The Meuse (Dutch: Maas) is a river that flows through France, Belgium and the Netherlands - where it flows into the sea as a part of the massive Meuse-Rhine delta that shapes the country. While the latter river gets much attention from tourists, the Meuse - which is just as dramatic and varied, though shorter - is often overlooked.
The Meuse flows through a number of geographical and cultural regions, some of which are shared by two countries:
|| Ardennes |
The Meuse flows through a deep and picturesque valley in the French and Belgian parts of this wild region.
|| Condroz |
The Condroz - which lies to the south of the Meus, roughly between the cities of Namur and Liège, forms the transition between the Ardennes and lower lying regions, and is just as picturesque.
|| Hesbaye |
The Hesbaye - which lies to the north of the Meuse - is a region of empty hills that stretches across four Belgian provinces, to Liège in the east, Namur in the west and to Leuven in the north.
|| Land of Herve |
This rich agricultural region around the towns of Herve and Aubel - to the east of the Meuse between Liège and the Dutch border - offers a landscape of pleasant rolling hills where many local foods are grown and processed.
Cities and towns
In the French administrative region of Lorraine:
In the French region of Champagne-Ardenne:
In the Walloon Belgian province of Namur:
- Dinant — An old town in a stunning natural setting on the Meuse river, Dinant is a popular spot for adventure sports such as canoeing and rock-climbing. Dinant is best visited in winter, and is famous for being the birthplace of Adolphe Sax, who invented the saxophone.
- Namur (Dutch: Namen) — The capital of Wallonia, Namur is a classy town of around a 100,000 inhabitants, that boasts a tidy, well preserved old centre and an impressive citadel at the confluence of the Sambre and Meuse.
In the Belgian province of Liège:
- Huy (pop: 21,205) - An old town on the banks of the Meuse in the west of the province that boasts an impressive citadel.
- Liège (Dutch: Luik, German: Lüttich) — The cultural hub of Wallonia is a many sided city that is definitely worth visiting if you are in Belgium. Besides some industrial scars, it is undeniable that Liège has a unique character, an eclectic mix of architecture from the middle ages to the present, a dramatic setting, exiting night-life, a number of museums, and varied natural surroundings to boot!
- Visé (pop: 17,333) - Visé -- a small town on close to the Dutch border -- manages to have quite a pleasant center, despite being mutilated by the A25 motorway.
In the Dutch province of Limburg:
- Maastricht - The historic but trendy shopping town that is Dutch Limburg's capital>
The Meuse marks the border of Dutch and Belgian Limburg for about 30 kilometers after Maastricht. There is one noteworthy town on the Belgian side:
- Maaseijk - A small town with a pleasant central square.
Back in Dutch Limburg:
- Roermond - Less trendy than Maastricht, Roermond is the place to go for those who simply want to see a beautiful, historic Limburgish town.
- Venlo -
In the Dutch province of North-Brabant:
- 's-Hertogenbosch - The provincial capital, and one of the Netherlands' most beautiful cities .
In the Dutch province of South-Holland:
- Dordrecht -
- Rotterdam - While the water that flows into the sea at Hook of Holland comes from the Rhine these days, Holland's only city with a major skyline is known as the 'Maasstad', as these waters used to come from the Meuse.
- Biesbosch - This region of ancient wooded wetlands in the Meuse-Rhine delta is one of the Netherlands' most beautiful nature reserves.
By train: One can travel between most towns along the river - from Sedan in France to Dordrecht in the Netherlands - using regular trains, by taking the following route:
(routes marked * partly follow the river itself, and routes marked ** are real scenic routes)
- Sedan > Charleville-Mézières > Givet**
- Bus from Givet to Dinant**
- Dinant > Namur**
- Namur > Huy > Liège**
- Liège > Visé > Maastricht*
- Maastricht > Roermond*
- Roermond > Venlo*
- Venlo > 's-Hertogenbosch (via Eindhoven or Nijmegen)
- -s'Hertogenbosch > Dordrecht (via Geldermalsen or Tilburg)
On foot and by bike: The three countries along the Meuse are cooperating to make the complete length of the river cyclable and walkable in the next few years. In the mean time, one can already cycle or walk considerable stretches by using (Ravel in Wallonia or the omnipresent network of cycle paths in the Netherlands.
By boat: There are cruises from a number of towns along the Meuse:
- Liège: Le Pays de Liège