An aerial view over Namur in Belgium.
Namur has a rich history as an important military garrison. If you’re strapped for time in this beautiful city, here are some recommendations for the 8 things you must see and do and experience in the city.
THE ONE LANDMARK
Namur has a rich history as an important military garrison. The mighty Citadel occupies an entire hillside across the river from the old town. It has so many layers and underground tunnels that Napoleon nicknamed it the Anthill of Europe. A good interpretive centre traces its history, and an unusual sound-and-light tour of underground fortifications is interesting. See citadelle.namur.be
THE ONE MUSEUM
Namur has some quirky museums, not least Museum Felicien Rops dedicated to a 19th-century local artist with a taste for the erotic and macabre. However, don’t miss the Musee des Arts Anciens, even if just for the room devoted to the gold and silver treasures of a former priory, which are medieval masterpieces studded with semi-precious stones. A brochure guides you towards the museum’s other highlights. See museerops.be; museedesartsanciens.be
THE ONE SHOP
One of the old buildings inside the Cidatel houses the partly underground Parfums Guy Delforge, where you can tour the perfume workshop, learn about the stages of perfume creation and test your olfactory prowess. A shop sells the perfumes made here, such as the spicy, woody Papyrus for men and the floral Jardin d’Amour for women. See delforge.com
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THE ONE WALK
Namur isn’t about big sights but about escaping the tourist crowds of Brussels or Bruges. The handsome old town has winding cobblestone lanes, browse-worthy small shops and a lively student life, and is adjacent to the city’s shopping district. Seventeenth-century quarter Le Corbeil has a particular concentration of small eateries and bars in tiny squares surrounded by elegant French-style mansions and churches. See namurtourisme.be
THE ONE GARDEN
It’s worth heading 17 kilometres south to Jardins d’Eau d’Annevoie, a chateau established in 1758 and encompassing French, Italian and English-style gardens, avenues of trees and sumptuous flowerbeds. Particularly notable are the water features, including a canal, lovely cascades and various fountains and water jets. There’s also a children’s playground. See annevoie.be
THE ONE HOTEL
Les Tanneurs de Namur occupies a series of 17th-century buildings, making for awkward corridors (mind the steps!) and low doorways, but supplying oodles of architectural atmosphere with exposed brick, old arches and oak beams. It’s within a walk of Namur’s sights. Its greatest asset is its restaurant, which specialises in top-quality steaks, beef and lamb grilled over a wood fire, and accompanied by simple but delicious side dishes. See tanneurs.com
THE ONE RESTAURANT
You’ll get rustic French food such as cassoulet (bean and pork stew) and rabbit with mushrooms at Le Temps des Cerises, plus other classics for entree (foie gras) and dessert (tarte tatin). The restaurant is near Namur’s theatre, and is frequented by the cast after shows. Famous Francophone actors have signed the walls. See cerises.be
THE ONE BAR
Le Caprice d’Ambiance features chandeliers, the occasional Buddha, gilt armchairs covered in leopard-skin print, and red mood lighting. It has a lively dance floor and a drinks menu that runs to 130 cocktails, some of which pack a heady mix of four spirits. See capricedambiance.wixsite.com/caprice
ONE MORE THING
In July and August, local tourist office Visit Namur offers English-speaking tours around the old town for €4f. Pro Velo at the train station rents bikes and recommends cycling routes. A cruise along the Meuse River brings you into pretty countryside. See namurtourisme.be; provelo.org; croisieres-mosanes.be
Brian Johnston travelled as a guest of Wallonia Tourism.