Traveling Belgium with Kids: Villers Abbey

We went to Belgium with our two little girls in between Christmas and New Years (read more about our days in Brussels and Bruges). We visited a good friend of ours near Brussels who was so nice to show us around everywhere. We decided to drive because of all the necessary baby/toddler items (double stroller, carseats, portable crib, etc.) and the relatively short distance between Paris and Brussels (about 4-5 hours once you factor in a lunch break and stops for children… We’re from the Western United States though so it really wasn’t a bad drive at all for us…. And much prettier!). There is a train that you can take as well that would get you there in half the time, but we decided that for our family, driving would be the best option.

The drive went great for everyone – The girls were fantastic and we got lunch at a little rest stop along the freeway that had a great little kid’s sandwich and a wonderful changing room. We got to our friend’s house in the evening and he took us over to Villers Abbey.

 

We were lucky enough to get into the abbey about 30 minutes before closing. We weren’t able to wander around as much, but we still had a great time and I felt like we were still able to see a good amount. Next time I think it would be great to bring a picnic and make more of a day of it while exploring.
It was so cool just wandering around and seeing what we could come across.

Tickets are 6 euros for adults and 2.50 for children (under age 6 are free!). You can also get an audioguide for an extra 1.50 euro (although I’m not sure what languages they’re offered in).

Villers Abbey was originally built in 1146, but was rebuilt in the 1200’s into what you see ruins of today. At it’s height, 100 monks and 300 lay brothers lived at the abbey.

The abbey began to decline in the 1500’s and was completely abandoned by 1796 during the French Revolution.

In the Spring and Summer, there are also some very beautiful gardens that would be worth seeing.
In 1893, the Belgian state purchased the site and in 1973, it became an official historical site.
Getting some energy out after being in the car for so long.
Isn’t that just so beautiful?

We had a wonderful time walking around the site! It was perfect for pushing Adeline in the stroller (very stroller friendly) and for London to run around.

It was such a neat experience to visit the abbey in ruins. Very different from our visits to other cathedrals in France. I loved seeing the grass growing in the old corridors and vines growing up the walls. It was completely unlike anything else we’ve ever done before.

Villers Abbey is only about 30 minutes or so away from Brussels, so I definitely think it’s worth the trip. We loved it and only wished that we could have spent more time there.
Stay tuned to see more of our Belgium trip!

For more information:
http://www.villers.be/fr
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Villers_Abbey

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