Namur - Rochefort - The land of the Belgians and Luxembourgeois - CycleBlaze

March 14, 2011

Namur - Rochefort

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I awoke in good time. This was to be another longish day by my standards, the last before my planned rest day in Rochefort. For the first 30 km I would have relatively easy going, following well-marked cycle routes upstream along the Meuse to the pretty resort town of Dinant. But from there I would need to bear to the East, climbing in the Ardennes proper and gaining some considerable height. My destination, Rochefort, was billed as an attractive resort town, surrounding by intriguing caves, and with a very Trappist brewery to boot - so I hoped it would be worth it.

Setting off along the excellent bike path by the Meuse
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Big sluices
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Farewell Namur. You can see the fort up on the hill above.
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It was easy going and the weather was excellent. I made good time along the river, passing great water works, keeping pace with boats, and admiring the quite impressive limestone cliffs which sometimes fell directly to the river.

Keeping pace with a Belgian boat
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Some of the cliff formations were really quite impressive
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It has its charm, I suppose
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Belgium, Man!
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Some of the cliffs were really quite big. They seem to be a favourite of climbers - the guy climbing up gives it a sense of scale
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Complicated locks
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Never was a boat more fittingly named
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Before lunch Dinant appeared behind a bend in the river. It was almost like a concentrated Namur: much smaller, with an impressive fort overlooking the river - and consequently much more crowded. Dinant is the birthplace of the inventor of the Saxophone, Adolphe Sax. In fact, he was a serial inventor of new musical instruments, many of them brass versions of woodwind classics, sometimes scaled to comical size, but most bearing his name. Check out his Saxtuba!

Approaching Dinant
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Dinant, the church, and the fort, really do make it inordinately pretty. Unfortunately this is hardly a secret, so it was busy.
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Crossing the Meuse at Dinant on a Saxophone-ornamented bridge
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Adolphe Sax with his invention
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A company offering English lessons with some typically British icons. They could've picked worse, to be honest - Freddie's done well
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I didn't linger too long in Dinant, but headed out of town on the other side of the river, leaving the town by a very impressive "gateway" where the road squeezes past a pinnacle of rock. South of Dinant I crossed the N97, and then started to make my way East and up in the hills.

With my good start the going wasn't too bad, but it was still a reasonable climb. At first it was open countryside, but quickly the forest closed in.

Leaving Dinant through a kind of rock gateway
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Amiable hilly countryside as I climbed into the Ardennes
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A tiny horse, significantly smaller than my bike
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I passed by the Chateau de Veves, which has a fairly-tale setting of dense wooded hills. It was quiet, but sadly I didn't take the opportunity to check it out.

Chateau de Veves
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Gorgeous valley near the Chateau
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The going was more rolling than climbing now. I passed the village of Celles and saw a sign for Rochefort for the first time, and crossed the main E411. I then had a wonderful fast descent down into Rochefort.

Just to prove I'd been there
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The country was now rolling and easy-going, and the conditions perfect
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Lovely quiet roads taking me down to Rochefort
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Lovely quiet roads taking me down to Rochefort
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Rochefort - my destination!
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Considerably less worn out and dehydrated than the previous day, I checked into my hotel, and was able to leave the bike in their garage. I then went off for a wander around the town and in search of some Trappist beer.

Where I wiled away some of the afternoon. Looks like a fruit beer I'm drinking there
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After refreshing myself, I went for a wander about and found an intriguing tower with great views of the village. I had dinner and then retired to a very cozy pub, where I had a couple of actual Rochefort beers. A bottle that would cost £7-8 in the UK in an off-licence (this is in 2011) was going for around €4 - so I could toast my progress so far in style.

View from the tower over the village
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Intriguing tower
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My hotel - a good one this
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Today's ride: 65 km (40 miles)
Total: 327 km (203 miles)

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