- Original duchy
- City life
- Financial times
Luxembourg may not scream seduction like Paris does – unless talk of GPD per capita gets you going – but look beyond the suits and an enticing proposition emerges…
The banks and business are well documented, but you won’t be prepared for the glorious beers and wine, emerald countryside, and more Michelin-starred restaurants than you can point a thüringer at (that’s a type of bratwurst, by the way). To seal the deal, consider the city’s visual drama: a Unesco-protected cliffside fortress, with the glittering Alzette river running through it, and a maze of mysterious underground tunnels. Nocturnal types will gravitate to the Grund area’s bars and restaurants like a sausage to sauerkraut. Finally, consider Luxembourg’s enviable connections: Paris, Brussels and Cologne are all within reach.
The Bock Casemates are the stuff of Spielberg movies: a labyrinthine, 21km network of underground tunnels, dating back to 1644. Built as a defensive measure, some of the passageways (which you can explore today) burrow down as deep as 131ft. At their peak, the Casemates housed thousands of occupants, along with horses, equipment, artillery workshops, kitchens, bakeries and slaughterhouses (www.lcto.lu).
- There’s usually a fleet of taxis at the main train station and airport, but keep City Taxis Centrale’s number (+352 48 00 58) in your phone for impromptu pick ups.
- Tipping culture
- As with most of Europe, service tends to be included in the total. That said, it’s standard practice to leave an extra €5–€10 if you’ve been well looked after.
- Siesta and fiesta
- The locals tend to dine out between 8pm and 9pm, and the queue at the bar will surge at around 10.30pm. Banks close at 5pm; shops stay open until 7pm.
- Packing tips
- A picnic bag for forest rambles; bubble wrap for delicate porcelain from Villeroy & Boch (www.villeroy-boch.com); cycling gear for exploring the countryside, and some city-luxe: cashmere, corduroy and cologne. Fur won’t be frowned upon in winter.
- Recommended reads
- Victor Hugo lived in the mediaeval town of Vianden during his exile from France. Honour his time here by adding The Hunchback of Notre-Dame to your suitcase. Dip into an edition of the weekly Luxembourg News, printed in English, while you’re here.
- French in inclination, beefed up with German heartiness.
- Regional specialities
- Beer lovers – imbibe the local brews: Diekirch, Mousel and Bofferding are three of the finest. The drink’s flavours are best enjoyed when paired with a plate of wild boar, smoked pork collar or pike in Riesling sauce. Other dishes worth sampling include brennesselszopp (nettle soup), haam am hée (ham cooked in hay) and gromperekichelcher (potato fritters). Save soom room for plum tart or apple cake.
- Euro (€).
- Time zone
- Dialling codes
- Do go/don't go
- Come in winter, if you like the thought of festive markets and mulled wine. In May, the city is mild and balmy and the lush foliage is in full bloom. Luxembourg quietens down in January and August.
Don't go home without...
…learning some Luxembourgish, the national language. By the time you leave, you should know the meaning of these phrases (some are more useful than others): moïen; äddi; wou as toilette, wann ech glift; ech hun dech gär; rufft d'police!