A Life in the Slow Lane

Lacklustre Luxembourg

Having visited my brother and a cousin many times in Brussels I wondered why we had never had a day trip to Luxembourg City. Today I think I found out!

We had a quiet night in Amneville, the run down Las Vegas of France. On her dog walk this morning Sarah added some other activities available to visitors: an ice rink and an Indian Ranch (not very politically correct in Amneville). The only other advantage of stopping there is that we were near to our route, so it did not take us long to get started this morning.

Our intention was to drive the 30 miles of so to Luxembourg City, have a look round and then proceed to a campsite near to the vet, where we will stay until Friday.

As we crossed the border from France into Luxembourg our entry into our seventeenth country of this trip was barely marked by any signs, although some lorries seemed to be pulled over, presumably to be questioned. The enormous carpark, in the Luxembourg City centre, which all the databases mark as being ideal for motorhomes had a 3.5 tonne limit, which we promptly ignored and hoped for the best.

View from the Corniche

Luxembourg City has grown up over the years built on the edge of a deep gulley, for defensive purposes. An independent duchy for much of its history, from what I can gather, through some fluke relating to it being wanted by both Germany and the Netherlands, it ended up being a tiny independent sovereign state with a population of only five hundred thousand. Despite or perhaps because of this, it is the second wealthiest country in the world when measured by gross domestic product per head of population, at over $100,000 for every man woman and child!

Main shopping street

We walked down the fairly modern main shopping street of Luxembourg City, lined with the likes of Chanel, Louis Vuitton, Hermes and surprisingly a few beggars, until we reached the tourist information office in the main square of the old town. We’ve been into a few tourist information offices on this trip and this one was one of the least helpful, despite the fact that the assistant spoke fluent English. She gave me a map where the old town covered about two centimetres squared and was therefore of no use for navigational purposes. She then said you need to see three things and ringed on the map the Ducal Palace, the Corniche, which overlooks the gorge and some old bits of defensive wall. That was the sum total of her recommendations and it excited me just about as much as it seemed to excite her – not at all.

There was a market on the main square and it was being heavily redeveloped so it was hard to know what it would look like at its best, but I think it unlikely to be impressive. We then wandered to the Corniche and it was simply a footpath overlooking the gorge at the top of which the old town sits. We attempted to find the Cathedral but it was so tightly sandwiched between other buildings that all we could find was the very plain front and the doors were shut tight.

Ducal Palace

The only place we did find that was of the slightest interest was the Ducal Palace and attached House of Deputies. This was a fine old sandstone building, in a renaissance style, where, rather unusually, much of the wall surfaces had been covered in patterned carvings. There was a solitary soldier carrying out a single handed changing of the guard.

Ducal Palace – notice the poor lone soldier.

Having spent an hour or so meandering around the old town, all I can say is that the Tourist Information did not under sell it. Luxembourg City, from what we saw would be hard to under sell. My advice is not to book any long weekends in Luxembourg City otherwise you will be left with a lot of time of your hands. If you must visit be prepared to be underwhelmed.

Ducal Palace detail of the carvings

I did make one good find in the city, and that was something called a Paté Riesling. Sarah and I were buying a sandwich, when I noticed this small, cylindrical pastry item. It turned out to be a delicious type of pork pie! The meat was perhaps a little less minced than in a British pork pie and the pastry maybe a little crisper, but it was delicious and included jelly oozing from a hole in the top. If only the tourist information office had included Paté Riesling in their, not very hard, sell things could have been so much better.

Door of the day

We beat a hasty retreat from the capital and travelled thirty minutes into the lovely rolling forested countryside of Luxembourg, glowing with the colours of autumn. We have parked Basil at a €15 a night ACSI site called Campsite Op der Sauer (49.867758, 6.174909). It is a large grassy site on the edge of a river and of the town of Diekirch, which is where Mabel and Molly have an appointment with a vet on Friday to be wormed for their pet passports. The toilet block is closed, the wifi doesn’t work and the reception is only open two hours a day. I think it might be the end of season! It will do us for the two nights before we meet up with my brother on Friday night.