Lux­u­ri­ous Lux­em­bourg -By Aruna Rathod

A small coun­try in central Europe, Lux­em­bourg is a great mix of his­tory, chic shop­ping and truly in­ter­na­tional ex­pe­ri­ences

The Luxury Collection - - Contents - -By Aruna Rathod

If you are look­ing for an un­usual des­ti­na­tion in Europe, try Lux­em­bourg. A tiny coun­try that is rich in his­tory and ex­pe­ri­ences, not only does it of­fer amaz­ing din­ing op­tions, it has great shop­ping streets too with Gucci, Her­mes, Prada, Dior and more. The peo­ple are help­ful, speak English wher­ever you go and the sheer joie de vivre of the coun­try, with its mix of Euro­pean pop­u­la­tion, is con­ta­gious in the true sense. Af­ter check­ing into Ho­tel Vauban, a very con­ve­niently lo­cated ho­tel in Place Guil­lame II, from where all the main sights are within 15 min­utes of walk­ing, I be­gin to explore. The staff at Ho­tel Vauban are ex­tremely cheer­ful and very help­ful. I be­gin my walk­ing tour and af­ter reach­ing the main road in about 5 min­utes, the first thing that I see is the “Golden Lady” (Gëlle Fra) on Con­sti­tu­tion Square, a me­mo­rial set up in 1923 to com­mem­o­rate the Lux­em­bourg­ers who per­ished in the First World War. A beau­ti­fully sculpted woman, who is gold plated, is perched high up in the air, placed on a stone obelisk which tow­ers into the sky. On Oc­to­ber, 20th, 1940 the Nazis pulled the mon­u­ment down. It was only in 1984 that it was put up again af­ter ex­ten­sive restora­tion. To­day the me­mo­rial sym­bol­izes free­dom and re­sis­tance for the Lux­em­bourg peo­ple. I walk around and stand on the view­ing gallery, be­low which lies a huge gorge. In the back­ground one can see the ma­jes­tic build­ing which is the national bank of Lux­em­bourg, an old struc­ture and in con­trast there are some new build­ings with glass fa­cades that dot the land­scape. Later I am told – this is the fast de­vel­op­ing new busi­ness district part of Lux­em­bourg called Kirch­berg. It is also the best place to get a glimpse into the city’s con­tem­po­rary ar­chi­tec­ture and houses the (Place de l’europe), con­cert hall Phil­har­monie (ex­te­rior) cre­ated by ar­chi­tect Chris­tian de Portzem­parc. The city square Place Guil­lame II is the town square with the Town Hall in front of it, and the statue of King – Grand Duke Wil­liam II of Orange-nas­sau just a few steps away. The town res­i­dence of the Grand Duke is the grand­du­cal palace in the heart of the city. It is the most pho­tographed spot in the city with its beau­ti­ful façade (Flem­ish Re­nais­sance, 16th cen­tury). The palace was built in the 16th cen­tury by the Span­ish who then used it as a city hall. A statue of the Grand Duchess of Lux­em­bourg, a much-loved queen Char­lotte, is sit­u­ated close to the palace. She was in­volved in a lot of pub­lic ac­tiv­ity which contributed to rais­ing Lux­em­bourg’s pro­file on the in­ter­na­tional stage, as she was ac­tively in­volved in host­ing vis­its from for­eign heads of state and other dig­ni­taries like Eleanor Roo­sevelt, the King of Nor­way, and the Queen of Nether­lands, and she her­self vis­ited Charles de Gaulle and John F Kennedy.

Not to be missed is the cathe­dral “Notredame” of Lux­em­bourg, built be­tween 1613 and 1621 by the Je­suits to serve as a church to their col­lege (now the National Li­brary).

Chic Shop­ping

The evening is the best time for some re­tail ther­apy. The city square has plenty of lanes de­voted to fancy stores – right from de­signer stores to tiny cafes, the shop­ping district has uber chic restau­rants that of­fer an amaz­ing range of cuisines, Le­banese, Turk­ish, Euro­pean, Chi­nese and more. Din­ner at Restau­rant Essenza Ri­s­torente at 12 rue de la Boucherie, is an amaz­ing ex­pe­ri­ence. I be­gan my meal with a glass of white wine, fol­lowed by a com­pli­men­tary ap­pe­tiser and Tagli­olini with beef and wine sauce that was heav­enly.

A slice of his­tory

On day two, a must visit are the an­cient quar­ters and for­ti­fi­ca­tions of the city of Lux­em­bourg. A walk­ing tour takes visi­tors to the site from the road, and walk­ing down the steps takes me into the fortress within min­utes. Af­ter val­i­dat­ing my Lux­em­bourg card, which al­lows free en­trance to all the mu­se­ums and in­clud­ing pub­lic trans­port, I pro­ceed to the tun­nels. It seems that there were 22 kilo­me­tres of tun­nels dug out of which 17 kilo­me­tres ex­ist till date. As I go inside, it’s a maze of tun­nels with large holes on the side of the fortress that look out into the city. The holes were cre­ated to house can­nons to fire at­tack­ers. These tun­nels are the world’s long­est un­der­ground tun­nel sys­tem called “Case­mates“. You can spend hours in the for­ti­fi­ca­tions and then it’s time to get to the city cen­tre once again for a Mediter­ranean din­ner. Fresh catch is dis­played on a bed of ice at the Brasserie Guil­laume at 12-14 Place Guil­laume II. I had the Fritto Misto Royal that had a ver­i­ta­ble feast of fried sea food in­clud­ing scampi, prawns and cala­mari served with fries, tartare sauce and salad. The oys­ters and crabs, I could see around me, were pre­sented in style. A must visit restau­rant. As I left this beau­ti­ful coun­try, I was sure that I would re-visit and explore the out­skirts soon.

HOW TO REACH: You can fly into Ger­many and take a train or con­nect­ing flights to Lux­em­bourg from Mum­bai or Ban­ga­lore/delhi.

WHERE TO STAY: Ho­tel Vauban, www.hotel­ 10 Place Guil­laume II, L-1648 Lux­em­bourg,

WHERE TO EAT: Choco­late House 20 rue du Marchéaux-herbes, L-1728 Lux­em­bourg, Phone +352/26 26 20 06

Restau­rant Essenza Ri­s­torente, 12 rue de la Boucherie, L-1247 Lux­em­bourg. An amaz­ing Ital­ian fine dine restau­rant with a range of wines, pas­tas, spaghetti and great op­tions.

Ca(fé)sino in the Casino - Fo­rum of Con­tem­po­rary Art 41 rue Notre-dame, L-2240 Lux­em­bourg, Phone: +352/26 27 02 79.

Brasserie Guil­laume 12-14 Place Guil­laume II, L-1648 Lux­em­bourg, is a haven for sea food lovers. Pre­sented in style, in­dulge in oys­ters and fish – all served in style !! A must visit restau­rant. EVENING OUT: Bar ‘L’ob­ser­va­toire’ at the Ho­tel Sof­i­tel Grand-ducal 40 bd d’avranches, L-1160 Lux­em­bourg www.sof­i­ (bar lounge on the last floor with a unique view on the city)

Nightlife & bars in the neigh­bour­hood of the grand-ducal palace: Ur­ban Bar, Café Le Palais, Café Go Ten, Down­town Café, Kon­rad Café & Bar

Miche­lin Star Restau­rants – for the tiny coun­try that it is there are enough fine dine op­tions to choose from:

La Christal­lerie 8 Place d’armes, L-1136 Lux­em­bourg. Phone +352 27 47 37 42-1 www.ho­tel-lep­

Mosconi 13 rue Mün­ster, L-2160 Lux­em­bourg.

Claire­fontaine 9 Place Claire­fontaine, L-1341 Lux­em­bourg. Phone +352 46 22 11 www.restau­rant­claire­

Le Patin d’or 40 route de Bet­tem­bourg, L-1899 Luxkock­elscheuer. Phone +352 22 64 99

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