Meeting 21-22/06/2003 (23/12/08 )
Organised by the RSSOC in Belgium

Place to be:

What you'll see



Ardennes - Dinant - Condroz

We often mention "The Ardennes" referring to the Southern part of Belgium; where the land isn't "flat" anymore.

The real Ardennes are "far" South of Dinant, i.e. South of the line Stavelot -La Roche-Saint-Hubert. (This to say if in Belgium a distance can be "far".) Main towns in The Ardennes are  Bastogne (Nuts City), Recogne, Neufchateau, Saint-Hubert, Houffalize, (Arlon).  In those regions one is often confronted with Sherman-tanks parked at the side of the road, telling the traveller that in last war there's been quite some fighting here.  On the Saturday-trip we'll reach the Ardennes, the Sunday-trip will be purely Condroz.

For the meeting we didn't find enough free rooms in The Ardennes.  We 've found a good place in Dinant but the correct name for the region between Samber-Meuse and a parallel line some 30 miles South is "Condroz."


The name is first mentioned by Julius Ceasar in "De Bello Gallico". He's had some troubles with a tribe he called "Condruzi".

The North frontier of the Condroz is constituted by the straight line of the valleys of Samber & Meuse.
This valley is really less a valley than a "settings-gully".  Quite deap in the underground there's carbonacious layers: hectometers of vegetable materials were compressed to form coal.  This caused the higher layers to set and sink.  Samber and Meuse flow trough that gully but have of course made it deeper still.

The region South of this gully is special by the fact that the originally horizontal sedimental-layers of Cambri-Silurian and Devon-Carbon  where folded (Hercynian folding) in such a way that they were sticking-up vertically in a young mountain range.
This had the effect that the different horizontal deposition-layers (deep sea-> calcareous, less deep -> clay, undeep -> sand) are now aligned side-by-side instead of on each-other. 
It is like taking a piece of lasagna with the ends and plying the ends downworths to each-other until you have a pastry with vertical layers.  Once you cut away (erosion) the upper bending you get only vertical layers in your pastry. 
In the Condroz one can find sandstone over here, 500 yards to the south limestone, then schist and another 500 yards further again sandstone. The layers "stand" in SW-NE-direction.
Where the underground is soft the Meuse digs a wide valley (that's where the villages are).  Where the underground is harder the Meuse has had trouble to even cut a small glen.
Most of the smaller rivers have (they had to) change their floods to the underground-layers and flow SWS-ENE, most of the roads follow the same pattern. 
When a river comes to an underground of limestone it often disappears and flows underground.  In Dinant there's two caves: better known are the caves of Han and Rochefort.
We know now that all of the Hercynian mountain range was cut away by erosion and sank back in the ocean.  So new layers of sediments came on it in tertiar age.  But when the Alpes were formed the massive Ardennes were pulled up from the South, and with the Ardennes the Condroz had to follow.
This made the waters of the Meuse (already existing but not yet named) stream faster and faster direction North.  The Meuse cut deeper and deeper trough the softer and younger tertiar deposits until it reached the harder vertical "layers" of the Hercynian folding.  Although the Meuse would have liked to follow the easyer N-E-direction, it was forced by its own banks to follow the harder North-direction, square to all the hard sandstone-layers.  All of the tertiar sediments have been eroded.
The Meuse between South of Dinant and Namur is called an antecedent river, because it it existed before the current landscape and has dug itself into older layers.

On the (Michelin) map we see at different places, old meanders of the Meuse.  At Profondeville (half between Dinant and Namur) one sees a small white loop on the left (West) bank.  This loop, thirty meters above the current level of the Meuse is an old meander, cut through and abandoned probably during an ice-age.  Up there pebbles are found that rolled here from the North of France.


The name comes from a mans name Theotnant (Gods-servant)(founder?).
At the confluence of Meuse and Lesse, at the right bank of the river, +/- 100m above sea-level. Existed in the days of Roman invasion. The Romans constructed an army road along the Meuse.

First bridge was built in 1080 but from 1175 to 1940 it is frequently destroyed by man or by ice or by floads, current construction dates from 1957 (Charles De Gaulle was injured here during the great war).

The citadel, 121m above the Meuse was an excellent spot to master the region and the bridge. In 1051 a first stronghold was built, destroyed and rebuilt several times.  In 1466 the citadel was destroyed and 800 inhabitants of Dinant where tightened back to back thrown in the Meuse.The Franch (Louis XIV) conquered the citadel in 1675, Vauban reconstructed the citadel but had to demolish it again in 1703 because Dinant was given back to the North by agreement.  

The current construction was built by the Dutch (1815-1830), to prevent an invasion from France. Military importance stopped 1865.
To visit: prison, torture room, bakery, arms museum, reconstruction of several historic scenes. Amongst.them a quite spectacular reconstruction of a Great-War-Trench.  Guided tours every half-an-hour.

(1350) with two unfinished towers and in the middle a sperical shape bell-tower (1697). The nave has three bays, separated by simple pillars. Fine furniture, font (1472) representing the four streams of Eden. The chancel (18th century) shows fine wood-carvings, just like the reading-desk and a big candlestick (1731), further a tomb (1356) and some paintings (Wiertz).  
Chancel, font and reading-desk show examples of "Dinanterie": fine craftmanship in brass: no wonder Adolphe Sax born in Dinant chose brass for his saxophone.

The Rock Bayard 35m high on the right bank of the river, not far South from Dinant, (between the hotel and Dinant) was separated from the rest of the rock by Louis XIV's Royal Engineers to provide better acces.
The legend, apparently not so old, tells us that "Ros Beiaard", a gigantic horse, ridden by four brothers in the days of Charlemaign jumped over the river and the impact of his hoofs split the rock.

Cave La Merveilleuse "the marvellous" discovered in 1904 by works on a railway.
Nice stalactites and stalagmites, curtains and macaroni's, in different colours according to what the water was carrying along.  Three stages of which only the two higher are accessable.  Provided shelter to the inhabitants of Dinant in the second war. Guided tour taking 45 min-1hr.  An extra sweater increases the comfortability of the visit!

Yvoir inhabited since Gallo-Roman times, iron-industry (then).
Lies at the confluence of Meuse and Bocq.

Adolphe Sax (Antoine Joseph Sax)   °06/11/1814 in Dinant   +04/02/1894 Parijs.
Studied fluut and clarinet in Brussels.  With help of his father (Charles Joseph Sax) - dinantier, cuppersmith and craftsman - he devellopped a series of  "Saxhorns", and applied for a patent.  Best known instuments are the bugel and the tuba.
This series of instruments got popular by it's manageability and is still popular for military music.
In fact Sax, by his patent, replaced an incalculable group of different kinds of instruments by one structured series of nine mostly similar instruments.
Sax - estimating that the bassclarinet didn't have enough  "volume", produced and constructed a totally new instrument of it's own to remedy to this shortage.
Stimulated by his succes with the saxhorns he devellopped the saxophone to a flexible and handy instrument.
And as for the saxhorns - as the saxophone became succesfull - he devellopped saxophones for the different tones.
The saxophone immediately had a great succes by it's handibility and is still an interesting instrument for solists, not the least in jazz.  
There's no Sax-museum in Dinant, allthough here and there you get notified "Sax was here!"

Couques de Dinant: inhabitants are proud of them (raised on them?) Is a nougat-like titbit made with as only ingredients wheat-flower and honey, baken in an oven.

Chocolate: In the Rue Adolphe Sax - 10 is a Leonidas-shop; reknown over here for their good chocolate.  From the hotel.... drive to the centre, past Roche Bayard, past the fuel-station following  the "Rue Grande" and in front of the church don't cross the Meuse but carry on on the right bank direction North.  This is rue Adolphe Sax (One way).  Turn twice left to get back.


Information copied from Slicemart


The Reliant Sabre and Scimitar Owners'Club
invites you to our
International Weekend in Dinant, Belgium
20th- 22nd of June 2003

Guests will arrive on Friday June 20, the Scimitar Rally will take place on Saturday, and there will be a traditional excursion on Sunday. 

Our headquarters during the International Meeting will be the Hotel Mercure Dinant in the province of Namur. As a guide, this is around 250 miles from central London and is an easy journey from southern England, or might require a stopover for those travelling from the north. Dinant is easily reached via the Belgian motorway network from all directions. 

The weekend prices are shown on the booking form on page 11. Overseas Members should pay direct to the RSSOC in the UK by credit card (subject to a 5% surcharge), or direct to our Euro account in Beigium. 

Accommodation is in an en-suite room including breakfast. Saturday night dinner includes drinks. Extra nights are availabie. 


Best way to get to Dinant - Hotel Mercure is : coming from the UK getting on the E19-E42 near "Mons".  
Then following the E42 to the East, past Charleroi, past Namur until you reach the highway-crossing between E42 and E411.
Take the E411 to the South, direction Arlon - Luxemburg; near Achêne you leave the E411 by exit 20
Immediately (automatically) engage here on the N97 direction "Philippeville"; (hotel Mercure is already on the yellow sign) ! don't take exit "Dinant" here!
The N97, is merely a highway-bridge over the Meuse.
Coming from the East (or from the E411) you'll see exit "Beauraing N94 Anseremme La Lesse Dinant +5 1/2t"

 leave the road at:   

Coming from the West: if you didn't follow the E42-E411 but took minor roads to enjoy the Belgian weather?  You get off the N97 where you see exit "Neufchateau Le Lesse Celles Dinant"

  leave the road at :          

You see "Mercure" on the yellow signs. 

To prepare you for the next days:  The sign, yellow background, red rim, black letters simply mean that you're entering the territory of that community.  Has nothing to do with speed-limits  the same sign with white background means speed-limit to 50km/h.  Brown background and white text gives tourist information.  To prepare you for the next km: take third gear cause it goes down and down.

Left on the "T" crossing at the right bank of the Meuse           Then left-down before the right-turn at the bridge over the Lesse 


"Mercure" allways on the signs.

"Mercure" is gone?..... Did we miss it???

Not indeed:


Best way to get to Dinant - Hotel Mercure is : coming from the UK getting on the E19-E42 near "Mons".  
Then following the E42 to the East, past Charleroi, past Namur until you reach the highway-crossing between E42 and E411.  The E411 is running North-South so perhaps from here you'll see some English cars with Dutch numberplate.
Take the E411 to the South, direction Arlon - Luxemburg; near Achêne you leave the E411 by exit 20
Immediately (automatically) engage here on the N97 direction "Philippeville" - Mercure is on the yellow signs from here. Don't take the first exit "Dinant" here!
The N97, is merely a highway-bridge over the Meuse.
Coming from the East (or from the E411 !before you cross the Meuse!) you'll see exit "Beauraing N94 Anseremme La Lesse Dinant +5 1/2t"
This is where you leave the highway.

Coming from the West: if you didn't follow the E42-E411 but took minor roads to enjoy the Belgian weather?  You get off the N97 where you see exit "Neufchateau La Lesse Celles Dinant" - rrrrrrrr just after you crossed the Meuse.

Now follow Dinant, it's easy, down to the Meuse is the right direction.       

You 'll see "Mercure" on the yellow signs. 

Left on the "T" crossing at the right bank of the Meuse. (Dinant is to the right here! Straightforward means swimming!)

However, if you should be low on fuel you could go right, direction Dinant Centrum, pass between Roche Bayard and attend to a gas-station on your left.  It's promised to be manned from 8 am to 8 pm.  Don't know what Belgian card-readers do with non-continental cards.  It's the nearest we could find.  If you turn back before the gas-station, and have remembered where you took the wrong direction... Don't seek to pass through Rock Bayard coming back.. it's one-way. 

Then again left-down before (in) the right-turn, just before the bridge over the Lesse, always following Mercure-signs.

Just follow the Lesse now.  Look out, a naughty man has left something in the middle of the road that has been damaged by quite some cars with smaller ground-clearance. 

"Mercure" allways on the yellow signs.
On one spot "Mercure" is missing ("Pont-à-Lesse Villatoile"). Just carry on.  once you've past the second bridge you're near....  Hotel Mercure.


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