For a long time, Durbuy billed itself as “The Smallest Town In The World“. Indeed, it was pretty small — 400 residents or so — and it had been granted “town” status way back in 1331. In 1977, though, Durbuy lost whatever claims it had to this distinction, as it joined with a number of surrounding communities into a single commune of over 10,000 residents. The name, however, stuck and today this little town, located on the banks of the Ourthe River, at the edge of the Ardennes, is known as the perfect weekend destination for those who wish to escape the hustle and bustle of Brussels. 

© Patrick Ahles
© Patrick Ahles

Getting There:

There are 2 direct trains from Brussels (North, Central and Midi stations) to Barvaux per hour – from Barvaux, there is a shuttle to Durbuy. Although the city is quite small, transport between towns is tricky. As a result, it is recommended that individuals come with a car. 

What to do in Durbuy: 

It is the town itself with its shops, cafés and restaurants set in narrow winding and cobbled streets lined by old stone houses which is the key attraction of this town. A walk through the old town is a must for every visitor.

La Confiturerie St Amour – Four generations of jam-makers have passed through this Confiturerie, where for 90 years father and sons have transformed nature’s precious treasures collected in the gardens, groves and woods of the Ardennes into delicious jams.

Chocolaterie Defroidmont – It’s within the family bakery and pastry shop that Philippe Defroidment discovered a passion for chocolate. With his wife, Christiane, they created their chocolate factory in 1984. In 2000, along with their chocolate shop in downtown Durbuy, the family opened the Defroidment chocolate factory at the edge of the Bois du Pays in Erezee, in the heart of the Belgian Ardennes.

Chocolaterie Defroidmont

The Belvedere – It is a vantage point (with good photo opportunities) high above Durbuy at the top of the cliff face behind the town. There is a magnificent view over the town and of the valley of the River Ourthe.

Marckloff Micro-Brewery – The first (and only true) local beer is Marckloff, from Braserie La Ferme au Chêne. This amber beer is fermented in the bottle and is unfiltered. It is truly traditional beer, produced on-site and only sold here. The Brasserie offers guided tours on brewing days and you can do a tasting for 3€, buy a bottle for yourself or enjoy a glass of Marckloff with your meal on the brasserie terrace overlooking the river. 

Markloff

Where to Eat:

Durbuy may be known as the smallest city in the world (or at least in Belgium), but many Belgians flock to this tiny town as it is also famous for its gastronomy, focusing on creating delectable dishes made with local and seasonal products like dishes made with wild boar hunted in Les Ardennes during autumn. 

Le Sanglier des Ardennes

Along the Ourthe River, the Ardennes awaits you. Located in the heart of Durbuy, Le Sanglier des Ardennes offers gastronomically pleasing dishes, sourced from local artisans, with a beautiful view of the Medieval Castle and the river. The locale is also home to a hotel, wellness centre and La Brasserie “Fred” – a more lounge-type restaurant that offers a bistro cuisine prepared with locale and seasonal products straight from Les Ardennes.  

Inside the Brasserie de Fred
Inside the Brasserie de Fred

Le Parc

Since 1976, Marie-Claire, Jean-Paul, Michel and their team have welcomed visitors, friends and families to their restaurant and tavern. Along with a friendly staff and a spacious terrace the restaurant uses local products, such as fruits, vegetables and meat, when putting together their culinary dishes.

Le Victoria 

At the recently refitted and redecorated Victoria, you can enjoy gastronomic dishes or the house speciality: meat dishes, locally-sourced, from the wood-fired grill. In fine weather, dinner is served in the garden – a unique spot right at the heart of the old city of Durbuy! Also home to a hotel and a wellness spa! 

The Victoria Hotel's restaurant patio
The Victoria Hotel’s restaurant patio

Le Saint-Amour. The story of Le Saint-Amour hotel and restaurant begins in 1980. What started out as a small family business quickly grew through the hard work and perseverance of the Ruchenne family. In 1995 La Saint Amour received its first Fork in the Michelin Guide and in 1996 the Ruchenne sisters decided to expand the restaurant with the inclusion of six new rooms above the restaurant – each room has a romantic name attributed to it, hence the name of the hotel! Hotel guests also get the pleasure of enjoying a delicious locally-sourced breakfast.

© kismihok
© kismihok

Have you been to Durbuy?! What did you think? Let us know in the comment section below

15 Comments

    1. Not counting changing trains in Brussels I’ve not been to Belgium since I was a kid, and I’ve certainly never visited this part of the country. There’s a certain charm to small towns, especially those that have so much history. It looks as though it survived World War II mostly intact, and that is definitely intriguing me.

      The food aspect certainly appeals as well, as long as I could avoid the wild boar products (ew!). The beer, on the other hand, now that will certainly get my attention! Is there a regular schedule for brewery tours? I’d like to check that out!

      1. Hey Bethaney! I have a couple of other articles about Belgium so if you need any tips please let me know!
        nomadicyvonne @ gmail dot com

    1. Oh my goodness, this is such an adorable little place! I LOVE small towns that have so much character. I would go here in a heartbeat, especially for the food and beer!

    1. What a gorgeous town! I had no idea the smallest town in the world was in Belgium – will have to add it to our Belgium bucket list!

      1. It is not really the smallest town in the world anymore, by numbers. But it is still marketed like that! Haha. It is still quite tiny though.

    1. Durbuy looks like a great small town. Sometimes small towns even have more personality than large cities. And the bakery looks especially fantastic! 🙂

    1. it looks amazing! i love these small quirky places that are completely off the tourist track. I didn’t know about this one, thanks!

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