Namur: Storm a fabulous fortress

Emily Reynolds falls for a citadel that is full of architectural rewards

Hit the heights

If you’re under the illusion that Belgium is uniformly flat, a trip to Namur, and its tremendous citadel will challenge your thinking.

The armies of the Austrians, French, British and Dutch (largely responsible for the layout today) have variously occupied this site (00 32 81 65 45 00; The result is one of the largest fortresses in Europe, covering 80 hectares and complete with subterranean passages.

Guided tours (including going underground) cost €9 (children €6) and are run from the Terra Nova information centre at the summit (open daily 10am-6pm). There is no charge, though, for exploring on your own, with five well signed routes dotted with information boards. The views from these battlements are terrific, especially those to the north over the old town. This pretty district sits at the foot of the fortress and offers winding old streets and green squares whose peaceful atmosphere belies the great history of power-play here.

Merveilleuse scents

The well-named Route Merveilleuse winds around the south and east of the citadel. At number 60, part of the old artillery block is now a striking perfumery where you can see scents being created in the old cellars, then buy them. Access to the main exhibition area of Guy Delforge (00 32 81 22 12 19; is free; guided tours run on Saturdays and school holiday week days at 3.30pm and cost €3.50.

Whether you’re a walker, cyclist or motorist, the Namur Province Tourism Federation has also developed a range of pioneering sat nav assisted trails (

Drift along the river

See Wallonia from the water: you’ll gently wind your way through dreamy wooded landscape getting relaxed perspective on life in the region. River cruises start near the foot of the citadel and are operated by Compagnie des Bateaux (00 32 82 22 23 15; 50-minute puttering round trips on the Meuse and the Sambre cost €6; excursions to Wépion south of Namur cost €11 return.

Sweet meats

Just across the Sambre, Namur’s old town contains a number of striking buildings as well as several absorbing museums. For the moment, you can see these two attributes combined in one at the town’s former meat market on the waterfront at Rue du Pont.

This glorious 16th-century building contains the town’s archaeological museum (00 32 81 23 16 31;; adults €3) which displays an impressive collection of jewellery and Gallo-Roman finds from the area. Plans are underway to move the museum to a larger site. An arm of the tourist office is also located here.

Terrific townhouses

A world of supreme elegance lies behind the front door of the 18thcentury mansion at 3 Rue Saintraint. Indeed you feel you might have wandered straight into the Age of Enlightenment at Musée de Groesbeeck de Croix (00 32 81 24 87 20;; closed Mondays; adults €3) with its huge windows, beautiful furnishings and rich wall decorations. Many of the items on show are the work of local craftsmen – cabinets, glassware and a collection of pots for sugar, coffee and chocolate.

The quiet garden is a delight, too.

Café society

Fringed with cafés, the lovely old Marché aux Légumes is a great place for people-watching in the evenings. At the new wine bar, Vinomania (00 32 81 65 65 89; order a glass (try those from the Namur region – Chenoy, Ry d’Argent, Château Bon Baron) and savour the atmosphere.

Savour the local flavour

From Blanche de Namur beer and Bister mustard to petits gris snails and Bietrumes caramels, Namur presents a wide variety of local specialities. Make for La Cave de Wallonie Côté Terroir at 6Rue de la Halle where you can buy many of the area’s products.

Among the gourmet restaurants in Namur, La Petite Fugue (00 32 81 23 13 20; on Place Chanoine Descamps has particularly inventive menus based on fresh regional produce.

A two-course dinner menu costs a very reasonable €29. For other fine dining options try Cuisinemoi at 44 Rue Notre Dame (00 32 81 22 91 81; which has been awarded a Michelin star and where you can expect to pay around €45 for three courses.

An eccentric artist

The remarkable Musée Félicien Rops at 12 Rue Fumal (00 32 81 22 01 10;; closed Mondays; adults €3) presents work by an artistic original. Félicien Rops was born in Namur in 1833 and became a highly regarded printmaker, etcher and caricaturist.

He was a close associate of poet Charles Baudelaire for whose work he created a number of illustrations and he caused much controversy over the erotic nature of some of his art. The museum’s permanent collection, housed in a gracious old townhouse, reflects his life in Namur, Brussels and Paris. The museum also hosts temporary exhibitions based around 19thcentury themes.

Baroque beauty

Namur’s church of St Loup is considered to be one of best examples of Baroque style in Belgium. Constructed for the Jesuits in 1621, it presents a boldly ornamented exterior created by the Namurois stone cutters. Yet it is the interior that is especially fine with high, intricately carved vaulted ceilings supported by columns of rose and black marble.

Sleep in quirky style

There’s an originality to Namur’s accommodation. Hôtel les Tanneurs (00 32 81 24 00 24; at 13 Rue des Tanneries is a delightfully different boutique outfit created from 11 ancient houses. The 32 rooms have been fashioned to fit in with the idiosyncrasies: some spacious, some charmingly small. Prices are widely ranged, too, with doubles costing from €55 to €215 per night including breakfast.

The hotel also offers two well-rated restaurants: L’Espièglerie for fine dining and Le Grill for brasserie fare. Or try a barge: moored off Quai des Chasseurs Ardennais, La Valse Lente (00 32 479 56 91 16; is a B&B with four neat en-suite cabins, a Jacuzzi and a comfy sitting room. Doubles cost from €50 per night, including breakfast.

More information

Namur Maison du Tourisme (00 32 81 24 64 49; at Square Leopold is open daily 9.30am-6pm.

The Independent travel offers: Discover a world of inspiring destinations

Life and Style
“What is it like being a girl?” was the question on the lips of one inquisitive Reddit user this week
peopleDave Legeno, the actor who played werewolf Fenrir Greyback in the Harry Potter films, has died
Arts and Entertainment
Armando Iannucci, the creator of 'The Thick of It' says he has
tvArmando Iannucci to concentrate on US show Veep
Life and Style
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Luis Suarez looks towards the crowd during the 2-1 victory over England
Life and Style
Swimsuit, £245, by Agent Provocateur

Diving in at the deep end is no excuse for shirking the style stakes

German supporters (left) and Argentina fans
world cup 2014Final gives England fans a choice between to old enemies
Arts and Entertainment
A still from the worldwide Dawn of the Planet of the Apes trailer debut
peopleMario Balotelli poses with 'shotgun' in controversial Instagram pic
A mugshot of Ian Watkins released by South Wales Police following his guilty pleas
peopleBandmates open up about abuse
Basketball superstar LeBron James gets into his stride for the Cleveland Cavaliers
sportNBA superstar announces decision to return to Cleveland Cavaliers
Javier Mascherano of Argentina tackles Arjen Robben of the Netherlands as he attempts a shot
world cup 2014
Arts and Entertainment
The successful ITV drama Broadchurch starring David Tenant and Olivia Coleman came to an end tonight
ebookHow to enjoy the perfect short break in 20 great cities
Four ski officials in Slovenia have been suspended following allegations of results rigging
sportFour Slovenian officials suspended after allegations they helped violinist get slalom place
14 March 2011: George Clooney testifies before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee during a hearing titled 'Sudan and South Sudan: Independence and Insecurity.' Clooney is co-founder of the Satellite Sentinel Project which uses private satellites to collect evidence of crimes against civilian populations in Sudan
Arts and Entertainment
Balaban is indirectly responsible for the existence of Downton Abbey, having first discovered Julian Fellowes' talents as a screenwriter
tvCast members told to lose weight after snacking on set
Life and Style
More than half of young adults have engaged in 'unwanted but consensual sexting with a committed partner,' according to research
Life and Style
A binge is classed as four or more alcoholic drinks for women and five or more for men, consumed over a roughly two-hour period
Independent Travel Videos
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Amsterdam
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Giverny
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in St John's
Independent Travel Videos
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Travel

    Sales Manager (Fashion and Jewellery), Paddington, London

    £45-£55k OTE £75k : Charter Selection: Major London International Fashion and ...

    Volunteer Digital Marketing Trustee needed

    Voluntary, reasonable expenses reimbursed: Reach Volunteering: Are you keen on...

    Java Swing Developer - Hounslow - £33K to £45K

    £33000 - £45000 per annum + 8% Bonus, pension: Deerfoot IT Resources Limited: ...

    Corporate Events Sales Manager, Marlow,Buckinghamshire

    £30K- £40K pa + Commision £10K + Benefits: Charter Selection: Rapidly expandin...

    Day In a Page

    A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: Peace without magnanimity - the summit in a railway siding that ended the fighting

    A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

    Peace without magnanimity - the summit in a railway siding that ended the fighting
    Scottish independence: How the Commonwealth Games could swing the vote

    Scottish independence: How the Commonwealth Games could swing the vote

    In the final part of our series, Chris Green arrives in Glasgow - a host city struggling to keep the politics out of its celebration of sport
    Out in the cold: A writer spends a night on the streets and hears the stories of the homeless

    A writer spends a night on the streets

    Rough sleepers - the homeless, the destitute and the drunk - exist in every city. Will Nicoll meets those whose luck has run out
    Striking new stations, high-speed links and (whisper it) better services - the UK's railways are entering a new golden age

    UK's railways are entering a new golden age

    New stations are opening across the country and our railways appear to be entering an era not seen in Britain since the early 1950s
    Conchita Wurst becomes a 'bride' on the Paris catwalk - and proves there is life after Eurovision

    Conchita becomes a 'bride' on Paris catwalk

    Alexander Fury salutes the Eurovision Song Contest winner's latest triumph
    Pétanque World Championship in Marseilles hit by

    Pétanque 'world cup' hit by death threats

    This year's most acrimonious sporting event took place in France, not Brazil. How did pétanque get so passionate?
    Whelks are healthy, versatile and sustainable - so why did we stop eating them in the UK?

    Why did we stop eating whelks?

    Whelks were the Victorian equivalent of the donor kebab and our stocks are abundant. So why do we now export them all to the Far East?
    10 best women's sunglasses

    In the shade: 10 best women's sunglasses

    From luxury bespoke eyewear to fun festival sunnies, we round up the shades to be seen in this summer
    Germany vs Argentina World Cup 2014: Lionel Messi? Javier Mascherano is key for Argentina...

    World Cup final: Messi? Mascherano is key for Argentina...

    No 10 is always centre of attention but Barça team-mate is just as crucial to finalists’ hopes
    Siobhan-Marie O’Connor: Swimmer knows she needs Glasgow joy on road to Rio

    Siobhan-Marie O’Connor: Swimmer needs Glasgow joy on road to Rio

    18-year-old says this month’s Commonwealth Games are a key staging post in her career before time slips away
    The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

    The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

    A future Palestine state will have no borders and be an enclave within Israel, surrounded on all sides by Israeli-held territory, says Robert Fisk
    A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: The German people demand an end to the fighting

    A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

    The German people demand an end to the fighting
    New play by Oscar Wilde's grandson reveals what the Irish wit said at his trials

    New play reveals what Oscar Wilde said at trials

    For a century, what Wilde actually said at his trials was a mystery. But the recent discovery of shorthand notes changed that. Now his grandson Merlin Holland has turned them into a play
    Can scientists save the world's sea life from

    Can scientists save our sea life?

    By the end of the century, the only living things left in our oceans could be plankton and jellyfish. Alex Renton meets the scientists who are trying to turn the tide
    Richard III, Trafalgar Studios, review: Martin Freeman gives highly intelligent performance

    Richard III review

    Martin Freeman’s psychotic monarch is big on mockery but wanting in malice