La maison d'à côté

The village

The village of Lamorteau, located next to Torgny in the Belgian Little Provence, has kept part of its traditional housing. There are some notable groups of typical houses of Gaume whose red tiled roofs on top of yellow limestone walls give them a southern French accent.

The name of the village Lamorteau would come from “la morte eau” (the dead water), arm of the river Ton with sleeping waters. The river crosses the village with a very slow slope due to the many upstream meanders giving birth here and there to stagnant water puddles. The church is dedicated to Saint-Nicolas, patron saint of children, sailors and ships, protector against fire.

The history of the village is mainly linked to three events :

  • 1. The construction of a priory (religious community) in Radru on the 11th century by the Count of Chiny for Benedictines. Taken over by the Prémontrés de Mureau (Canons) till 1444, it became a hermitage and finally a mill till 1945.

  • 2. Mr De Franque, a famous and rich owner, friend of Lord Hontheim (bishop of Trier living in the castle of Montquintin). Mr De Franque’s cottage located at the back of the church should have welcome Louis XVI when he fled in 1791 but he was arrested in Varennes some 60 km from the border.

  • 3. The railway with its important border station. In the 19th century, the blast furnaces were developing at the same time as the steam train. The region Lorraine prosperous in iron ore built a railway network to carry coal and ore. The railway line Virton-Montmédy was inaugurated in Lamorteau on 15th March 1881. Lamorteau (B) and Ecouviez (F), two border villages, were two important stations where a lot of people worked. Each village had a marshalling yard with rails allowing the change of locomotive and a custom service. The deep crisis of the steel industry around the 1970s caused the end of the railway line Virton-Montmédy in 1982. The last train ran on this line on 28th September 1985.