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Notre-Dame d'Orval Abbey: a religious and gourmet visit

Orval

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  • Notre-Dame d'Orval Abbey: a religious and gourmet visit

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The Abbey of Orval : its ruins and its museums

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orval abbey visit

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orval abbey visit

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Orval Abbey

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orval abbey visit

Orval Abbey, Florenvill

orval abbey visit

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Orval abbey, a legendary place of faith and tradition.

orval abbey visit

Orval Abbey is a famous name. Renowned as much for its beer and cheese as for its fascinating history, this remarkable place attracts both tourists and those looking for quiet contemplation.

It’s a must-see, the type of place that marks the history of a region and whose renown extends beyond its borders. This site on the edge of the Belgian Ardennes, in the heart of the Gaume region, is surrounded by woods and forests with springs and streams running through them. A fantastic natural environment with, in its centre, an impressive Cistercian monastery founded in 1131, whose beauty will leave you speechless... At several points over the centuries, the abbey has suffered the blows of history only to be reborn from its ashes. It was in  1926 that the Cistercian monks created a brewery and a cheese factory on the site to fund its reconstruction.

A Symbol of History... and of Tasty Traditions

This helped to grow its reputation even further, making its name and coat of arms iconic. And what can we say about Orval beer? It’s become a classic! With its unique taste and unusual amber aroma, it is one of the six Belgian beers brewed by the Trappist monks who still live there. Would you like to learn the secrets of the brewing process? Don't miss a visit to the museum! It has an educational trail with a quiz, great fun for the kids and the grown-ups. In the surrounding area, you can take a walk in the Prés d’Orval nature reserve: a superb route where you can observe the abundance of flora and fauna. Oh and before you leave, don’t forget to stop off at the shop to buy some cheese and beer to take away with you...

Copyright pictures: Visit Wallonia, Visit Ardenne

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orval abbey visit

Orval Abbey is a Must Stop on a Belgium Road Trip

Published by Jeremy . Last Updated on March 20, 2024.

Disclaimers : Our site uses demographic data, email opt-ins, display advertising, and affiliate links. Please check out our Terms and Conditions for more information. Listed prices and attraction details may have changed since our visit and initial publication.

When visiting a Trappist brewery in Belgium, most of our experience was simply seeing them from a distance- picking up beer just inside the gates of Westvleteren or a tourist-oriented museum with bar and restaurant at Chamay. Getting on the grounds of a Trappist producer is, well, quite impossible most of the time.

But there was one Trappist brewery whose historic grounds were (mostly) open to explore, and that was Orval in southern Belgium. Although we went out of our way to check this one out, we'd do it again in a heartbeat as it was one of the biggest surprises of our trip!

Orval is the Best Monastery Grounds

Orval Abbey Ruins

When you arrive at Orval, you'll quickly learn that the history of the abbey and religious settlements dates back to as early as 1070- yes, almost 1,000 years ago.

The first recorded abbey was built in 1124, was subsequently destroyed in a fire in 1252, rebuilt over the next century, burnt again during the Thirty Years' War in the 1600s, became Trappist in the 17th century, burnt down again during the French Revolution, and the abbey we know today was rebuilt and consecrated in 1948.

Orval Abbey Ruins

On the brewing side, it is said that the monks were brewing beer in the 1600s and 1700s, but the modern-day brewery only came into use starting in 1932. The profits from brewing support the monastery itself, and it is said that Orval was the first Trappist beer to be sold nationally, too.

Time Your Visit Accordingly for the Abbey

Orval Abbey Museum

As the Abbey has been built, destroyed, and rebuilt many times over the years, visitors should naturally plan to make a stop inside the Abbey as part of your self-guided tour. It is, to put it bluntly, the crown jewel of the visit.

But we have to admit that we almost missed this one as the Abbey seemingly closed earlier than the rest of the grounds towards the end of the day. We made it in and out right before they locked the doors for the evening with only seconds to spare!

Orval Abbey and Ruins

Official times are hard to come by online, but if we recall correctly, the Abbey seemed closed to visitors about 30 to 60 minutes before the grounds closed for the night. This may vary as it is also an operating Abbey, so during the frequent services, access may be limited there, too.

Suffice it to say, when you arrive, it would be worth double-checking with the staff to see what the public hours are to ensure you can fit it within your schedule. Had we asked, we likely would've made our way over to the Abbey first thing instead of saving it for the last stop!

Don't Miss a Stop at A l'Ange Gardien

Orval and Orval Vert at l'Ange Gardien

The only true downside to taking a tour of Orval is that the grounds do not have a working bar for guests to sample Orval.

You can tour the ruins, buy bottles to go from the shop (plus other Abbey and brewery-related souvenirs), and learn about the beer-making process, but they cannot pour you a glass to enjoy on-site.

Instead, you'll want to head down to A l'Ange Gardien on the same road as the monastery after your visit for a drink.

This independent restaurant and bar partners with Orval for some of the freshest beer on draft, including the exclusive Orval Vert style of beer you're unlikely to find anywhere else. This one is also called “Petit Orval” and is a lower ABV, session style brew clocking in at about 4.5% (the regular Orval tends to be 6-7%) and with a bit more prominent bitterness.

But visitors keen on trying this brew must be careful here, too- the restaurant and bar do not maintain the same operating days and hours as Orval proper. 

As you can likely see where we are going with this, the day we visited Orval coincided with the day the cafe was closed (a Wednesday, although this may vary) and we had only realized this after crafting our route in Belgium. That said, by a stroke of luck, the bar was open for a special party of seemingly Orval sales reps, and the team there was incredibly kind to let us come in and buy a round all the same- a close call indeed.

So while we would still say that you should absolutely go to Orval even if A l'Ange Gardien is closed (as heartbreaking as that may be), if you can time a visit to when they are open, do not miss a stop to enjoy a round after your tour! 

Overall, the grounds of Orval offered one of the most stunning and informative tours we had in all of Belgium, and whether you're visiting to learn the history of the Abbey, Orval Brewery, or both, this really is one must-see experience. Just be sure to plan your visit accordingly to see the Abbey and have a beer at the bar nearby if you are able!

Orval Abbey is located at Orval 1 in Florenville, Belgium.

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About Jeremy

Jeremy from Living the Dream

About the Author: Jeremy is a full-time travel writer based in Pittsburgh and primary author of this site. He has been to 70+ countries on five continents and seeks out new food, adventure activities, and off-the-beaten-path experiences wherever he travels.

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Road Trips around the World

Discover the World, one road trip at a time! 

Let's visit the Orval Abbey – Belgium

Belgium is a beautiful and diversified country. I really had no idea, until  I started exploring lesser know areas. The Orval Abbey was one of the first place I went to and I loved it!

The Orval Abbey is located in the South of Belgium, a stone throw from the French border and an easy drive from Luxembourg.

ORVAL - Belgium - view of the ruins of medieval abbey

It is located in a quiet and charming valley, surrounded by luxuriant forests, small lakes and peaceful little villages. The Gaume region is so green, so pleasant, that it makes you want to slow down and admire. Every little path you see on the side of the roads you want to try, every villages you want to stop and admire…. Well maybe that’s just me! But it is for sure a part of Belgium that is worth exploring.

A touch of history

The first monks settled in Orval, in the early 11th century, and erected the first church. They were replaced by a small community of Canons (another religious order) who was able to complete the construction work, begun by their predecessors. In 1124, the completed church was consecrated. In 1132, seven monks under the leadership of Constantin arrived at Orval from Trois-Fontaines. Monks and Canons formed a single community and adapted the buildings to Cistercian usages. The new church was completed before 1200.

But the Abbey of Orval has a long history of construction, destruction and reconstruction, which started not long ago, after it was first built:

Around 1252, the monastery was destroyed by a fire; the rebuilding took around 100 years.

In 1637, during the Thirty Years’ War, the abbey was pillaged and burnt by French mercenaries.

In 1793, during the French Revolution, the abbey was completely burnt down by French armies (again!), and the community dispersed.

In 1887, the land and ruins were acquired by the Harenne family and donated to the Cistercian order in 1926, so that monastic life could resume on the site.

Between 1926 and 1948, the new monastery was constructed, and in 1935 Orval regained the rank of abbey.

The Orval history explains why the site is divided into 2:

– The ruins of the cistercian church and monastery that you get to visit as well as a few other buildings, including the museum.

– The actual monastery that you can glimpse at from certain areas but that you do not get to visit (this includes the brewery).

Come along and enjoy the visit:

ORVAL - Belgium - Entrance view

The entrance of the Orval Abbey

ORVAL - Belgium - actual monastery

The newest par of the monastery which can not be visited

ORVAL- Belgium - non accessible entrance court yard

The courtyard before the ticket hall

ORVAL - Belgium - path after the ticket booth

The beginning of the visit. This building hosts art exhibition as shown on the picture below.

ORVAL- Belgium - art exhibition

The view of the cistercian abbey (with the newest church in the background)

ORVAL - Belgium - view of the monastery

The view of the newest building of the abbey

View of the cistercian abbey (with the newest church in the background)

ORVAL- Belgium ruins of the medieval monastery

Sitting under this old tree is so relaxing.

ORVAL - Belgium - Abbey herbs garden

The herbs garden with explanation of the medicinal use of the plants

ORVAL- Belgium - medecinal cabinet

Behind the herbs garden, you can enter the building and see a gallery of medicinal cabinets. I love those old bottles!

Although you can not visit the brewery, there is a building that you can visit which gives lot’s of information on the art of making beer and some info on the history of the site. By it’s side, you will find the Mathilde water fountain.

Let’s walk around the church:

ORVAL- Belgium ruins of the medieval abbey.jpg

The burial is the burial of Wenceslaus I, Duke of Luxembourg

ORVAL- Belgium ruins of the medieval abbey - detail

The Cloister 

ORVAL- Belgium ruins from the abbey to the cloister

Now let’s go to the museum.

The museum’s prime originality lies in its location, as its collections are housed in vaulted cellars dating from the 18th century.

It is super cool (temperature wise!) inside. Perfect on a hot sunny day!

ORVAL- Belgium - entrance to museum

The Museum entrance by the vaulted corridor

ORVAL- Belgium - inside museum

Some cellars are not accessible, except to the monks!

The visit is already over and it’s time to head back.

ORVAL - Belgium - view of the entrance and tree

The entrance building

ORVAL - Belgium - gift shop

We still had a bit of time to stop by the gift shop and we didn’t resist… we bought some beer!! 

Trappist beers contain residual sugars and living yeast, and, unlike conventional beers, will improve with age.   These have become quite famous and are considered by many beer critics to be among the finest in the world. The Orval beer can only be bought at the Abbey and quantities are limited by person. Extremely popular! The queue to purchase can be very long…

ORVAL - Famous Belgium beer

The Orval Abbey is a great place to visit. Embrace it, find a little place where you can contemplate, meditate or prey if you feel like it. It has been a place of devotion for centuries and if you pay attention, you will feel it.

To know before you go

The ffficial web site: www.orval.be

Very interesting website which gives details of the history of the Abbey, of the beer and cheese making tradition, and of course all the necessary infos on opening hours, access, and stay.

As indicated above, the brewery is not part of the regular visit. But it seems that every now and then, you can actually visit, although reservation is required and you have to be fast to secure a place.

A word of advise:

Hoards of tourists, who might have sampled a little bit too many Belgium beers, will come by bus every now and then. Be patient, they don’t stay for too long and after a while you will find the piece and quietness you are looking for.

The Gaume region is simply gorgeous. Get off the highway and drive on the small roads through typical villages and lush forests, you won’t regret it.

Next i will take you to the avioth basilica. a little surprise , if you’re in belgium you might also want to visit the han caves , which are not that far., pin this before you go.

Visit the Orval Abbey in Belgium - www.roadtripsaroundtheworld.com

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Abbaye d'Orval Orval Abbey

Chug 18th century history in the ruins of the Trappist monastery with a glass of authentic Trappist beer.

Come by to Abbaye d'Orval to see 18th century ruins, a medicinal herb garden, and a history museum too. Also, beer! There’s plenty to do and see at the abbey.

Known for their authentic Trappist beer . Orval started brewing Trappist beer in 1931, so it might not be one of the first but it’s one of the most interesting sights to see for the ruins. The beer, of course, is brewed locally. The beer is made in the traditional Belgian way by refermenting in the bottle. The brewery is only open to visitors on special Open Door days. Take a 1 hour visit to the brewery!

Monastery museum

Full of history! Abbaye Dorval's museum takes you through the history of the monastery with pieces of the original 12th century abbey recreated. Stone artifacts, art and more are all on display. A lot of the art is from the art deco days, when monk life was trendy again. But there’s some older gems too like the goldsmithing work by an actual 18th century monk Friar Arman Robin.

  • Hospitality house : see the history of Abbaye d'Orval animated. No boring, dull info panels to trawl through info to get to the good stuff. Instead, watch a 10 min animated video and see the screens throughout for more.
  • Welcome to the Scriptorium where monks would write and copy out books. Yup, before the days of the eBook and even the printing press publishing was real slow.
  • Pharmacy museum: right next to the garden, this little museum recreates the 18th century abbey dispensary. Back then one of the monks, Friar Antoine Perrin, was known for making lots of medicine. See all the tools they used back then.
  • Herb garden: check out the charming herb garden to see what healthcare was like before modern medicine. It’s not all bad, really. The plants are all labelled so you learn what they’re for if you’re into that sort of thing. It’s quite pretty to see in the summer when the plants look their best in the sunshine.

Tips and Tricks

  • Have lunch while you’re there, plenty of picnic tables around Orval Abbey
  • Book a guided visit on their website: only for groups of 20 or more. Tour lasts 2 hours, 60€ euros for the guide
  • Check their website to see the brewery open days

Getting There

  • By Car: parking available on site
  • By Bus: 10 min walk from bus stop ORVAL Carrefour. Bus 24 stops here

Address: Orval 1, 6823 Florenville, Belgium

Nov - Feb, open everyday, 10:30 to 17:30

Mar - May, Oct, open everyday, 9:30 to 18:00

Jun - Sep, open everyday, 9:30 to 18:30

All seasons

Adults 7€, Kids 3€, special discount rates available

Open; national COVID measures apply.

  • Visit Abbaye d'Orval Visit the brewery at Abbaye d'Orval READ MORE

Orval Abbey

TsamayaSentle

Most Recent: Reviews ordered by most recent publish date in descending order.

Detailed Reviews: Reviews ordered by recency and descriptiveness of user-identified themes such as wait time, length of visit, general tips, and location information.

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Orval Abbey, Florenvill

You are currently viewing Unraveling the Legends of Orval Abbey

Unraveling the Legends of Orval Abbey

  • Post author: traveladventuretrip
  • Post published: May 9, 2024
  • Post category: Blog

Table of Contents

1. Introduction: A Mystical Haven in the Belgian Ardennes

Nestled amidst the dense forests of the Belgian Ardennes, Orval Abbey stands as a testament to centuries of history, faith, and captivating legends. Founded in 1070, this Cistercian monastery has witnessed the ebbs and flows of time, leaving behind a rich tapestry of tales and mysteries that continue to intrigue visitors to this day. As we delve into the heart of Orval Abbey, we embark on a journey to unravel the threads of truth and fiction that weave through its storied past.

2. The Legend of Countess Matilda: A Pious Founder and a Divine Vision

The origins of Orval Abbey are shrouded in a legend that intertwines faith, piety, and divine intervention. The tale unfolds with Countess Matilda of Tuscany, a prominent figure in 11th-century Europe. While on a pilgrimage to Rome, Matilda encountered a blinding light emanating from a rock in the Ardennes forest. Guided by this celestial sign, she established a monastery on that very spot, dedicating it to the Virgin Mary. This foundation gave rise to Orval Abbey, a sanctuary destined to become a beacon of spirituality and intrigue.

3. The White Lady of Orval: A Ghostly Figure and a Harbinger of Change

Among the most enduring legends associated with Orval Abbey is the tale of the White Lady. This ethereal figure is said to roam the abbey grounds, clad in flowing white garments, her presence often heralding significant events. Some believe she is the spirit of a young noblewoman who sought refuge in the monastery, while others associate her with the abbey's founder, Countess Matilda. The White Lady's appearances have been interpreted as omens of both joy and tragedy, adding an element of mystery to the abbey's already captivating history.

4. The Legend of the Bleeding Host: A Miraculous Event and a Symbol of Faith

The annals of Orval Abbey record a remarkable event known as the Miracle of the Bleeding Host. According to legend, a priest celebrating Mass accidentally dropped the consecrated wafer, causing it to bleed. This extraordinary occurrence was interpreted as a manifestation of Christ's sacrifice and a testament to the abbey's sacred nature. The Bleeding Host became a revered relic, attracting pilgrims from far and wide, further solidifying Orval Abbey's position as a spiritual haven.

5. The Curse of the Abbey: A Dark Shadow Cast over Orval

A darker legend lurks within the walls of Orval Abbey, whispering of a curse that has plagued the monastery throughout its existence. This ominous tale is linked to the abbey's early years, when a group of monks allegedly violated the sacred vows of poverty and chastity. As punishment, a curse was placed upon the abbey, bringing misfortune and tragedy upon its inhabitants. Fires, floods, and other calamities befell Orval, seemingly fulfilling the prophecy of the curse. While the veracity of this legend remains shrouded in mystery, it adds a layer of intrigue to the abbey's already complex history.

6. The Legend of the Golden Rose: A Royal Gift and a Symbol of Divine Favor

The legend of the golden rose adds a touch of regal splendor to Orval Abbey's rich history. It is said that a Spanish king, grateful for the abbey's hospitality during a visit, presented the monks with a magnificent golden rose. This exquisite gift served not only as a symbol of royal generosity but also as a testament to the abbey's reputation for piety and hospitality. The golden rose became a cherished relic, further enhancing Orval's prestige and allure.

7. The Mystery of the Lost Treasure: Hidden Riches and Archaeological Enigmas

Whispers of hidden treasure have long captivated the imaginations of those drawn to Orval Abbey. The legend speaks of a secret vault concealed within the abbey walls, containing a vast hoard of gold, jewels, and other precious artifacts. Archaeological investigations have uncovered evidence that lends credence to this intriguing tale. Excavations have revealed hidden chambers and mysterious tunnels, suggesting that the abbey's history may hold secrets yet to be unearthed.

8. The Legends of the Monks and the Abbey: Tales of Faith, Resilience, and Community

The monks who have called Orval Abbey home throughout the centuries have left an indelible mark on its history. Countless tales and legends recount their daily lives, rituals, and contributions to the surrounding community. From stories of their unwavering devotion to accounts of their ingenuity and resilience, these legends offer a glimpse into the human spirit that has sustained Orval Abbey for generations.

9. The Abbey as a Place of Pilgrimage: Seeking Solace and Inspiration in Sacred Grounds

For centuries, Orval Abbey has served as a place of pilgrimage for those seeking solace, inspiration, and a connection to the divine. Pilgrims from all walks of life have journeyed to the abbey, drawn by its serene atmosphere, rich history, and spiritual significance. Whether seeking comfort in prayer, reflection on life's journey, or simply a moment of peace amidst the hustle and bustle of the world, Orval Abbey offers a sanctuary for the soul.

10. Conclusion: Unraveling the Tapestry of Legends and Mysteries

Orval Abbey stands as a testament to the enduring power of legends and mysteries. These tales, woven into the fabric of the abbey's history, add intrigue and depth to its story, captivating visitors and inspiring countless interpretations. As we conclude our exploration of Orval Abbey's legends, we are left with a sense of wonder and a newfound appreciation for the rich tapestry of history, faith, and human imagination that this sacred place embodies.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

1. Is Orval Abbey open to the public?

Yes, Orval Abbey is open to the public for visits and tours. Visitors can explore the abbey grounds, including the ruins of the original monastery, the abbey church, and the brewery.

2. What are the best times to visit Orval Abbey?

Orval Abbey is open year-round, but the best times to visit are during the spring and fall when the weather is pleasant. Weekdays are generally less crowded than weekends.

3. How can I get to Orval Abbey?

Orval Abbey is located in Villers-devant-Orval, Belgium. It is accessible by car, bus, or train.

4. What are some of the nearby attractions to Orval Abbey?

Some nearby attractions include the Gaume Museum, the Abbey of Clairefontaine, and the Semois Valley.

5. Where can I find more information about Orval Abbey?

More information about Orval Abbey can be found on the abbey's official website: https://www.orval.be/

Unraveling the Legends of Orval Abbey

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orval abbey visit

Located within the confines of the Abbey, the Orval Brewery was created in 1931 to finance the enormous reconstruction works of Orval. It has hired lay workers from the outset, including the master brewer, Pappenheimer, who invented the recipe.

The brewer’s commercial policy is adapted to the values of the monastic community.  Income from Royalties generated from the brand name go to social welfare works and the maintenance of the buildings.

THE UNIQUE TASTE OF ORVAL BEER

The distinctive fruity and bitter taste of Orval beer means it has become a genuine reference in the exclusive world of authentic Trappist beers. Orval beer is a high fermentation beer. The ageing process adds a fruity note, which strikes a subtle balance between the beer’s full-bodied yet complex flavour and bitterness.

The beer was first brewed in 1931 and owes its unparalleled taste to the quality of the water, the hops and the yeast used. The brewery has selected very aromatic and unique hop varieties, which hark back to the first brewmaster of Orval, who hailed from Bavaria. The beer’s aromas are very pronounced while maintaining the right level of bitterness thanks to the English method of dry hopping.

The various stages of fermentation – combined fermentation with the original yeast and with wild yeast, followed by fermentation in the bottle – mean the beer must age for some time and requires numerous quality controls. 

A GENUINE TRAPPIST BEER

The Orval Brewery’s activities are governed by the wishes of the monastic community. Part of the revenue generated by the sale of its products goes to charity.

This ethical dimension is one of the three criteria of the “ Authentic Trappist Product ” designation. To qualify for this designation, a product must be manufactured in a Trappist abbey, the monastic community must be directly involved in the management of the activities and the revenue must be essentially used for charity.

Meet the members of the International Trappist Association : podcast

Trappist products are recongnisable from these initials.   There are only tenTrappist breweries in the world with label Authentic Trappist Product :  www.trappist.be

orval abbey visit

CONTROLLED PRODUCTION AND GROWTH

Orval beer is increasingly becoming a much sought after product. At the same time, the Orval Brewery wishes to preserve its know-how, while remaining true to its values. Its production is entirely dedicated to delivering quality and has adhered to the same manufacturing methods for over eighty years.

Like every Trappist beer with the “ Authentic Trappist Product ” product label, Orval beer must observe strict production methods. The beer will always be locally brewed in the abbey near the Mathilde source.

The various production stages are a guarantee of quality while respecting the original production methods. This approach, which focuses on controlled and constant growth, means there are also limits.

While the Orval Brewery believes in a moderate production, it is anything but negligible. The brewery produces 22 million bottles every year. More than 85% of its production is sold on the Belgian market.

Within the historic perimeter, the monastic community and its brewmasters have continually developed the brewing activities. The brewery permanently and continually invests in its production equipment in order to ensure better control of the brewing process and regular production. The aim is to satisfy demand and honour the loyalty of Orval enthusiasts.

Brasserie d’Orval s.a.

Orval, n° 2, B-6823 Villers-devant-Orval Tél. : +32 61 311 261   [email protected]

The Brewery is open to visit only during the annual open house .

orval abbey visit

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Orval Abbey

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You cannot visit the current Orval Abbey but for a small fee you can visit the Orval Abbey ruins. By the 12th century, this Cistercian abbey isolated in the Gaume Forest had become one of the most famous and richest in Europe. After a film on monastic life, the tour takes visitors round the ruins of the 14th century cloister and 18th century cellar. Note the medicinal herb garden in front of the Monks’ Pharmacy Museum. The ruined late 12th century Notre Dame Church stands near the Mathilda Fountain in green surroundings. Note the north transept rose window and Romanesque, Gothic or Renaissance capitals adorning the pillars. The tomb of Wenceslas, first Duke of Luxembourg, is in the chancel. The apse dates from the 17th century. It’s a wonderful place to visit. The restaurant offers a wide selection of dinner options, starting at 6pm. Until then you can enjoy Orval beer, sandwiches made with local ham and Orval cheese also made at the Abbey. Beer and cheese can also be purchase at the Abbey’s store and other food items like local fruit jams. Religious art objects can also be purchased there. There is the possibility of staying the night in the guesthouse next to the Abbey. It is open to young and old, men and women, single travelers, families or groups.

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Ruins of the former orval abbey, go for the beer, stay for the food.

Many times we have been to Orval Abbey to get some of what the beer critic, Michael Jackson, called the best beer in the world. The Abbey is not open to the general public. The process of making beer and cheese is not available for anyone to observe. You can however participate at prayer with the monks, upon special approval. Also the Abbey ruins can be visited and they are really worth it. They make great beer and three types of cheeses that are equally amazing. Even though we’ve been many times we never got the chance to eat at the restaurant right outside the Abbey due to the fact that they only start serving dinner at six in the afternoon. Yesterday however we went there just for the purpose of having dinner there. The reason I wanted so bad to eat there is that they use the beer and the cheese to cook their food. We chose the tagliatelle a la creme d’Orval and the steak cooked in beer and served with Orval cheese sauce. Both were amazing. The Orval cheese is very creamy and mild, a great choice to make a sauce from it. Do not miss the Abbey when visiting Ardennes region.

Fall at the Abbey

What is better than visiting Orval Abbey? Visiting Orval Abbey during fall. Not only you get to enjoy what was said to be the best beer in the world, great cheeses and delicious food at their restaurant, but you also get to enjoy a wonderful spectacle of color. The ruins at the Abbey are even nicer now, surrounded with soft tones of orange and red. The weather is rainy now so get a rain coat and you’re good to go.

Carrots soup at Orval Abbey

There is nothing I like better than a hot creamy soup during the cold months. The area around Orval Abbey is cool in summer due to the vast forest so in winter it feels even colder and damp. The soups of the day at the Orval restaurant are just what the doctor ordered during the cold days we are having. The soup is served steaming and fresh and made with all local ingredients. Do not miss having dinner at the restaurant when visiting the Abbey. It’s available starting 6pm.

A Tour of the Brewery is Always a Treat!

I have visited the abbey on two occasions and a tour of the brewery is always a highlight of each trip to Belgium. Although normally closed to visitors, special tours are sometimes available through private tour groups. Even if you don’t get to tour the abbey, the ruins, the visitor’s center and the museum make a visit worthwhile. After a visit, just walk down the road and have lunch and taste the unique beer brewed at the abbey. Although the abbey is off the beaten path, the surrounding area is beautiful and make the trek a special experience.

Information on this page, including website, location, and opening hours, is subject to have changed since this page was last published. If you would like to report anything that’s inaccurate, let us know at [email protected].

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Visit the Abbey of Orval

  • 24 February 2022

In Belgium, every city has its own local beer. Florenville can be very proud since it hosts the world famous abbey beer of Orval. Furthermore, they also produce a delicious cheese from local milk. Two ‘Gaumaise’ regional products to taste during your visit to our region. You can also visit the abbey. In addition to an expo on the brewing process, monastic life and a museum with various works of art, you can also visit the ruins of the former abbey and the gardens. Finish your visit in the nearby brasserie or buy your own beer and/or cheese to enjoy your day at (our) home.

Brouwerijbezoek Orval: brouwproces in interactief parcours

Walk through the surrounding gardens and ruins

Your visit consists of two parts: an indoor part in the various buildings and a walk through the gardens and ruins. In the Guest House you will discover the history of the monastery and the life of the monastic community today. Animated scale models show the evolution of the abbey over the centuries. In addition, you will learn about the beer brewing process and get a glimpse of the life of the monks through time. Then it’s time to get some fresh air in the surrounding gardens and ruins. Various signs and qr codes provide some more explanation. In the herb garden and the Apothecary Museum you get explanations about the various medicinal plants and historical objects. The gardens are definitely worth a visit. Keep in mind that some parts are difficult to access with a wheelchair or stroller.

orval abbey visit

90 years of brewing Orval beer

Orval has been around for over 90 years. Since 1931, the beer has been brewed at the Notre-Dame d’Orval Abbey. Back then, it was primarily a way to raise money to finance the works for the reconstruction of Orval. Another part of the proceeds goes to charities. Every year, 22 million bottles leave the brewery, 85% of which are destined for the Belgian market. The other bottles travel to Germany, France, Luxembourg, the United Kingdom, Canada and the United States. The Orval cheese is even older. The monks started making their cheese in 1928. The milk for this cheese comes from the surrounding farms. The cheese is therefore a genuine Gaumais regional product. Tip: put it on a plate with some celery salt, mustard and (Gaumaise) charcuterie. Delicious as an end to a long day.

orval abbey visit

the legend of Orval

Orval is brewed with water from the Mathilde spring. According to legend, that spring received its name from the widow Mathilde of Tuscany. Mathilde accidentally dropped her wedding ring into the spring. She prayed to Mary to get it back. Not much later a trout swam up with the golden wedding ring in its mouth. She exclaimed: “This is truly a golden valley!” (val d’Or). In gratitude, she founded a monastery at this “blessed place”. Did you also notice the fish with a ring in its mouth on the label of the bottles of Orval beer?

Plan your visit

www.orval.be

Abbaye d’Orval,  Orval, n°1,  6823 Villers-devant-Orval

Want to do more?

Combine your visit to the brewery with a hike in the surrounding woods. Do you have really good walking legs? Then go on foot to the brewery. It is a hike of about 11 km.

Distance from Lacuisine

11 km – 10 min by car or 2,5 hours walking

Explore the region

Group of people hiking in the forest

Find your ideal hike in the Gaume

Looking for an ideal hike for you and your group? But really no idea where to start? Our solution: collections on Komoot.

orval abbey visit

5x water fun in the Gaume

Dipping your feet, building a dam or even swimming? What’s better than cooling off in a forest or in the water with this hot weather? 5 tips to do just that and still explore the region.

orval abbey visit

Summerhike: four viewpoints and passage through the river

Embark on a thrilling summer hike from our vacation home in Lacuisine, exploring stunning viewpoints and experiencing a refreshing river crossing. Discover the beauty of the Semois Valley and indulge in a memorable adventure in the Gaume region.

Let's talk!

Leave a message below or share your thoughts on our  contact page ,  Facebook,  or  Instagram . We look forward to hearing your tips or exchange experiences.

Looking for inspiration? We’ve collected some great tips from travelers in the region on  Pinterest .

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IMAGES

  1. Orval Abbey

    orval abbey visit

  2. Orval, nos adresses pour réussir votre journée à l'abbaye

    orval abbey visit

  3. Ruins of the old Orval Abbey, Belgium

    orval abbey visit

  4. Notre-Dame d'Orval Abbey: a religious and gourmet visit

    orval abbey visit

  5. Orval Abbey ruins

    orval abbey visit

  6. Orval Abbey (Florenvill)

    orval abbey visit

VIDEO

  1. Abbey of Orval Belgium

  2. visite abbey d'orval 240507

  3. Midday prayer November 1st 2020

COMMENTS

  1. Orval

    The Trappist Cistercian monks of Orval are pleased to welcome you to their website. Our monastery is a many-featured whole : we have tried to present it to you in a clear and recollected way. so that you may spend a peaceful time in our company and find an answer to your questions.

  2. Visit

    Please book your (guided) visit at latest 15 days before your arrival. Guided tours for groups can be booked between 09:30 and 16:00. Your booking is only confirmed upon receipt of an email from the Abbey of Orval. Guided visits can be organized but are subject to the availability of the guides.

  3. Orval Abbey

    The mediaeval tradition of brewing beer at Orval Abbey was revived in 1931 to generate funds for the rebuilding, and it proved highly successful, due to the unique blend of hops and yeasts used. Orval Trappist beer is amber-coloured and has a distinctive dry taste, making it an ideal apéritif.

  4. Online sale ticket • Orval

    Please note: Last departure for a visit: 1 hour before the abbey closes. In the Hospitalty house, you will be immersed in the Cistercian scriptorium. On large screens, video animations will make you discover the history of the monastery and the life of the monastic community today (10 minutes). ... Orval Abbey Orval n°1 B-6823 Villers-devant ...

  5. Guided tours

    Guided tour of Orval Abbey. Orval Abbey is one of the region's must-see features. In the holiday season, a guide can be found every hour under the big oak tree, to take you on a journey through history amid the ancient stone. ... Visit Ardenne unites the tourist partners of the Ardennes, gathered through the EEIG Ardennes, around a joint ...

  6. Notre-Dame d'Orval Abbey: a religious and gourmet visit

    The visit. The foundations of the original site are now home to a museum retracing the history of the abbey. Destroyed during the French Revolution, the abbey was rebuilt in 1926. Visitors can see, among other treasures, the model of Notre Dame d'Orval built by Laurent Dewez and Brother Abraham (a famous 18th-century painter)'s pictorial work.

  7. Orval Abbey, Florenvill

    Orval is probably best known to most people as one of the handful of genuine Trappist beers brewed in Belgium, but this is arguably not the main reason to pay the Abbey a visit. In fact, the new Abbey - where the monks live, and where the beer and cheese are made, is not part of the visit, which instead covers the extensive garden and ruins of ...

  8. The Abbey of Orval : its ruins and its museums

    The Abbey of Orval, founded in 1132, is still occupied by a community of monks that produce the famous beer of Orval and its cheese. You will get to know the secrets of the brewing knowledge in the museum. To enhance your visit, discover the monastic museum (history, steel industry, sacred art), watch an audio-video montage about the history of ...

  9. Orval Abbey

    Orval Abbey Church. Orval Abbey (Abbaye Notre-Dame d'Orval) is a Cistercian monastery founded in 1132 in the Gaume region of Belgium, located in Villers-devant-Orval, part of Florenville, Wallonia in the province of Luxembourg.The abbey is well known for its history and spiritual life but also for its local production of the Trappist beer Orval and a specific cheese.

  10. Orval Abbey, Florenvill

    Visiting the Abbey of Orval. The abbey is located in Orval in a green zone, there is parking but not too much. The abbey can be visited and also the museum, the brewery and the cheese factory in particular are not allowed to be visited by visitors, which is understandable. The visit is free and you can walk around for an hour or more.

  11. Orval Abbey, a Legendary Place of Faith and Tradition

    Known for its cheese and its famous Orval beer, this remarkable monastery in the Gaume region, with its fascinating history, is an essential visit on any stay in the Belgian Ardennes! Orval Abbey, a Legendary Place of Faith and Tradition

  12. Orval Abbey is a Must Stop on a Belgium Road Trip

    Overall, the grounds of Orval offered one of the most stunning and informative tours we had in all of Belgium, and whether you're visiting to learn the history of the Abbey, Orval Brewery, or both, this really is one must-see experience. Just be sure to plan your visit accordingly to see the Abbey and have a beer at the bar nearby if you are able!

  13. Let's visit the Orval Abbey

    Between 1926 and 1948, the new monastery was constructed, and in 1935 Orval regained the rank of abbey. The Orval history explains why the site is divided into 2: - The ruins of the cistercian church and monastery that you get to visit as well as a few other buildings, including the museum.

  14. Visit Abbaye d'Orval (Orval Abbey) in Florenville

    Come by to Abbaye d'Orval to see 18th century ruins, a medicinal herb garden, and a history museum too. Also, beer! There's plenty to do and see at the abbey. Known for their authentic Trappist beer. Orval started brewing Trappist beer in 1931, so it might not be one of the first but it's one of the most interesting sights to see for the ruins.

  15. Stay • Orval

    They take part in our prayer, in the Eucharist or in the Divine Office. They are able to meet one of the monks who listens to them and answers their questions. They spend a few days in the context of silence and of the beauty of the monastery. The guest-house welcomes both the young and adults, men and women, groups and individuals for periods ...

  16. Orval Abbey, Florenvill

    The Orval Abbey (the trapist beer probably better known ...) is an intresting and historic site. You can visit (paying entrance) the historic ruins and grounds though you cannot visit the new Abbey (which is magnificent !) nor the brewery. Still it is worthwhile the visit. Try an Orval-trappist beer and some cheese near the local cafés and you ...

  17. Unraveling the Legends of Orval Abbey

    Yes, Orval Abbey is open to the public for visits and tours. Visitors can explore the abbey grounds, including the ruins of the original monastery, the abbey church, and the brewery. 2. What are the best times to visit Orval Abbey? Orval Abbey is open year-round, but the best times to visit are during the spring and fall when the weather is ...

  18. FAQ • Orval

    2. After the visit, where can we taste an Orval ? After the visit of the historical part of the Abbey, you can taste an Orval or have a meal in the Inn « Auberge à l'Ange Gardien » situated at about 200 meters from the Abbey. For more information and opening hours. 3.

  19. Open Days • Orval

    Our next Open House is scheduled on Friday September 13th and Saturday September 14th 2024, between 8h30 and 16h00. Dear Orval-lovers, we regret to inform you that the subscriptions for the open house are currently fully booked. We ask you not to send any emails to the brewery. Please note that there are often cancellations and that the free ...

  20. Untitled page #447 • Orval

    Brasserie d'Orval s.a. Orval, n° 2, B-6823 Villers-devant-Orval. Tél. : +32 61 311 261. [email protected]. The Brewery is open to visit only during the annual open house. Located within the confines of the Abbey, the Orval Brewery was created in 1931 to finance the enormous reconstruction works of Orval.

  21. Review of Orval Abbey

    You cannot visit the current Orval Abbey but for a small fee you can visit the Orval Abbey ruins. By the 12th century, this Cistercian abbey isolated in the Gaume Forest had become one of the most famous and richest in Europe. After a film on monastic life, the tour takes visitors round the ruins of the 14th century cloister and 18th century cellar.

  22. Walk suggestions around Orval

    From the Abbey, follow the blue marker posts indicating the "Bois de la Vierge". After walking for half an hour through woods and fields, you'll reach the typical village of Villers-devant-Orval. You'll then walk to the source of the River Ourdel before following a forest path to the Abbey. Distance: 7.5 km Level of difficulty: Easy

  23. Visit to the Abbey of Orval

    Visit the Abbey of Orval. 24 February 2022. lively lux. Orval. In Belgium, every city has its own local beer. Florenville can be very proud since it hosts the world famous abbey beer of Orval. Furthermore, they also produce a delicious cheese from local milk. Two 'Gaumaise' regional products to taste during your visit to our region.