Place de Wasmes
At the connection point between the Ravel and rue de la Station, make a small loop towards place Saint-Pierre in Wasmes. With its rural architecture, it comprises shops which extend down to the bottom of the neighbouring roads. Every year it witnesses the La Pucelette procession and once had a monument depicting Vincent van Gogh with the inscription “D’ici partit Vincent Van Gogh à la recherche du soleil et de soi-même” (Vincent Van Gogh left here in search of the sun and his inner self). Year 1880.”
Abbaye de la Cour
Cercle Equestre de l’Abbaye de la Cour Wasmes (Colfontaine), Ruelle de la Cour 50! (Equestrian centre.) When you get back on the Ravel, take Chaussée de la Cour to arrive in front of Abbaye de la Cour. The history of the place tells us that it isn’t really an abbey. Indeed, monks have never lived there, the “abbey” being in fact one of the 19 farms owned by Saint-Ghislain abbey. It was primarily a place of work. An equestrian area has taken over the premises in one of the building’s wings.
The Marcasse nature reserve
The Messe path will offer you beautiful views of the surrounding countryside and slag heaps. One of them, that of Marcasse, is housing a natural reserve since 2007. Originally free of any vegetation, it is now covered with rare and varied fauna and flora. Under the combined effects of arid slopes and sunshine, some Mediterranean species thrive on the heap. Let’s have a walk!
Marcasse coal mine
Not far from the slag heap 18, the remnants of the Marcasse mining site stand isolated in the landscape. Bearing witness to a visit by van Gogh in 1879, here the painter descended more than 700 metres underground to get a taste of the miners’ labours for a few hours. The coal mine ended its activities in 1954 after a last firedamp explosion, killing 17 miners on 13 January 1953.
Pagnon borain pastry
“El pagnon boregne”, pagnon borain, is a specialty of the Borinage. This comforting pastry is enjoyed during the autumn / winter period accompanied by a nice bowl of hot coffee. Even if it’s summertime, feel free to enjoy some pagnon, a delicious cake soaked in caramelised sugar with coffee. It’s delicious!
Van Gogh’s bust by the artist Ossip Zadkine
At the bend of a narrow street you’ll find a copy of Van Gogh’s bust by the French Belarusian-born sculptor Ossip Zadkine. The original work is visible in the Town Hall during opening hours, with its caption reading “D’ici partit Vincent Van Gogh à la recherche du soleil et de soi-même” (Vincent Van Gogh left here in search of the sun and his inner self).
En route to the Salon du Bébé!
When he arrived in the Mons region, Van Gogh was a young lay preacher tasked with an evangelist’s mission in the Borinage. He was sent to the community of Petit-Wasmes to complete what he believed to be his calling among the poorest. From his visit to the Borinage, the “Salon du Bébé” is the first Protestant centre in the area, where he shared his evangelical faith with the faithful.
To the old Art Deco pharmacy “Maison Vinchent”!
After walking along Colfontaine wood, featuring rue Robersart and rue Rossignol... Let’s stop in front of the VINCHENT pharmacy. Integrated in an Art Nouveau style house, the old pharmacy has remained in its original state. It has kept intact the charm and authenticity of a pharmacy from the early 20th century with its furniture, instruments and stained glass. The Vinchent House opens its doors for the Heritage Days and organises musical and cultural evenings!
Stop in front of the Tour du Lait Buré
This building has been on the territory of Pâturages for decades, at the edge of the Colfontaine wood. A former inn turned into a guinguette, its conical roof looks very beautiful. Its name comes from the word “bure à lait” which meant “milk jug” at the beginning of the 20th century. The place has been converted into a charming tavern, an ideal place to share a drink with friends or to rest during a family walk in the surrounding woods!
Stop in front of Fénelon inn at the edge of the woods!
François de Salignac of La Mothe-Fénelon, known as Fénelon, is a French churchman, theologian and writer. The publication of his novel ‘Les Aventures de Télémaque’ (The Adventures of Telemachus), considered a critical analysis of Louis XIV, engineered his fall from grace before the Court. Sent to Cambrai as a bishop, he discovered the Borinage and its estate, which he managed. On the edge of the wood, he built the Belle Maison in which he would never stay although the Borinage was his preferred region!
Walk in Colfontaine forest!
To explore it, three signposted routes offer more than 30 km of routes. From 10 to 13 km long, the loops will reveal to you the forest’s many aspects: fauna, flora, slag heaps, streams and very many springs ... Some traces of local history and especially coal mining are still very much present. The concrete headframe of the Sauwartan coal mine will surprise you during your hike.
The Maison du Peuple, rue du Peuple!
After a typical journey along rue Garcia Lorca, a visit to the Maison du Peuple (House of the People) is essential. It was once the headquarters of various cooperatives: bakery (bread available to all), grocery store, butcher’s shop, clothing stores, function hall, nurse’s office, and more. Inaugurated on 2 August 1903, the Maison du Peuple of Pâturages, headquarters of the Cooperative Union, Progress, Economy, played its social role to the fullest extent possible. Designed by architect Eugène Bodson, its facade is decorated with sgraffito entitled “Le Triomphe du Travail” (the triumph of labour)!
Narrow streets and mining area!
Walks through narrow streets with a view of the mining area and landscapes. Rue de l'Eglise, rue de la Tannerie, a journey down ruelle de la Papeterie (a typical narrow street) before going back to the Ravel through rue du Maubeuge and the two paths Sentier des Douaires and Sentier de Pâturages!