From a critical review of published Meuse cross-sections it is concluded that the geometry of the predeformational sediment wedge never was discussed for the construction of these sections. Nevertheless in the Ardennes case it represents a major constraint to produce a balanced cross-section. In order to determine this predeformational sediment wedge the thickness distribution of the several involved stratigraphic levels from Lower Devonian till Lower Carboniferous are derived using geostatistical techniques and also taking into account their necessary restoration to a predeformation geography. The analysis shows that no synsedimentary faults are required in the predeformational wedge, not even at the Variscan Front. The depth and slope of the detachment plane are other constraints for the reconstruction of the predeformational wedge. The detachment plane slope is determined using the classical balancing techniques in the Yvoir Unit in which also the predeformation sediment thickness and hence the detachment depth can be derived. The extrapolation southwards is supported by the similar slope of seismic reflectors. The stratigraphic levels cut by the detachment plane could be determined using the earlier derived sediment wedge adding to it the Upper Carboniferous thicknesses determined by maturity and illite crystallinity data. The make-up of the section is carried out consecutively in three units, the Namur Unit, the Yvoir Unit and the Dinant Unit. In the latter unit, the problem of a shale-dominated multi-layer was handled by considering the envelope of competent layers within the shale as representative for deeper structures. A new profile is given, taking these specific constraints for the Ardennes into account. (C) 1999 Elsevier Science B.V. All rights reserved.