Les Plus Beaux Villages de Wallonie (Fr) or The Most Beautiful Villages of Wallonia is a non-profit community organization founded in 1994* with the mission to promote and protect different Wallonian villages. Similar organization, which promotes the most beautiful French villages was the inspiration for the founders of The Most Beautiful Villages of Wallonia.
Nowadays, there are 28 villages in the network. These preserve the image of rural Wallonia and are selected on the basis of their natural and architectural heritage, as well as on the intention of their communities to be part of the association. Namely, the villages in the network have to have the will to combine the demands and expectations of modern living with the obligations to preserve the richness of their remarkable heritage. They are also encouraged to use their heritage for sustainable socioeconomic and cultural development.
In terms of increasing popularity of the member villages and ensuring their sustainable development, Les Plus Beaux Villages de Wallonie organizes a wide range of projects, events and activities to attract visitors to explore the culture and the heritage of the member villages.
Lessons & Takeaways
Having visited participating and non-participating Wallonian villages, Europolitan Trends believes that Les Plus Beaux Villages de Wallonie is a positive example of the power of organized local and regional communities. The association has empowered the residents of the participating villages to appreciate their heritage, while adapting to modern-age demands. Nowadays, villages in the network pay particular attention to the attractiveness and alliance of their public and private spaces. Consequently, villages look appealing and attract tourists. It is important to note that non-participating Wallonian villages have equal potential to become as attractive as their peer villages within the association; however, they probably lack the willingness and determination of their residents and municipal/local authorities to invest their time and money into a public project. As already indicated, Les Plus Beaux Villages de Wallonie is a positive example for villages and regions across Europe highlighting the power of community engagement and the ability to envision.