Do you like saxophone sound? I personally adore it, not only in jazz music (Dexter Gordon, Sonny Rollins, the “Bird” and later Jan Garbarek etc), but also in pop and rock. I cannot forget saxophone parts on the Doors’ “Touch me”, Gerry Rafferty´s “Baker street”, Dave Stewart´s “Lilly was here”, Bowie´s “Young Americans”, the Waterboys’ “Red Army blues”, Foreigner´s “Urgent” and many many more.
Saxophone was not invented by an American, but by a ….. Belgian, Adolphe Sax, who also gave his name to the instrument. I didn´t know that, until I went to Dinant and I saw the hundreds of saxophone sculptures, which can be found at the town.
Dinant, what a place!!!! One of the most marvelous towns in Europe, as pretty as Siena, Treviso, Corfu town, Sarlat, Annecy and many others, I cannot remember now.
Dinant is built on the boards of the river Meuse, attached to an enormous grey rock. It has a fantastic riverside, full of restaurants and cafés and also a small touristic river port. From that port we can hire a small boat and explore the Meuse river. And this is only one of the attractions that Dinant offers to tourists. The most famous of them? The fortress (Citadelle) of the town.
This fortress lies above the town and can be reached on foot and by car. I would suggest you the second option, as the road is very uphill. Free parking on museum site makes this option even more attractive. There is also the possibility to take the cable car. To tell the truth, it seems a little scary to me. But you choose.
Citadelle was firstly built during the 11th century, but later it was “renovated” by the famous military engineer Sébastien Vauban. In the fortress there is a very interesting museum and also a “friterie”, where we can eat the famous Belgian fries and also drink a beer.
Did I say beer?
At Dinant you will find the seat of the world famous beer Leffe, which you can taste at every bar of the town!!!! Furthermore, there are two more attractions that no beer or food lover can pass by. Maison Leffe and the Abbeye de Leffe.
Maison Leffe is an exhibition where you can discover how this famous beer is made. Wander on its luxury halls, taste a glass of fresh Leffe and leave the maison with a gift that will always remind you this special day. You can also buy a vast variety of trademark´s beers. By the way, do you know how to cool a beer in just 3 minutes? Our Leffe specialist shows the way on the next video.
Leffe was founded in ……….. 1240 and till the 20th century the beers were produced on l´ Abbaye Notre-Dame de Leffe, a structure which can be found at the opposite side of the town. If you visit Dinant during summer months (frankly, this is not the best period to do it, as it is full of tourists) you can visit the Abbey for free, to have some breath taking views of Dinant and to feel like an old monk!
Dinant streets are full of saxophones. That´s because on 2010 the International Association Adolphe Sax organized an art exhibition with 28 artists from every country of the European Union, don´t forget that Belgium is United Europe´s heart. Each artist had to present a giant sculpture of a saxophone painted with colours inspired from his country. It is an absolutely fantastic spectacle, that everyone should see. But don´t worry, you don´t have to go to Dinant to admire these magnificent sculptures, you just have to click on this link and enjoy them from your armchair, with a glass of Leffe, of course.
“Le maison de monsieur Sax” is the place where the saxophone inventor was born. Υou can easily spot it, as outside of it there is a sculpture with Sax sitting on a bench. I strongly recommend a visit to Sax´ s house, as it offers many information, not only about the inventor, but also about the instrument, its variations and its history. You will be full of music, leaving it. Till that moment just have a look at the virtual tour of the museum, which you can find here .
But Dinant’s most special event is the Régate internationale de Baignoires, which takes place at the town every year on August 15th. This folkloric and also athletic event is an ode to life, a festival of joy. I say good bye for today with the magnificent music of Placebo. But I am warning you: If you watch this video, next summer you will be at Dinant. See you soon with the next stop of our trip, Wallonia´s capital, Namur.
(to be continued)