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Discover Names: of slakkenfontein to the Belgian Stonehenge

Citadels, abbeys, castles, forests, valleys, history, culture, festivals… Both the city and the province of Namur offers a lot of fancy stuff.

© Arthur H.

The meuse valley with its picturesque villages and towns is undoubtedly one of the most beautiful tourist attractions of the province of Namur. Those who prefer calmer places to look up to find to his liking in less obvious places. Such as in the north of the province, in the direction of the valleys of the Sambre and the Meuse, with the imposing kasteelboerderijen of the Belgian Haspengouw region. In Franc-Warêt would be the most beautiful castle of the region.

Typical for the area between the river Sambre and the Meuse, the hills and forests with ancient abbeys and villages, where between may and september, military and folklore processions take place that go back to the Napoleonic era. Floreffe is known for its beautiful abbey, while Virton is synonymous with delicious strawberries. No wonder that this region was once the vegetable garden of Names was called.

A very different landscape, the Venengebied on both sides of the river in the east, the Famenne and west of the current Fagne. This part of the province is noted for its beautiful villages and its typical lime-stone hills or tiennes.

In the autumn the air is permeated by the smell of the potée ardennaise, a local dish based on cabbage, potatoes, smoked bacon and hammetjes. In Mariembourg is the local specialty, the escavèche the l’eau Noire, a combination of trout, pike and eel in a white sauce based on vinegar and white wine. Nature lovers get their money in the nature of Roly.

Snails and rombosses

The valley of the Samson charms by its typical houses in limestone, but also the river itself and the caves are attractions. It is an ideal area by foot, horseback or by bike to explore. This is also the region of Marche-les-Dames, with all the stories around the fall of king Albert I, and Thon, one of the most beautiful villages of Wallonia. Also the prehistoric caves of Goyet, where various species of bats houses are worth.

Culinary specialties of the valley include rice tart and a liver pate cooked on a wood fire. They are often on the menu at local eateries. Andenne is well known for his frangipanetaart.

Of course, Names-city of its own assets. From the citadel you can enjoy a beautiful view on the city, the Meuse and Sambre and the still intact surrounding landscape. But a walk through the old town with its web of narrow streets is worth the effort.

That the capital of the province, a ‘slakkenfontein’ (rue de la Monnaie), it is not surprising, escargots are a key ingredient in many preparations and the petits-gris de Namur are very popular in gourmet restaurants. Also, freshwater fish such as carp and perch play a major role in the Belgian gastronomy. Well-known snacks are the rombosses or Namur appelflappen, the baisers de Flawinne or soft glazuurkoekjes, and Namur madeleines.

Ten tips

1. Le Jardin de la Maison de la Culture in Namur

Until recently it was a neglected place and not at all in line with the original ambitions of its designer, the renowned landscape architect René Pechère. Thanks to the European project Lively Cities, the Jardin de la Maison de la Culture was given a second life. It is now even considered as the most beautiful terrace of Names. Sun loungers, games for children, free wi-fi, various animations and foodtrucks for the lunch: everything is there to have more fun in the town centre to create.

2. Les Jardins d’annevoie

‘The most magnificent landscaped gardens in the eighteenth century served to power of the owners to confirm. Otherwise, it is with the gardens of Annevoie. They are much intimistischer and romantic, and were laid out for the family. The starting point was the French formalism, but we can also find English influences in the back, and connoisseurs will even references to the Italian gardens in discover.’ That, says architect Jean-Noël Capart. Water is the main theme in Annevoie. The park counts up to 20 reservoirs and a 50-numerous jets and fountains that has already 250 years of uninterrupted operation and what Annevoie so attractive is that the water jets so natural looking.

3. Tourist train L’espérance

Between 31 march and 30 september you can take the tourist train in Nismes. You’ll pass the main sights in and around Nismes, including the Fondry des Chiens. The Fondry is a doline, a bowl-shaped pit that originated because in the past iron ore was mined. Around the doline grow all kinds of orchids on the chalk grasslands, and those traits in turn butterflies. Further, you will pass the castle Licot and the castle park and the plateau of Les Abannets.

4. Curiosities in Yvoir

Yvoir is a small municipality on the left bank of the Meuse. Next to the ruins of a medieval fort and some seventeenth-century buildings capable of Yvoir especially known for its curiosities. It is opposite the train station, the only island in the Maas tourist operated the tavern and playground to earn a turn, and you can be the traditional brewery Bocq in 1858 visit.

5. A paradise for pin-ups

In 2012 threw the cosy shop Un p’tit coin de parapluie, the doors in Names open. And that was certainly not go unnoticed. Murielle Lenglez, ma history of art and archaeology, knew that she had a nose for the better vintage, but a few friends had to bring her over the finish line pulling.

With beautiful vintage, such as substances from the fifties, a dinner service of Royal Boch, but also a stunning wooden jukebox creates a unique atmosphere. Also chiné decoration, occasiehandtassen of Delvaux or (new) English dresses in pure Mad Men style you can find here. A paradise for pin-ups.

6. Cheese for discerning connoisseurs

The finest cheese and deli of the province is La Petite Ferme. Damien and Sophie Avalosse-Rostenne stand behind the counter. They mature predominantly raw-milk French cheeses of first quality.

The master cheesemonger is looking for the best producers. He graduated in 2006 with a first prize in the contest Best, master cheesemonger of Belgium, and in 2007 was second in the championship for Wereldkaasmeester. The business card is a saint-félicien from the Savoy; the cheese is so creamy that he himself with a spoon, let eat. Also brillat à la truffe is in the taste for demanding palates. In La Petite Ferme, you are at the right address for special meats.

7. Playful and light dishes in Cuisinémoi

Benoît Van den Branden and Cathérine Mathieu captivated by a fresh look at the art of cooking and because of their commitment. Their restaurant Cuisinémoi is housed in an old warehouse of an antique dealer. From the dining area you look through a glass door in the wine cellar, which is carved into the rock of the citadel. On the roof of the above ground basement is the open kitchen, where Benoît kokkerelt. The chef lives his creativity on the classic kitchen and comes with a playful, light preparations, that both young and old entranced. His menu is concise and all the attention goes to the attractively priced menus.

8. Sensation in the Park, Dinant Aventure

Sensation assured in this climbing park in Dinant. The eighteen-acre park is located in an old sand quarry et view on the river Lesse and meuse valley. You can choose from a large number of activities. You may have a hoogteparcours travel, abseiling, rock-climbing, an underground route, evenwichtsparcours or bouwparcours to travel, paint balling or laser tag.

9. In the belly of a red crocodile

Les Lacs de l’eau d’heure is the largest lake area in Belgium, partly located in Namur and part of Hainaut. A unique way to make these artificial lakes to explore on board of a red crocodile. The crocodile comes all the way from Canada and can drive the way and by the water, boating. Your visit starts with a funny movie and go you in three languages along the course guided.

10. Stonehenge from Belgium

For you ever been to Carnac in Brittany, travels to the menhirs to admire or to Stonehenge attracts in England, love a little bit of halt in Wéris, the pretty Walloon village where you will find the oldest stone monuments of our country, and with a little luck druids and wiccans at the bump.

If you’re the quiet village of Wéris, near Durbuy, enter, you are not aware of the mysterious forces that assume, because of the numerous steentijdmonumenten get you don’t immediately see, however, some signs that can refer you to the Maison des Mégalithes, a small museum. The two dolmens of Wéris are just outside the village, one north, the other south. In addition, there are the menhirs. ‘Dolmen comes from the Breton. Dol means table, and one stone, and hir meaning long, a menhir is a long stone. The Celtic words, which creates confusion, because these megalithic monuments actually have nothing to do with the Celts’, says Herman Clerinx, who has a reputation acquired as the author of journalistic works about archaeology.

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