Sunday, November 3, 2013

Adventures in BeDeLux: Luxembourg City

Dimanche, 3 novembre.

Although it was difficult to leave Germany behind after only a few hours, Luxembourg City was an amazing first real stop on our BeDeLux adventure. The first thing we realized about Luxembourg is that the city is absolutely BEAUTIFUL. Just walking across the street from the train station to the city's historic center was breathtaking!

These two parts of the city -- the Ville Haut and the neighborhood of the Gare, where the train station is located -- are separated by the Pétrusse Valley, which runs through the center of Luxembourg. Two beautiful bridges run over the valley: the 19th-century Passerelle and the slightly newer Pont Adolphe. (They're both really nice, as bridges go, and you can find some pictures of them further down in this post!)

What's that beautiful building across the way? Perhaps the royal palace? Maybe a beautiful church? Nope! It's actually a bank -- the home of the Banque et Caisse d'Épargne de l'État, the oldest bank in Luxembourg. (Although I prefer the Luxemburgish name: Spuerkass!) As Luxembourg is the country with the world's highest GDP per capita, it's not a surprise that banks are a pretty big deal ... but I was a little shocked to find out that they're so beautiful!

The real palace in Luxembourg, le palais grand-ducal, is relatively understated: no giant gardens, grand turrets, or huge waving flags. Although the palace itself is lovely, it's tucked away in a little square in such a manner that you don't really notice it ... until you see the soldier standing guard out front! You can only take tours of the building in the summer when the royal family is on vacation, but I had a blast just taking pictures of the outside.


And of course, it wouldn't be Europe without a gorgeous church. La Cathedrale Notre-Dame is the country's only cathedral and, like the rest of the country, it's pretty great. Although its cornerstone was laid in the 17th century, the church has been renovated and is very modern. As the only cathedral in Luxembourg, it's naturally the site of a lot of important events ... including this fairytale royal wedding!

My favorite part of Luxemburg City was, hands down, the collection of adorable historic neighborhoods and pathways. They all have great names -- can you imagine living in "the Grund" or "le Chemin de la Corniche?" Which reminds me ... le Chemin de la Corniche is called Europe's Most Beautiful Balcony ... and I've got to say that I agree! The street overlooks of Luxembourg's most famous areas and the views are unparalled.

Looking out from le Chemin de la Corniche, it was easy to see why the Grund (the neighborhood pictured in the photos above) is called Luxembourg's Venice! The homes are all built up around the river and there are tons of little bridges and canals. (My pictures don't do it justice, but if you're interested in seeing some more, check out this blog post written by a traveller to Luxembourg exactly one year ago! She has a ton of images of the great views.)

Although the best view is of the historic area, you can also catch a glimpse of Kirchberg, the city's modern business center in the upper-lefthand corner of the photo above!

In the photos below, you can really see the Bock. It was on these rocky cliffs, protected on three sides by a river, that the city of Luxembourg was first founded in the tenth century. The fortress built there was so secure that its inhabitants once withstood a seven-month siege before surrending, their walls undamaged. This "Gilbraltar of the North" (they're really big on nicknames here, in case you haven't noticed) was later destroyed as Luxembourg embraced its role as an independent nation and finally expanded beyond the old walls. However, parts of the fortress remain, including the casemates, twenty-three kilometres of underground tunnels and fortifications!

After exploring the casemates, we grabbed lunch and picnicked in la vallée de Pétrusse. Well, okay ... "picnicked" is a little excessive. Remember, it wasn't exactly a warm summer day! But anyhow, we ate while exploring the valley. It was lovely and weirdly reminded me of home. Just with slightly better views.

We walked along the valley after lunch, following the river to a couple of exciting discoveries, including some miniature rapids, an old dam, and even a playground! Unfortunately, the informational signs were a little too high for some guests.

We then climbed back up, this time on the opposite side of the Grund. The views were even more amazing! You can see le Chemin de la Corniche on the left, Neumünster Abbey in the middle, and the Bock on the right.


Before turning in for the night, we made our way down into the Grund to explore it for ourselves. As if Luxembourg wasn't perfect enough, we even found a little square of restaurants and bars that was already lit up for Christmas! (Or maybe they're just lit up all the time because Luxembourg is happy and perfect and wonderful ... who knows.)

We spent the night in a room we rented from AirBNB from a super friendly couple. The house was a little bit of a hike out of the city, but the walk was beautiful -- and definitely worth it to stay in a quiet residential area! (Although even the center of Luxembourg is hardly a bustling metropolis...) Like the crazy college kids we are, Molly and I were showered, in our jammies, and in bed by 8 pm. What can I say? Being adventurous is exhausting!


  1. Too funny! I can see why you were exhausted! Wonderful day it sounds like!

  2. All of your pictures and stories are amazing!! So glad you're making the most of your semester!

  3. Loved your enthusiasm and candor. If only all visitors to a country could absorb as much about the past and present as you have done. Love you, P & B

  4. I am so happy that you are heading back to Luxembourg to have more time to enjoy a city you seemed to just love, but I am going to miss you so much! When is too early to come for a visit? ;)
    I love you!