Historic site and monument
The forest of Colfontaine
A wood or forest?
We are in 1842. After 3 successive purchases, Henri Degorge, the creator of the industrial mining complex of the Grand Hornu, rebuilds a forest domain of 545 ha. Helped by the Parisian architect Sequenard (designer of the jardin des Tuileries in Paris), he undertook the creation of service roads to facilitate its operation. It is that first impulse that made it possible to create this massif and to define its surface and his first boundaries. In 1907, the forest comes under threat by coal mining. A large popular demonstration saved the domain consisting of four forests: Saint-Ghislain, Colfontaine, Montroeul and Blaugies. Acquired by the Belgian State, on 20 October 1907, the state-owned forest is definitively created. It will be named the forest of Colfontaine in 1977.
An important ornithological reserve, the forest of Colfontaine also is of exceptional botanical interest. You will find hazelnut, hornbeam, ash and maple trees during your walks. Large trees are also present: oak, elm, poplar, beech, maple, cherry, chestnut trees and in some places even conifers. To discover it three signposted routes offer more than 30 km of circuit. 10-13 km-long circuits reveal the many facets of the forest: fauna, flora, slag heaps, rivers and numerous springs... For the youngest visitors, the yellow signposted "Rando des Leus', provides a 5 km circuit to try and surprise the red squirrel or deer. It was created at the initiative of the Conseil Communal des Enfants de Colfontaine.
Traces of local history
Other treasures are also waiting to be discovered, traces of local history and coal mining in particular are still very present. The concrete headframe of the Sauwartan colliery will surprise you during your hike. Behind the headframe, the top of the slag heap provides superb views of the panorama on the green forest. On the edge of the slag heap, small puddles are actually the remains of the shell holes left by the allied bombings of 1944. In summer they are the haven of many dragonflies. « La Tour du Lait Buré » located on the edge of Colfontaine forest, was built in the early 20th century. It was in turn a dance hall and a cabaret. Miners came here to relax and drink a cup of buttermilk (among others) after their day's work. The place is still open, it is the ideal place for a drink on the terrace after your walks.