Drinking a Perle d’Hastiere in Hastiere Hike

Otherwise known as Beer & Hike: Brasserie Caracole Part 2.

What is a Perle d’Hastiere you ask? Well, prior to yesterday, I had no idea. I was planning a new hike from Brasserie Caracole in Falmignoul. Two years ago, my visit there was limited by covid restrictions, and the brewery bar and shop were closed. This time, I planned a different route thru the River Meuse village of Hastiere-Lavaux. Clicking around on Google Maps looking for local highlights, I saw a photo of a beer. A beer called Perle d’Hastiere, with a label showing what looks like a panorama of the village. It represents one of the many endearing characteristics of Belgian beer culture. What better way to make a visitor feel charmed by a small remote scenic village and feel connected to its quaint timelessness than offering a city-themed beer? The label also clearly aims to look faded and aged as if the beer has been a village tradition for years. I am a sucker for this, and it was a perfect addition to the beer narrative of the hike.

Hastiere-Lavaux sits on one of the many picturesque bends in the River Meuse and is not far from Dinant. The area around the Brasserie Caracole in Falmignoul has some of the must beautiful and lush fields, which in October still look like pristine blankets of green. There is one problem with doing this hike in October (and November) though, as with many places in the Ardennes. Hunting season.

On some weekends, many trails can be off limits to anyone but hunters. I am sure Belgians know where to look online ahead of time, but in my case, I never know until I have driven ninety minutes, hiked a few kilometers, and suddenly find myself standing in front of a Passage Interdit sign blocking the most direct and scenic route to my next waypoint. This was the case for the latter part of this hike. The route I show below is the ultimate route you should normally take, but in a couple places, I had to detour to avoid the hunting areas.

Hike Details

Starting/Ending PointParking Lot just as you enter Falmignoul

It’s Not Just a Beer, It’s a Journey

Falmignoul is an adorable little town. It is more or less a bakery and brewery. Staples of life. It has the typical feel of a French village with houses mostly made of stone and wood all of which look like they have been weathering for a thousand years and smell like old cellar inside. The hike heads immediately across what may be my favorite area for field views in all of Belgium and then directly down to the River Meuse.

Straight ahead, thru the forest and down to the river

The path brings you across from the village of Waulsort. There is a ferry operated here during the Spring and Summer, but it stops operation towards the end of October. So be wary. At this point, it is an easy walk following the river towards Hastiere-Lavaux.

near Waulsort facing direction Hastiere-Lavaux

The River Meuse has a bit of that cragginess that epitomizes other great scenic rivers like the Mosel and Rhine in Germany. There are sometimes large sections of exposed rock which support large fortresses in other parts of the river. While the geology is probably not all that unique for rivers of the world, certainly it gives the river an old Europe flair.

River Meuse

After a nice long peaceful walk along the river, you finally come to Hastiere-Lavaux around the 7km mark. The first thing you will notice is the 11th century Eglise Abbatiale Saint-Pierre church situated dramatically along the river. Across the street is the cafe with the beer photo on Google Maps, Boulangerie Kempinaire. They have a good selection of local beers including most of the standard Caracole beers. But it was two “city beers” that caught my attention, including the Perle d’Hastiere. The other was a Tournee Beaurinoise, named for the nearby village of Beauraing, which is brewed by Brasserie Caracole. Definitely worth the stop for the beer, and the food was decent as well.

Eglise Abbatiale Saint-Pierre
Perle d’Hastiere (notice the church on the label)
Tournee Beaurinoise

The label of Perle d’Hastiere shows a particular viewpoint of the city. Looking up into the hill across the river, the platform for that viewpoint (or Belvedere) can be seen poking out of the trees. It was not on my original route, so after lunch, I decided to hike up to it. However, I recommend doing this segment before eating lunch.

The view on the bottle of Perle d’Hastiere

On the Belvedere side of the river, there is also a WWII war memorial.

Hastiere War Memorial

After the viewpoint, the hike continues along the river for some of the prettiest Autumn-colored trails of the entire hike.

Back along the River Meuse
Autumn glory
More Autumn glory
My favorite of the Autumn glory pics

Up until this point, the hike was mostly an easy stroll except for the diversion to the Belvedere. However, at a certain point along the Meuse, it is necessary to head up to the top of the plateau, and the trail ascends pretty much straight up. It is the part of the hike that will remind you that it’s actually a hike. But you are rewarded by the view.

After the steep climb

At the top is the village of Blaimont. Here I also found a War Memorial to the American 9th Infantry Division which also comes with a commanding view.

Amazing view from Blaimont
Blaimont War Memorial

After Blaimont, the troubles with the hunting season blockages started. I won’t say whether I violated these or not. The occasional sound of gunfire was (mostly) enough to keep me honest. After following along some busy roads, I did manage to make it back to the scenic route to capture some glorious field shots before returning to Falmignoul.

Two distant trees across this vast beautiful landscape
More of this glorious farm road
Falmignoul visible on the right

Back in Falmignoul, me and my sore feet made a bee-line to Brasserie Caracole where I enjoyed the cozy dimly-lit wood interior, loaded up on a few bottles to take home and sipped a Spir-Ale, a refreshing blond.

Brasserie Caracole
Enjoying my purchases and a Spir-Ale inside the brewery tavern

Final Words

Brasserie Caracole was quite worth the extra visit and Autumn might be the best time of year to enjoy the scenery here. I cannot overstate how impressive the fields are here. It is easy to feel like you are lost in an ocean, surrounded by glowing emerald as far as the eyes can see. The whole region around Dinant is one of my favorite places in Belgium, and I have featured this area in several posts:

I have another post to come from this region with another great “city beer” as a matter of fact, one that I discovered even more surrendipitously than Perle d’Hastiere. In Belgium, you can always find beer, but maybe more so than anywhere else in the world, the beer is weaved into the scenery, the history, and the identity of the people. They are part of the story.


4 thoughts on “Drinking a Perle d’Hastiere in Hastiere Hike

  1. The endless fields and autumn glory’s are both stunning. It’s absolutely beautiful everywhere there, isn’t it. I love when all parts of the story are intricately woven together. Happy October Matthew ☺️

    Liked by 1 person

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