Well… Luxembourg. When I told my friends I’m moving to Luxembourg the most common reaction was “Is it somewhere in Belgium?” Well, the answer is no. Luxembourg is a separate country although it is rather small and borders with Belgium 🙂
I moved in last November, I’m not a tourist in Luxembourg, but since it is not my home town I had to get used to it. And to explore it. And to understand how to use it for good of my family (I moved with 2 kids, the third was born here). After almost a year spent in Ville de Luxembourg, the capital of Luxembourg I’m absolutely in love with the place and people I met here.
So, I want to share some practical info with you, assuming you, as an advanced traveler, will find some time to visit this tiny piece of land just in the middle of Europe.
Where to stay
If you are travelling with kids, I’d advise not to stay in hotel but to rent out some of Airbnb places. Firstly, because of huge Luxembourgish prices for everything including hotels. So if you’re travelling with more than one co-traveler the hotel might cost you a fortune. And secondly as it is very practical while travelling with kids – you always need the kitchen to prepare some food or warm up the baby bottle, more than one room is also comfortable when your kids go in the bed early. The main problem you’ll definitely face if you’ll try to get an apartment outside of the touristic season is number of places available (I found only 6 in early February). More places are available in Christmas and in summer – some people rent out their own homes while going on vacation themselves. As for districts – I’d advise Belair, Limpertsberg, Grund, Clausen or maybe Merl. Grund and Clausen are so-called “ville-basse” the real historic city center, with small cafes, restaurants, sightseeing attractions and public parks. Belair and Limpertzberg are residential districts just around city center (I personally live in Belair and walk to the city center with kids). Merl is just after Belair, a little longer walk, but also a super-calm residential area with a lot of playgrounds for your kids. Most popular areas for younger travelers (Ville-haute or Center and Gare) are not good for families in my opinion – there is a lot of noise, streets are always crowded and there is a parking problem as well. Kirchberg, Cents or Bonnevoie are nice areas, but too far away from all attractions…
The weather is mostly wet – there is even funny video on youtube called “Luxembourgish weather”- but despite the rain, clouds and fog I adore the place and find super convenient for living and absolutely touristic-friendly. Most of Luxembourgers speak fluently 4 languages – French, German, English and Luxembourgish, so it’s easy to get directions, explain something in a supermarket and just to chat with people around. So, take your raincoat, rubber boots and umbrella and let’s go for a walk!
The city itself is amazing – it is just like a big attraction itself. Luxembourg is under UNESCO protection and if you take time for just getting around – you’d understand why. Ancient fortification remains are scattered here and there and you may face ancient tower just in the middle of modern quarter. The modern buildings on their turn fits into old districts and form the harmonious constructions. I’d advise at least one day for just walking around, without any museums or exhibitions.
The old town – Ville haute – is located inside a “pentagon” – the part of a city surrounded by Boulevard Royal, Boulevard Franklin Roosvelt and Montée de Clausen. The central place – “Place Guillaume II” or “Knuddler” is the heart of a city. The City hall is located here, every Wednesday and Saturday the big market is organized. On special occasions there is all variety of activities on Knuddler (that’s how locals call the place) – the Christmas market and ice rink, rock concerts and big screens for football games, meetings for greenpeace supporters, fireworks on Luxembourg National day… Take a chance to participate in a Christmas market if you are around in December – you’ll enjoy the atmosphere of a magic, kids will have fun on a skating rink and would definitely adore eating hot crepes (pancakes) afterwards.
Panorama and verdure
The old town lies on rocky cliffs of Petruss – the small rill on the bottom of Petruss Valley – and Alzette – the flow taking origin in France and crossing the whole Luxembourg from South to Nord. Difference of the attitudes and the verdure of a valley gives the exciting panoramic views from different observation decks and bridges. Although the most important and most known bridge – Pont Adolphe – is under reconstruction till the end of 2016, the other big old bridge – Passerelle – is also a picturesque one and you’d never regret making a couple of panoramic pictures from there. My kids were amazed by the view, they spent at least half an hour just looking around when we first got there. I’d also advise not to miss the Bock Bridge – it connects the old town with the Clausen district, there is an amazing view on Kirchberg – relatively new quarter with most of the offices and European institutions located there, and on old Bock – district where the old Luxemburg castle was built.
MUDAM and Wachhaus
If you choose to pass on the Clausen side I’d suggest to go through the small bridge of Rue du Fort Olisy, then turn on your right to the Allée Pierre de Mansfeld and after having passed under railway viaduct find the stairs in 100 meters going up to Wachhaus – ancient Fort – and MUDAM – Modern art Museum. My son adores the MUDAM although I’m the fan of the old ruins – there is a number of stairs where you can climb, a lot of passages inside old walls, some terrifying holes and absolutely amazing view of the Ville Haute. You can easily pass 3-4 hours in the place, especially if you choose to take a snack in a café of MUDAM…
If you turn to the Grund from the Bock Bridge you might have an adorable walk along the Alzette – look sharp – there are herons on the river, so, you could admire this wild bird living in the city center without being afraid of people and vehicles around.
After passing the Grund district you will be able to easily reach the Petruss valley park – the one of the most peaceful places in the city. Walking in a valley in a middle of a working day you will only be listening to birds singing, no car noise is getting inside. There is a huge bonus for kids in this park – there is a Petruss valley mini train, working from the Ester weekend till the end of September on Tuesdays, Thursdays, Saturdays and Sundays from 2pm till 6 pm. The train is absolutely free – this might be appreciated by parents too 🙂 In 100 meters from mini train there is newly build Skate park – on weekends it is crowded by families with kids on bikes, skates and scooters, evenings are mostly occupied by young extremals.
The above described walk is more than enough for one day with kids. If you are so lucky to have more time to explore this amazing city, welcome to the second day in Luxembourg – I’ll tell you where the most interesting playgrounds for kids are, how to see the whole city from above and how to test yourself with a help of a simple elevator*!