We stayed in Bouillon yesterday, the last stop on our travels along the Semois river. We started in Monthermé and followed the river through Les Hautes-Riviéres, Laforêt and Poupehan (I’ll just leave that there) before reaching Bouillon.
Looking back, walking along the Semois was quite a different experience from walking along the Meuse. On the stretch we walked, it was rarely deeper than a few feet and the water was clear enough that you could see everything below the surface.
Because it’s so shallow and accessible, people waste no time wading in and enjoying it. Whether it’s people fishing knee deep in it, kayaking down it or just kids splashing around, there’s always something happening.
Some towns even have their own mini-beaches so local families can spend the morning in the river.
Walking the Semois
Sometimes walking along the Semois was great. There were paths that were made for pedestrians and right next to the river.
At other times the forest ran right up to the river on one side with only a road on the other side.
We’ve had mixed experiences walking alongside roads so we started investigating the forest paths.
In France, following the Grande Randonnée (GR) routes was pretty straightforward. Whenever we saw a red and white marking we blindly followed it. Along the Semois though, we were seeing red and white GR markings everywhere and in ways inconsistent enough to make us doubt if we were on the right track.
Our favourite example is this terrifying sign telling hikers the route ahead is both a GR route (by having a red and white marking) and one you should never take.
With hindsight, these kinds of paths might be OK for walkers without much baggage and an interest in routes that put you right in the trees. The weight of our packs meant our focus was more on getting somewhere as quickly as possible and with as little ‘up and down’ as possible.
Despite all this, following these trails did mean we got to see views like this.
Just one more thing
It turns out France isn’t the only country with churches that look like people. Here’s one we saw in Bohan, a village we passed through on our second day walking the Semois.