The quiet and friendly city of Namur (pop. 105,000), in the heart of Wallonie, is the last sizable outpost before the wilderness of the Ardennes. Given the proximity of opportunities for hiking, biking, caving, and kayaking, it is the most convenient base for exploration. The foreboding citadel, on top of a cliff to the south, was built by the Spanish in the Middle Ages, expanded by the Dutch in the 19th century, the site of a bloody battle in WWI, and occupied until 1978. (Open daily llam-5pm. ‚6.)
Trains link Namur to Brussels (lhr. ‚6.60). Two tourist offices, one a few blocks left of the train station at sq. Leopold ( 24 64 49; open daily 9:30am-6pm), and the other in the Hotel de Ville, r. de Fer ( 24 64 44, www.ville.namur.be; open M-F 8am-4:30pm), help plan excursions. To enjoy a lake-front view, take bus #3 to the Aub-erge Felicien Rops (HI) 8 av. Felicien Rops. ( 22 36 88; email@example.com. Bikes ‚13 per day. Breakfast and sheets included. Laundry ‚6.50. Reception daily 7:30am-lam. Lockout llam-3pm. Dorms ‚13-15. Nonmembers add ‚2.50.) To camp at Les Trieux O, 99 r. des Tris, 6km away in Malonne, take bus #6. ( 44 55 83. Open Apr.-Oct. ‚2.50 per person, ‚3.75 per tent.) Restaurants cluster in the small square of Place Marche-aux-legumes on r. St-Jean.