On the Veterans Day long weekend, we headed to the Belgium countryside in our version of Escape to the Château. A 5 hour drive brought us through Luxembourg and into Belgium, where we were lucky enough to find an Airbnb offering in a Belgian Castle. Driving through the gates of the estate and down the long drive, we felt like we were entering another world.
Separate quaint apartments have been created within the château, and with original brick walls and wood beams, as well as a fireplace, this makes for a cozy and comfortable retreat. Guests are free to roam the extensive grounds, with forests, ponds, and walking / biking paths through gentle hills. It is a perfect setting for exploring the nearby towns and countryside.
We were lucky with good weather both Saturday and Sunday, cool and not raining. Driving around the countryside was like driving through a van Gogh landscape painting, with soft autumn colors, hay bales in fields, and hamlets tucked in between low hills. The huge piles of potatoes harvested from the fields was a new sight for us, just amazing.
The village of Chimay is home to Scourmont Abbey, where the famous Chimay beers and cheese are made. The Abbey’s beautiful gardens are open to visitors.
Brûly-de-Pesche, near the French border, is a town that Hitler used as his headquarters for a time during World War II. It is not far from the French border and the Maginot Line. The open air museum includes a walk around the wooded property, an original bunker, and a reconstructed forest shelter of the kind used by the local resistance movement. A truly amazing walk through history.
Dinant is a gem of a town, with a Citadel, the Leffe Brewery, and gorgeous views along the Meuse River. You could climb 408 steps up to the Citadel, but we opted for the cable car ride to the top, where we found amazing views of the valley below.
Besides walking around the Citadel, there is a cafe, playground, and a can’t-miss museum. Set in stone rooms, displays were very realistic, including a wild boar being prepped for cooking. The walk through a dark bombed trench with crazy tilted floors is indeed a memorable experience.
Adolphe Sax, the inventor of the saxophone, was born in Dinant. Colorful saxophones and flags from around the EU as well as the United States decorate the bridge.
Enjoying yet more of the amazing Belgium beer, we visited the Maison Leffe. A brewery since 1240, Leffe offers a museum and tasting room, set in a former Abbey. The Leffe Ruby is one of our favorite beers, and so nice to taste it at the source.
Our Escape to the Château weekend was a relaxing get-away, a great way to learn history, and a reminder of how beautiful Belgium is.
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