Canal du Centre

Canal du Centre

Thursday, September 1, 2016

The Belgian Meuse

In 2008 when we passed through this area, our last stop was Dinant with its beautiful Collegiate church, citadel and the nearby River Lesse. This time, the waterfront in Dinant is all torn up for big improvements so we stopped at a yacht club pontoon on the Meuse in Anseremme, just 3 k before Dinant. We arrived about noon and settled in for a couple of days. Luckily the weather had turned very pleasant and a big weekend was coming up. Although pretty secular, the northern European countries make big celebrations out of religious holidays and Assumption Day was Monday the 15th. Almost everybody had a three day weekend, most stores were closed and the weather would be beautiful; a recipe for chaos on the river!
Friday we cycled into town, locked up the bikes at the tourist office and wandered around the very busy streets. There have been several important battles here, one in the 1640’s that resulted from the growing power of the middle classes clashing with the nobles/clergy, and another during World War One that resulted in the massacre of many civilians by the Germans. The earlier war was detailed in an exhibit in the church and the latter in the citadel, both of which we visited.
Dinant is a 4 street town, two on each side of the river. Tucked in between steep walls cut by the river, it’s in a very strategic spot.

The church and the citadel. 
You can ride a cable car up to the citadel and walk down or, for the sporty types, you can walk both ways. We took the cable car.
The waterfront is undergoing massive renovations.

The interior of the church featured a beautiful altar piece.

The view back up the river from the citadel. Anseremme is just around the bend under the bridge.

Saturday we joined a couple hundred of our closest friends for a kayak trip down the Lesse River. Pay at the office of one of the two companies that rent the boats, take a half hour bus ride up the river, pick up your kayak and get dumped in the river to begin your 20 k, 4 hour trip down the Lesse to the Meuse. Somehow we found ourselves among the first to get launched down the ramp so we stayed out of most of the huge clumps of people enjoying a beautiful Saturday.

We had the “comfort” model which includes seat backs.

Toward the end of the paddle you pass directly under the walls of a magnificent chateau.

The river curves right under that cliff.

Just past the chateau is the first of two barrages, something like small waterfalls, that you have to navigate. It’s a great place for people to stop and watch the action, hoping for a capsize or two. We saw a couple although we navigated both barrages only getting a little wet.

We got back to Oldtimer about 3 pm, changed clothes and made the 5 minute walk back to the tavern run by the kayak company. We felt we deserved a couple of Belgium’s claims to fame, beer!

Sunday morning it was off again, dodging all sorts of water craft as we made our way down the river. About 2 pm we spotted a small dock next to a launch ramp just below a very busy restaurant. We thought maybe we’d have another beer or three but the restaurant was “complet” for Sunday lunch so we retreated to Oldtimer and raided the refrigerator. We sat on the back deck and watched the parade of watercraft on a nice holiday Sunday afternoon.
Monday morning at the crack of 9:30 it was off down the river, next stop, Namur.

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