COVID-19 protection restrictions have eased a bit recently in Belgium. The government approved local travel within Belgium for up to 100 Km so we had to take the opportunity to go and enjoy a day out in a beautiful town a few kilometers from our home. We drove to Dinant, the drive there is gorgeous and always entertaining. The city has plenty of parking and a gate made by two monoliths of black granite called the Rocher Dinant. As you enter, it makes you feel like a conqueror entering a city draped in victory in your iron horse.
Dinant is a city seated along the Meuse River, presenting colorful buildings along its cause and reflecting its colors into it, like a scene in a painting. Dinant is a very old city, more than a thousand years old. It is rich in history and has seen many wars, and many countries have taken claim of it as a spoil of war.
The most visible and impressive building, along the Meuse, is Notre Dame de Dinant, a Gothic style church built in the 13th century after rocks from the cliff above it destroyed the old church. Notre Dame de Diant, stands tall against the mountain rock and it can be viewed from most parts of the city.
There are many excellent tours of the area, but taking a boat tour through a Meuse River should be on your list. A two hour tour of the Meuse river can reveal some of the great Ardennes sceneries, while you enjoy food and drinks. You can take a short tour in a more private boat or a walking tour. Either way, the views from the water are the most astonishing.
On top of the mountain Citadel Dinant provides an incredible view of the city. The fortress overlooks the Meuse and was used to deny the surprise element to those who came looking to conquer the region, who might most likely come through the river. The tour of the citadel is worth the price, mostly because of the breathtaking scenery, but also because it provides you with a quick history lesson of the region.
Dinant is the birthplace of Adolphe Sax, the inventor of the Saxophone. The city celebrates one of the world's most creative musical inventions with a museum and art around the city. There is a saxophone adorning almost every street in Dinant, from the creative to the most classical art forms.
There is a great variety of restaurants in Dianant, to include a few Michelin recommendations for exceptional gourmet food and quality. As in all of our trips we closed this one with a coffee from a local restaurant. Most restaurants in the area are still closed and some have closed permanently after three months of restrictions. We walked into a restaurant that was open but empty, and we asked for our traditional coffee. The way the owners of the restaurants (its typical that owners attend their restaurants here) lit up and were happy to see us gave it right away that they had been struggling in re-opening. We chatted with the couple while he made our coffee and confirmed that they have been having a difficult time.
The restaurant was opened ten months ago and has been closed the last three. When we were ready to leave the owner told us that the coffee was on the house, which surprised us and moved us to no end. We couldn't accept his kind offer and regretted having eaten a lunch we packed (not knowing if there would be any open restaurants) instead of supporting the local economy. We will plan to help out the local shops and restaurants as we come out of restriction and start traveling again.
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