles, palaces are often renovated keeping their old-world charm intact, here the entire city has been renovated keeping its old-world charm intact! No wonder it won the European Destination of Excellence in 2015. 
In 13th-14th C CE, the city was completely surrounded by its city walls which were all almost completely destroyed in 17th C CE. There are tiny bits & pieces of the walls, its towers, streets with tunnel entrances as you walk around the city. Tour de la Juniesse is one such medieval tower. 
One of the striking features of the city is of course the Baroque bell tower of Saint Remacle church. The current structure belongs to the 15th C CE, but the original church that stood here belonged to 9th C CE which might have been destroyed by fire in 1484 CE. The bell tower belongs to 1715 CE. The interiors are pretty plain without any frescoes or sculptures. The stained glass windows are modern though from late 20th C CE.
If you're visiting with children, don't miss Park van der Straten. A nice big playground and a skatepark are enough to keep the little ones busy for quite some time. Even otherwise, it is a beautiful green area with a stream flowing through. It is good to just sit & relax while being in the heart of the city. 
Another important, and historic aspect of the city is the Carmelite Convent. It was founded in 1473 CE by the members of the Carmerlite Convent in Liege, and was called the Brothers of Our Lady of Mount Carmel. It soon expanded with a cloister, chapel, brewery etc. But in 1615 CE everything was destroyed in a fire. In 1619 it was rebuilt and in 1699 CE it was further expanded. The main portion of the part built in 1699 CE alone still stands and today it is being used as municipal offices. This is located just behind the FAM and its garden & fountain are public spaces. While you're roaming around don't miss walking through the tiny lane of Rue Rosette and Jean-Michel Folon's sculpture Loin in Place aux Foires.

Walking Map of this historic city of Marche-en-Famenne: Historic heart of Marche-en-Famenne via Luxembourg Belge tourisme
Distance of walking circuit: 2km (accessible with stroller / wheelchair)

Famenne Ardennes Museum Places to visit in Marche-en-Famenne

Famenne Ardennes Museum Places to visit in Marche-en-Famenne

Famenne Ardennes Museum Places to visit in Marche-en-Famenne

FAMENNE & ARTS MUSEUM
Famenne & Arts Museum (FAM in short) is a unique museum in Marche en Famenne especially because it houses 2 unique topics in the same roof - one section for the history, geography & geology of the Famenne Ardennes region and another section for modern art! The 2 are in 2 wings within the same building.
The main wing is actually a renovated 18th C building which talks about Famenne Ardennes region since prehistoric period. Artefacts from the archaeological excavations done in this region, esp. from Wellin are in display. Famenne Ardennes would also imply the geological curiosities of the region which makes it a UNESCO Global Geopark.  
The 2nd wing is a renovated 17th C CE building which hosts exhibitions by various contemporary artists time & again. When we visited an exhibition about the works of Remy Van den Abeele was on. 

Where is Famenne & Arts Museum (on Google Maps)? FAM - Famenne & Arts Museum
How to reach Famenne & Arts Museum? Located in the heart of the city. 750m (8 mins walk) from Marche-en-Famenne railway station
Famenne & Arts Museum tickets: €5 (included in Museumpassmusees)
Famenne & Arts Museum timings: Mon-Fri - 10:00AM to 12:00Noon; 1:00PM to 5:00PM; Weekends - 2:00PM to 6:00PM

Saint-Etienne Church Waha Jean-Michel Folon Stained Glass windows
Pic Credit: Ms.Rachel of Maison du tourisme Famenne-Ardenne Ourthe & Lesse

Saint-Etienne Church Waha Jean-Michel Folon Stained Glass windows

Saint-Etienne Church Waha Jean-Michel Folon Stained Glass windows

Saint-Etienne Church Waha Jean-Michel Folon Stained Glass windows

VISIT WAHA VILLAGE
Waha is located just 2km from Marche-en-Famenne town centre and infact the hiking route 01 of Fond des Vaulx includes a walk through Waha. It is also possible to take a bus from Marche to Waha. The most important feature of Waha is its church. First of all, on the way to Waha is the tiny, beautiful chapel called Chapelle de la Sainte-Trinité, almost in the outskirts of the town of Marche itself.
In Waha is Eglise Saint-Etienne. It is a historic Romanesque church dedicated to St.Stephen built in 11th C CE, over existing church ruins. The magical thing in this church is the stained glass windows designed by Jean-Michel Folon in 2004-05 (yes, the same Folon whose exposition happened in Abbaye de Villers and whose permanent museum is at Folon Fondation near Chateau de la Hulpe). There are 6 stained-glass windows that depict the life of the first martyr saint of Christianity and the patron saint of the church - St.Stephen. There are 10 other smaller windows of flying birds. There is also a small exhibit of 5 of the historic elements of the original church architecture. In front of the church is the sculpture of 'White Monk' (Moine blanc cure) representing the former St-Martin's church that was handed over to Floreffe Abbey in 12th C CE. 

Where is Eglise Saint-Etienne (St.Stepehen Church) Waha (on Google Maps)Eglise Saint-Etienne de Waha
How to reach Eglise Saint-Etienne (St.Stepehen Church) Waha? 1.3km from Marche-en-Famenne railway station. It is possible to walk this distance. LeTEC bus route 91 connects Marche & Waha.
Eglise Saint-Etienne (St.Stepehen Church) Waha tickets: Free (€1 for the mini-museum of archaeological artefact).
Eglise Saint-Etienne (St.Stepehen Church) Waha timings: All days 9:00AM to 6:00PM
Sunday mass at Eglise Saint-Etienne (St.Stepehen Church) Waha: 9:30AM

HIKING THE FOND-DES-VAULX TRAIL 
The best of the things to do in Marche-en-Famenne is ofcourse hiking the Fond des Vaulx. It is a deep, green valley that's about 15 hectares. There are several way-marked trails of various lengths & difficulty through this valley. This trail is an awesome example of what the Calestienne region is all about. There are so many small & big caves, slanted rocks, the resurgence of a river and more. The most fascinating point in this trail is the Trottes des Fosses, a huge, 28m deep, natural cavity! 

Where is Fond-des-Vaulx: Read all about it in my article about the Fond des Vaulx trail.

Things to do in Marche-en-Famenne Places to visit in Marche-en-Famenne

ONE DAY ITINERARY IN MARCHE-EN-FAMENNE
Fond des Vaulx hike and a relaxed walk around the town. If time/energy is left, a quick visit to Waha.

RELAXED TWO DAYS (WEEKEND) ITINERARY IN MARCHE-EN-FAMENNE
Day 1 - Fond des Vaulx hike and visit to Famenne Arts Museum (FAM)
Day 2 - Walk around the town and a visit to Waha church.

PACKED TWO DAYS (WEEKEND) ITINERARY IN MARCHE-EN-FAMENNE
Day 1 - Fond des Vaulx hike, visit Waha church and Famenne Arts Museum (FAM)
Day 2 -  Trip to Hotton or Rochefort or La-Roche-en-Ardenne in the morning. Bikes can be hired and buses are available to all 3 places if you don't have a car. Walk around Marche town in the evening.
 
MARCHE-EN-FAMENNE HOTELS
Marche-en-Famenne is filled with many hotels at all budgets. For a luxurious stay, choose Quartier Latin in the heart of the city, which is where we stayed. Read my review of Hotel Quartier Latin, a 4-star hotel, housed inside a historic 18th C Jesuit church. 

HOW TO REACH MARCHE-EN-FAMENNE
It is very easy to reach Marche-en-Famenne by train from Brussels, making this town one of the best day-trips / weekend destinations from Brussels. Take the direct train from Brussels to Marloie and then change to another train to Marche-en-Famenne.

Bhushavali

An ardent traveler by passion. Being an ex - Art History Teacher, my area of interest especially lies in Nature and Heritage. Visited 78 UNESCO World Heritage sites as of Sept 2020. I've been listed among the Top 7 Women Travel Bloggers of India, Top 50 in UK. I have been interviewed in a couple of TV Shows, Radio Channels and Events as well. Read more about me and read the testimonials of different brands

7 comments:

  1. You know a spot is great to visit when people return a second time. Hiking in the area would be a draw. But the contrast of interesting street art is also a draw. And I loved the modern stained glass windows. I like the idea of wandering along the cobblestone streets and discovering new gems.

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  2. Such an interesting dichotomy that such a historic city is home to modern street art. I love the concept of the Famenne & Arts Museum too, having both ecological and artistic exhibits for viewers. While Fond des Vaulx would be the top draw for me, I'd love to experience all that Marche-En-Famenne has to offer.

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  3. Marche-en-Famenne seems to offer a lot that interests me. Walking around and exploring is one of my favorite things to do when travelling and I would love walking the cobblestone streets. Another thing about the place which fascinated me was the street art being very passionate about Art. History again is what interests me and would love to spend time visiting the Famemme Arts Museum too. Lots to do actually.

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  4. Honestly I had never heard of Marche-en-Famenne till now. But now I definitely want to visit it. It has everything that I love. I usually explore the street art in a city or a town, I love observing them and taking many pictures. I would also love to hike around the Fond des Vaulx in the area. I am bookmarking this post so I can use it for my future reference.

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  5. Marche-en-Famenne has so many beautiful and creative arts. I think I can spending a day here just looking for them and walking on the cobbled historic city. Jean-Michel Follon's stained glass arts are amazing. I don't know who St. Stephen was, but I like his interpretation of him on the stained glass windows. So modern and look simple.

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  6. As I read your articles, I am more and more dream to visit Belgium. I did not think that it offers so many attractions. Marche-en-Famenne seems extremely interesting. And the sculptures and intriguing modern art are fabulous. For sure, I would love to visit Saint Remacle church, Park van der Straten, Eglise Saint-Etienne. Famenne & Arts Museum I add to my bucket list.

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  7. I have been to Belgium but had no idea about the wonders of the Calestienne region, or that the country even had a UNESCO Global Geopark. Really appreciated you including the map links and your level of detail of each site to make my visit a breeze!

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