Belgium- Dinant, Wallonia 04/2012

Where we stayed: Kevin’s uncle Alain found this place. I have no idea how they advertise, but it is a lovely castle just outside of Dinant in the Ardenne mountains. There are basically three floors, the entry floor, a floor with a dining area, kitchen, and game room with ping pong and Foosball tables and the third floor has a hallway with rooms (with bathrooms). It’s more similar to hotel then a house. There is the caretaker that lives in a sectioned off area. The address is Rue Himmer in Leffe (Dinant) and doesn’t even have a number. I guess castles don’t need numbers. Here is a link to the Google map location.

It was a family reunion type event and it was the first time for both Adrian and myself to meet many of the Dubois clan. I have never stayed in a castle before, let alone heard of a family renting one out for the weekend. It was beautiful! It was very nice for Adrian to have a chance to meet his cousins and family and for me to understand a little more where Kevin came from. The house was a mix of cultures and languages. You could her Flemish, French, Italian, and English being shouted from one end of the table to the other.

The castle also has a lot of entertainment on its grounds. There are swings, a pond with boats, a teeter totter and even a zip-line. I don’t know if Kevin or Adrian had more fun playing.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

There were even some amazing walks through the countryside just leaving the castle grounds.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Since the castle was equipped with a kitchen, we all pooled money together for meals. Except for the exception of one, we ate breakfast, lunch and dinner there. Uncle Alain would go out in the morning to collect fresh bread and rolls for breakfast and lunch and other family members would cook dinner. The best dinner was without a doubt when Uncle Jacque fired up the barbeque. This was no hot dog burger style grilling. We had ribs, steaks and lamb chops. He is the new official grill master and produced steaks and lamb that were like butter.

During our stay at the castle, we also went out to a Frituur (a Fry Shop), which is very popular in Belgium. Everything is fried up to a yummy goodness. They have a little counter where you can pick out what you want fried and they take care of you. In the good shops, their fries are cut fresh from the potato when you order.

Where we ate: Lemoine Raphael

It was tasty, but what fried isn’t tasty? I got to say the Frituurs in Flanders are a little better than the ones I’ve been to in Walloon, but, like I said, it’s deep fat fried (sometimes even in lard!!!). We got it to go since there was a race coming through to close the roads. We found a table near the Bayard Rock.

Outside of the city is a rock, called ‘le rocher Bayard’ (the Bayard rock). The Rocher Bayard was actually separated with an explosion to provide passage for the French troops of Louis XIV after they had taken Dinant. But, even when the real story is good, a better one can be found. Popular belief has it that the rock was split by the hoof of the giant Bayard Horse, when it jumped from the rock over the Meuse river. The Bayard horse is a legendary animal from the story of the four Aymon Brothers. These four brothers were on the run for Charlemagne and escaped through the Ardennes sitting on the back of the Bayard Horse. The jump split the rock, and there it stays.

Another day we took a tour at the Citadel. The Citadel sits 100m about the city and was built in 1053, destroyed by the French in 1703 then rebuilt pretty much as we see it today in 1820. Interestingly, it also aided in fighting the German troops in 1914 during WWI. You can take the 420 stairs carved into the rock or ride the gondola, which is included in the price of admission. We took the gondola, not sure if we would have taken the stairs if we were without Piglet or not. They were kind of tempting, but I was told the climb could take hours.

It is well worth the visit. The views are amazing and the history is very interesting. We toured with the guide who was kind enough to include English along with the Flemish and French explanations. Adrian was very excited to see canons, canon balls and the guide even pointed out spots where the Citadel had been hit.

 

Not to forget about one of Belgians finest exports, Dinant is also famous for The Leffe Brewery, which is located on the right bank of the Meuse River, about one kilometer south of the town. According to the Leffe website: In 1152, the Premonstratensian Fathers founded the Notre-Dame Abbey where the Leffe and Meuse rivers meet. The abbey’s name was changed to Leffe Abbey in 1200. The monks brewed ale made of natural ingredients and based on a recipe that had been passed down from generation to generation. The first reference to the brewery in historical records dates back to 1240.

I seem to recall hearing they were going to book the castle again for Easter 2013. We would love to go back! I guess we will have to see. I know Adrian would love to see his cousins again, even once a year is not enough and for Mamma and Papa, a visit to the Leffe Abbey would be in order.

The Dubois Family Easter 2012

 

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