This weekend we visited the city of Dinant (pronounced Dee-noh). It is located in Wallonia and in the region of Namen. (Flanders is the Nederlands part of Belgium and Wallonia is the French part, Belgium is then broken down again into regions as shown on the map above). Brussels belongs to Wallonia and is in Brabant.
It was founded in 870AD and the poor city has been destroyed and rebuilt at least 4 times. During the first World War, German soldiers slaughtered almost 700 of the town’s people during their march down the Meuse river.
The town has a large church at its center called The Collegiate Church of Notre-Dame. It also has a fortress, The Citadelle, which sits at the top of the cliff. Over the years it has been captured and defended multiple times from the Crusades to the French-Spanish war, to Austrian Empire to World War I and II. It is an ideal city in warfare terms: a cliff, river access and rich farm land.
To reach the Citadelle you can walk up the 408 steps or take the gondola. For those who think, oh I’d take the steps (Mom). Try to walk up a 41 story building or if you have ever ascended the Arc de Triomphe, climbing to the top of this is 122 MORE steps. We did see some people who took the stairs once we got to the top. They didn’t look so good.
Once you reach the top you can tour the Citadelle but not on your own. You must go with the tour guides (boo). Also at the top there is a playground! Zane and Lily were beyond thrilled.
Also in this picture you will see the blonde woman. This is why I love european mothers. She is holding a 1-2 month old. Have baby will travel. Moms here do not stop for anything. They toss their babies in a sling or a pram and continue on with their daily activities.
Also, as a bonus, they serve beer at the playground!
Watch monkey Zane in all of his proudness as he conquers the playground ropes. Watch until the end to get a hilarious glimpse of his happy dance.
Down at the bottom there are creepy dolls for sale. You know they kind that come alive at night and eat you.
The Collegiate Church of Notre-Dame was built in the 900s but was destroyed in 1288 when a rock came crashing down the hill and killed 30 of the people inside the church. It was rebuilt. Then, later, the large dome up on top was added in the 1500s.
This stained glass window is one of the largest in all of Europe.
I couldn’t figure out what Zane was doing until I heard him humming Happy Birthday and he was getting set to blow out the candles. STOP! Last thing we need is another heavenly boulder crashing down to remind us what’s up.
Also a claim to fame for the town of Dinant; Adolphus Sax was born and lived here. He invented the Saxophone and Bass Clarinet. Thanks for the jazz Mr. Sax.
We concluded our time in the town by stopping at an ice cream shop. A word to the wise who travel in these parts. Glaciers here are not Baskin Robbins. They take their ice cream seriously. When entering a glacier know that ice cream is served only in cones when it is for take-away. If you sit in the restaurant you must order ice cream in a bowl. Additionally, before making your selection, look at the menu. The Glaciers have taken time and passion to develop their ice cream combinations. It is rude to say, I’ll take a scoop of this and a scoop of that and throw some fudge on top. Choose a combination on the menu please.
The Abbey of Leffe
On the way out of town we drove by The Abbey of Leffe. In Belgium, monks made and sold beer as fundraisers. Beer that comes from Abbeys must be certified. Not only does each Abbey beer bear the name of the Abbey of which it was created but it also has its own special glass that it is to be served in. Leffe beer is the Abbey beer of Stella Artois which is produced in Leuven, up the road from Brussels.
In other news, Thursday was a holiday for Belgium (the Ascension of Christ). The majority of Belgium may not attend church but don’t you dare take away their Catholic holidays.
How fun is this thing!
We spent the day playing in the park and enjoying all the playground toys that no longer exist in the USA. I could get up on a soap box about the destruction of the US playground but I won’t go there. Let me just say if people weren’t so sue happy and more c’est la vie! Kids would have a lot more fun outdoors.