I'm walking here in my grandparents' backyard

Antoine Achten

Antoine Achten (50), owner of Bed & Breakfast - Meeting Room De Kemp in Vortum-Mullem and initiator of the Kapellenbaan art project.

Now 5 years ago, Antoine began a new adventure. Together with his wife and three young children, he moved from Rotterdam back to his roots and started building what is now De Kemp. A modern Bed & Breakfast and a 'Meeting Room' in Vortum-Mullem, designed by the renowned architectural firm Onix. An inspiring place to unwind, in the middle of the Maasheggengebied.

What do the Maasheggen mean to you?

"I am walking here in my grandparents' backyard. My last name most likely derives from the village of Sint Agatha and was changed to Achten in the late sixteenth century. This is the place where I can connect cultural heritage with contemporary culture. The cultural history of this area fascinates and inspires me. I want to bring together cultural heritage, creativity and hospitality in my projects. For example, in our two guest rooms you will find traditional Brabant yellow. I also asked poets Saskia Stehouwer and Tsead Bruinja to write a poem about this place during their stay at De Kemp. Guests find these on their pillow and may take them home as a memento."

Antoine is currently working from his Foundation for Culture without Borders on a new project: Kapellenbaan. An art project of international stature in which six artists are being asked to design a contemporary field chapel. These objects will be placed at junctions of walking and cycling routes in the municipalities of Boxmeer and Gennep. "They will be places that are about silence and contemplation, that fit both the current landscape and history. I want to preserve traditions and heritage that define the identity of this area, but also bring them to this time.

What do you think is the most beautiful spot at Maasheggen?

I run hard twice a week through Maasheggen and recently participated in the Maasheggenloop, which goes through the area every year. The Vortum Mountains and the Ponti Trail are beautiful. I do clear my thoughts there.

How might the Maasheggen area improve?

"As an entrepreneur, I have to ask myself the question 'under what conditions will people come to the area?' I think the UNESCO biosphere status can help in that. We are only missing a landmark. I am happy to help think about that. Let us not be too modest! A striking art object or special building by renowned artists can give the area an enormous boost. That way, in addition to cyclists and walkers, we will attract new audiences."

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