La Charmille du Haut-Marêt is a location you might be familiar with if you follow me on Instagram. I’ve visited it during every season and often feature it on my feed. And people always ask me where it is, even if they live outside of Belgium! It’s a ridiculously charming tree tunnel that looks beautiful no matter the season. I’ve briefly mentioned it in my blog posts before but I felt like it also deserved a blog post of its own.

Tree tunnel La Charmille on a snowy winter day

The history of La Charmille

Also known as La Charmille du Haut-Marais, this tree tunnel dates back to 1885. You will find it in La Reid, near the town of Theux. Built by the industrialist J.R. Nys on his private property, it initially measured 1 km in length. Today, only 573 meters have survived the destruction that occurred during WWII. Nonetheless, it still retains its magical charm and looks endless from one entrance to the other. In fact, it is one of the longest tree tunnels in Europe!

If you’re curious about why they call it La Charmille, in French, charmille translates as tree tunnel. In this case, a charmille comprised of charmes, or hornbeams. Nowadays, it consists of over 4500 plants, 70% of which are over a hundred years old! As they grew, they twisted around the metal arches that make the skeleton of this tree tunnel.

Tree tunnel La Charmille during winter

Nearby, you will find the original Château du Hauts-Marais, nowadays a school of agriculture. Its students are the ones in charge of preserving this wonderful relic of old times. Once a year, they spend a full month tending to the plants that make up La Charmille.

My first visit to La Charmille happened on a sunny June day back in 2016. We went for a walk with Miles, all the while marveling at the beautiful tree tunnel. The rays of sunshine getting through the hornbeams reflected on the floor as pure and true magic. Dappled light is one of my favorite things to photograph during the summer and it was absolutely breathtaking inside a tree tunnel!

Tree tunnel La Charmille during summer

A bit of autumn magic

As one would expect, I chose to go to La Charmille on our wedding day. In a nutshell, it was just the two of us that day. After the short and private ceremony, we drove to the one place I knew would make this day more memorable. And I was completely right. To this day, I have never since seen La Charmille look more otherworldly than on that November morning. The timing was perfect, it was the pinnacle of autumn. Subdued orange leaves surrounded us, all of them still holding onto the branches. Towards the very end, the sun came out through the fog and everything was softly golden and enchanting.

Tree tunnel La Charmille during autumn
La Charmille on our wedding day
One week after our wedding day

Our very last visit to La Charmille happened after a full day of non-stop snow. The following morning, we drove to my favorite place and received the most pleasant surprise imaginable. Not only did the snow cover everything but a gorgeous morning fog lingered all throughout our visit! I couldn’t have imagined better weather conditions on a snowy day. It made this tree tunnel look even more captivating and fairytale-like!

In fact, we walked around for almost two hours, photographing the tunnel from every possible angle. It looked picture-perfect that morning, even though it was far from peaceful. In fact, finding La Charmille devoid of people is pretty hard, unless you get really lucky. Nonetheless, that doesn’t take away from its magic. There are many wondrous places around Wallonia but I think this one is still my favorite one. Not only is it a spellbinding location but it is also a place of many dear memories. And I look forward to returning there throughout the seasons, reminiscing of the past whilst also creating new memories.

Tree tunnel La Charmille during winter
Woman with a lantern walking through the tree tunnel La Charmille
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Brigita Soldo

Travel Photographer · Creative Content Creator · Vintage & Sustainable Fashion Advocate

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