When I chose to travel to Namur I didn’t expect to completely fall in love with this beautiful charming Belgian town. I should honestly stop leaving parts of my soul in different parts of the world as they are calling me so often to return… My visit to Namur was full of exciting places to see and things to do so I’ve made a list with my suggestions for you.
Experience a Belgian beer tasting inside the citadel’s tunnels
One of the highlights of my trip to Namur was tasting the “Blanche de Namur” beer in the citadel’s tunnels. First, I was taken to the tunnels that currently are not open to the public due to them being very narrow, small and dark. It was quite creepy but also fun due to the adrenaline triggered by the fear of the unknown. This particular part of the tunnels is used for team buildings or group activities and this is why the inside has been designed to… let’s say, challenge you. It’s dark inside… very dark. And we all know that a lot of creatures live in the dark…
At the end of the tunnel, once I’ve made it out safe and alive (hehehe), I stepped into the old powder magazine of Namur citadel. The entire room was lighted by the flames of three candles sitting on a barrel – used as the tasting table. In the back of the room a mighty throne was built out of beer crates: “The game of beer” my guide told me, alluding to the iron throne from The Game of Thrones.
I tasted five different beers: Blanche de Namur, Blanche de Namur rose, Gauloise blond, amber and brune. They serve so many so that you can taste the differences between them.
Blanche de Namur is the local beer produced by Brasserie du Bocq, in the nearby town of Yvoir. Blanche de Namur is a white wheat beer, smooth and mellow, very light. It was named after the daughter of John, Count of Namur, in the 13th century. She was so beautiful that the King of Sweden and Norway, Magnus IV Eriksson irremediably fell in love with her. They married and she became Queen over the two Scandinavian countries, which back then were united into one. It was fascinating to drink the beer and listen to the story of the inspiration behind its name.
The citadel doesn’t do the beer tasting every day so if you want to experience it please contact them directly here.
Visit Malonne and its brewery inside the church
Just outside Namur, in the beautiful village on Malonne, stands an atypical brewery built inside a church. Brasserie du Clocher was born in 2015 from the passion of two friends, Alex and Jean. They have took over the Piroy church in Malonne, renovated it and created a mini-brewery inside. The entire project has been built by the hands of volunteers and even when I visited I have noticed how the locals were helping to bottle the new production line.
Brasserie du Clocher produces the Philomène Florale beer, blond and light, with flowery and citrusy scents. There are 4 different types of barley and 3 of hops that go into the composition of this beer, making it very refreshing.
If you want to visit the brewery make sure you enquire (the website is in French) before about their opening times.
Explore Namur’s Sunday flea market
If you visit Namur on a Sunday, don’t miss a visit to the flea market next to James bridge. A lot of locals gather along the riverbank to sell their unwanted clothes, jewellery, records, books, toys and whatever else they don’t need anymore from their houses.
I have always been fascinated by how other people live and I loved browsing through the boxes full of random stuff from the flea market. You never know what small treasure you can find. You know how they say, someone’s junk is someone else’s treasure. I could spot a few Tintin collectables sold for just a couple of euros. Tintin was one of the most popular European comics in the 20th century and today you can visit the museum dedicated to it, in central Brussels.
Chase the city lights and bump into a treasure
If you are traveling to Namur with your loved one you should definitely go to Bouge, a neighbourhood on the nearby hill. From up there you can enjoy a panoramic view over the city and the citadel. It’ is best to go there by night and watch the city lights, it’ a really romantic spot.
I arrived there after the book scavenger hunt in the citadel ended and I was lucky to find one of the hidden books, carefully packed so it doesn’t get damaged by the rain and with a beautiful note inside it. I am planning to finish reading it, even if it is in French (funnily enough I can understand most of it) and then take it somewhere far away, in one on my next travels. The author of the note hoped the book will reach Paris. I promise I will take it much further than that.
Have fun with Les Draisines de la Molignee
Probably the best way of exploring the charming valley of Molignee is by draisine. The railway crossing the valley has closed in 1962 and now the track is used for recreational activities only. The draisine is a rail-cycle sort of bike propelled by human power, which can carry up to four passengers out of which two are pedalling in tandem. Think of it as a rail bike.
We started our draisine adventure in the small village of Falaen, where we embarked on the 6km trip to Maredsous. We were told how long do we have until we need to return (there is only one track so you have to respect the timetable, as every few hours the direction changes) and off we went.
The ride is very relaxing, climbing slightly on the way to Maredsous and all the way downhill on the way back. The scenery is very beautiful, crossing through tall forests and crossing bridges over tiny stone villages.
Once you arrive at the end of the line pedalling on the draisine, jump off, walk straight through the tunnel and follow the road towards the neo-gothic Benedictine Monastery of Maredsous. The path climbing up to the monastery is very peaceful, going through a forest along a river. Maredsous is a monastery still run by monks who welcome their guests with a café where they serve their own beer and cheese, a bookstore and a visitors center. The monastery is also the home of a boarding school.
During summer you can enjoy a guided tour of the monastery and get to discover the daily life of the monks.
Taste the strawberries of Wépion
Did you know that just a few miles out of Namur there is a museum dedicated to strawberries? This is because the strawberries from Wépion are famous all over Belgium for their sweet taste and large size. During the season (late spring to the end of summer) you will find stands on both sides of the main road selling only the Wépion strawberries. And who doesn’t like strawberries, especially if they are sweet and juicy?
The secret of the Wépion strawberries is that they are picked only when they are fully ripe on the vine, by hand, with a lot of care so that the fingers don’t touch the fruit. Strawberries have been grown here since the 17th century and are sold under the brand La Criée de Wépion.
Discover the saxophones of Dinant
You can’t go to Namur and don’t save at least half a day to visit the charming Dinant, a town on the banks of Meuse river, about half an hour away.
What you probably didn’t know is that Dinant was also the home town of the inventor of the saxophone, Adolphe Dax. While strolling inside Dinant you must stop at La Maison de Monsieur Sax and enter the world of Adolphe Sax through an interactive exhibition of his inventions that led to the creation of today’s saxophone.
At the entrance in the city, on Charles de Gaulle bridge, there is a collection of statues of Saxophones designed as a tribute to the European countries. Each saxophone has a different design and it’s fun to guess the country just by looking at them.
While in Dinant don’t miss a visit to the Citadel, up the limestone cliff, guarding the city, where you can explore an interactive exhibition about the town’s role in the First World War.
For a coffee with a view and a taste of the local cuisine, stop by Solbrun tea house. You will find here the Couque de Dinant, a honey flavored hard biscuit impressed with different motifs (mostly with the landscape of the town).
Disclaimer: This post has been written with the support of the Namur Touristic Office and the Citadel of Namur.