How to Spend a Weekend in Han-sur-Lesse, Belgium
Book a trip to pretty Han-sur-Lesse to explore Ardennes culture | © Bombaert Patrick / Alamy
Quaint village, yes, but Han-sur-Lesse packs a cultural punch. There’s the subterranean Grottes de Han cave complex to explore, locally brewed artisanal beer to quaff and seasonal Belgian food to gobble. Here’s how to spend two days in this charming village in the Belgian Ardennes.
Courtesy of Mercure Han Sur Lesse / Expedia
Just a short walk from the Grottes de Han caves, this 117-bedroom hotel is decorated in a traditional Ardennes style. Timber runs throughout, creating a warm, relaxed feel, while the bedrooms feature eye-catching deer murals above the beds.
Unwind with a Belgian G&T at the lounge bar, check out the lobby artwork and take a dip in the swimming pool. End the day with a drink next to the fireplace at the hotel bar.
Pro tip: if you’re looking for a local experience, ask the bartender to knock up an Arduenna Sour; made with a local organic gin, this classy cocktail serves up notes of juniper, peach and pine.
The word Ardennes comes from the Gallo-Roman name for the region, Arduenna Silva, meaning “wooded heights”. And nothing encapsulates this corner of the country more than verdant fields, dense forests and rolling hills. See it all at Inzofalle Deer Farm, which is run by genial Dutchman Hendrik van Beuningen, who will be on hand to answer questions about the region. Deer form a pivotal part of the local culture and cuisine; see a variety here, from red to roe and the much larger fallow deer.
Enjoy the natural beauty of the Ardennes at Inzofalle Deer Farm | © Christophe Ketels / Alamy
Next head to Brasserie de la Lesse, an independent microbrewery that operates as a co-operative. They’re committed to using local resources as much as possible, offering a range of beers – from La Chinette (a light, floral Belgian blonde) to La Rouge Croix (a rich, sweet brown ale). Join the tour to learn about the beer-making process and their commitment to locally sourced ingredients.
Forget any preconceived notions of Belgian food and book a table at this trendy open-plan restaurant. The menu was curated by renowned chef Benoit de Witte and the wine list by his brother Bernard; they strike a perfect balance between haute cuisine and local tradition. Nothing embodies this more than their four-course seasonal menu – serving traditional venison with a red wine sauce and Parisian gnocchi. Vegetarians are also well-catered for, with dishes including smoked leek and goat’s cheese.
The first visitors to this underground cave system arrived in the early 1800s, and they faced a perilous journey in the pitch-black across rugged terrain. Thankfully, access is now vastly improved. The cave complex spans several kilometres, penetrating deep into the Ardennes countryside, with stalagmites and stalactites, rivers and lakes, and large halls to see. Take time for photos, especially in the vast main chamber, which hosts music events and black-tie dinners in the summer.
The magical, subterranean Grottes de Han caves are the main attraction | © Claudine Klodien / Alamy
Grey-stone cottages, winding rural lanes and a pretty gothic church are the highlights of tiny Han-sur-Lesse. Enjoy the relaxed pace and take advantage of the hotel’s position to explore what’s on offer. A couple of steps from the lobby and you’re in the shadow of Saint-Hubert Church. Further afield you’ll find cafes and gift shops. Sit and watch the world pass at Taverne du Centre cafe while enjoying a coffee and a waffle. Or head to the natural wildlife park that hosts 250ha (620 acres) of Wallonian flora and fauna – look out for Przewalski’s horses, a rare and endangered species. If you have any questions about the region make sure you head to the charming Tourist Office opposite the hotel.
Cafes offer a chilled spot to watch the world pass in Han-sur-Lesse | © Arterra Picture Library / Alamy