Little and lovely
LINGER IN LUXEMBOURG!
It’s often passed through en route to other countries, but a tour of this small duchy makes a big impression
WORDS: Helen Werin
PHOTOGRAPHY: Robin Weaver
I knew Luxembourg was small, but it wasn’t until I looked at the map of Benelux that
I realised just how little it is. Up against the Netherlands and Belgium, pretty
Nowhere in Luxembourg is more than one hour away at most, one of the locals told me. This was something I was going to dispute throughout our travels around the Grand Duchy. Many of the roads are so full of bends and wind through such scenic country that you just have to slow down to look or get out to explore. Thus even short distances seem to take forever.
When a friend suggested that Luxembourg was “about the size of your average English county”, I admit to wondering if there was going to be enough to keep myself and my family occupied for two whole weeks. Would I get the cabin fever to which I am so notoriously predisposed?
Then I checked out an image gallery of Luxembourg. There was picture after picture
of castles – and I love castles! These weren’t just any old ruins either, but spectacular
fortresses, with fairytale-
We travelled to Luxembourg via P&O’s Hull-
We’d bought money-
I have to confess to disappointment at twelfth century Clervaux, our first castle, but it was my own fault. We’d wanted to see the Family of Man photographic exhibition, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It being a Monday, the exhibition was closed. Our consolation was room after room of models of old Luxembourg palaces and castles and a visit to the fascinating little museum next door dedicated to the Battle of the Bulge, stuffed with weapons, uniforms and even food rations.
Clervaux is set in a deep, narrow valley with the Benedictine abbey of St Maurice
high above the town. We were drawn to the parish church (1910) by the unusual pyramidal
Bourscheid Castle is one of those castles straight out of a children’s story book, standing in the most beautiful location on a rocky outcrop 150m (492.13ft) above the river. It was fun to explore with the great French writer, Victor Hugo, who visited here in 1865, as our ‘host’ for an audio tour and easy to agree with his descriptions of the views as “glorious”.
It was more wonderful views from castle ruins which confronted us at Esche-
Looking out over the village towards the castle, this was the perfect postcard cliché.
Other days we splashed in the river at Esch. An unexpected shower found us sheltering
in the old cloth factory that is now the House of the Natural Park of the Upper-
Further up the Sûre valley at Lultzhausen and Insenborn are several ‘beaches’ around
One of the staff at Fussekaul told me that walking in the woods on the other side
of the lake was her favourite pastime. We took her advice, crossing the pontoon bridge
at Lultzhausen and exploring different routes each time, including the Wurzel trail.
One of Sophie’s favourite trails was the 6.5k (4.03 miles) Music Trail at Hoscheid.
With names like ‘whispers of the wind’ and ‘song of the leaves’, the promise of various
musical instruments on which she could make as much noise as she wanted lured her
deeper in to a heavily-
Our Luxembourg Cards gave us free public transport too, so we took a 15 minute bus ride to Ettelbruck from outside Camping Fussekaul and got off at the rail station for the 45 minute ride to the capital.
Our first impressions? Very interesting, especially as we caught glimpses of splendid
fortifications and grand buildings from the train windows. The capital is set on
the Bock promontory, a rocky outcrop surrounded by the deep gorge of the Alzette
valley. From the bus station, we crossed the Adolphe Bridge and followed a panoramic
path around the promontory towards the Corniche, described as ‘the most beautiful
balcony in Europe’. It was so easy to get around on foot, passing the neoclassical
Town Hall until we reached the Palace of the Grand Dukes, with its stunning Flemish-
I was keen to see The Casements (another UNESCO World Heritage site); immense multi-
We’d seen pictures of Luxembourg’s only chairlift at Vianden in all the posters so drove the 23k (14.3 miles) from our next site, Europacamping Nommerlayen. Our first sighting of the medieval Chateau de Vianden drew a ‘wow’; it’s in such a gorgeous location. Yet, once inside, I was disappointed at the amount of concrete used in its reconstruction. That was until I saw pictures of the pile of rubble it had become after being sold off, piece by piece, in the nineteenth century. Then I appreciated why it had not been faithfully preserved; there really hadn’t been much of it left!
We so enjoyed the chairlift across the river Our and 440m (1443.6ft) up to the viewpoint that we rode up and down several times. We could happily have glided above the trees all day as our Luxembourg Card allowed us to do but we’d parked Roly, our motorhome, by the castle (€2/£1.60 per hour) and our ticket was running out. We later found suitable, free, parking on the Rue de Sanatorium, close to the chairlift. We rushed back to the ‘van along rough paths in the woods above the town thinking; “If only we had more time to walk here”.
En route from Nommern to Larochette, on roads hemmed in by forest, we wandered through more beautiful beech woods dotted with bizarre rock formations. On the map the road looked almost as concertinaed as a ‘jacky jumper’ firework.
The waterfall of the Scheissetumpel is another of Luxembourg’s most photographed
visitor hotpots. Being Welsh, I am perhaps used to far more spectacular falls, but
the modest Scheissetumpel is pretty and Sophie enjoyed leaping stones across the
river. Outside Camping Auf Kengert at Medernach, we squelched through gloopy mud
and crunched across bark and gravel on a barefoot.walk. Without doubt, our loveliest
walks were those in the woods above Europacamping Nommerlayen. We left Sophie to
enjoy the multiple amenities for what we were in no doubt about was the best aspect
of this site. Nommerlayern’s owners are very proud of their surroundings and had
shown us posters of deep crevices and intriguing pinch-
I rather hurriedly moved on from the creepy torture chamber at Beaufort Castle, too. It did not help that I’d gone down in to the basement on my own to be met by a variety of macabre instruments on which a prisoner would be stretched.
We’d been recommended to visit Luxembourg’s oldest town, Echternach, on the border with Germany. This photogenic – but undeniably touristy – town is one of Europe’s earliest centres of Christianity. Whilst Robin, the photographer, took pictures of the Benedictine Abbey of Saint Willlibrod and the church of St Peter and St Paul, Sophie and I visited the crypts of the abbey museum to see dozens of copies of illuminated manuscripts, though some were original. Sophie could not resist repeatedly cartwheeling across the bridge to the German side, though it became immediately obvious to us that the German side was far shabbier, with potholes and cracked roads which we’d missed on our travels in Luxembourg.
Our last day was spent exploring the Moselle region. We parked Roly for free near the leisure complex in Grevenmacher and walked to The Butterfly Garden, where tiny birds with the brightest and most beautiful plumage also flitted among the foliage. We must have spent a couple of hours vainly trying to get butterflies to land on us. We came to the point where the Moselle meets the Sûre and, at Wasserbillig, switched to the German side of the river. Now the valley sides were dotted with row upon row of vines and sunflowers. Much to Sophie’s amusement we nipped in and out of Luxembourg and Germany, at times entirely losing track of whether we were in one country or the other. Eventually, Sophie remarked; ‘This is just silly. I must have been to Germany about 30 times today!”
There certainly was no chance of me getting cabin fever or of Sophie being bored.
We loved Luxembourg’s romantic landscape; its lakes and rivers and its laid-
* The Family of Man exhibition is closed Mondays and Tuesdays (except public holidays).
WE STAYED AT
* Camping Fuussekaul, 4 Fuussekaul, L-
* Europacamping Nommerlayen, Rue Nommerlayen, L-
* Buy Luxembourg Cards for 1, 2 or 3 days for free access to more than 60 museums
and tourist attractions, free travel on the national public network and discounts
on other activities. visitluxembourg.com/en/luxembourg-
* Camping Fuussekaul also offers ‘camper stop’ pitches with full use of all the site facilities.
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