If you need a quick break in nature, take the direct train from Bruxelles-Luxembourg to Dinant. In 1.5 hours you’re in the heart of the Ardennes and ready to go wild on nature. And that’s exactly what we’ve done in the days between Christmas and newyear. We booked a hotel at cycling distance from Dinant and spent 6 days hiking and relaxing.
With a picknick breakfast on the train we left to Dinant on the day after Christmas. By the time we were in Dinant we did some shopping in a local supermarket to have food for our hikes, and after that already felt like a good lunch and went to the Italian restaurant Ostaria La Piave: impressive food.
Twenty minutes by bike and we arrived in our hotel (Castel de Pont-à-Lesse) in the middle of the woods. (you can also take a local train to get closer and then walk to the hotel if you don’t want to take your bike). After dropping our backpacks we did a short walk to the Walzin castle and went off to the spa.
On the Komoot hiking application we found the “Dréhance Freyr” hiking route, fifteen kilometres and a big four hours without breaks. About halfway we passed the restaurant “L’atmosphère côté Meuse” where we had lunch (recommended!) and continued our tour. The evening was filled with spa, reading and chess.
No hike, but only reading and playing chess. That was the plan. But around two o’clock in the afternoon there was an urge to go into nature, so we took a two hour walk in the woods behind the castle. In the evening we cycled back to the L’atmosphère restaurant where we reserved for fondue.
Big hike! The hike called “Twee kastelen”, which took us about twenty kilometres starting from the hotel. By far the most beautiful hike around, with impressive views from the Aiguilles de Challeux.
Well past halfway, after passing the two castles we were lucky to find a restaurant: Auberge de la Lesse. I’m not sure the auberge itself is nice to stay, but the food is great and the open fire (though not low carbon) brings well deserved heat.
Another relaxing day where we did part of the Dréhance-Freyr walk again and strolled through the woods. Spectacular nature all around.
In wintertime camping will be a bit too chilly for most, but in summer there’s plenty of campings around. We stayed at Hotel Castel de Pont-à-Lesse, which is a rather big hotel with spa facilities and a good breakfast. The restaurant for dinner is overpriced for the quality of food, but the location and spa are perfect!
If you go during the weekend on very hot days you might find the Lesse too crowded, since it’s exactly that part where hundreds of tourists kayak down the river every weekend. So either go off-season or avoid weekends.
On the last day of 2018 we packed our bags and dropped our folding bikes and backpacks in Café Leffe and did part of the city tour “Stadswandelin Dinant” as listed in Komoot. We went up to the heigths of the citadel and around the small streets, before taking the train back to Brussels to celebrate newyears’ evening.