Visiting Dinant, Belgium, and its railroad station: spectacular setting near the Meuse River in the rocky Ardennes

Flag of Belgium
Flag of Belgium | Source
Dinant railroad station
Dinant railroad station | Source
Dinant station in 1984, with a French Picasso motorized wagon, for the train service to Givet
Dinant station in 1984, with a French Picasso motorized wagon, for the train service to Givet | Source
Dinant station looking to the south
Dinant station looking to the south | Source
Electric locomotives at Dinant
Electric locomotives at Dinant | Source
Map location of Dinant, in Namur province
Map location of Dinant, in Namur province | Source

Between a rock and hard place...

Dinant, in Belgium's Walloon region (French: Région wallonne) is located in the Ardennes (1) in the south of the country. This often scenic and even spectacular area attracts many visitors; even along the Meuse River, the topography of which might be expected to be a little less dramatic, is very rocky in many places.

The situation of the railroad station at this Belgian town exemplifies the manner in which Dinant nestles between high rocks and the scenic Meuse river: a fluvial thoroughfare since time immemorial. Close to a row of houses which seem to perch alongside the western riverbank, the facility's space was blasted from the rock which towers above the town on both of its banks.

To the eastern side, the ancient Citadel perches above the town. The main photo (above) was taken from the Citadel and demonstrates both the proximity of the Meuse River to the railroad station, and the rocky outcrop into which engineers blasted to make room for the station.

The second photo (above, right) shows the station in its sitation in a hollow, with a walled bank to its eastern side and the wall of hewn rock to the western side.

Former links with France

Interestingly, this second photo also shows a French Picasso motorized wagon, which formerly gave a service to the French town of Givet, to the south of Dinant. This service has been withdrawn. (When I arrived at Dinant station with a view to travelling on to Givet, I alighted to take the cross-border bus service which replaced the former train service.)

The station continues to be much used in its links northward to Namur and Brussels. In recent years, the line has been electrified. Another photo (right) shows electric locomotives from the Belgian company SNCB / NMBS (1) against the rocky backdrop at Dinant.

The station itself was first opened in 1862. Today the main station building is a modern, rectangular structure. The original railroad company responsible for it was La Compagnie du Nord - Belge (2).

July 3, 2013

Notes

(1) The initials refer to the Belgian Railroad Company (French: Société nationale des chemins de fer belges; Dutch: Nationale Maatschappij der Belgische Spoorwegen).

(2) This was the Belgian branch of the French railroad company: Compagnie des chemins de fer du Nord.

Also worth seeing

In Dinant itself, the Collegiate Church (at the foot of the Citadel) and Bayard Rock are well-known visitor attractions.

Bouillon (distance: 63 kilometres), on the Semois River, has Crusader Godefroid de Bouillon's Medieval castle, overlooking the Semois River.

...

How to get there: Brussels Airlines flies from New York to Brussels Airport (Brussel Nationaal / Bruxelles-National ), from where car rental is available (distance from Brussels Airport to Dinant : 94 kilometres). The Belgian railroad company SNCB - NMBS maintains a service between Brussels and Dinant . Some facilities may be withdrawn without notice. Please check with the airline or your travel agent for up to date information. For any special border crossing arrangements which may apply to citizens of certain nationalities, you are advised to refer to appropriate consular sources.

MJFenn is an independent travel writer based in Ontario, Canada.

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