On the trail of Mr Sax

It was a lovely ride through the Meuse valley. Our train travelled slowly past villages and wooded hillsides, occasionally stopping at country stations. We enjoyed river views for most of the 30 minute journey between Namur and Dinant. The town of Dinant has a stunning location, its centre being wedged between a cliff and the river and it comes across as a rather sleepy little place. Atop the cliff is a citadel, looking down on the quayside where boats are available to hire for those fancying a jaunt on the water. However, the settlement is perhaps best known for being the birthplace of Adolphe Sax, inventor of the saxophone.

Antoine-Joseph Sax, known as Adolphe, was born in 1814. Both his parents designed musical instruments, so it was natural that he would follow suit. While he designed and redesigned may instruments, the saxophone was his most successful. Sax patented it in 1846.

Arriving at Dinant station, we walked to the Pont Charles de Gaulle which is where the town’s saxophone connection became obvious. The bridge is decorated with sculptures of them, donated by saxophone societies from around the world. This forms the beginning of the saxophone trail, which continues on the other side of the river.

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On the Sax trail in Dinant

S, F and I interrupted the musical instrument spotting with a drink at a riverside bar and then decided to go on a boat excursion.

We enjoyed a pleasant saunter up the river, listening to the commentary of our captain. The cliffs at the side of the valley are popular with rock climbers and we were informed that Albert 1st, King of Belgium had made an ascent in the 1930s. Sadly Albert died in 1934 while climbing in the area. We sailed past an inhabited island and approached a more rural forested part of the river where there was an outward bound centre with children having canoe lessons. It was time to turn around and head back to Dinant for lunch.

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We ate delicious baguettes with salad at a riverside café, choosing to sit inside as the wasps seemed to be bothering the alfresco diners. Suitably nourished, we decided to rejoin the saxophone trail. Walking through the town, we came across the following exhibit, which was the grandest of the sculptures. I’ve no idea who the man in the vest is, but he seemed more willing to pose for my photo than F, who hastily moved off out of the picture.

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As well as being a work of art, this sculpture is functional as it fills with water over a period of 365 days, so it serves as a calendar and a clock if you know how to read it. It was created by glassmaker Bernard Tirtiaux to mark the 200th anniversary of the birth of Adolphe Sax in 2014.

Turning off the main street, we found ourselves heading for the waterfront, where we had a fight with some over-inquisitive wasps.

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Once we’d lost them, which was no mean feat, an ice-cream parlour exerted its magnetic pull on F and me. We wandered back over the Pont Charles de Gaulle turning to take a last look at the picturesque little town before heading for the station. We had missed the Adolphe Sax museum and while a little sad to be leaving, we still had a scenic train ride to look forward to.

Factfile:
Location
Dinant is in Wallonia, Belgium, 28 kms from Namur and 92 kms from Brussels

Transport
Regular trains run from Namur (30 mins) and Brussels (1h 40 mins). International connections are available at Brussels. The nearest airport is Brussels.

Accommodation
My family stayed in Namur. For accommodation in Dinant, click here

Information
Click here for information on Dinant

If you enjoyed this, you may like to read my blogs on Namur and Ghent

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