Canal du Centre

Canal du Centre

Saturday, September 3, 2016

Surprising Huy, Sunday, August 21

It was too far (well, for us, anyway) to make it from Namur to Liege in one day so about 2 pm we slipped into the guest docks of the Wanze Yacht Club, about 2 k upriver from the town of Huy. We had to ask the woman at the tourist office about the pronunciation of the town’s name and it’s “wee.” “Oui”, we said. Another one of the small gems we’ve stumbled upon over the years, This was a place we really liked.
Romans first settled here at the mouths of the Hoyoux and Mehaigne Rivers, where they join the Meuse. Development continued until a fortress was built above the town in the early 900’s and the town became part of the Principality of Liege, serving as an occasional refuge for the rulers of the region because it was so easily defended. Metalworking really built the town in the 11th centur (pewter was big) and an expanding middle class enabled the construction of a beautiful church.
In the early 1700’s the Barrier Treaty called for the the citadel to be dismantled, the citizens of the town volunteering to tear it down brick by brick. A hundred years later, William I, King of Netherlands, ordered a new fort built on the hill, which stands today.
Paper production and metalworking lead to another boom in the 19th century, with Huy becoming known as the “City of Millionaires.” The old quarter of the city has been restored, keeping it’s winding streets and narrow alleys. It’s a beautiful place.

The Citadel behind the church on the waterfront. On the wall of the church tower down low is the “Rondia”, the largest High Gothic-style rose window in Wallonia.

This is the entrance to an alleyway behind the church, the 14th century “Bethlehem Gate”. Follow it to the tourist office.

Up one of the streets in the old quarter.

Monday about 9 am we backed out of the very tight space of the yacht club guest dock and back onto the Meuse, headed for Liege, about 35 k downriver. No rolling countryside or picturesque limestone cliffs here. This is a big, busy industrial river with big barges doing what big barges do.

Hugh McNight in his guidebook for France would have called this “an industrial aspect”.

About 12:30 we entered the lock d’Ivoz-Ramet, one of the two between Namur and Liege. We’re in the very back of the lock with three big commercial barges and two other pleasanciers. This one drops about 4 1/2 meters or about 15 feet.

By 2:30 pm we were snug in the Port de Yachts in Liege. Now we’d have a chance to discover another of Belgium’s gems.

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