A year in review – where Heather travelled in 2015

We’re in that lull between the feasting and celebration of Christmas and the fresh starts and new plans of New Year. It’s the quiet time when we can reflect and review the year that’s gone, the time to reminisce and consider what the year brought us: the adventures and challenges, the excitement of visiting new places, the holiday times we enjoyed with loved ones. Here’s a look back to the travels I enjoyed in 2015.

Where Heather travelled in 2015 Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

January – A cottage stay and fossil hunting in Devon and Dorset

The ammonite pavement at Lyme Regis Photo: Heatheronhertravels

The ammonite pavement at Lyme Regis

We started the year with a weekend at Red Doors Farm in Devon through Premier Cottages, a collection of 500 year old thatched cottages, set around a cobbled farmyard. My teenage son and friends made good use of the indoor swimming pool and proved that you’re never too old to feed the goats and chickens. We climbed up to the hill fort near the farm and enjoyed a bracing walk along the beach at Lyme Regis where we spotted fossils on the ammonite pavement that was revealed at low tide.

Read More: Fossil hunting and a weekend in the country at Red Doors Farm, Devon – video

February – A charity visit to India

Meeting sponsor children in India Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

Meeting sponsor children in India

In February I flew with Jet Airways to India for a week that was off the tourist map, although I spent a little time exploring Bangalore at the beginning and end of the trip. My purpose was to visit a local charity that I support in Andhra Pradesh and see some of the projects that we had funded. Together with one of the charity trustees I was treated to Bollywood style dances in all the local schools, had endless cups of teas with the nuns who ran them, cut the ribbon on a new water purification plant and presented a womens’ tailoring class with their new sewing machines. It was a week that made me realise more than ever that when you give to those in need, you come away much richer from the experience.

Read More: 13 stories from my charity visit to India – going off the tourist trail

March – A weekend by the sea in St Mawes, Cornwall

St Mawes Harbour in Cornwall Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

St Mawes Harbour in Cornwall

We spent a weekend with friends at the magical Dreamcatchers house from St Mawes Retreats with a view over the Fal estuary in Cornwall. From the bedrooms we could see the tankers passing St Anthony’s lighthouse and the St Mawes ferry heading for Falmouth. We’d stayed at another St Mawes Retreats house before (read my review of Stargazers here) so we knew that we could expect gorgeous Designers Guild fabrics and luxurious furnishings, with sea views to die for. This time we wandered around the harbour and took the St Mawes ferry across the estuary for a Cornish pasty and ale pub lunch in the quaint streets of Falmouth.

Read More: Sea views and springtime in St Mawes – our weekend in Cornwall

April – Venice with the family

Gondola on the Grand Canal in Venice Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

Gondola on the Grand Canal in Venice

I was lucky enought to win an apartment stay with Go with Oh through the Passports with Purpose fundraiser and decided to use it for a few days in Venice with my family. Although we visited a few tourist highlights like the Doge’s Palace, we found that the neighbourhoods away from St Mark’s square were much more enjoyable to wander around. We loved the modern art at the Peggy Guggenheim and saw Venice from the water on our boat tour with Walks of Italy when we climbed up the campenile of San Georgio Maggiore for views across the lagoon to San Marco. The only disappointment was the food, but hopefully you’ll do better than me with my tips on How to not eat badly in Venice.

Read More: Join me on our Venice boat tour – with Walks of Italy

April – A weekend in Wiltshire and a sunrise visit to Stonehenge

Stonehenge at Sunrise Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

Stonehenge at Sunrise

I stayed at Sarum College inside the close of Salisbury Cathedral for the Social Travel Britain conference and part of the weekend included a walking tour of the cathedral, a private viewing of Magna Carta and a visit to Edward Heath’s old residence of Arundells. The highlight, though, was a sunrise visit to Stonehenge during which we were allowed to walk within the stone circle. This access is only allowed on special guided tours and most tourists can’t get up close to the stones, so it made the experience much more magical.

Read More: Sunrise at Stonehenge – inside the stone circle

May –  Lloret de Mar in Costa Brava, Spain

Seafront at Lloret de Mar Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

Seafront at Lloret de Mar in Spain

Lloret de Mar is one of those coastal resorts on the Costa Brava coast of Spain that was built up in the 1960s as one of the first places to welcome mass tourism from the UK. I was there as a speaker at the TBEX conference but took some time out to explore the town and discover its history. While the Lloret de Mar of recent years has gained a reputation for 20-somethings looking for nightlife and older couples seeking a retirement in the sun, I enjoyed walking around the older squares and along the rocky coast path on the edge of town.

In the Museu del Mar, I discovered the connections to Cuba where many locals sailed to make their fortunes, returning to build the grand mansions on the seafront. I tasted the Daiquiri cocktails, another import from Cuba and now the favoured drink of Lloret de Mar, and I loved the restful Santa Clothilde gardens, planted in Italian Renaissance style, overlooking the sea.

Read More: Lloret de Mar – sun, sea and so much more…

June – A weekend in Copenhagen with my daughter

Heather and Sophie-Anne in Copenhagen Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

Heather and Sophie-Anne in Copenhagen

I’ve visited Copenhagen many times and in June I returned with my daughter for the opening of  the Absalon Hotel which had been newly renovated in Designers Guild furnishings. I was able to interview Tricia Guild, Creative Director of Designers Guild who was there to open the hotel, as well as trying out new restaurants and cocktails with my daughter. We also spent a couple of nights up the coast at the gorgeous spa hotel, Kurhotel Skodsborg where we wafted around the pools and jumped off the jetty to cool off after our sauna.

Read More: Like mother, like daughter – what we loved on our trip to Copenhagen

June – Alpine Sports Week in Wilder Kaiser, Austria

Mountain-biking in Wilder Kaiser, Austria Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

Mountain-biking in Wilder Kaiser, Austria

I love being in the mountains in summer so I jumped at the chance when I was invited to try out some of the outdoor activities on offer during Alpine Sports Week in the Wilder Kaiser region of Austria. During this week different mountain sports are on offer, from high rope walking to canyoning, mountain-biking to Via Ferrata and all for the knockdown price of €99 for 5 days of activities with expert guides. It was the perfect opportunity to try something different, since I’m a keen hiker but was able to test myself with the mountain-biking and high wire climbing in the Hornpark tree forest.

Read More: Heather goes e-mountain-biking in Wilder Kaiser, Austria – video

July – A week with the family in Zakynthos, Greece

Anadalis restaurant in Zakynthos, Greece

In July we made our annual visit to Zakynthos in Greece to visit my sister who runs two hotels there with her husband. We spent the week visiting different beaches, swimming, eating, sunbathing and catching up on family news. This summer my niece had returned to the island after training with a leading hotel group and had decided to get involved in the family business, opening a new Mediterranean restaurant in an idyllic setting by the sea. Anadalis, as it is called, is named after the old estate on which the hotel is built which once belonged to an aristocratic family with a house just a little way up the shore, but you’ll have to read to article to find out why the locals thought the old ruined mansion was haunted. If you visit Zakynthos I highly recommend that you book a table for dinner as the sun goes down over the bay.

Read More: Anadalis – a Mediterranean restaurant by the sea in Zakynthos, Greece

August – Our Azamara Greek Island Cruise

Azamara cruise to Mykonos in Greece Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

Azamara cruise to Mykonos in Greece

Later in August we were back to the Greek islands again for a cruise with Azamara Club Cruises which took us from Athens to Santorini, Mykonos, Patmos, Kusadasi and finally to Istanbul where we ended our cruise. We absolutely loved the luxurious small ship cruise experience with Azamara Club Cruises where the spotlight is firmly on the destinations you visit, creating unique experiences like our magical evening concert among the ancient ruins of Ephesus as the sun went down.

Read More: Windy Mykonos – Day 2 of our Azamara Greek Island Cruise

September – A walking holiday in Austria with Headwater Holidays

View over Seefeld in Austria with Headwater Holidays Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

View over Seefeld in Austria with Headwater Holidays

September saw me back in Austria for a few days walking with Headwater Holidays who specialise in relaxing walking and cycling holidays. I was accompanied by my friend Julia for our annual walking trip which has become our tradition since we walked the Tour de Mont Blanc together. On the first day on the high slopes of the Gaistal valley I fell down a slope and hurt my ankle but using the Headwater walking guides we chose the less strenuous walks on subsequent days and enjoyed the rest of the holiday. We watched a rifleman’s parade in Seefeld and walked along a Mental Power trail, walked through the wild Leutasch Gorge and round the lakes above the picturesque town of Mittenwald with its painted houses. Each day brought different mountain scenery and things to see, confirming my love of the mountains in summer.

Read More: Hiking in Austria – the views from the cross at Seefelder Spitze

September – A gourmet visit to Luxembourg

View of the Petrusse Valley in Luxembourg

View of the Petrusse Valley in Luxembourg

In September we spent a few days in Luxembourg, a city and tiny country that’s full of surprises. While Luxembourg is known as a centre for international business, we found a charming and easily walkable city with great food, museums and a fascinating history, making it an ideal weekend break location. We also spent some time touring the Moselle wine region where the Moselle river forms the border with Germany, with many wineries to taste the delicious white wines the sparkling Cremant which was my favourite.

Read More: A gourmet walking tour of Luxembourg old town

November – The Christmas Markets of Heidelberg, Germany

Student Kisses in Heidelberg

Student Kisses in Heidelberg

At the end of November we spent a few day in Heidelberg, Germany to see the Christmas Markets and generally get into the festive spirit. We’d visited Heidelberg previously on a day trip from our Rhine River Cruise and were pleased that we could have more time to explore this picturesque and romantic town at our leisure. We took the river boat down to the Neurberg Abbey Christmas Market, climbed up to the castle, learned the history of the ancient university and student fraternities and ate plenty of hearty German food, delicious cakes and chocolates as well as drinking quite a few mugs of hot Glühwein.

Read More: A Food Lover’s Guide to Heidelberg, Germany

December – A weekend in Le Havre, France

Port of Le Havre in France

Port of Le Havre in France

My final trip of this year was a hop over the channel to le Havre with Brittany Ferries to discover what this channel port would offer for a weekend break. Most Brits drive through Le Havre on their way to their holidays in France but I discovered that there are many fascinating things to see here that make it worth stopping to visit the city and surrounding area. The city was reconstructed after heavy bombing in WW2 and the architecture of the new town (now a UNESCO World Heritage site) represents the modern designs of the 1950s. We visited a 1950s show flat which would have been allocated to those who lost their own houses in the bombing, as well as a gorgeous 18th century ship owner’s mansion. Another highlight was the MUMA modern art museum, a light and airy glass building with the largest collection of Impressionist paintings outside Paris, since painters such as Monet loved this part of the Normandy coast. I’ll be writing about my weekend in Le Havre very soon so stay tuned.

Reviewing the year was a fun way to remind myself of all the fun I had on my travels in 2015. There’s much more to come in 2016 and I wish you Happy Travels for the year to come.

Please note that many of the trips were hosted by the companies mentioned and you can find more details in the articles from each trip.

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Read about where Heather travelled in 2015

This article by Heather Cowper is originally published at Heatheronhertravels.com – Read the original article here

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You’ll also find our sister blog with tips on how to build a successful travel blog at My Blogging Journey

Wine tasting in the Moselle region of Luxembourg – with St Willibrod’s blessing!

From the wall of the Moselle Valley winery in Luxembourg, the figure of St Willibrod looks down at me, his three fingers raised. In this corner of Europe, St Willibrod is seen as the protector of the grapes and his three raised fingers mean; “drink three glasses a day and you will be fine”!

Wine tasting Moselle Valley Luxembourg Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

The growers here know that saintly patronage plus nearly 2000 years of expertise will ensure the continued success of wines from Luxembourg. History, tradition and continuous dedication from family businesses are as constant as the Moselle River that runs between the vineyards.

You can also read about our gourmet walking tour of Luxembourg Old Town here

St Willibrod in Luxembourg Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

St Willibrod in Luxembourg

If you have an interest in wine you’ll know of the Moselle river that forms the border between Luxembourg and Germany. You’ll probably also know the grapes; Pinot Blanc, Pinot Gris, Riesling, Gewurztraminer, Chardonnay and for the specialist the intriguing Elbling, Rivaner and Auxerrois.

But almost nobody has heard of Luxembougois wine, since 66% of the annual production is sold within Northern France, Germany and Belgium, where fine food and wines are truly appreciated. The Luxembourgois I meet over our long weekend are, for good reason, very supportive of the wines produced in the Grand Duchy.

The Wine Museum in the Moselle Valley Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

The Wine Museum at Ehnen in the Moselle Valley

Our wine tasting tour of the Moselle valley begins at the wine museum in Ehnen where we look around the old stone buildings and barns, filled with agricultural implements that were once used in the cultivation of the vineyards. The figure of a lady is dressed in the costume of yesteryear, with her basket ready to hoist on her back and drop in the bunches of grapes as they are picked.

At the Wine Museum in the Moselle Valley Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

Heather at the Wine Museum in the Moselle Valley of Luxembourg at Ehnen

At the back of the buildings, vines are planted to show us the different varieties and the shell of a tiny helicopter, once used for crop spraying, sits like a relic from a James Bond film.

Guy with the Helicopter at the Wine museum Ehnen in Luxembourg Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

Guy with the Helicopter at the Wine museum Ehnen in Luxembourg

At the Domaines Vinsmoselle we enjoy meeting Stephen De Roy, a gentleman of extraordinary knowledge who guides tours at the winery. Founded in 1921, Domaines Vinsmoselle encompasses more than 300 winemakers who sell their grapes to the business, producing rich and varied wines with distinct flavours. Spread over 42 kilometres along the Moselle, the Luxembourg vineyards produce mainly white wines, with a particularly mild microclimate and a rainfall that is spread evenly over the year.

Moselle wine facts

  • Phylloxera disease was introduced to Europe when avid botanists in Victorian England collected specimens of American vines in the 1850s. When the disease struck the European vines, school boys were despatched to remove the aphids and galls on the affected vines.
  • Belgium used to grow its own vines but Napoleon had them all destroyed in 1804 to protect the French market.
  • In the expansion of the processing plant at Domaines Vinsmoselle, a Roman frieze depicting grape production was unearthed dating from AD 800 – the Romans loved good wines too!
Wine Tasting in the Moselle Region of Luxembourg Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

Heather tries the Cremant sparkling wine in the Moselle Region of Luxembourg

During our wine tasting we learn the differences between a Pinot Noir “élevé en barrique” (aged in an oak barrel ) and one aged in a stainless steel tank. Stephen comments “ If I want to taste oak I go to the forest. Why do I want oak in my wine?” 

Grapes in the Moselle Region of Luxembourg Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

Grapes in the Moselle Region of Luxembourg

A big speciality of the Moselle region is the sparkling Cremant, a welcome alternative to the ubiquitous Prosecco we often drink at home. We sample the secret distillation of spirit, which when added to the Reisling produces the delicious Cremant sparkling wine, that is also available in many different grape varieties.

For non-drinkers there’s a fresh grape juice called Tam Tam, which paradoxically is made from only the finest grapes, since there is no fermentation to remove the taste of bruised or bad grapes which you can get away with even in the grandest of the grand crus.

Cremant Sparkling Wine in the Moselle Region of Luxembourg Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

Cremant Sparkling Wine in the Moselle Region of Luxembourg

When we ask Stephen for his favourite wine he is quick with his choice, a 2009 Riesling from the Charte Schengen prestige brand. The only grapes used are from vines over 30 years old, with roots up to 40 metres deep, on the steep and ordered slopes that run down to the Moselle river.

These come from just twelve selected growers in close proximity to the winery, including four growers from France, four from Luxembourg and four from Germany. In this multi-national wine co-operation we are reminded that the Grand Duchy was a founder member of NATO, and the Schengen agreement covering free movement within Europe’s borders was signed in 1985 just down the road from here.

Boat Trip Along the Moselle River in Luxembourg Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

Boat Trip along the Moselle River in Luxembourg

Although we don’t have time to visit the European Museum in Schengen we do see a little of the town from the river, when we take a Moselle boat trip from Remich, to while away a rainy Sunday morning.

Barbecue at Winery Pundel in Luxembourg Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

Gourmet Barbecue at Winery Pundel in Luxembourg

There’s another opportunity to try the 2013 Riesling from Charte Schengen at dinner that evening when we enjoy a gastronomic barbeque at the winery Pundel. It’s known as the king of wines in Luxembourg and is sensational, with a balanced bouquet of citrus fruits, apricot, apple, peach, pear and lime with notes of eucalyptus and bizarrely, petrol.

The Pundel winery is a modern glass building and from the rooftop terrace where dinner is served we have a fabulous view of the vines running down to the river. Sadly it’s raining tonight so we collect our dinner of steak and seafood brochets from the gourmet barbeque and head inside to help ourselves to salads and side dishes.

Firework Display at the Grevenmacher Wine Festival Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

Firework Display at Grevenmacher Wine Festival in Luxembourg

Our wine tasting tour of the Moselle Valley ends with an evening at the Grape and Wine festival at Grevenmacher further along the river. We wander from one end of the high street to the other, past the stages playing rock music to appreciative teenagers, past the stands selling every kind of local wine and stopping for a late night snack of sugary waffle piled high with cream. We follow the parade of marching bands, headed by the princess of the wine festival and her attendants, who are chosen from local families, before watching the grand finale firework display over the Moselle river.

As we leave the Moselle Valley of Luxembourg to head home, I’m quite prepared to adopt St Willibrod’s motto of three glasses a day in the interests of good health and wellbeing. With a glass of Luxembourg sparkling cremant or vintage Riesling in my hand I’ll happily raise a glass and drink to that!

More articles about Luxembourg

Read about our Gourmet walking tour of Luxembourg Old Town
From LuxeAdventureTraveler: Unexpected Luxembourg: Fine wines and fabulous food

Where to stay in the Moselle Valley of Luxembourg

Heather and Guy stayed in the Villa Welcome annex of the Mondorf Parc Hotel, a leading spa hotel in Mondorf-les-bains. We had a very comfortable modern suite with a large bedroom, separate seating area and en suite shower room. The Villa Welcome was a short walk from the main hotel building where we had breakfast and guests can make use of all the hotel facilities.

Bedroom at Hotel Mondorf in Luxembourg Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

Bedroom at Hotel Mondorf in Luxembourg

The main hotel building is quite modern but the angular design softened by plenty of large glass windows  looking out onto beautifully maintained gardens with seasonal floral displays.

Hotel Mondorf in Luxembourg Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

Hotel Mondorf in Luxembourg

The hotel is well known for its spa, with warm indoor and outdoor pools that are fed from the thermal springs that have a high mineral content for good health and wellbeing. The spa can also be visited for the day, if you are staying in the area and want an opportunity to relax and unwind. There is plenty of parking space at the hotel and the bus stop is situated on the road just outside the hotel, with connections to Luxembourg city.

Compare prices and book for Hotel Mondorf on my Hotels Booking Page (powered by Hotelscombined.com)

Hotel Mondorf Domaine Thermale, 52 Avenue des Bains, Mondorf-les-Bains, Luxembourg. Website: www.mondorf.lu | Twitter | Facebook |

Hotel Mondorf in Luxembourg Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

Hotel Mondorf in Luxembourg

Looking for Airport Parking?

Heather used the Meet and Greet Parking Service at Heathrow, booked through Airport Parking and Hotels (APH) who offer airport parking at a range of airports across the UK as well as travel extras such as airport lounge booking and airport hotel stays.

Visitor Information for a wine tour of the Moselle Valley in Luxembourg

For more information to plan your visit to Luxembourg check out the Visit Luxembourg Website | Twitter | Facebook | Google+

For more information on the Moselle Region of Luxembourg check out www.visitmoselle.lu  | Facebook

The wine museum is at 115 route du Vin, Ehnen, Luxembourg. Website: www.museevin.lu Open daily April – October

Domaines Vinsmoselle – Caves de Wellenstein at 37, rue des Calves, Wellenstein, Luxembourg. Website: www.vinsmoselle.lu. Guided tours of the Caves are available by arrangement May-October €6 per person including a glass of wine.

We took a boat trip on the Moselle river from Remich with Navitours. Website:  www.navitours.lu. The tour took 1 hr 45 and took us down to Shengen and back to Remich. Most of those on board were having a buffet lunch for €45 per person although we opted for the cheaper €15 ticket without lunch and just had a snack in the bar area.

Our gastronomic barbeque was at winery Pundel at Wormeldange-Haut. Website: www.pundel-vinspurs.lu The winery is open for special events through the summer season which can be booked in advance. Check the website for more details.

We visited the Grevenmacher 66th Grape and Wine Festival on 11 September 2015. For more information check their website: www.grevenmacher.org

Read More: You can also read about our gourmet walking tour of Luxembourg Old Town

Thanks to Visit Luxembourg who hosted Heather and Guy’s weekend stay in Luxembourg

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Read about Wine tasting in the Mosell Valley Luxembourg

This article by Heather Cowper is originally published at Heatheronhertravels.com – Read the original article here

Click to subscribe to our monthly newsletter, news and reader offers

HOHT newsletter

You’ll also find our sister blog with tips on how to build a successful travel blog at My Blogging Journey

A gourmet walking tour of Luxembourg old town

Our weekend break in Luxembourg was full of surprises; a city that’s unexpectedly small and walkable, packed with history and culture. And then there was the food! This tiny Europan capital combines the elegance of France, the gourmet delights of Belgium and the efficiency of Germany into one easy going package. As we walked around the old town, I was struck by the number of tempting places to stop for a taste of this or a glass of that, so I’ve decided to take you on a gastronomic walking tour. History and culture are always more fun with a bite to eat or a cup of hot chocolate thrown in!

You can also read about our wine tour of the Moselle Region of Luxembourg

Heather and Guy Overlooking the Petrusse Valley Luxembourg City Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

Heather and Guy in Luxembourg City

Place d’Armes at the heart of the city

Let’s start in Place d’Armes in the centre of Luxembourg old town, a tree-filled square with plenty of cafe terraces and a bandstand where you’ll often find live music in summer. The elegant Palais Municipal stands at one end and since its renovation in the last few years, is now used as a cultural centre, although it served as the Nazi headquarters during WW2. On the Saturday that we visited there was a flea market full of granny’s best china and some more unusual items, like antique bird cages and piles of deer antlers. Who doesn’t need a set of deer antlers these days?

Flea Market in Luxembourg City Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

Flea Market at Place d’Armes in Luxembourg City

Elegant patisserie at Oberweis by the Sheep fountain

Let’s walk down the cobbled street at the side of the Palais Municipal until we reach another Luxembourg landmark, the charming fountain known as Hammelsmarsch or the March of the Sheep. The bronze fountain, by sculptor Will Lofy, depicts the shepherds who would bring their sheep into town once a year to attend the annual Schueberfour market, accompanied by a troupe of musicians. The cute children shelter from the dripping water under an umbrella and the accordion player is a self-portrait of the sculptor himself.

The Sheep Fountain Outside Oberweis in Luxembourg Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

The Sheep Fountain Outside Oberweis in Luxembourg

Gastro-stop #1 – Oberweis for elegant patisserie

Once you’ve admired the fountain, be sure to pop into Oberweis, a family business established over 50 years ago that produces some of the best patisserie, chocolates and marzipan in town. There are five branches around the city but we’ll stop for a coffee or light lunch at the flagship store at 16 Grand-Rue. Take your time to feast your eyes on the beautifully decorated tarts and cakes as you enter, with chocolates and marzipan towards the back of the store.

If the weather’s fine, take a seat at one of the tables outside or climb to the first floor for waitress service. Should the long list of patisserie on the menu be too perplexing, simply pop downstairs again to make your selection from the cakes on display, then you’ll be handed a ticket to give to your waitress telling her which to serve. We loved the seasonal marzipan – in September there were horse chestnuts with glowing brown nut and spiky green shell. Just the place to stock up with gastronomic gifts for the chocoholics back home.

Oberwis, 16 Grand-Rue, Luxembourg

Patisserie at Oberweis in Luxembourg Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

Patisserie at Oberweis in Luxembourg

Place Guillaume II– the food market and restaurants

From Oberwis let’s take a right down Rue du Fosse which will bring us to Place Guillaume II, the largest square in the old city. The square is named after William II, King of the Netherlands who ruled Luxembourg from 1840-1849, but locals also know it as Knuedler after the knots in the belt of the Franciscan friars whose monastery once stood on this spot. Here you’ll find the town hall, tourist office and a if you’re lucky enough to be there on a Saturday or Wednesday, the market selling fresh produce will be in full swing.

Vegetable Market in Place Guillaume II in Luxembourg Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

Vegetable Market in Place Guillaume II in Luxembourg

Gastro-stop #2 – buy a picnic in the market

We wandered around the Saturday market which was truly a feast for the eyes, with one end devoted to flowers and plants and other areas a mixture of fresh fruit and vegetables with stalls of cheese, bread and deli produce thrown in. The aroma of freshly roasted rotisserie chicken wafted from at least three stalls and the picnic possibilities were plentiful. At one stall baskets of dried sausages, at another rosy strings of garlic, while vegetables were beautifully laid out as if awaiting a prize at the village show. We treated ourselves to pretty pastel slices of nougat in pistachio, raspberry and almond and sat at the foot of King William’s statue eating the lunch we bought at the deli van.

Fresh Produce in the Market at Luxembourg Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

Fresh Produce in the Market at Luxembourg

Gastro-stop #3 – restaurants to try in Place Guillaume II

If you are not there on market day, fear not, as there are a number of other cafes and restaurants that we spotted in the square. Try one of these;

Kaempff-Kohler at 18 Place Guillaume II – have a look in their deli-shop specialising in cheese and wine and then find a table inside or on the outdoor terrace to order one of their cheese plates for lunch with a glass of local wine.

Brasserie Guillaume at 12 Place Guillaume II – right next door to Kaempff-Kohler, this brasserie is a fishmonger and fish restaurant combined. After you’ve admired their colourful window displays of seafood, take a seat and order the freshest of fish. They serve other things in the brasserie, but fish is the main event.

Beet at 32 Place Guillaume II serves vegetarian and vegan food in a trendy but informal cafe with a terrace on the square. Mostly organic and locally sourced, this is the less traditional but still delicious choice for a healthy lunch or dinner.

An alternative to walking – the Veloh! bike scheme

If you need to work off your delicious lunch you may spot the bright blue veloh! bikes in the square and at bike stations around the city. They cost practically nothing – €1 for a day so long as you can use your credit card to register at the machine and leave a deposit from your card. Sadly the system was not working when we tried it and our card was not accepted but we think it’s a great idea! Now, let’s continue with our gastro-walk around the old town.

The Velo Bike Scheme in Luxembourg Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

The Velo Bike Scheme in Luxembourg

The Grand Ducal Palace and the Chocolate House

A few steps from the Place Guillaume II is the Palais Grand-Ducal, official residence of Grand Duke Henri of Luxembourg and the royal family. In fact the family spend most of their time outside the city but you’ll know if Grand Duke Henri is at home by the flag flying. Apart from the mellow stone facade and the balcony where the royal family appear on special occasions, there’s not much to see from outside. The palace is open in July and August (information here) but other times you’ll have to just content yourself with watching the tourists having their photo taken next to the good humoured sentries.

The Grand Ducal Palace in Luxembourg Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

The Grand Ducal Palace in Luxembourg

Gastro stop #4 – The Chocolate House

Just opposite the sentry post is our next gastro-stop at Chocolate House, famed for the hot chocolate and other sweet treats you’ll find inside. As soon as I heard about the chocolate spoons that are served with hot milk to make the hot chocolate of your choice on The Amateur Traveller Podcast about Luxembourg (thanks Rosie) I knew I had to give this place a try! Luckily Jennifer from Luxe Adventure Traveler had already bagged a prime spot when Guy and I passed by, so we joined her to order our hot chocolate and watch the world go by.

The Chocolate House in Luxembourg Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

The Chocolate House in Luxembourg

Those chocolate spoons come in over 40 flavours but they also serve enormous slices of cake and sell very pretty chocolates and marzipan inside too. It was tough choosing between all the chocolate spoon flavours like lavender, hot chilli orange, almond raspberry and a few naughty alcoholic versions too, so I brought a few home in my suitcase.

Chocolate House, 20, rue du marché aux herbes

Chocolates and Marzipan at the Chocolate House Luxembourg Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

Chocolates and Marzipan at the Chocolate House Luxembourg

The Statue of Grand Duchess Charlotte

Just around the corner in Clairefontaine square, you’ll find the bronze statue of Grand Duchess Charlotte. It was designed by the Parisian sculptor Jean Cardot and inaugurated in 1990 to commemorate the Grand Duchess, grandmother of the present Grand Duke Henri, who ruled Luxembourg from 1919 to 1964. After WW1 her sister Marie-Adelaide had to abdicate in favour of her sister, Charlotte and during WW2 the Grand Duchess and her family had to flee as Germany occupied Luxembourg, creating a focus for resistance in England and America.

Grand Duchess Charlotte of Luxembourg Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

Grand Duchess Charlotte of Luxembourg

Now we are just a short walk from the cobbled path known as the Corniche that runs along the top of the cliff overlooking the lower part of the old town in the Petrusse valley. This is the place to take your photographs from the “Balcony of Europe” looking down on the church of St Jean-Baptiste in the valley which is now an arts venue and the green terraces and gardens that line the river banks.

Read about our wine tour of the Moselle Valley in Luxembourg

View of the Petrusse Valley Luxembourg Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

View of the Petrusse Valley Luxembourg

The Casmates

At the end of the Corniche you’ll get a view of the Casmates, the complex of tunnels and storage rooms that were built into the rockface providing gun emplacements overlooking the valley to defend the Rocher du Bock fortress that stood at this point. It’s easy to see why the fortress was such a key stronghold, with steep cliffs on both sides until it was dismantled at the end of the 19th century. The casmates were at various times used as munition stores, workshops, stables and garrisons and you can visit them and look out from the different openings down into the valley. Casemates are open daily March to November.

Casmates in Luxembourg Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

Casmates in Luxembourg

Unfortunately, the Casemates were just closing when we passed by so let’s continue along the road with views across the other valley to some of the museums that stand on the opposite plateau of Kirchberg. As we walk down the hill it is tempting to stop at the Beim Siggy brasserie with a sunny terrace bar overlooking the valley. Keen to get to the bottom of the valley for a river walk, we’ll continue, pausing briefly to investigate;

Gastro-stop #5 – Rives de Clausen

The old Mousel Brewery by the river has been repurposed to make a lively nightlife scene where 9 different themed bars and restaurants crowd into the old brick buildings overshadowed by the tall chimney. All is quiet as we pass by in the afternoon but later on you can eat, drink and be merry with live music and anything from Brazilian to gourmet dishes and Belgian beer to sophisticated cocktails. Rives de Clausen: 2, rue Emile Mousel

Rives de Clausen in Luxembourg Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

Rives de Clausen – the nightlife of Luxembourg

We continue our walk along the river over the arched stone bridge and through the lower part of the old town, known as the Grund. In these old buildings you’ll find a number of bars and cafes and although we don’t have time to stop at any of them on our walk, you might look out for;

Gastro-stop #6 – the cafes and restaurants of the Grund

Michelin star at Mosconi – If fine dining is your thing, you may like to reserve a table at Mosconi restaurant where the 8 course, Italian inspired set menu is served in an elegant dining room beside the river. Mosconi: 13 rue Münster

Café Des Artistes – If you’re after something more informal, try the cosy Cafe des Artistes nearby with vintage posters covering the walls and a piano where you’re invited to tinkle the keys and sing along. Café Des Artistes: 22 Montée du Grund

 Petrusse Valley in Luxembourg Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

Petrusse Valley in Luxembourg

Crossing the old arched bridge, we find the elevator that takes us back up to the upper level of the old town at the top of the cliff. If we decide to come back here in the evening, it runs until the early hours. After our walking tour of Luxembourg’s old city, there’s one further gastro-stop later in the evening when we’re off for dinner at;

Gastro-stop #7 – Chiggeri

In an old townhouse, down one of the narrow cobbled streets of the old town, you’ll find Chiggeri with dining experiences depending on your mood and budget. On the ground floor is a Moroccan style winter garden and cafe, serving ‘cuisine bourgeoise’ with plates of charcuterie and cheeses, tartiflette and steak tartare. We, however, climb the steep wooden stairs to the top floor with painted walls that seemed inspired by Maori tribal markings, combined with a sophisticated four course menu and accompanying wines. The restaurant boasts an entry in the Guiness book of records for its selection of over 2000 fine wines.

Restaurant in Luxembourg Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

Chiggeri Restaurant in Luxembourg

Today’s menu includes a skewer of grilled scampi garnished with black olive oil and crispy strips of onion, a main course of grilled red mullet on a bed of risotto and a desert of strawberries in a sweet crispy pastry shell. All quite delicious and with carefully matched wines recommended by our sommelier. This is the place to come if you want the fine food and wine in an informal setting without all the fanfare.

Chiggeri, 15, rue du Nord, Luxembourg

Restaurant in Luxembourg Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

Chiggeri Restaurant in Luxembourg

Read More about Luxembourg

Read about our Wine tasting in the Moselle Valley of Luxembourg 
From LuxeAdventureTraveler: Unexpected Luxembourg: Fine wines and fabulous food

To plan your trip to Luxembourg

For more information to plan your visit to Luxembourg check out the Visit Luxembourg Website | Twitter | Facebook | Google+

Where to sleep in Luxembourg

We stayed at Hotel Le Chatelet, in a smart residential area that was a 15 minute walk from the heart of the old town. The hotel is a large townhouse with a restaurant and panelled bar on the ground floor, a handy car park and 32 bedrooms on the two upper floors. The decor has a dark and trendy feel, with black walls combined with white and grey finishes and modern, industrial touches. The dark scheme was a bit love it or hate it and at times I felt I was in a night-club on the morning after the night before.

Hotel Le Chatelet in Luxembourg Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

Hotel Le Chatelet in Luxembourg

Our room on the second floor was perfectly comfortable, with the same dark colour scheme, warmed a little by the aubergine carpet. The bathroom was large with industrial looking plastic flooring and those mirror lights you see in theatre dressing rooms. With a curtained enclosure for a wardrobe, the room felt a little low budget compared to the elegant chandeliers and panelling in the public areas. The hotel will suit stylish city-break couples looking for a quiet and convenient base that’s an easy walk from the old centre.

Hotel Le Chatelet, 2 Boulevard de la Pétrusse.
Compare prices and book for Hotel Le Chatelet on our Hotels Booking Page

For more information to plan your visit to Luxembourg, head for the Visit Luxembourg website

Looking for Airport Parking?

Heather used the Meet and Greet Parking Service at Heathrow, booked through Airport Parking and Hotels (APH) who offer airport parking at a range of airports across the UK as well as travel extras such as airport lounge booking and airport hotel stays.

Hotel Le Chatelet in Luxembourg Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

Hotel Le Chatelet in Luxembourg

Our thanks to Visit Luxembourg who hosted our weekend stay and Airport Parking and Hotels (APH) who provided our airport parking.

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Read about our gourmet walking tour of Luxembourg City

This article by Heather Cowper is originally published at Heatheronhertravels.com – Read the original article here

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