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Welcome to Wallonia: The Land of Water
June 30, 2019
For those who are aquatically-minded, Wallonia in Belgium is the ideal place for your next vacation. With four majestic rivers being at the heart of Wallonia’s cultural, industrial and social heritage, it is unsurprising that Wallonia is frequently referred to as the Land of Water. Candid Magazine went along to the region recently to discover what marine life has to offer in Wallonia.
The first must-visit area in the region is The Eau d’Heure lakes with a richly diverse amount of activities to offer both on the ground and on the water. I would recommend staying at the Best Western Plus Golden Lakes Hotel which is right in the heart of the action. A short hike to the impressive Eau d’Heure dam is the best option, as the guided tour through the dam includes going on the skywalk which is 107 metres above water level with impressive views of the all the surrounding rivers and green woodland areas. You also get to walk 450 metres of the dam’s concrete structure which is 20 metres underground and you learn about the daily manoeuvres to keep the dam operational.
They have an impressive aqua-centre offering a myriad of activities from kayaking to paddle-boarding to aqua golf. For those less energetic like ourselves, we went on an amphibious bus ride into the lake to discover the beauty of the lake up close and personal.
Water is a crucial component of beer making and it is unsurprising to see the popularity of beer in Belgium and in particular this region. We went along to Auberge de Poteaupré for lunch and the adjacent Chimay museum to discover the significance of beer brewing to the local population. For the uninitiated, there are only 11 recognised Trappist breweries in the world with the Authentic Trappist Product Label and six of them are based in Belgium. The products of the Scourmont Abbey are brewed under stringent conditions to ensure the best quality; highly recommended is the Chimay Gold, which is a pure malt beer. The brewery, which is situated in the abbey, is not open to the public; hence visiting the museum is the next best option.
Although if you are interested in Belgium beer production and want a brewery tour, I would strongly recommending Brasserie du Bocq which is a family-owned business since 1858. They can take you on a tour of their whole assembly line along with tastings of their all their premium quality products after the visit.
You can really see the influence of the rivers by visiting the citadel of Namur, as it is at the confluence of the Sambre and Meuse river. They have a museum there which explains the history of the region and how it has been fought over through the centuries and how much of an important trading area it used to be. Namur is the capital of Wallonia.
A quirky boutique hotel to consider when visiting Namur is Hotel Les Tanneurs. It is a charming 4-star hotel set in a historic building in the heart of Namur. I stayed at a quaint split-level room which exude the historic wooden charms of the building but strangely had one of the most modern whirlpool baths I’ve seen at any hotel.
One of the most stunning gardens you will ever have come across is Les Jardins d’Annevoie, which mixes the strict, rigid style of French gardens like in Versailles and the naturalistic, flowing style of English gardens. The garden also has charming Italian influences as you can see from the Roman statues dotted about. Fountains, waterfalls, and jets make for an even more spectacular scenery for nature lovers to observe.
You can’t have visited the land of water without actually taking a cruise in the area, so we headed into Dinant, which is the home of the saxophone for a scenic dinner cruise with Dinant Evasion on the river Meuse. it is a particularly fascinating region for a cruise with a mixture of multi-coloured, picturesque houses as well as stunning mountain landscapes.
Finally, apart from water-themed adventures, there are plenty of historical buildings and sites to visit in Wallonia including Château de Chimay with one of the most awe-inspiring Rococo-style theatre you will ever see and visiting The 1815 Memorial museum in Waterloo and The Lion’s Mound will guarantee there won’t be a dry eye in the house.
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