Monday, April 27, 2015

High and dry

Three weeks after leaving Charleville Mezieres we are still sitting high and dry in a boat yard in Namur, Belgium. We had booked the boatyard before Christmas as we needed to paint the hull and do a few other maintenance items that could only be done out of the water, such as upgrading the bow thruster propeller. The yard in Belgium had been recommended by a few other barge people, and as we hadn't spent much time in Belgium we decided that a season up here would be interesting.
Half timbered house in Revin
The trip on the Meuse is very scenic with some lovely towns along the way. As we got closer to Belgium the architecture also changed. The houses seem more charming than those of northern France but that could be because of the damage caused by the war and the lack of available building materials to repair or rebuild.
Before arriving in Belgium we stayed at Revin, where the captain of the marina was very helpful in recommending a lovely little family run restaurant " la Bonne Source". The food here was typically French but you could tell it was cooked with love. Nice little touches such as a palate cleansing sorbet doused in a liqueur that was a "house secret". The marina itself is in a lovely spot with a park and tennis courts next door and just a short walk from boulangerie, boucherie and 2 supermarkets. Over the bridge is the old part of Revin with a frontage on the other loop of the Meuse. The town was also very old with a number of timber framed houses.

Halte Nautique Revin
Another town we stayed in was Givet. It was the first time since starting on the Canal des Ardennes that we had actually seen another boat going in the opposite direction. Moored up to the Quai was a small cruiser sporting an Australian flag. When we knocked on their door we discovered that they were also from Perth. Givet was another very pretty town with a citadel overlooking the river. We have found these to be more common as we head towards and into Belgium. These citadels are commonly castles surrounded by a large expanse of walls where they looked out over the river for marauders and where the villagers could seek refuge in the event of an attack.
On the opposite side of the river to Givet was Notre Dame probably name for the church 

The next town on the Meuse, before Namur, was Dinant. While we didn't stop there it also gave us an idea of somewhere that we would like to stay next time we pass through. The bridge has a number of large saxophones in recognition of the fact that the inventor of the saxophone was born here. There is also another citadel.
Namur is on the confluence of the Meuse and the Sambre rivers and  is the capital of Wallonia, one of the provinces of Belgium. They speak French here and many people speak English, so Kevin is feeling more comfortable here already. Apparently on the food front, Namur is noted for its escargots, mustard and, of course, chocolate. Who hasn't heard of Belgian chocolate!! While we haven't tried the escargot or mustard yet we have certainly sampled the chocolate and also the patisseries. They appear to be even more decadent and extensive than the French version.
As we have been here for quite a while we have had the opportunity to see more of the town. The citadel here is very extensive and affords an amazing view of both the Meuse and Sambre rivers as well as Namur and its "suburb" of Jambes.
Panorama of the Meuse from the Citadel in Namur
Confluence of the Meuse and Sambre

The walls of the Citadel in Namur

In the boatyard we are quite a walk out of town so haven't ventured to as many places as we would have liked. The supermarket is about a 3 km round trip which is fine on the way there but the return lugging heavy groceries isn't much fun. We have discovered a good Thai restaurant though. The Sawasdee is not in a touristy area but is always busy. The food is really good and the staff are very friendly.
One of the other people on one of the barges has a Remote controlled helicopter with a camera and took aerial photos of the boatyard 
aerial photo Meuse et Sambre Chantier

We are nearly ready to leave. Hopefully only a few days and we will be on our way. A nice shiny boat again. 

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