In the wooded hills above the River Meuse between Namur and Dinant, the Annevoie Gardens are one of Wallonia’s undoubted treasures. They were created in the 1770s by an ancestor of the family who still own the castle and estate. He learned about gardening on his travels around Europe, and there are strong French, Italian and English influences. The predominant feature is water, water everywhere: a spectacular array of fountains, jets, waterfalls, streams and lakes, all fed by the tree-lined Grand Canal which runs above the estate. Every feature can be enjoyed on a well-signed walking circuit. The castle is not open to the public, but the gardens are extensive enough to merit a full day-trip. A special tradition is repeated every July, when a framboiserie opens up to serve the gardens’ famed raspberries, and the local Maredsous beer is on tap at the café that overlooks this magnificent estate. No trip to Wallonia is complete without a visit to Annevoie.
Venetian Mask Festival
Every year the gardens host a three-day Carnival – Saturday 29th April – Monday 1st May this year - in which scores of ‘beautiful people’ don extraordinary, intricate Venetian masks and costumes to meander around the lawns, streams and lakes. Nobody is exactly sure why Venice comes to Wallonia in every summer, but to witness this bizarre, beautiful parade in the sumptuous grounds of a 17th century castle is an unforgettable experience. To keep the youngsters happy there are children’s workshops and face-painting, and a new feature this year is a photographic competition.