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Annevoie Gardens: Water everywhere, and no pump in sight

Annevoie Gardens

Discover the inventive beauty of Annevoie water gardens, plus a couple of nearby castles and an abbey.

My first thought on entering Annevoie Gardens was “I wonder how many electric water pumps are used here?” You’d probably ask the same question. The gardens are filled with fountains, jets and cascades, which surely — you would think — need numerous heavy-duty, submersible electric pumps? However, to my surprise, I discovered that everything works entirely naturally, without any mechanical or electrical intervention.

Annevoie Gardens
There’s plenty of space for the kids to run around, plus a small adventure playground


The gardens’ designer, Charles-Alexis de Montpellier, a local iron merchant, clearly knew what he was doing when he started creating Annevoie Gardens in 1758. His first task was to dig a 400-metre-long canal at the highest point of his 28-hectare grounds, and fill it with water from the nearby Fonteny spring.

After that he constructed a complex network of interconnecting underground channels running from the canal. It was then a “simple” matter of excavating about twenty pools and ponds and adorning them with over fifty fountains, cascades and waterfalls. It took him nearly twenty years to finish, but by 1776 Annevoie Gardens was complete, and has remained functional ever since.

Annevoie Gardens is well worth a visit
Beautiful – and all without a single electric pump!


And that’s no exaggeration — the water has been flowing non-stop for 240 years and continues throughout the year, even in the rare occurrence of a dry Belgian summer.

The water features are certainly impressive. Le Grand Cracheur is a 7-metre-high water jet. Le Gros Bouillon is a fan-shaped waterfall that was ground-breaking for the 18th century. And le Buffet d’eau is a cascade of water steps unique in Belgium.

La Grand Cracheur
Le Grand Cracheur


Once de Montpellier had got the water system up and running, he turned his attention to the gardens. He instructed his gardeners to lay them out in a strict French style with straight lines and perfectly symmetrical patterns and designs. Over the years, his successors favoured Italian and English styles. Now it is a charming mix of all three. It’s fascinating to work out which style has been used in each area. Compare, for example, the mathematical precision of La Cascade Francaise with the wild randomness of La Cascade Anglaise alongside it.

It’s a garden full of surprises. Hornbeam hedges lead you to more than one trompe-l’oiel and numerous unexpected nooks and crannies. Grottos are furnished with statues of the four seasons, Neptune and Triton. A stone wild boar even adorns the centre of one pond. Everywhere the sound of babbling water creates a most relaxing atmosphere.

Annevoie is open from April to November
Annevoie Gardens is open from April to November


In between the water features are the flower gardens. The rose garden has been recently replanted with roses from the Val-de-Marne rose nursery, while the raspberry orchard is accessible during the picking season to provide some delicious mouthfuls for young and old.

I was personally delighted to see a number of meadows left for wild flowers, while some of the rock gardens were full of verdant growths of mosses, lichens and ferns. Consequently, the gardens are extremely wildlife-friendly. Blackcaps and garden warblers sing from the undergrowth; woodpeckers and jays can frequently be seen and heard; I spotted frogs and newts in some of the quieter waters. Kingfishers have been seen on the canal. Three pairs of nesting black swans add a touch of exotic glamour.


It’s a great place for children. They can run around and play hide and seek, and there is also a children’s playground with original hand-made wooden equipment. Close to the canal is a small menagerie with peacocks, deer, donkeys, ponies and sheep. The Orangery offers a fine selection of snacks, with a first-floor terrace overlooking the garden.

Annevoie for a picnic!
Les Jardins d’Annevoie (photo Jean-Pol Grandmont)

Annevoie Gardens are located on the west bank of the River Meuse between Namur and Dinant. It’s open from April to November. A leaflet in English is available, while guided tours for groups are also possible in various languages. Due to COVID-19, advance booking is required.


To make a day of it, also worth visiting nearby are the following:

Citadel, Dinant — Spectacular views over Dinant, the River Meuse and the surrounding countryside are guaranteed from this cliff fortification. It is reached by climbing more than 400 steps or by taking a cable car.

Dinant Belgium

Maredsous Abbey – Admire one of the most beautiful abbeys in Belgium. Visit the St. Joseph Centre to stock up on locally produced cheese and beer. Tour the pottery workshops. And enjoy a simple lunch there.


Freyr Castle, Hastiere — A renaissance castle with formal gardens, with especially interesting orange trees, lime trees and vineyards.

Veves Castle, Celles — This medieval castle is small, but picturesque. It houses an extensive range of 18th century furniture and a rare collection of porcelain.

castle of Veves


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59 thoughts on “Annevoie Gardens: Water everywhere, and no pump in sight”

      1. Hopefully one day I will. My husband is in Belgium a lot for business and one of these days I might go with him. I can explore while he goes to work 😜

      1. Nee. Wel een kort stukje over de tuinen en Durbuy met een foto van Veves.

  1. What a labour of love that was, working for 20 years on this beautiful project. Interesting to see black swans, which are native to Australia. They look wonderful, but don’t go too close. They’re not always friendly!

  2. Unbelievable that the water has been running for that long and that the grounds have been around forever to entertain and relax. I am bookmarking this blog as well for my “to do” collection when I am in Belgium for a visit again. Thanks, Denzil!

  3. Het is er inderdaad een echt schouwspel..Alle waterpartijen functioneren prima en zonder electriciteit.Opmerkelijk dat men dat jaren geleden al gebouwd heeft en daar is indertijd een knappe kop aan het uitwerken geslagen.Brilliant met al die hoogtes en laagtes.Prachtig domein ook.alle jaren in de lente gaat er het Carnaval van Venëtië door.Dames in originele kleding en masters lopen dan de ganse dag door het domein en fotograven kunnen hen de hele dag fotograferen

  4. Hello Denzil! You are certainly making us put Belgium on the itinerary one day!
    The gardens and castles look amazing. And I love reading the French words scattered throughout your post. A language I adore. Great post 🌟🌟🙂

    1. Glad you like it Di. Yes I thought I’d add a few French and Italian words to match the French, Italian and English Garden designs. And I deleted your repeated comments, because as I mentioned in the Sint-Agatha-Rode post, for some reason they ended up in Spam, which is why you couldn’t see them.

      1. Ah that makes sense, Denzil. I’m glad you could delete them. Because I played around with settings to add a profile pic, that’s why I thought I’d best check up on them… and when I noticed. Someone else said my comments were in their spam folder too!
        And feel free to add as many French and Italian words as you like… 🌟🌟

        1. I don’t think it was anything to do with that, Di. Sometimes it just happens. I always keep an eye on the spam. Apart from finding valuable comments, it does make me laugh sometimes!

  5. Wow! That is nothing short of miraculous! 240 years… What a beautiful, beautiful place. Now I wonder if Butchart Gardens in Victoria is designed the same way.

      1. Hm… The more I think about it, the more I think probably they aren’t created the same way. Butchart Gardens has tons and tons of flowers. They would need to be watered daily. You would love the gardens. 🙂

  6. Denzil, it’s no wonder you are so in love with Belgium – the country is gorgeous. I look forward to your posts with the photos and descriptions and am never disappointed. The garden with all its fountains and flora is astonishing – to be so surrounded by water and life must be an enchantment. And the pewter abbey – just so lovely.

    1. Thank you Sharon for your comment; I’m glad you are enjoying my posts. Yes I am always amazed at the variety of places to discover here. Just when I think I know all about an area, something pops up. In these gardens, for example, one of my Belgian readers (above) pointed out that the annual Carnival of Venice takes place here: a display of Venetian costumes and face-masks!

  7. Such a beautiful house and garden.. And there is another large house in England. Chatsworth House in Derbyshire, that water fountains and waterfalls are formed using only gravity 🙂 If you look it up you will not be disappointed by the size of their gardens and grounds or their Very High single fountain.. 🙂
    Enjoy your week and many thanks for your recent visit

    1. Hi Sue, thanks for stopping by. I have heard of Chatsworth House and will look up their garden. I guess there must be quite a few gardens working this way, but it’s the only one I have come across. I’m still amazed that they can build up sufficient pressure to create a fountain metres up in the air.

              1. Yes, its a wonderful trail, Lol and We have walked along it too.. It takes the path of an old railway line that was pulled up, along with many more across our country. .. Sad for transport, but good for hikers and walkers who love walking long trails.. 🙂 Its a small World.. 🙂

  8. I have to say, this post was a feast for the eyes. Annevoie Gardens Are so beautiful and so well designed. I love the fountains and the engineering that went into there construction. The abbey is sited so picturesquely and I can say it is one of the most beautiful in all of Europe I bet.

  9. Hello Denzil! I was looking to see if you had a new post as I’m not sure if you had the email alert option. And I see I’m not following you although I’m sure I was! And now I’m not able to click on ‘follow’ as it tells me there is a problem… I’ll keep trying but in the meantime… sorry if you see I’m an ‘unfollower’. There is a lot to learn about using this site. Enjoy your weekend there 🌟🌺

      1. Thank you Denzil! I’m glad you can see I’m still a follower of yours at your end🙂 It’s all very confusing at times. But worth it in order to share words with like minded people.
        Thank you for sending me another site of yours… yes, that certainly resonated with me. A new follower has begun🌟

  10. Wow – I love the idea of the water features not needing pumps. I’ll have to add this garden to my ever-growing list of gardens to visit.

  11. You’ve got me restless again! What a stunning garden this is and what an achievement. I selected this post at random, Denzil, and I’m glad I did. 🙂 🙂 Hope life is treating you kindly.

    1. Yes I know you can’t resist a water feature Jo! I have made some life changes too Jo, and am feeling much more positive nowadays. Thank you for your concern and continued encouragements.

  12. Pingback: What Parks & Gardens in Belgium are open Easter weekend 2018? – Discovering Belgium

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