From Les Hautes-Rivières we trundle down the Semois to the town of Bohan-sur-Semois, where cafés frequented by the rural elderly beckon and ample parking on the riverside presents an auspicious place to leave the campervan. The sun is shining and the greygreen water of the Semois sparkles. An elongated island in the middle of the river is reportedly home to a flock of wild goats subsisting off the long grasses growing there. We don't see the goats.

A little ways upriver: a ruined bridge, intact but for two arches demolished by the retreating French in the early stages of the Second World War, rebuilt by the advancing Germans, and then re-demolished again as the Germans withdrew from Belgium in 1944. It was never built again, but the path of the tram that rode upon it for 5 years is now part of the Trans-Semoysienne trail connecting Monthermé and Les Hautes-Rivières. On a farm adjoining the trail, a dead horse lies in an empty field, its head respectfully covered by a blue tarp.

We head back into town and sit down among retirees for a glass of posh Belgian beer and a little tray of nuts. The minimum spend for cards is €15 so we wind up getting another beer, an Orangina, and a terrine of salami. Bohan doesn't bustle, exactly, but people are up and about going to and fro. We grab a plate of frites at a little van by the riverside and sit in the sun. As the afternoon wears on, everyone returns indoors for a little siesta. We drop by the local shop and pick up some pasta for dinner and a selection of fullbodied Belgian beers. I look wistfully at the fancy goblets.

Well-provisioned, we go out for a walk with Ghyll up to a lookout over the town. The forest is quiet and calm and sunlight-dappled but is basically the same as every other forest: crisscrossed with gravel tracks, a little grassy, littered with pine needles and mushy old leaves, stony where water draining down the hillside has taken all of the soft stuff away. From the observatory at the top, we could see the campervan and the nearly silent village down below.

France '24



An evening in Montherme on the banks of the Meuse, and a run in the hills thereabove.



Staying on the banks of the Semois and running over the hill to Les Hautes Rivières.