The undulating landscape of the Condroz stretches between the provinces of Liège and Namur. This route from Esneux to Seny (130 km) flirts with the foothills of the Ardennes before we dive into the real Condroz. Download the route at the bottom of the article.
In Esneux, the banks of the Ourthe are the starting point. A bit too touristy in full season for our taste, but at the moment still quite doable in terms of crowds. We also take it easy for the first kilometers, while we follow the meandering Ourthe and pass the quarries of Poulseur. A little further on we briefly leave the valley, towards Sprimont. We continue to Comblain-au-Pont via roads that are getting narrower and more winding, via Presseux, Fraiture and Rivage.
At Hamoir we rejoin the course of the Ourthe, where the N66 leads us through the winding valley of Néblon. Driving pleasure guaranteed, but watch out because the road surface lets it down here and there. We arrive in Ocquier, a (large) village in typical Condroz style with a solid historical base as it dates back to Gallo-Roman times.
From here it continues to the historic hamlet of Vervoz. The route takes us through this beautiful site with majestic buildings, a cute chapel and peacefully grazing sheep. A little further on we arrive at the castle of Hoyoux, in the valley of the same name. From Ohey it goes via Andenne to Haltinne, where a beautiful castle awaits us. A little further on in Faulx-les-Tombes, the beautiful Abbey of Grandpré deserves a stop, although the domain is privately owned these days and can therefore not be visited.
For the last kilometers of this route we use the Samson valley, a real ‘Namur classic’. The road surface was renewed a few years ago (hurrah!), but be careful because the track is bordered by rows of trees and they sometimes come eerily close. The N942 takes us to Gesves, where the landscape opens up again. In Barsy we make a short stop at the Musée Monopoli, which is worth the trip in itself. From here the arrival is almost in sight.
Haltinne . Castle: Not the most famous castle of the Condroz, but worth a stop with its English park and moats. Built in 1635, the castle remained virtually unchanged for 350 years. Haltinne Castle is flanked by a farm from the same period. You can now stay overnight in the gites, the castle itself will be open for events from 2025.
Monopoli Museum: This remarkable museum is named after its founder, Renato Monopoli. You will find all kinds of rare objects such as still working display machines from the period 1850-1950, crazy musical instruments such as mechanical pianos and barrel organs, but also models of boats, and old cafe games.
Comblain-au-pont: Motorsport enthusiasts will undoubtedly know the famous Luigi BMWs, named after tuner Luigi Cimarosti – also known as ‘the wizard of Comblain-au-Pont’ because he built such fast and efficient cars. The Luigi BMWs were especially furore in the 24h of Francorchamps in 1974 and 1975. The coupé 3.0 CSi with Jean Xhenceval at the wheel is now no less than legendary…
Text Philippe Bonamis, Jacques Berghmans Photography Thierry Dricot