Bettembourg Parc Merveilleux
© Pancake! Photographie

The Good Life Bettembourg's fairytale park and adventure trail

4 minutes

The giant's journey

Story summary

  • Bettembourg’s Parc Merveilleux: An adventure park whose giant is brought to life in a magical story.
  • A living mascot: In the comic book story, the giant, "De Ris", goes on a search for a missing friend.
  • Adventure trail: Visitors can follow the giant's path on a special map and discover clues around the town of Bettembourg.
  • Fairytale adventure: Visitors love the fairytale stations in the park and the giant walking trail, which combine reality and fiction in an engaging way.

Bettembourg’s “Parc Merveilleux” (fairytale park) is a tourist magnet which is well-known in Luxembourg and beyond the country’s borders. Its landmark is the giant, lying next to a playground for children to climb onto. But one day the giant wakes from his slumbers. Are you brave enough to follow him through the park and the town of Bettembourg?

The giant suddenly snores loudly, shifts in his sleep and Léa and Ben almost fall off his belly in shock. Is he alive after all? The two five-ye­ar-olds look towards the source of the noise. It’s just a loudspeaker! And the good old giant in Bettem­bourg’s Parc Merveilleux is only a model. But what if he really did come to life?

Parc Merveilleux

Bettembourg © Pancake! Photographie

A park mascot

The giant, whose name in Luxem­bourgish is “De Ris”, has been the park’s mascot from the very beginning. He has changed his ap­pearance over the years and used to look much scarier. “My grand­ma used to say that if you’re not good, the giant will wake up in the park,” says Patrick Hurt, commu­nications manager for the munici­pality of Bettembourg, with a grin. Of course, he too has known the giant since he was a child. There is a comic book all about the park’s giant for those who are curious to know what would happen if he were to get up and start walking around…

The comic book’s images show how the giant, who has been slee­ping in the park for decades, sud­denly wakes up. He and the park’s animals are delighted at first. But then the friendly “Ris” discovers that his close companion, Thum­belina, who usually always stays by his side, has disappeared. Has she been kidnapped?

He must return to the fairytale park to find out. The giant sets off together with Lori the parrot, and searches all over Bettembourg until he gets to the bottom of the mystery.

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In addition to characters from the local community, the story is inspired by real-life events. For example, the little Thumbelina figure really did disappear from the park. And there really was a “Ghost Army” in Bettembourg during the Second World War: in which dummy tanks and actors posed as soldiers to make the ene­my believe there was a huge army stationed there.

The highlight of the whole story is that you can follow the giant’s path on a short hike in Bettem­bourg using a special town map. There are echoes of the giant and his friends all over the town. The giant can be seen sleeping in the park with a book of his story beside him. You can also find his oversized red cap on a meadow, or spot him on the town’s large water tower, seated and soaking wet in the town park’s pond, leading vi­sitors into the town’s old orchard where cows keep the grass short, and you can even bring the giant to life using the augmented reality app. The whole experience is ideal for family outings.

Friends Ben and Léa enjoy racing between the fairytale stations, as well as listening to and watching the stories unfold. The original buildings contain various scenes from the most famous fairy tales. Each window in which characters move is a chapter of the story.

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Real life and fiction collide

The idea of using the fairytale park for a real story on the one hand and turning the small town of Bettembourg into a stage for a tourist experience, namely the giant’s adventure trail, had been on the minds of committed Bettembourg residents for some time. “As part of Esch2022 Capital of Culture, we then said: we have to make this happen!”, says Patrick Hurt.

In 2019, plans were made, the adventure trail was put together and Bettembourg artists created works of art at each of the giant’s stop-off points. Last but not least, two well-known comic book crea­tors wrote a comic book: Lucien Czuga who, among other things, invented the likeable Luxembourg superhero “Superjhemp”, and Andy Genen, a young illustrator and graphic artist whose pen­manship can be found in several projects and heroes.

The fact that the book was published as part of Esch2022 – European Capital of Culture, and to mark the tenth anniversary of the Bettembourg “LiteraTour” Book Festival, fits with the idea of bringing things together: past and present, fiction and reality, art and nature.

As a well-loved Luxembourg attraction, the authors themselves know the park well. Andy Genen, a child of the 1970s, has fond memories of his visits there. “My favourite thing was always the tiny horses and the little racing cars,” he says. Rediscovering the park as part of his research was great fun. “The park is special. It is not as stressful as going to a big amuse­ment park and it has its own flair,” says Andy.

Interactive Adventure Trail

Bettembourg © Guido Kröger

Places that really exist

Andy Genen was quickly taken with the idea of the book. He says: “Lucien and I were contacted by comic collectors Charel Bauer and Alex Kloos from Bettembourg and immediately agreed,” he recalls. “We worked on it for two years,” says “Superjhemp” father Lucien Czuga, who has become an insti­tution in the Luxembourg comic book scene. Lucien wrote the texts while Andy drew.

“During the process, it was inte­resting to see which stations we could depict graphically and how. It’s a real town, the places really exist. That’s an exciting challenge,” says Lucien. Children from the local community also lent a hand after a call for ideas about what the giant should experience on his journey.

So what does the giant’s journey look like? The two authors are happy to wander along the adven­ture trail with Patrick Hurt from the municipality. Visitors can choose from the 6.7- or 9.7-kilo­metre circular routes. In all, there are 15 giant stations, designed by 13 Luxembourg artists, with street art, sculptures made of various materials, augmented reality and more.

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The water tower station with the oversized giant on top can be seen from the donkey enclosure in Parc Merveilleux. But if you stand directly in front of the tower, you can bring the giant and Lori the parrot to life on your phone by downloading the app. Lori the parrot has also been immortalised by graffiti artists in the town, a work of art which has achieved cult status in Bettembourg.

And what of Thumbelina? You can spot this character on a bench beside the path. Would the “Ris” like to take a break? Visitors can do that at a chunky table. Perhaps he would like to travel to another country? Or does he just need to lift a train back onto the track? You can find out at the station. And who is actually responsible for wa­king him from his slumber? Was it magic? A golden apple at the entrance to the beautiful and luscious “Bongert” or orchard, can help visitors to solve this mystery.

Of course all will be well at the end of this fairytale. However, there remain plenty more adventures to be written about the giant, Lori and Thumbelina. In the meantime, visitors can see for themselves how the little town of Bettembourg became the adventure playground of a great hero.

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Real wolves and moving horses

After their visit to the sleeping giant in Bettembourg’s Parc Merveilleux, Léa and Ben conti­nue to enjoy their day: crossing wooden bridges, stroking goats and donkeys, shaking at the sight of snakes and reptiles, discovering white wolves, riding through the forest on bobbing horses, and trying out the many playgrounds.

They are also fascinated by the fairytale stations that have been in the park since the begin­ning. Some of the figures date back to the 1960s, but some are brand new, and the children are amazed by the fairy tales from Luxembourg that they had never heard of before. After all, good stories work for every genera­tion.

Parc Merveilleux Renert Kabaischen

Bettembourg © Pancake! Photographie

Fairytale experience

  • Relive the giant’s journey for yourself by ordering a copy of the comic book, merchandise or the city map, directly from the municipality of Bettembourg, in Bettembourg’s Parc Merveilleux or online
  • Parc Merveilleux is also known beyond the country’s borders as a peaceful park without the stress, the hustle and bustle associated with some amusement parks. In addition to animal enclosures, playgrounds and small rides, fairy­tale stations with animated figures are scattered throughout the park. It is here that Snow White, Rapunzel, Little Red Riding Hood and Luxembourg’s fairytale heroes come to life.
  • Fancy spending the night in Bettembourg in true fairytale style? Now you can at the Bet­tembourg “Kabaisercher”, in the red-brick tower at the entrance to the park. This special overnight lodge is one of several scattered along the Minett Trail hiking experience. The highlight of Bettembourg’s accommodation is that you can climb the tower, just like Rapunzel! Breakfast is available in the morning via a secret door in the courtyard if required.
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