In the footsteps of the monks of the Abbaye d’Aulne

In the footsteps of the monks of the Abbaye d’Aulne
In the footsteps of the monks of the Abbaye d’Aulne

The Abbaye d’Aulne, Thuin

In the heart of the borough of Thuin, explore the impressive ruins of the Abbaye d’Aulne, where the past and the wild coexist in harmony: a moment of serenity in a haven of peace.

This place, nicknamed ‘the valley of peace’, was not chosen at random by the Cistercian monks in the twelfth century. The Sambre, the woodland and its geographic position close to Charleroi determined the site of the abbey and its outbuildings.

The ruins of the Abbaye d’Aulne bear witness to a rich and important past

Looking for a grand past

Today, the structure of most of the buildings is still visible. On the site, you can explore the church, cloisters, tower, orchard, inner courtyard or even the garage, in ruins or still standing.

The irrigation techniques are impressive: ‘You can explore more than 2.9 km of water network.  That is unique in Europe’, explains Swamini Decuir, guide at Thuin Tourist Office. ‘The monks established an irrigation system which was very sophisticated at the time: one circuit for drinking water, another for waste water and another for rainwater.  There are 3 drains that lead to the Sambre’, she says. Water played a major role on the site. Close to the abbey, 6 ponds provided the monks with fish for their personal consumption.

You can discover a water network measuring 2.9 km, unique in Europe

You can tour the ruins with or without a guide. A notice below each wall tells the history of the ruins.

The site of the Abbaye d’Aulne is covered a significant amount of vegetation which gives the place its character

Multiple excuses to explore the place

Although the ruins are impressive, they stand out primarily thanks to their timeless aspect. ‘I find the place inspiring… I have the impression of being somewhere else in Belgium’, says a passing visitor.

The place has also inspired a producer from Antwerp, Kristoff Leue, to film an episode of the series Mister Right. Its Chinese director, Xiao Feng Yao, filmed in the entrance, cloisters and old church. The audience for this series, which is very popular in China, exceeds 380 million viewers.

Thuin Tourist Office has invested in a game for exploring the abbey. It developed a fun application around the history of the place, ‘The Mysteries of the Abbey’. It also suggests activities in an ancient games module or blind tasting of the abbey’s beers, amongst other things.


Tours of the abbey ruins generally end with tasting regional produce

Perfectly located for a day with family or friends

The ruins welcome many visitors in family groups or in the context of events. ‘In 2018, approximately 10,000 visitors visited the site, ⅔ individuals and ⅓ on an organised tour. We hope to increase this number each year’, explains Swamini Decuir. In the future, the Region of Wallonia, owner of the site, intends to invest in expanding the walking trail and moving the mill to the interpretive centre.

Visitors can end their day with a pleasant timeless trip to one of the eating establishments. The brasserie la Guinguette, for example, opposite the lock, offers regional specialities. The restaurant, Les Caves de l’Abbaye d’Aulne, located in the cellars of the abbey, is a wonderful extension of an exploration of the old stone buildings.


The ruins of the Abbaye d’Aulne are easily accessible by bike.Only 12 km from Charleroi via the RAVeL

A number of city residents visit the abbey by bike from Charleroi.  The trail, from the city centre to the abbey, follows the Ravel along the Sambre and is no more than 12 km. ‘We hired electric bikes at Charleroi railway station, it’s convenient’, explains Pauline, at a team building event at the Abbaye d’Aulne. ‘We allowed 30 minutes to get here, it’s ideal’.

The ruins are also accessible by train or car.

In the coming years, various projects, such as the installation of a spa, should be developed close to the abbey.


Contact :
Abbaye d’Aulne
Rue Émile Vandervelde 277
6534 Thuin
+32 (0)71 55 49 28

©Video/Reed & Jérôme Gobin


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