Around the World in 80 Pairs of Shoes


August 1, 2013


W.H. Auden once said “The way to read a fairy tale is to throw yourself in” and when visiting Luxembourg you feel like you have stepped right into a fairy tale; I also found a hotel which had a bed that turned me into Sleeping Beauty!

Luxembourg Old town squares church statues palais shops cafes

I had booked us into the Sofitel Luxembourg le Grande Ducal and this was the first time we had ever stayed at a Sofitel hotel so we used it as a chance to see if the sheets were crisper on the other side as I am pretty loyal to another hotel chain.

Sofitel Luxembourg Le Grande exterior lobby entrance Luxembourg luxury hotel

The hotel is located just a short skip and a hop from the Old Town and it has the most incredible views over the Petrusse and Alzette Valleys from the top floor which houses the Coco Mango bar and restaurant. This hotel is fantastic for the views alone and the fact that they have passionfruit at breakfast!

We had dinner at the restaurant on the first night and they were fantastic given that I am gluten free and had a few choices on offer.  At breakfast there was gluten free bread and cereal available along with fresh fruit, cheeses and yoghurts.

Sofitel Luxembourg Le Grande cocktails gluten free dinner breakfast steak and chips passionfruit

Our room was a basic Classic Room however I was surprised in how spacious it was, especially the bathroom! The biggest problem with our room was the bed; it had magical powers that turned me into Sleeping Beauty ever time I went to lie on it – so much so that I slept through 3 alarms on Sunday morning!  If only I could have packed that bed into my bag….

sofitel luxembourg le grande classic room interior bedroom bathroom

My first stop after checking into the hotel was the Chocolate House to try out their Chocolate Spoon Hot Chocolates which have become very famous for all the sweet treats on offer.  It’s such a cute and easy concept, you pick your favourite chocolate from their extensive range; it’s basically chocolate at the end of a wooden stick, they bring you a big cup of hot milk and drop in the chocolate spoon and like magic you have an incredibly good Hot Chocolate.  These make great souvenirs and gifts – you can purchase the chocolate spoons at Luxembourg Airport however the selection is obviously smaller.

Chocolate House Luxembourg Chocolate Spoons Hot Chocolate

Not be outdone, there is a lot of cake on offer including on the day that we visited a gluten free Cheesecake; the slices are pretty big so if you only eat petit slices of cake then it’s best to share.  The Chocolate House also sell Chocolates, surprise surprise!

Chocolate House Luxembourg cakes gluten free elephants chocolates

Once we started strolling around the city we noticed a number of delightfully coloured Elephants scattered around the city which is forming the Elephant Parade.  These Elephants will be auctioned off later on in the year and the proceeds with be given to the Asian Elephant charity.

Elephant Charity Luxembourg Asian

While strolling around the Grund area we stopped at Scott’s Pub for a drink, it’s situated right on the river in the most picturesque part of the old town.  It’s a pretty great spot to watch the sun setting while having a cold beverage.

Luxembourg places to drink in Grund Scotts Pub river

My favourite part of Luxembourg was Grund, its just breath taking and I have so many photos to prove it.  It’s the best part of Luxembourg to stroll around, it’s not rushed and not over run by tourists.

Luxembourg Old town grund river buildings

On Saturday the market square came alive again with not only events for children but also the Flower and Food market which was bursting with colour.

Luxembourg flower market square yellow roses

We decided Saturday afternoon was going to be a shopping day and as it was blooming hot, 30 degrees plus and getting warmer as the afternoon wore on; the air conditioning from the shops were an instant relief.

The shopping in Luxembourg is pretty good, with all your high street shops and then a lot of luxury designer shops like Gucci and Cartier to name a few.

Luxembourg designer shops cartier gucci zadig &voltaire sonia rykiel

Late in the afternoon I had purchased a ticket from the tourist office for a tour of the Grand Ducal Palace as its currently open for tours as it’s summer and while I was doing this G did a Segway tour.

Unfortunately you can’t take photos inside the Palace however I can say its stunning inside and well worth a visit.  The tour takes 45 minutes and you see a small number of rooms but you get a history of the country and the family.  They had on display, Stéphanie, Hereditary Grand Duchess of Luxembourg’s wedding dress designed by Elie Saab which has Princess written all over it.

Luxembourg palais grand ducal palace exterior

G went on the Segway tour which is an hour tour through the Old Town plus through the new part of Luxembourg – for €25 the tour is worth it just to get out and about and see a bit more on the city.

We were going to go out for dinner at a local restaurant recommended by the concierge called Am Tiirmschen however it was too hot to eat anything other than half my body weight in Candy Floss – I’m still the proud owner of all my teeth!

Luxembourg old town around the world in 80 pairs of shoes candyfloss lamp posts

One of the first sights you will see in Luxembourg will be the Gold Lady, “Gelle Fra” Memorial, unfortunately she is surrounded by a car park with a lot of buses ferrying tourists in from other countries for a day trip to Luxembourg.

Luxembourg war memorial golden lady luxembourg flag viaduct petrusse valley

After eating half my body weight in Candy Floss I needed to walk off some calories so we took a wander in the valley under the Viaduct that we had been walking over (I have a strange fascination with bridges & viaducts which I find extremely weird – Millau Viaduct in France is high on my wish list!)

luxembourg viaduct petrusse valley walk

Luxembourg currently has a Summer the City Festival going on which is pretty amazing, from watching cinema screenings under the stars which included ET when we were in Luxembourg to free classical performances in the square on Sunday morning.

Luxembourg summer in the city festival classical band in square mint tea

We jumped at the chance to listen to a classical performance on Sunday morning (we missed the first part due to the bed giving me Sleeping Beauty tendencies) however we found a cafe and enjoyed the music even though it was a bit drizzly.

Luxembourg is famous for The Casemates which are underground tunnels used as part of a defence system to create one of the best fortresses in Europe.  There are two Casemates in Luxembourg – the Bock Casemates and the Petrusse Casemates.

Luxembourg casemates caves tour cannon views

The Petrusse Casemates are only accessible as part of a guided tour and there are a number of steps while the Bock Casemates you can wander around yourself and there are less stairs.  My recommendation is to take the guided tour so you can understand what you are looking at and learn about the history and then visit the Bock Casemates.  There is limited information at Bock Casemates so you can be left wondering what you are looking at.

As the day was still slightly drizzly we decided to take a trip on the Petrusse Train, which for €9pp did kill an hour.  The commentary is interesting to say the least!

Luxembourg train petrusse express old town tour grund things to do with kids green train

I really loved Luxembourg and can’t believe I hadn’t visited before now; it truly is Europe’s hidden gem.  We didn’t scratch the surface of things to do in Luxembourg as we didn’t visit the Museums and we didn’t take a day trip to places outside the city i.e. Colmar or Vianden.

Three things I noticed was, there are so many trees in the city (I’m from New Zealand so this is saying something!), it’s a city that’s geared up for families and lastly; I felt completely safe the whole time I was there.

We booked our holiday through the British Airways Holiday website.


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