The nature reserve of Vireux-Molhain, in the northern part of the French Ardennes, overhangs the valley of the Viroin, not very far from its confluence with the river Meuse. This fossil site is also known under the name of 'Wall of the customs officers', because of its proximity with the border, close to the former Customs on the secondary road 47 which links up Vireux-Molhain to Couvin (Belgium).
Well-known by the geologists since the nineteenth century, the deposit of the "wall of the customs officers" is exceptional by the abundance of fossils forms found there. Well-known also by the diversity of the species and their genuine preserving.
The site has a surface area of 1.89 hectare and known internationally. So much that the professsionals were not the only one to do researches... collectors and amateurs were also present. Over the years, the partial destruction of the deposit has worsened. It was important to act quickly... that's why, since 1991, this place is a nature reserve. Thus, the exploitation of the fossils is no more uncontrolled, and the preservation and the study of those former life forms is possible.
GEOLOGY: The rocks of the Nature reserve are old of 385 millions years.
FOSSIL FAUNA : The fossil fauna of the "wall of the customs officers" is very diversified. The most remarkable and the most representative animal forms are the Trilobites.
SCIENTIFIC WORKS : A nature reserve is not only a space "under glass". It is also a privileged site for the scientific research. So, in association with the researchers in geology and in paleontology, the nature reserve of Vireux-Molhain participates in various projects which contribute to a better geologic and paleontological knowledge of the site.
The nature reserve is also a tool of public awareness in the preservation of the geologic heritage.
The site is free of access for the walkers and information signs welcome the visitor.
The preservation of this fragile site involves some elementary rules which have to be respected by the walker :
- No extraction or picking of fossils and minerals
- No destruction of the flora and fauna
- No dumping (except in the garbage cans)
- No driving with motor vehicles