Luxembourg? Never been there? It’s really surprised me how little people know of the country or the area around the Ardennes and Eiffel mountains. As a keen motorcyclist this area is known to me as a brilliant place to ride curvy roads in a beautiful countryside location and it’s only 250 miles from Calais so ideal for that shorter trip.
But so few of the holidaying public know of the country or area, it’s really surprised me. So for all those not in the know here is a few facts. Luxembourg is a small country, a Duchy sandwiched between the borders of Belgium, France and Germany. The country is no more than 50 miles north to south and 30 miles east to west. There are 17 castles within the Duchy in various state of repair but plenty worth a visit.
The Capital is Luxembourg city, which is not much larger than a major UK city like Norwich or York. The centre of which is a beautiful old turn with plenty of evidence of the original city walls. Well worth a visit but if you are driving try and get the sat nav destination of the car park you intend to use before you start as just arriving in the city and trying to follow the signs to one of their underground car parks can be frustrating, I ended up doing 5 circuits of one area before finally locating the car park!
Luxembourg city is towards the centre of the lower quarter of the country where it starts to open out. Further north in the country heading up towards Clervaux and Vianden the country is marked by deep valleys, wooded hillsides and beautiful rivers.
My particular favorite is Vianden right on the German border. A beautiful little village that has a main street that winds up to the castle at the top of the hill. The bridge crossing the river is the centre of the village with good quality restaurants on all four corners, two of which are hotels. From here you can watch the local Herons in the weir while dining on one of the local specialties , trout.
The castle at the top of the hill is worth a half days visit, full of history of the local area as well as a pleasant café for a lunch break. And if you aren’t lucky enough to secure hotel rooms down by the river there are many other hotels as you go up the hill.
Parking is quite restrictive in Vianden but if you find a place down by the river there is a free car park along by the chair lift that will take you up to a café with fantastic views over the town and access to woodland walks.
If you are interested in art you might like the permanent “History of man” photographic exhibition at Clearvaux Castle where there is also a small second world war museum and an exhibition of models of the castles of the country. 14 Euros will get you in to see all three. While at Clearvaux it’s worth a walk up to the prominent church and see the beautiful light cast by the stained glass windows.
Diekrich has a much larger second world war museum with walking guide commentaries available in English as well as the other major European languages. It’s housed in the old Brewery and I was amazed at just how much stuff they had crammed into each exhibit.
From Vianden it’s only an hours drive into Germany to the Historic town of BernKastel on the Mosel where some of the buildings date from the 1400’s and they all nestle in the slopes of the vineyards which come right up to the edge of the old town.
Heading west into Belgium you can visit Bastogne or La Roche-en Ardenne both areas of interest to historians being the centre of the Battle of the Bulge in the second world war. Of maybe for Motorsport buffs a trip north to the Spa circuit might be of interest.
But above all none of these places are more than an hours journey from Vianden and every mile is travelled through the beautiful Ardenne and Eiffel mountains. And best of all the fuel is much cheaper in Lumembourg, diesel in October 2016 was 93 Euros a litre compared to 114 in France.
If you haven’t taken a break around Luxembourg, do it soon, you are missing a treat!