The Good LifeVALLEY OF THE SEVEN CASTLES
The car glides along, the asphalt humming beneath the tyres. Leisurely, unhurried. Past alleys of trees, castles, enchanting villages.Sun visor down, window open. Road trip through the Valley of the Seven Castles.
PHOTOS OLIVER KERNER
A trip right out of a road movie. Serge Gainsbourg and Brigitte Bardot are singing “Bonnie and Clyde” on the car radio of the Alfa Giulia 1600. A journey through the Valley of the Seven Castles is a true journey through time: one for unhurried contemplation, enjoyment and taking things easy. 24 kilometres of pure driving pleasure, fairy-tale castles as in a dream, beauty spots galore to stop at, a balm to the soul. Just follow the signs “Vallée des 7 Châteaux”.
It starts in Mersch with breakfast at Chocolate House, directly opposite the castle, which nowadays accommodates the town council. A fountain babbles, roses are in bloom; as you pass through the gate, you leave the busy main road behind you. On the “Mechelsplatz” is the statue of the seven-spiked dragon – one for each of the seven castles. Take tourist information with you from the tower and hit the road.
The route to Marienthal takes you past the enchanting Hunnebour. The popular picnic site is situated by a pond, where Attila the Hun is said to have watered his horses. The water is credited with healing powers. Stepping out of your car here and taking a few short paces through the woods is pure relaxation.
On the tour, the fortified tower of Schoenfels castle looms up in the very heart of the forest. The old keep is all that remains of the 13th century castle complex. The English garden invites you to wander around.
Not officially part of the valley, yet well worth a stopover, is the former monastery in Marienthal. It lies nestled in the valley on the banks of the river Eisch. There is a tower not far from the castle with more than a passing resemblance to that in the tale of Rapunzel – except that it is a tower in honour of the blessed Yolanda, who dwelt and worked in the monastery. Nowadays, the monastery walls accommodate a youth training centre.
The next official stop on the route through the Valley of the Seven Castles is the fortress of Hollenfels, whose almost 40-metre-high keep perches on a rocky promontory above the Eisch valley. The terrace of the “Burg auf dem hohen Fels”, the castle on the high cliff, affords a fantastic view. The fortress of Hollenfels, first mentioned in the 11th century, has been home to a youth hostel for many years. It is currently being completely renovated.
The large and magnificent gardens of the so-called New Castle of Ansembourg are fascinating. Very special rose varieties are to be found here, and visitors can stroll, breathe deeply, find peace. The castle was built in the 17th century by one of the early pioneers of the iron industry and exudes the spirit of the Renaissance. It is home to an annual festival.
Atop Ansembourg is the Old Castle and is home to nobility: Count Gaston-Gaëtan of Ansembourg and his family. The castle being privately owned, it can only be admired from afar – but anyone checking into the exclusive “Temps d’Or” apartment complex will enjoy the young Count’s hospitality.
The idyllic village of Septfontaines, is situated at the very centre of the Eisch valley. The area was already settled in Roman times. Exactly when the castle came into being the historians do not know. Nowadays it is in private ownership. In Simmern itself the seven “fountains” invite you to take a break, and some photographs.
The terminus – or first stop, depending on the direction of travel – is the “Gréivelschlass” in Koerich. It is slap bang in the middle of the village. The castle may be a ruin but there is a modern information centre within. There are also concerts staged here all the time for you to enjoy, not least the medieval festival.
And after the tour?
Be it Luxembourgish specialities or international cuisine, Guttland is a popular gourmet hotspot. Venues worth stopping at include: “A Guddesch” (Beringen), “Beim alen Tuerm” (Mersch) or the “Bricherstuff” (Brouch). The cultural
centre in Mersch is worth a visit of an evening, or the “Kinneksbond” concert hall and theatre in Mamer.
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