The Malogne is on the list of major attractions in the Borinage area, a region stuck between France and the town of Mons in the french-speaking part of Belgium. More precisely, the Malogne is located in Cuesmes, a small municipality south-west of Mons. A rather unknown place but still very special and uncommon, the Malogne is actually many things at the same time : a former mining area of geological interest, a spot where locals like to relax, a nature reserve known for hosting bats, a network of 260 kilometers of quarries. As a young kid, living just 500 meters away from the place, I remember going there with my family or friends to relax, bike, or have picnics in the wooden area. With the local scouts, it is THE place where we ended up all the time, learning how to get by with the little things we had at that time.
Many primary and secundary schools like to send their students to the Malogne, with multiple purposes : teach about ancient mining activities, visit flooded quarries, illustrate a natural sciences lesson. The underground quarries of Malogne were opened at the end of the 19th century. Until World War I, the Malogne was an exploitation place for phosphatic chalks. The activity had to stop because of competition from Eastern Europe cheaper phosphates.
After a period of abandonment, the galleries were used for mushroom cultivation. Today, the underground network contains approximately 260 kilometers of galleries in total. Some of them are now flooded.
Classified as a nature reserve since 1987 because it is a hibernation deposit of major importance for bats, the Malogne is today a site of great geological interest. It is part of the list of “Exceptional Heritage in Wallonia”. An organization was created by the nearby “Faculté Polytechnique de Mons” (an Engineering University) to preserve this heritage. The underground quarries are of restricted access; special permit must be granted by the organization itself.
If you are staying in the region for more than a couple of days, you should try to pay a visit through the quarries. You can find all the practical information here.
The only limitation is that you need to be a group of a least 20 people, so that a certified guide can bring you down there. But still, even if you do not enter the underground quarries, going to the Malogne, and just relaxing, is already worth the visit. Enjoy it!
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