Dinant is a town that I’ve wanted to visit for a long time. Ever since I saw pictures of this place, I was mesmerized by its grace and charm. I don’t know what took me so long to finally visit, but being only an hour away from Louvain-la-Neuve, there was no reason not to go yesterday, especially when rare sunshine showered over my part of Belgium and the weather couldn’t be any better!
As the train pulled into Dinant slowly along the Meuse, I woke up from my semi-nap, rubbed my eyes, and looked out the window. I gasped. I was still in sleeping mode and I wondered myself why I gasped, but I remember thinking in my mind, “Wow, so this is Dinant, huh. It is SO pretty.” I was already impressed before the train even made a full stop, and so the anticipation to start exploring grew exponentially and chased away any remaining traces of fatigue. I hopped off the train and off I went into the unknown.
After the visit, I could seriously look into your eyes and tell you affirmatively that Dinant is one of the most beautiful cities I’ve seen in Europe and I enjoyed every nanosecond spent in this enchanting little place.
Two things prompted me to go and explore Dinant: the citadel and the caves. Well, count the Meuse River as the third, because I’ve always thought that bodies of river add richness and appeal to a city, but to see the Meuse, I didn’t have to go to Dinant specifically. Anyway, I wanted to go up to the citadel and view Dinant from way up high. It’s one of my favourite things to do in any new city, to see it from above, whether from a belfry or a building or in this case, a cliff. Next, I wanted to plunge into the Grotte la Merveilleuse, a series of underground caves in Dinant.
Wandering around these sites and simply strolling through the narrow streets of Dinant made me realize that this town reminded me of Luxembourg City. Watching Dinant from the citadel was like staring into the Petrusse Valley in Luxembourg, and the Grotte in Dinant was certainly similar to the casemates in Luxembourg. I particularly liked the authentic atmosphere in Dinant. It was busier than I expected for a Sunday (I was surprised that many shops were open), but it wasn’t saturated with tourists like Bruges. One thing that bothered me slightly, though, was the sheer amount of cars for a small town. I often found it hard to cross the street because of non-stop traversing traffic, especially with the lack of traffic lights. Nothing too traumatizing though; enjoyment of the town wasn’t too much compromised.
I know this is a super typical picture of Dinant. You can Google Dinant and find 5000 pictures that look the same, but c’mon, it’s gorgeous. It was the first sight I encountered as soon as I exited the train station; how could I resist? As Sharon said, it looks like it came right out of a fairy tale, or more like an undiscovered civilization hidden in a secret valley. The Notre-Dame de Dinant stands guard by the cute little houses by the Meuse (which is the same river that traverses Liege), backed up by the mighty citadel on a cliff. Just stunning.