A handful of monks administer the impressive Abbaye Notre-Dame d'Orval (Abbey of Our Lady of Orval), Villers-devant-Orval (tel. 061/31-10-60; www.orval.be), set in a forest. The abbey dates back to the coming of the first Cistercians in 1110, though much was left in ruins after a destructive visit from the French in 1793. Today the complex includes the old ruins and a church, its gardens, and a brewery that produces one of Belgium's finest beers. A visit to the abbey is an exercise in serenity, since there is now little to suggest the enormous power its Cistercian monks wielded in past centuries. Legend has it that somewhere in the web of underground passages that connected the abbey to seven nearby lakes, a vast treasure lies hidden. The abbey is open daily March to May and October from 9:30am to 6pm, June to September from 9:30am to 6:30pm, and November to February from 10:30am to 5:30pm. Admission to the main abbey is free; to the ruins and museum it is 5€ ($8) for adults, 4.50€ ($7.20) for seniors and students, 3€ ($4.80) for children ages 7 to 14, and free for children 6 and under. To get here by car from Bouillon, take the country road 27km (17 miles) southeast through Florenville; TEC bus no. 24 from Florenville rail station passes by the monastery.
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