The river is at its most picturesque view in the province of Namur, where it forces its way northward through a narrow valley before turning abruptly eastward at the town of Namur to flow along a more open vale towards Liège. The variety of landscapes along the Namur section of the river is a result of the types of rock through which it passes. Wooded slopes of schist alternate with limestone and sandstone. As the river cuts through the srata, the harder rocks form magnificent stretches of gorge, with spectacular cliffs, spurs and needles as well as deep caves. We will reach Dinant.
Dinant, lies in a remarkable setting in The Meuse Valley. The massive Citadel and the onion-domed collegiate church dominate the town, whose slate-roofed buildings stretch between river and rugged cliffs. In the past, Dinant was a fortress, renowned for the chased copper-and brass-ware produced here since the 12C. Depending of your choice, we will drive South, to discover the “Valley of The Semois”, Bouillon, and its Castle. The little capital of the lovely Semois Valley is one of the most popular places in the Ardennes, with canoing on the river and a wonderful countryside. The castle is Belgium’s largest remaining example of medieval military architecture. Its existence is recorded as early as the 10C.
From Bouillon, still following The Semois, we will reach Orval and its World Famous Abbey. This Abbey, tucked away in the Forest of Gaume, was founded in 1070 by Benedictines. By the 12C it had become one of the richest Cisterian monasteries in Europe. Orval is also famous for its “Real Monk’s Beer”. From Orval, we will aim Han-Sur-Lesse, exceptional village, in the heart of the Park National de Lesse et Lomme, an extensive limestone upland crossed by the two rivers. Han is also famous for its magnificent cave and its wild animal reserve. From Han, we will drive to La Roche-en-Ardenne. Long wooded spurs separated by deep valleys converge on this extremely popular summer resort, famed for the beauty of its settings in a loop of the River Ourthe.
From La Roche, we will follow The Upper Ourthe Valley. The river becomes more like a mountain brook, flowing vigorously through wild and beautiful countryside. Great “Vista Points” like the Belvédère des Six Ourthe, offering a panoramic view of the rugged and unspoiled countryside so typical of the Ardennes. The winding River has cut a serpentine valley around wooded spurs, disappearing behind them and then reappearing again, giving the illusion of a series of lakes, hence the name of the viewpoint.
We will follow The Ourthe, North, we will pass Hotton, and its “Cave of the Thousand and One Nights”, and reach Durbuy. Given borough status in 1.331, Durbuy was the world’s smallest town with fewer than 400 inhabitants. It has retained its old character with its maze of medieval streets, the 17C. Castle, the old bridge and the half-timbered corn market. The charming streets and stone houses, where many craftspeople and artists live, blend in well with the natural beauty of the site, at the foot of a spur of rock from which a spectacular geological fold, the Falize, can be seen.
We will keep following the Ourthe, up to Liège (no visit), discovering more natural scenic picturesque villages.
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