Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Luxembourg


Executive summary by darmansjah

Why Go. From its Unesco-listed historic centre, Luxembourg City overlooks deep valleys and sheer-sided gorges, and effortlessly counterpoints historic palaces with state-of-the-art museums. Beyond the capital, castle villages, thick forests and Moselle vineyards make up the landscape of Europe’s last remaining Grand Duchy.

When to Go. The best time to visit are April and May when the wildflowers bloom, and September and October when the autumn leaves are striking. Autumn also heralds the grape harvest in the Moselle valley.

How to Go. Fly into a major European city like Frankfurt, London or Paris and connect to Luxembourg with Luxair (luxair.lu).

 Luxembourg City has a fairy-tale quality.

Be sure to sample wines from the Moselle

See.

Best For Views. Luxembourg City’s pedestrian promenade, the chemin de la cornice, has been hailed as Eruope’s most beautiful balcony. It winds along the 17th-century city ramparts to the Bock, the cliff-top site of Count Sigerfroi’s once-mighty fort. Visible from the Bock are the fortifications of the Wnzelsmaeur (Wencelas Wall).

Best For Castle. Palace of fortified cathedral? At first, it’s hard to tell what towers so grandly above the town of Vianden, an hour from Luxembourg City. In fact, it’s a castle with striking white walls (00 352 83 41 08; castle-vianden.lu; 10am-4pm Nov-Feb, 10am-6pm summer; US$8,50).

Best For Hiking. Mullerthal’s intriguing corners are cut with mossy ravines and crystal-clear creeks. To reach them, you’ll need to begin your hike in Echternach where you’ll find a board detailing walking trails (from one to four hours) near the bus station.

 Mullerthal can be explored via its many  well-marked hiking trails.

Best For History. Diekrich’s Musee National d’Historie Militaire is full of WWII memorabilia and well-executed mannequin scenes, illustrating the battles fought (00 352 80 89 08;nat-militay-museum.lu; 10 Rue Bametal; 10am-6pm; US$7).

Best For Wine. The Moselle valley is one of Europe’s smallest wine regions. From Schengen to Wasserbillig, you’ll find villages and winery towns. Sample the region’s best wines at Caves Bernard-Massard (00 352 75 05 45;Bernard-massrd.lu: 8 Rue du Pont, Grevernmacher, 9.30am-6pm Apr-Oct, closed Mon; US$5,50).

Eat and Drink


Nestled in the countryside of the Mullerthal, Beaufort’s Auberge Rustique has been an inn for over 200 years, and Victor Hugo is said to have visited. The wood-panelled dining room serves local trout and plenty of forest mushrooms in season (00 352 83 60 86; aubergerustique.lu; 55 Rue du Chateau, Beaufort; mains US$11-US$35).

Hotel Heintz was once the brewery-inn of the Trinitarian monks. After a drink in the tiny garden, adjourn for a cheese fondue or some local Ardennes ham (00 352 83 4155; hotel-heintz.lu; 55 Grand Rue, Vianden; dinner; mains US$19-US$28).


 Share a warming cheese fondue at Vianden’s historic Hotel Heintz

Eating at Echternach’s Hostellerie de la Basilique is an elegant experience. Dine on tenderly steamed buttered tourt in the modern dining room or on Nordic salmon and scampi on the pretty brasserie terrace (00 352 72 9483; hotel-basilique.lu; 7-8 Place du Marche, Echternach; mains US$25-US$39).

In a turreted building with a Summer terrace, Chiggeri has a brasserie-café downstairs and restaurant upstairs (00 352 22 82 36; chigger.lu; 15 Rue du Nord, Luxembourg, lunch and dinner Tue-Sun; café mains Us19-US$28, restaurant mains US$28-US$47).

The patisserie at Wenge serves macaroons in 15 flavours, while the restaurant menu includes citrus-marinated scallops with crab, ginger and lemon-soya vinaigrette (00 352 26 20 10 58; 15 Rue Louvigny, Luxembourg, lunch and dinner Mon-Sat; mains US$31-US$39).

Sleep


Sections of Echtermanch’s old city walls peak up amid the city’s suburban houses. Four of the Medieval Towers have been converted into accommodation, each sleeping four to six people. They are only available for week-long stays and are booked via the tourist office (echternachtourist.lu; from US$600 per week).

The eight newly refitted rooms at Auberge Aal Veinen are remarkably modern, considering they’ve been seamlessly inserted into ancient wooden beam work. Originally a blacksmith’s house, it is one of Vianden’s oldest structures and sits just beneath the magnificent castle (00 352 83 43 68; hotel-aal-veinen.lu:; 114 Grand Rue, Vainden, from US$110.
four of echtermach's eight towers have been turned into apartments

Hotel Restaurant Bamberg’s is a distinguished little hotel with a wood-paneled restaurant in the riverside hamlet of Ehnen. Situated in 1 19th-century townhouse, the rooms are furnished in country style. The cozy restaurant serves locally sourced fish and wine (00 352 76 00 22; hotel-bamberg.lu; 131 Route du Vin, Ehnen,; from US$120).

A Taste for Art. I really enjoyed the Mudam contemporary art gallery. The exhibitions were varied. We saw video works, listened to a sound piece and even made furniture. But the reason I remember it. So fondly is the hot chocolate I had in the café. They gave me a glass of warm milk and a block of chocolate on a swizzle stick so I could mix my own (00 352 45 37 85 960; mudam.lu; 3 Park Dral Eechelen, Luxembourg; closed tue: US$7).

The stark, white foyer of Hotel Simoncini is a modern-art gallery. The smart rooms with pale wooden floors are similarly minimalist although splashes of colour provided by cushions and contemporary artworks prevent them feeling cold (00 352 22 28 44; hotelsimoncini.lu; 6 Rue Notre Dame, Luxembourg; from US$120).

Hotel Parc Beaux-Arts comprises a trio of 18th-century houses containing 10 gorgeous suites. Each features original artworks by contemporary artists and period details such as stone fireplaces. Seek out the ‘secret’ lounge in the eaves (00 352 26 86 761; parcbeauarts.lu; 1 Rue Sigefroi, Luxembourg; from USS270).

Village For People

Forum users recommend Esch-sur-Sure-one of Europe’s prettiest villages. But on a rocky loop of the Sure river, Esch is surrounded by soft hills that drop to steep cliffs as they reach the river. The village conceals a ruined castle dating from 927, around which visitors are free to wander. It’s popular with summer day-trippers, so time a visit for early evening or out of season (esch-sur-sure.lu, in French).
Hotel Heintz was once the brewerly-inn of the Trinitarian monks. after a drink in the tiny garden, adjoum for a cheese fondue or some local Ardennes ham (00 352 83 4155; hotel-heinz.lu; 55 Grand Rue, Vianden; dinner; mains US$19-US$28)

Picture Perfect, forum users also rat the town of Clervaux in the ‘far north’. The castle hours the Unesco-listed Family of Man exhibition – a collection of 500 photos by photographers from 68 countries, first put together for New York’s Museum of Modern Art in 1955. Also in town, the monks of the Abbey of St Maurice are famous for their Gregorian chants, which visitors can hear during mass (toursime-clervaux.lu, in French).

Getting Around


Buses and trains run to Diekirch, Vianden and Moselle. Route maps are available at topograhie.lu the Luxembourg Card is valid for city and national transport and can be bought at Gare Centrale (US$13 per day). Try Budget for car hire (from US$55 per day; budget.fr)
 vainden castle

moselle valley

Forum Belgium & Luxembourg has a comprehensive chapter on Luxembourg. You can also download the chapter at TravelerGuidance. To see Luxembourg City’s historic centre at its best, watch Girl With A Pearl Earring, which was filmed in the city. For planning information, check out lcto.lu and visit Luxembourg.lu

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