Huy and Namur

View of Namur Citadel from the port

Huy and Namur are two of our favourite cities. They are welcome havens after cruising along the industrial stretches of the Meuse from Liège in the North or Charleroi in the West. 

In spite of the local metal industry and nuclear power plant, Huy has maintained its old time charm and celebrates its history dating back to the 9th century and the old Romans. 

On our first visit in 2015 we saw the Tour de France scaling “Le Mur”, the "Wall of Huy", a steep hill and the finish for this episode.

On our second visit we explored the citadel which was used as a detention camp by the Germans and is now a WWII memorial. This time Austin made a new friend! After finishing his perusal of the paper, we were drawn to the Collégiale Church of Huy and its special exhibit of “Mary in the Art of the Meuse”, wooden sculptures of Mary collated from churches around Wallonia. We like the “Mosan (derived from “Meuse”) school” in its simplicity and character. However, after an hour and a half of Christian culture we found ourselves in need of some worldly refreshments and relaxed with an apérol spritz on the lively market place of the old city. The beautiful weather must have drawn out all the “Grey Nomad”- type motor bike riders, who took a break from tearing up the bitumen relaxing on the sunny terrace cafés.  

The sun has been shining here non-stop and it wasn’t any different when we arrived in Namur. 

Again, we have been there a couple of times before, exploring the biggest citadel and tunnel system of Wallonia, the old centre and watching paddle boarders and rowers on the Meuse. 

In summer, Namur tends to display special art projects and this year ordinary objects in super size are spread throughout the city. Apart from the very popular giant park bench at the port, we saw a huge two- storey high music stand and a wooden tape measure zigzagging around 6 trees, located in the garden of Musée Félicien Rops.

Rops, a 19th century artist, known also for his illustrations and caricatures, was a provocateur of his time targeting mainly "the straight jackets of the conventional society" and poets of his time. One of his favourite subjects was the power women exerted over men, where the men are depicted as mere puppets and money-boxes, to be discarded once they had served their use. In a darker drawing the sexualised woman is in alliance with the devil. You couldn’t find a starker contrast than between the Mary exhibit in Huy and the Felicien Rops Museum!

We were confronted with a very different cultural experience while trying to register my new Belgian sim card in Namur.

The phone company led us to a small grocery shop, where we watched with fascination merchandise and customers. Baskets of taro root, sugar cane sticks, unidentifiable fruit were next to dried fish, 10 kilo bags of semolina, polenta, ordinary flour etc. Hair extensions in all the rainbow colours were hanging from the ceiling and the shelves had all sorts of hair straightening products including “hair mayonnaise”. 

Customers seemingly from diverse regions of Africa, some in western clothes, some women in those colourful large patterned gowns and turbans as worn in their original countries walked in and out, conversing in strange dialects of French with the Moroccan owner. The owner dealt with several queries and sales, holding 4 different conversations, while trying to register my phone card. When he told me that my German passport wasn’t "going through" I started to doubt his multi-tasking abilities. But finding the whole scenario in the shop so interesting we didn’t mind returning the next day with my Aussie passport. This time his mother called, but he managed to register my phone card and keep his ‘maman’ happy at the same time! 

Thank God for the Namourettes, little retro-style whaleboats taking passengers from the port to four different locations along the Meuse and Sambre for 50 euro cents per stop, saving us a fair bit of extra walking.

Our night time entertainment were two drunks on a park bench whose conversations increased in volume as the nights went on. I don’t know if my French is getting worse, but i didn’t understand a word they were saying! Quelle dommage!

Namur by night

To see our blog on previous visits to Huy & Namur, click on one of the links below:

Huy - 2015

Huy - 2016

Namur - 2015

Namur - 2016

© Austin Robinson 2019