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Smallish city in Belgium, 60 km SE of Brussels, seat of the Walloon regional government, location of the Facultés Universitaires Nôtre Dame de la Paix, a fairly substantial Catholic university. Sited at the confluence of the Sambre and Meuse rivers and dominated by the citadel located in the fork, it has suffered the normal effects of being at a strategic location in Belgium: being besieged and razed to the ground at periodic intervals by passing Romans, Spaniards, Dutch, Austrians, Prussians, French, British, Germans, Americans, etc.

Despite this, the city centre, on the north bank of the two rivers, is an attractive place. Good for people who like Vauban-era fortifications with a view and interesting tour of the underground works, river cruises and pretty good shopping for obscure continental psychedelic vinyl, chocolate, cheese, second-hand computers and Cuban rum from the Oxfam shop and specialist food; excellent rail connections including a direct Thalys link to Paris and close to the E411 Brussels-Luxembourg and E42 Paris-Liege-Köln motorways. There are several excellent bars and restaurants, particularly in the slightly trendy/studenty old town district around Rue de la Croix. There is good climbing to be had on the cliffs of the Meuse valley in various nearby locations, particularly near Marche-les-Dames where the paracommandos have their training school and King Albert I fell to his death, possibly at the hands of his climbing partner who happened to be the queen's lover, and sundry aquatic leisure activities are practised on the Meuse. Jambes, the suburb south of the Meuse, is the home town of tennis player Justine Henin. The old parade ground above the citadel - which can be reached by cable car - and the surrounding area plays host to a variety of events including international motocross races, concerts, cycle race finishes, circuses and anything else that needs some flat open space with a vast reviewing stand one side.

One other claim to fame: it is believed that the inhabitants of Namur and nearby Flawinne were the inventors of potato chips/fries (which are thus not French at all ...). Apparently, they traditionally fried small fish caught in the rivers as a staple of their diet; during the winter when the rivers froze, they took to carving small imitations of fish out of potato and frying them instead. It is still occasionally possible to obtain fish-shaped pommes frites in local foodstores. A less commonplace piece of folklore is the tradition of stilt fighting, apparently deriving from the use of stilts to cross the then-swampy river banks in the middle ages; this is commemorated in an otherwise somewhat bewildering statue at the north end of the Pont de Jambes.

Known as Namen in Dutch; watch out if following signposts from anywhere in Flanders.

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