Weekend Namur…the city part

Our city break last week, brought us to Wallonia’s capital Namur, in the previous post you could follow in our footsteps along la Merveuilleuse, hiking up the citadel. In this post, time to explore the city itself, however, no hastiness, just follow the rhythm of the city and the stream as do les Namurois.

we arrived at Namur late morning, enough time for a first exploring stroll…

Tourist season hadn’t begun yet last week, usually that starts around the 1st of April, and that showed. Namur sure plans on doing things right, we spotted a lot of constructions sites near the river, a city so it seems that keeps reinventing itself, however, when getting closer to the inner heart, keeps traditions and culture intact.

La fresque des Wallons can be found in the small garden of the city hall, the facade-high mural refers to about 250 persons and events marking a stamp on Walloon identity, may that be important historic figures, artists, scientists, regional produce,…

Time for lunch…our eye fell on Le Pâtanthrope, I remembered it was highly recommended in ‘Le Petit Deborsu’ written by local and fully-declared Namur lover Christophe Deborsu. Gastronomy on the plate without showing astromic prices on the bill, now that’s the way we like it! Wondering were the name comes from? It’s a mix of pâte, which means pasta and philanthrope and their you go! I had scallops as entree, my husband had tartare of green asparagus, baked foie gras and ravioli. As a main, we had beef Rossini on a gallette de rigatoni and I chose stuffed squid with chorizo and ravioli. Desserts brought us moeulleux au chocolat and a delice framboises with macarons. Needless to say we sat more than two hours in the restaurant…and still needed to climb the citadel! However, all dishes were airy and light, as was the bill!

 

Time to move on, after the restaurant, we first explored the citadel, more on that here Weekend Namur…the citadel part and returned later for a quiet stroll through the car-free streets. A lot of them situated around the St-Loup church, Jesuit order, founded by St-Ignatius. Baroque-style church, same architect had also built the Barrolus Borremeus church in Antwerp and it shows. It is the church where famous poet Charles Baudelaire had a massive stroke, leaving him in semi-paralyzed-state before his death. Struck by beauty? By overwhelming emotions? If only time to visit one church in Namur, St-Loup is definitely the one to go to, the church often acts as decor for concerts and events too and volunteers are availabe on site if you want a tour.

‘In can barely conceive of a type of beauty in which there is no melancholy’     (Charles Baudelaire)

Marché de légumes is thé square in Namur for people watching, we were there just around the hour schools had finished…the square was packed with young and little less young, enjoying the sun and their regained freedom after a day at school and/or work. Enough bars to choose from, though when the weather is fine, no-one to spot inside: everyone sits, stands, hangs in the middle of the square.

 

and all this under the watchful eye and shadow of St-Jean church, the oldest church in town, though the tower was only added later, as the first one was hit by lightning. Story goes the workmen at that time, 1616, spent more time in the local pub, leaving the bell tower not perfectly straight as was the intention.

IMG_5239

At the river border you will find the Walloon Parliament, no worries, hardly to miss, the colour pop’s out! The walk upto the citadel starts right after the corner.

We made this little trip discovering Namur winning a contest organised by Pays du Vallées. Our package included an overnight stay in b&b La Noiseraie, a 10′ drive from centre Namur. the b&b is located in a commerical zone with factories, however when going evenings and weekends like we did, these are all abandoned and all is peace and quiet. The domain itself is large enough, green and besides the b&b activities it is a walnut oil producer, hence the name, la Noiseraie. Would recommend to visist in autumn, to get the most out of that experience!

 

Another post, discovering some of the surrounding villages will follow shortly, stay tuned!

Ingrid

xxx

Pays des Vallées

Restaurant le Pâtanthrope

b&b La Noiseraie

Visit Namur

Weekend Namur…the citadel part

When visiting Namur,  the local citadel is a must-see, strategically located on a hill at the confluence of rivers Sambre and Meuse, the fortress offers great views. It finds its origins in the Roman era but was rebuilt several times. The route leading to the top is called ‘la Merveilleuse’, offering a combination of steep, but manageable, walks, great views, a mix of culture and nature, a Visitor Centre and guided tours for those in need for some more historic background and tales and a tourist train for those with kids or for those just out of breath…

city view

The walk upto the top offers great viewpoints on the surrounding area as well as the city centre and its churches, on the above photo, from left to right, église St-Jean Baptiste, beautiful baroque église St-Loup and cathedral St-Aubain.

IMG_5193
Facing Time-Searching for Utopia

For the Facing Time exposition in 2015 the ‘Searching for Utopia’ turtle, or at least one of the copies of the original, of artist Jan Fabre, was placed on the citadel. After the exposition Namur’s inhabitants felt so connected to the turtle they decided to buy the artpiece, through crowdfunding, linking it forever to the city and the citadel. Les Namurois embrace the slow life, they have a snail as city symbol and mascotte and, well, a turtle fits the slow profile perfectly, funny detail however, the copy in Namur was far more expensive than its original in Nieuwpoort which was bought twelve years earlier.

Searching for Utopia
IMG_5196
Citadel corridor

IMG_5199

a city by the water

There is someting with a city by the water, be that the sea or a river: it adds life, motion though at the same time brings peace, slows you and your senses down, exactly the way of life in Namur.

IMG_5195
a river runs through it, citadel and cathedral

 

A new cable car station is being built, linking the city centre to the citadel top and the 2015 Belgian pavillion at the Milan Expo was bought to be installed at the esplanade and stade at the top…old and new…forever in harmony, forever in motion, facing time,…

Ingrid

xxx

 

Citadel Namur

Tea and chocolate, a ‘matcha’ made in heaven!

Last week, during our stroll through Antwerp, my husband and I discovered a new hotspot for chocolate and tea lovers…my weary feet and aching back in much need for a rest were drawn in by the most wonderful smell of chocolate at the Japanese Royce’ shop located on Wapper square next to Pomax deco store, another fun shop by the way, if you are in search for home deco items or gifts. However, let’s get back to the neighbouring store! It appears Royce’ opened this flagship store end 2016 and is on a mission to promote Japanese-style chocolate. The store is located on the ground level floor of a lovely restaured building and on the first floor you will find the Blue Lounge, offering tea, coffee and Royce’ patisserie and chocolates of course.

Royce’ Flagshipstore Antwerp

Royce’s story began in 1983 in Sapporo, the capital city of Japan’s northernmost island of Hokkaido. With cooler climates and wonderfully natural terrain, it is the ideal location for sourcing the freshest dairy products. Over the years, Royce’ has become known for crafting unique chocolate products such as Nama (meaning ‘fresh’), maccha chocolates and potatochip shaped chocolates that are now enjoyed in over 14 countries outside Japan, and counting…

We both made our choice out of the patisserie assortment, tea for me, coffee for the husband and relaxed and enjoyed with all senses! I noticed a flyer announcing a tea workshop offered by Obubu Tea Farms matching their teas with the chocolates…no need to say I was interested! Therefore, a few days ago I headed back to Antwerp to immerse myself into the wonderful world of Japanese tea.

 

Instructors to guide us along this path were the vice-president of Kyoto Obubu Tea Farms mr Yasuharu Matsumoto and International Department Lead Simona Zavadckyte. Assisted by a translator when necessary they told us a little about the history of the company, the location of the farms and the importance of quality. As only 2-3 % of all Japanese tea is exported, it is their mission to bring their exquisite teas and enthusiasm and love for their produce to us and the world.

Obubu Tea Farms is a small Japanese tea company located in Wazuka, Kyoto, a historic tea-growing region where tea has been farmed for more than 800 years. Their teas are grown and processed by Obubu’s President and Lead Farmer, Akihiro Kita. In between the storytelling three different teas and accompanying sweets were served.

If ever in Japan, when visiting the region, and I was assured it is absolutely worthwhile, a Japanese tea tour can be arranged, visiting several fields in the surrounding mountains, tea tastings and hiking tours.

First we were offered the Hojicha amber tea with some Nama champagne chocolates,

followed by a  silky and smooth Samidori Matcha tea and delicious patisserie.

We ended with a Genmaicha, one of Japan’s most popular teas made by mixing Yanagi Bancha leaves with roasted rice. Must say this one was my favourite! It was accompanied by a little eclair and the Nama maccha, white chocolate mixed with grean tea.

Such an informative, lovely and very tasteful way this was to set off the weekend!

Obubu teas can be bought at the Royce’ shop in Antwerp, for other points of sale or to see if there is a tasting workshop nearby planned soon, please check their website!

As always, hope you enjoyed,

Ingrid

Xxx

Obubu Tea Farms

Royce’

A cup of tea is a cup of peace (Sen Sshitsu XV)

 

 

When life brings you lemons…

…making lemonade is an excellent choice of course, but one needs to eat too, right, and food needs seasoning…we’re making herb salt!

img_4938
Herb salt

This is what you need:

  • +/- 250 gr salt
  • zeste of two lemons, chopped up
  • Leaves of two branches of rosemary, chopped up
  • Leaves of two or three branches of thyme, chopped up

 

This is what you do:

  • chop up the herbs
  • mix with the salt
  • let it dry out and place in a sealed container…that’s it!
img_4937
herbs and spices

You can do a little twist and use oranges instead of lemons or you can use more or other herbs. It tastes great with some roasted meat, use it when seasoning fish or chicken, etc…

Trust no one, unless you have eaten much salt with him (Cicero)

Enjoy,

 

Ingrid

Xxx