The Château de Fre˙r, 6km south of Dinant, is one of the most scenic and interesting castle of the Meuse Valley (and that says a lot).
The castle was first established in the 14th century. The medieval fortress was destroyed in 1554 by the Duke of Nevers, and a new Mosan Renaissance style castle with two adjoining gardens were constructed in the early 1600's.
In the midst of th 18th century, Fre˙r became the residence of the Dukes of Beaufort-Spontin (see also Spontin and Vêves) and the gardens were redesigned in classical style and enlarged in 1760 and again in 1770. The orange trees are now nearly 350 years old, and are kept in winter in the oldest orangeries in the Low Countries.
In 1675, coffee was drunk for the first time in Belgium in Fre˙r, at the signing of the Treaty of Fre˙r in the castle.
The castle of Fre˙r has been visited by several royal figures, like Louis XIV, Stanislas Leszczynski, Maria-Christina of Austria and, more recently, Crown Prince Naruhito of Japan.
The castle is still inhabited by the descendants of the Dukes of Beaufort-Spontin, the families of Baron Bonaert and the Count of Laubespin.
The castle is remarkable for the variety of co-existing styles. The main points of interests are :
- the dining room dates from the Renaissance, with a wooden ceiling and bluestone fireplace from Picardy.
- the 18th century barn and an 18th-century children coach, which won the first prize at World Exhibition in Paris in 1889.
- the Baroque entrance hall has hunting scenes by Snyders and frescos on the ceiling reminding of an Italian palace.
- the Roccoco chapel.
- the Classical gardens, maze and orangeries.
Opening Hours & Admission
The gardens are open from 11am to 12:45, and 2:15pm to 5:45pm on weekends and public holidays from april to September, as well as from Tuesday to Friday in July and August. Guided tours start at 11am, 2:30pm and 4pm.
Entry is 7 € for adults, 5.5 € for teenagers from 12, students, people over 60 and groups from 20 people, and free for children up to 12 years old.
How to get there
By car, take the E411 (Brussel-Luxemburg) and exit 20, then follow the direction of Philippeville until Onhaye. From Onhaye, follow the road to Hastière, cross the bridge over the Meuse River, and follow the left bank towards Dinant.
It is a bit more difficult to reach Freyr by public transport. You will have to reach Dinant first (regular trains from Namur and Brussels), then take bus 154a on the Dinant-Givet line and get off at Freyr.
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