Friday, May 6, 2016

An Afternoon in Darling Dinant

Freideg, 6 Mee.

After stopping in Bouillon, we continued on to Dinant. Located on the Meuse River in the Belgian province of Namur, this historic city is known for its steep limestone cliffs and crunchy gingerbread cookies (which, according to both Wikipedia and myself, are the hardest biscuits in Europe). When we arrived, the sun was shining, the birds were chirping, and all of the city was out to enjoy the beautiful afternoon!

We enjoyed a quick visit to the Collégiale Notre Dame de Dinant.

This thirteenth-century cathedral sits at the base of the cliff, overlooking the River Meuse. We learned that the original church, a tenth-century Romanesque structure, was almost entirely destroyed in the twelfth century when a section of the cliff collapsed. (That's what you want to hear, right?) 

After checking out the church, we decided to head up to Dinant's number one tourist attraction: the citadel. Although the cliff above Dinant has been home to military fortifications for hundreds of years, the current fortress was built in 1815 and is today home to a variety of museum exhibitions.

Our 8€50 ticket included both entrance to the citadel and a ride in the glass-paneled cable cars! Given the steep climb (408 steps to the top), access to the téléphérique is definitely a perk.


Although the views of the city and the River Meuse were stunning, I have to say that the citadel itself was a bit of a disappointment ... especially given the rather steep admission fee. (After eight months in Luxembourg, I have become perhaps problematically accustomed to student discounts and free admission.)

We found it difficult to navigate the citadel itself and, after finally finding a guided tour to join, were not particularly impressed with the actual displays.

Still, on such a beautiful day, it was worth it for the views!

We were on our way back to the cable cars, ready to hit the road and head home (after an ice cream stop, of course), when we suddenly heard someone mention something about "cable cars" and "broken." We didn't stick around along enough to hear the rest: the idea of hurtling down a cliffside in a broken cable car was enough to make the 408 steps sound very appealing.

We took our time down the steps, which were not particularly difficult on the way down. (Judging from the expressions of the people we passed, however, the ascent is a little bit less fun.)

Halfway down! Can you tell which of us is a little bit scared of heights? ;)


Once back on solid ground, we crossed the Pont Charles de Gaulle in order to get a look at that famous view of Dinant. (Just search for "Dinant" on Google and you'll see what I mean!) The bridge is named after the former president of France who, while serving in the French army during World War I, was wounded in Dinant -- according to legend, on this very bridge.

Today, the bridge pays homage to one of the most famous residents of Dinant: Adolphe Sax, the inventor of the saxophone. It is decorated with a series of colorful saxophone sculptures from around the world!

By the time we got back in the car, it was nearing dinner time. We made one last stop in the small town of Celles to finish up the remains of our picnic and then made our way back to Luxembourg. Within two hours, we were back on the smooth roads of the Grand Duchy (seriously, the motorways are noticeably well-maintained), blasting "Leaving on a Jet Plane" and making our way back to our home away from home.

Between the amazing weather, the beautiful towns, and the great company, it was the truly perfect day and it could not have come at a better time. Between university and my high school placement, my workload has been getting pretty hectic ... it turns out that a random weekday trip was exactly what I needed.

So, thank you, Jesus -- literally. 

1 comment:

  1. What a beautiful day for amazing views! That was so interesting about the saxophone. The trip up to the citadel looked like our Juneau trip. Luckily our cable ride didn't break down though. You must go to Bitche in France.