In our latest Travel Wallonia article we head south to the region’s outstanding capital.
One of the most cultural, exciting cities in the environs of Brussels, there are many things to do and see in Namur.
The Citadel of Namur is a fortress in the Walloon capital city of Namur, at the confluence of the Sambre and Meuse rivers. It is originally from the Roman era, but has been rebuilt several times. Its current form was designed by Menno van Coehoorn, and improved upon by Vauban after the siege of 1692. It has been classified as a Wallonia Major Heritage site. Its highest point sits at 190m.
To explore Namur, you must take your time. Its rich heritage, the charm of its little streets, its terraces and its restaurants are there to be savoured. From the heights of the Citadelle to the banks of the Sambre, the capital of Wallonia offers a wealth of sights and experiences. Namur’s impressive Citadelle was renamed ‘The ant-hill of Europe’ by Napoleon.
Walking in Namur is a stroll through alleyways full of charm, taking time to stop in front of a shop or in a small restaurant. Why not finish the day at the cinema or at the Théâtre Royal de Namur? And when it comes to culture, you can’t do much better than a visit to Vieux Namur, and the museum of Félicien Rops, ‘a Belgian through and through’. One of this artist’s most famous works, La Mort Qui Dance (Dancing Death, 1878) was inspired by the Gothic Romantic works of Charles Baudelaire, with whom he had an intimate relationship.
According to the French poet, there were no artists at the time in this country, apart from Rops. The painter also ended up creating the illustration for Les Epaves, the section of Baudelaire’s masterpiece Les Fleurs Du Mal that had been banned in his home country. Over a hundred years after the artist’s death, the museum that bears his name goes well beyond the confines of his native country.
Namur is situated at the confluence between these two rivers, which makes it very pleasant to visit the city by water. There is a guided tour that shows landmarks such as the Wallonian Parliament and the Élysette (seat of the Wallonian government). The building was built in 1877. Later on, in the early 90s, it was given the nickname ‘Elysette’, at the time when the President of the Walloon Government had good relations with the Elysée.
Notice also ‘L’Enjambée’, the new pedestrian-cycle footbridge. Food and drink? Technically not in Namur but about half an hour’s drive away, you will find the beautiful Maredsous Abbey, famous not only for its spectacular building and its school or arts but also for its cheese production. The monks from Maredsous have been producing cheese since 1953, maturing it for 22 days in the cellars of the abbey, where the temperature is a constant of 12 degrees. The cheese at Maredsous is made out of cow’s milk, and every two days, each piece of cheese is washed in brine by hand, starting from the oldest to the youngest, so that the typical macrobiotic flora transfers from one to another and creates the orange crust and its aroma.
For socializing and entertainment, the attractive Quai Novèle terrace and bar is open until 29 August, from Thursday to Sunday.
If good exercise is more your line, Namur is surrounded by lush greenery and numerous signposted walking circuits exist, from the city centre or in the neighbouring villages. Electric bicycles are available from the ‘L’Empreinte belge’ store.
What about food and drink? Namur visitors will have a chance to get acquainted with the traditions of Walloon cuisine, which is distinguished by a variety of interesting and hearty dishes. At restaurants representing regional cuisine, you can try wonderful meat dishes and traditional fried potatoes, all the dishes are usually served in large portions. The pride of regional cuisine is dairy and meat products of premium quality. In the vicinity of Namur, numerous farms produce butter and cheeses, as well as dozens of types of sausages and ham.
And, to enjoy fine drinks, there are two Namur wine estates: Domaine du Chenoy and Domaine du Ry D’Argent.