MONS: we picked up the car, a Hyundai Touscon and off we went , the freeways were good but the trucks got worse so we took the back roads to Mons for part of the journey. The town was very pleasant but not what you would call outstanding apart from the town square and the municipal buildings and gardens. The big bowerbird like timber sculpture outside the Cathedral was absolutely stunning and we just used this as a quick stop over on the way to Spa.
DINANT: We took the picturesque route from Mons to Spa off the main roads so that we could explore the Valley villages and take in as much as we could manage in a day. First stop was Assesse a small village with a stunning little steam and many historical buildings. the Old castle was currently under restoration son we kept going and arrived in Dinant for lunch. We parked by the river Meuse and wandered along the banks to the centre of town with its famous Saxaphone covered bridge and Citadel crowning the mountain behind the stunning Russian looking Collegiale Notre Dame church. It is also famous in WW1 where Charles De Gaulle was wounded in battle so they have erected a large statue of the young soldier on the river bank.
The Saxophones all over town are all about Adolphe Sax who invented the instrument in Dinant. They are all over the bridge decorated in the colours and flags of nations and also in the streets and at the Town hall which has a very interested Glass version in its gardens. the Notre dame church is an austere structure like a Russian Orthodox building with the Onion style Dome but with straight edges. The Stained glass window is regarded as one of the finest and largest windows in Europe and yes it is stunning.
Set on the banks of the river valley the town is small long and not very deep due to the sheer cliffs surrounding and this area of belgium is full of valleys that run along streams that feed into the river so its ether towns on the plateau or villages in the valleys. We had lunch at a river cafe and took in the sights as much as time would allow.
DURBUY: On another River valley is a what is classed as Belgium’s prettiest village and is well known for its stone houses and cobbled streets. The clifftop Belvedere viewpoint overlooks the town and Ourthe River Valley. The half-timbered Halle au Blé was built as a corn exchange in the 1500s and is complimented by many 15th to 17th century buildings along with the famous Chateau de Durbuy built in 1731 standing tall on the river bank atop a rocky crag. the street are a riot of cutenesss and there is plenty of shops and activities along the river bank and in the ancient streets
SPA: After further wandering through the Wallonian countryside we arrived in Spa and settled into the Raddison Blu Hotel for a few days R&R !! well its been hectic so taking the waters as they say sounds like a good idea. Our room is fabulous and another great bed makes such a difference. We decided to get straight into the Spa thing and booked in for an afternoon session at the big Spa complex on top of the hill behind the resort. WOW it was something else and we swam and soaked and pelted ourselves with every kind of spraying or water flow we could handle in the lovely varied temperatures before wrinkling forced us back to the hotel.
We had a fabulous meal at a high quality restaurant called De Source and took our time walking around the very picturesque town in the twilight. The next day we continued our walking and it was a stunning day so we enjoyed the lovely gardens of the casino which was getting ready for the annual music festival which was starting the following week where thousands of people will descend on the town.
The Spa is both indoor and outdoor and sits in then forest above the town and despite the crowds it was very pleasant and we enjoyed another few hours of soaking the next day as well as a Tibetan Brass Bowls floating meditation session which was amazing followed by a great massage .
Art Nouveau is very treasured here and Spa was a great stop for the travels on their Grand tours of Europe for centuries, even in Roman times. The original Spa Pouhon Pierre le Grand built around the ;late 1800’s is now a museum but is a picture of the times where tradition was blending with modernism
One of my favourite Art Nouveau buildings of all time, love the pale green tiles, florals, window designs and the little attic treatment
There were many examples of the wealth of the town and none better than the Gallery Leopold II with its bought Iron and glass veranda and tiled covered terrace. a real homage to living the good life at the time.
EUPEN & VERVIERS: We explored the surrounding region and visited some more Villages and Towns to get a feel for the region of Wallonia before getting ready for our drive the next day to Dusseldorf and our flight home.