La Maison de Monsieur Sax offers free admission to the house where the inventor of the saxophone, Adolphe Sax, was born. His many musical innovations are explained as fans, from Charlie Parker to Bill Clinton and Lisa Simpson, have their say about why the saxophone was their instrument of choice. A statue of the man himself sits on a bench outside. Sadly the musical inventor Sax spent much of his life in poverty and didn’t live to see his instrument become popular world-wide. If you want to continue the musical pilgrimage go to Place des Chasseurs Ardennais (Rue Saint- Jacques) nearby, where you will find a giant saxophone water sculpture.
Leffe Jazz Nights also take place this month in Dinant. Performers inlude the legendary ‘Barefoot Lady’, Rhoda Scott, Jimmy Cobb and Olivia Ruiz.
The Grotto la Merveilleuse has been open to the public ever since it was discovered. Short tours, of under an hour, take you underground where stalagmites and stalactites sprout amid subterranean waterfalls. Kayaking is very popular in the summer months in the area around Dinant.
Lesse Kayak , are based a couple of kilometres from the city centre and their excursions take place on the winding River Lesse which flows past medieval castles, parks and prehistoric caves. Kayak hire starts at €17.
Café Leffe may be part of a Belgian beer chain but it’s open seven days a week and its location is perfect, overlooking the river and the Charles de Gaulle Bridge. It serves typical brasserie food, expect to pay €25 for two courses.
Le Café Des Arts Dinant below the Citadel’s funicular, is a more stylish place to dine and has a small menu. Nice terrace with cathedral views in the summer months.
Le Monaco is very much a locals’ café bar, enlivened by a dartboard and one-armed bandit. In summer the tables outside make it a good place to sit and people-watch. It stays open late.
Couques de Dinant are the toughest biscuits in Europe – so hard they can break your teeth so don’t bite. Break off a piece and dunk it in your tea or coffee. Alternatively hang up the larger ones, Dinant-style, as unusual room decorations.
Hotel Ibis Dinant (rooms from €86) is located at the south end of the town, and the most central you’ll find. Good river views, free Wi-Fi and easy access to the Dinant Casino, if you fancy a spot of gambling.
La Merveilleuse (rooms from €95) has free parking, free Wi-Fi and the best views of Dinant. It is a sympathetic conversion of an old Victorian convent with a bar in the cloister.
Fabrique de Couques de Dinant Thonon sells the local speciality, couques, a decorative honey-flavoured biscuit. The origins of which go back to the late 15th century when, during the Siege of Dinant by Charles, Duke of Burgundy, the Copères (townspeople) only had honey and flour to eat.
Les Cafes St Médard was opened in 1983 by Michel and Nadine Maquet who sell coffee that is dried using the traditional artisanal method known as torrefaction.