Bienvenue en Belgique! / Welkom in België! (Welcome to Belgium)

Bienvenue en Belgique! / Welkom in België! (Welcome to Belgium)
Happiness is a place between too much and too little.
-Finnish proverb

 

I'm sure that when the sun is out, the trees have leaves, the construction zones disappear, and the attractions reopen, Dinant is a lovely town.  Sliced in half by the emerald green Meuse River, this tiny Belgian town of less than 13,500 has quite a few fun sights up its sleeves even on gloomy days.  For one, there is the 11th century dog-friendly citadel that looks over the small city (one can get up year-round via steps, or cable car in the busy season).  Then, there is the 13th century Gothic Collegiate Church of Notre Dame de Dinant with its notable round, shingle-clad bell tower.  And of course, there is La Maison de Monsieur Sax, a house dedicated to the man who invented the, well, saxophone. For food, despite many bars and bakeries being closed, I was still able to enjoy regional favorites Leffe beer and a couque.  What is a couque de Dinant??  It is an *extremely* hard biscuit made of flour and honey, baked in a detailed mold.  It has a delicious caramel flavor and is perfect for coffee and even teething.  (After eating my fish couque, my jaws were literally sore for days.)

The reason I came to Dinant actually was to see the abandoned Château Miranda, which I discovered -- after arriving in Dinant -- was tragically demolished a few months ago.  Darnit.  But that wasn't the only closed attraction.  In the busy season (aka not when I visited, in late January), there is the Grotte la Merveilleuse (Marvelous Cave) and Abbaye Notre-Dame de Leffe, the circa 1155 monastery that brewed Leffe beer before outgrowing its space about 50 years ago.  While the downtown had many fine, historic buildings and attractive views, it was a bit crowded (narrow sidewalks and too many cars), dingy, and vacant; I could definitely see the town cleaning up a bit and becoming a swanky destination, and from the looks of the huge waterside construction projects, this summer could be a big one for Dinant.