Visit to the medieval city of Florennes


Located in the Entre-Sambre-et-Meuse region, it is one of the most charming towns in Namur Province.

By Florence Pirard

The city of Florennes extends in a weak valley crossed by the Namur-Philippeville road. To the east extends a wide, rather heterogeneous built-up area that has developed around the formerly isolated Saint-Pierre chapel, probably since the establishment of the Châtelet-Couvin railway line in 1862. West of the main street The old town, characterized by the baroque The tower of the church is marked, has clearly exceeded the narrow perimeter of the city walls. However, its development to the west was hampered by the castle, its park and the Benedictine abbey of Saint-Jean, of which only the court at Saint-Aubin remains.

Florennes was the seat of one of the most important Liege government agencies of Entre-Sambre-et-Meuse, which also covered almost half of the localities of what is now the Philippeville district, before the Seigneury de Morialmé was established in the eleventh century for the US to use a younger branch of Rumigny -Florennes. The name of this powerful family is also closely linked to the most important monuments of the city: the construction of the castle and the founding of the Saint-Gangulphe collegiate church, the Saint-Jean abbey and the Saint-Pierre chapel.
The collegiate church is a thousand year old building. The oratory was founded around 1002 by the local lord Arnould Ier de Rumigny, then converted into a collegiate church and expanded around 1026 by Wery, Abbot of Saint-Jean.

Read also> 3 walks to discover in Wallonia during this Carnival holiday

In the collegiate church, the equestrian statue of Saint Gangulphe de Varennes contains a box with his relics. © Guy Focant

Sober and classic, but with a Baroque style tower, the building was rebuilt between 1754 and 1756 according to plans by the architect Jean-Baptiste Chermanne, starting with the old Romanesque building, which can no longer be seen from the outside. However, inside the building from the early 11th century, the rhythm of the first five semicircular arches of the central nave, which fell on square pillars, is evident. The tower was extensively retouched in 1595, and a Baroque tower surmounted by a wrought-iron cross and rooster was probably added in 1665.

The classic building, now made of limestone, consists of three naves with seven bays under large slate roofs and a choir with two bays in front of the semicircular apse.
The furniture of the collegiate church contains some very beautiful elements, including a high altar with tabernacle and a north side from the 18th century, a south side altar with a canvas of the salvation scale from 1647, stands from the 18th and 19th centuries and a beautiful eagle lectern from the 18th century Century.

The church is also home to numerous sculptures from the 17th and 18th centuries, as well as a polychrome wooden calvary from the 15th century, a Madonna and Child carved around 1500, a blue stone baptismal font from the 17th century, and a number of tombstones the Gothic period until the 18th century. The old organ from 1732, built by Jacques Genard de Charleroi, can still be seen on the cross today. A new organ by Thomas Ster de Francorchamps was placed under the second arch in 2002. The collegiate church was classified as a monument in 1977.

The collegiate church and its baroque style tower. © Guy FocantThe chapel of Saint-Pierre, formerly called “Outside the Walls”, was founded in 1221 by the Lord of Florennes, Hugues Ier de Rumigny. A chaplain was responsible for celebrating the divine office of the deceased each day. This beautiful building was converted to rubble by Louis Ladislas de Beaufort-Spontin in 1821. It contains a vault that serves as a burial place for members of his family. In 1995 the chapel was completely renovated by a local protection committee. It houses numerous statues, most of which date from the 16th century, as well as a copper grave blade from two Counts of Glymes († 1728 and 1771), which was made in 1741 by Renard, a silversmith from Florennes.

The castle of the Dukes of Beaufort was classified in 1979. Its origins go back to the construction of a wooden castle around the year 842. Count Eilbert is credited with building the surrounding stone wall around 944. In 1155 a castrum, Seigneury of Liège, is reported in the hands of the Rumigny-Florennes family. In 1465 the castle and town were fortified with moats and the entrance was provided with a drawbridge.

On behalf of Louis XIV, the fortress was finally dismantled in 1704. This palace complex was built on a rocky promontory stretching west from the heart of the old town. It was once surrounded by the streams of the Forges to the north and the Récollets to the south, both of which have now been diverted. Only two towers of the medieval castle are connected by around twenty meters of city walls at the end of the courtyard.

The main building from the 16th century was probably built on the old wall due to the great thickness of the outer wall. The so-called billiard tower, which was repaired and extended around 1830, serves as a corner with the orangery, which is connected to the house built between 1825 and 1844. The transition between the courtyard and the park is via stairs, which were laid out at the beginning of the 18th century. A large door with wrought-iron harp tunnels crowned with the arms of the Beaufort-Spontin House provides access to the gardens. The castle will successively host a Jesuit college and a free school for girls.

The town hall, which dominates the square of the same name, is a solid double neoclassical building built in the years 1840-1841 of brick and blue stone on a large limestone base. Another gem of this region that is definitely not missing.

Also read> Yvoir: discreet and lovable city in the heart of the Namur province

© Guy Focant

The Entre-Sambre-Et-Meuse steps

Treasures of Walloon folklore, the Entre-Sambre-et-Meuse steps are recognized by Unesco as an intangible heritage. They find their origin in the processions of the Middle Ages. The locals honored a saint who miraculously saved the villagers, their land or their animals from disease or misfortune. Often times is the date of the march on which the honored saint is celebrated. The purpose of the armed escort was to enhance their glamor and possibly protect the relics and pilgrims. Each folklore march in Entre-Sambre-et-Meuse has its own traditions, customs and rules. The wearing of uniforms is characterized by the First and Second Reich. Some are associated with the time of Napoleon (1800-1815), others are costumes of various origins (Belgian, Dutch army, civil guards, gendarmerie …). Florennes has seven marches in its villages: the Sainte-Marie march in Chaumont, the Saint-Martin march in Flavion, the Saint-Christophe march in Hanzinelle, the Saint-Oger march and the Sainte-Rolende march in Hanzinne , the Saint-Walhère march in Hemptinne, the Saint-Pierre march in Morialmé and the Saint-Pierre march in Thy-le-Bauduin.

Organize your visit

The Air Force Base Museum, also known as the Spitfire Memorial, is dedicated to the memory of Colonel Aviator Raymond Lallemant. Arriving in Florennes after World War II, the latter turned a base in ruins with some rundown aircraft into a modern unit equipped with American-made jets and able to successfully complete all missions. In an area of ​​more than 1,500 m², the museum houses the aircraft that shaped the history of the Florennes base: Spitfire MK XIV from 1944, F-84, Mirage, F-16 …


Walks, visits, tastings …
Many tourist and cultural activities are offered in Florennes.
See the website

The castle of Florennes. Now classified, it is being restored. © Guy Focant