Meuse Valley Attractions Vallée de la Meuse
Top Tourist Attractions in Meuse Valley
The Meuse (Flemish Maas) rises at an altitude of 456m/1,497ft in the French plateau of Langres in Champagne. It has a course of 450km/280mi in French territory and after crossing into Belgium near Givet - from here it is navigable - it flows for 192km/120mi through Belgium until it reaches the Netherlands near Maastricht, where after a further 250km/155mi it reaches the North Sea. Between Givet and Namur the Meuse has cut a deep valley in the Ardennes plateau and flows northwards, sometimes between fine wooded slopes and sometimes between bare slopes. In the shadow of the steep ridges nestle pretty villages, with hotels and villa settlements in the valley of the river, which are popular summer resorts. The valley has always been of great attraction. As long ago as the Stone Age hunters and gatherers lived in caves along the river, and much later monks chose the lower reaches of the river to build their monasteries, while the secular lords erected imposing castles and fortresses on the heights. Some of these were rebuilt in the 17th and 18th C. and converted into fine châteaux.
Meuse Valley Cultural Landscape
The upper Meuse valley can claim to be one of the finest cultural landscapes in Europe. Yet from Namur where the river turns to the east, and finally beyond Huy in the direction of Liège the scene changes. The broad Meuse now flows through the heavily industrialized lower Meuse valley past numerous blast furnaces, engineering works and factories, and only isolated ruined castles and rocky sections give the scenery a certain charm. The Meuse became one of the European rivers most heavily polluted with chemicals and for this reason the neighboring states are insisting on the construction of purification plants and the subsidizing of more ecologically favorable technology.
Meuse River Trips
Legend of The Haimon Children
The Meuse valley is one of the settings for the series of legends concerning the Haimon children which has as its subject the quarrels between Charles the Great and Renaut de Montauban, but historically is more concerned with the events about Charles Martell. Renaut was one of the four sons of Aymon (Haimon) of Dordogne and lived with his brothers Allard, Guiscard and Richard at the court of Charles the Great. When in a quarrel he killed Charles' nephew he fled with his brothers on the back of the mighty horse Bayard, which had been reared on an island in the Meuse, along the valley and into the Ardennes. From there they continued their flight to Gascony where Renaut founded the fortress of Montauban. Finally he was reconciled with Charles and undertook a pilgrimage to the Holy Land. He came back, settled in Cologne and worked as a mason on the cathedral. Jealous fellow workers murdered him and threw his body into the Rhine where, according to the legend, the fish brought his body again to the surface.
The Upper Meuse Valley, running from Hastière to Namur, includes such sights as the Château d'Annevoie, and a detour through the lovely Vallée de la Molignée.