A “natural pearl”: this is how people refer to the Hauts-Pays in Wallonia. To the south of Mons, this nature reserve takes travellers on a journey through a land where nature rules.
A haven of peace
« J'ai pour voisin et compagnon
Un vaste et puissant paysage
Qui chante et luit comme un visage
Devant le seuil de ma maison »
Emile Verhaeren – Flammes Hautes
When Emile Verhaeren came to the Hauts-Pays for the first time in 1898, the poet was captivated by his natural surroundings. In Roisin, a small village in the municipality of Honnelles, he found a unique haven of peace that he would never grow weary of. For 15 years, between 1899 and 1914, he spent his time exploring the woods and the fields, going on long walks to recharge his batteries. Around thirty kilometres south of Mons, the Parc Naturel des Hauts-Pays is a nature reserve that seems virtually untouched. Birdsong provides the backdrop to your walks, babbling brooks flow into enchanting waterfalls, and forests decorate the steep banks of valleys. Peace and quiet fill the air.
A beautiful landscape
There are all sorts of routes and possibilities for walks and bike rides. Maps are available from the Maison du Parc Naturel (Onnezies), the Syndicat d'Initiative (Montignies-sur-Roc) or the Maison du Tourisme in Mons. What a treat for families to explore the valleys of this beautiful landscape, framed by woodland and rivers. All sorts of species of flora and fauna have found refuge in this little corner of paradise. Turning a corner might reveal a château (Montignies-sur-Roc, Rampemont or Sars, to name but a few), a beautiful farmhouse, or an old church. This region’s heritage has been lovingly protected. It is authentic and true. This is what walkers come here for. Here, artisans have everything they need to express themselves, to bring their expertise and their terroir to life. From honey and beer to chocolate and even wine... Les Hauts-Pays fly the flag for arts and crafts!
A landscape imbued with legends
In this remote region, far from the hustle and bustle of the city, little stories and legends are recounted by the fireside. Locals love to tell the story of the local bandit, Moneuse, who, with his band of “chauffeurs du Nord”, burned the feet of his victims to make them talk. Roisin was also the backdrop for a rather sordid drama. The legend of Le Caillou-qui-Bique is even more astonishing! In the valley of the Grande Honnelle, along the river, a chunk of rock 25 metres long attracts many curious visitors. This massive stone that seems to be held in place by a thread, is said to be the work of the Devil, who abandoned his rock here on his way to Stavelot! But don’t worry, this phenomenon is 370 million years old, and is totally safe.