You can’t just walk calmly down the streets of the city of Spa. Especially on one street (‘Avenue du Professeur Henri Jean’) that leads deep into the forest where the castle-like manor house Manoir de Lébioles stands.
I was nearly hit by a car several times while I was crossing the street without looking about, trying to capture the extremely beautiful and rich manor houses (little castles, as I call them) on both sides of the road. Because sometimes you don’t own all the time of the world and you have to hurry. Especially when you are not alone and the people you are with aren’t interested in photography and architecture.
And you can also see, that these aren’t the proper photographs of these buildings, because it is really difficult to catch a glimpse of them through the high fences and over the long yard alleys.
I have to admit (again), that I had difficulties to find Manoir de Lébioles. And again, this wasn’t due to my lacking sense of orientation. I’ve managed to find it only with the help of the GPS, because I somehow didn’t see any information or road signs towards the destination. Or maybe only one or two. And its hidden location in the forest makes this place very interesting and special.
I also had this subconscious impulse to change my usual “explorer’s costume”, that is, my rough hiking shoes, comfortable jeans and sport jacket and put something more elegant on, before setting off for the place. And my gut didn’t betray me.
Manoir de Lébioles is known as “small Versailles of the Ardennes” (the mountain that I already have a soft spot in my heart for, and this was one of the reasons I wanted to visit this site at all costs).
It was built 1905-1910 by a diplomat named Georges Neyt.
And after changing several owners, today it is a luxurious hotel. I mean, luxurious.
It reminds me a bit of the architectural style of Castle of Jehay although the latter was constructed as early as the beginning of the 16th century.
And strolling through the alleys of the backyard, I thought of „L’Année dernière à Marienbad“, a.k.a. „Last Year in Marienbad“, (1961) by Alain Resnais with its repeated mesmerizing scenes in the corridors and in the garden. It really can bring you to another age, or another reality.
“Plus Valet Quam Lucet” – “There is more to it than meets the eye” – the inscription on the coat of arms of the house.