Canal du Centre

Canal du Centre

Thursday, September 8, 2016

Liege, Belgium August 22-25

The main highway between southern Netherlands and northern France runs alongside the Meuse River and we’ve driven through Liege; down a steep hill, through a couple of tunnels and over the river, many times but never stopped. Also, although we know several people who make regular trips by boat up and down the river we’ve never talked to anybody who spent any time in the city. We decided if the city had a Port de Yachts we might as well stop and do a little exploring.
Stop me if you’ve heard this before but Liege is a very old city and has been an important political center for centuries. The bishops (or counts, or kings, or whatever) of Namur and Liege were in constant battles for superiority over hundreds of years. It’s divided loosely into three districts; the center and historic neighborhoods west of the river and the old Outremeuse on the east. This whole area was once a mighty industrial power with mines and steel mills but, like many “rust belt” areas, production has moved elsewhere and they are making the difficult transition to new economies. We had commented on the presence of Italian restaurants, grocery stores and the like all over both Namur and Liege and discovered it was due to the immigration of a large number of Italians in the 1950’s to work in the mines and mills.

The port is on an arm that extends back up the river with a long pontoon along a wall on one side (for bigger boats, like us) and finger pontoons on the other side for smaller boats. There’s lots of room for visitors.

Looking north through the port with the river on the right. We’re hidden amongst the boats on the left.

And the river through the city.

One of the first things we noticed from the dock is some of the city’s striking architecture with the new and the old side by side.

A government building in the foreground and the Èglise du Sacrè-Coeur in the background.

After our 2:30 pm arrival we hit the streets, one of our first stops the Èglise Saint-Jacques with it’s beautiful ceiling, baroque statues and mighty organ.

We just wandered around the streets for a couple of days, poking our noses into some of the many churches and climbing the hill to the Terrasses de Minimes, a beautiful park underneath the walls of the citadel.

When we arrived on Monday, we had only paid for two days stay. Tuesday we decided to stay another day so had paid for Wednesday but there was a mixup on the receipt, easily fixed. Early Wednesday afternoon as we were having lunch, a woman from the Capitanerie walked down the dock and was looking at the receipt taped in the window. We thought maybe there was more confusion but she just wanted to make sure it was Oldtimer. Turns out we were the 1000th boat to call at the Port de Yachts this summer so we were entitled to a free dinner at the marina restaurant and maybe a write-up in the local paper! This has been our lucky year! And a very good dinner it was, too.
Thursday morning we backed out into the river and continued our journey downstream. Our destination was Visè, our last stop in Belgium.

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