Wandering in the Luxembourgish woods
Did you know that more than a third of the Grand Duchy is surrounded by vast open plains, towering mountains and parks which are home to dense forests? According to the National Institute of Statistics and Economic Studies (Statec), the Grand Duchy has the highest afforestation rate of the 4 countries in the Greater Region. Its forest area covers about 88,000 hectares and more than 85% of the forests are within 1,500 meters of an agglomeration. There are so many different trails throughout the five regions of the country that Luxembourg is the perfect hiking destination: from the capital and its surroundings to the Ardennes, the Land of the Red Rocks, the Mullerthal Region and the Moselle Valley.
A capital city ringed by forests
The city of Luxembourg has some 1,055 hectares of woods, which represents more than 20% of its total area. The southern part has a lot of communal forests, the main ones being those of Hamm, Cessange, Kockelscheuer, Tawioun and Birelergronn. In the north, accessible by the Muhlenbach district, the Bambësch is the largest forest massif of Luxembourg-City. Several hiking or nature discovery trails are offered to walkers and marked for courses from 4,6 km (Lièvre or Hare) to 7,5 km (Hibou or Owl). For the athletic ones, a health course is available on 2,7 km with 18 tackles and a cross course of 5,5 km. You will find more information about the walk and fitness trails in the Bambësch and the Hamm-Kockelscheuer sector by downloading the information brochures (only in French and German) on the VDL (Ville de Luxembourg) website.
The beautiful landscapes of the Éislek
Located in the northern part of the country, the Ardennes, called Éislek by the Luxembourgers, represent one third of the surface of the Grand Duchy and almost half of the woodlands. Lush forests, green hills, deep valleys and windy plateaus characterise the region which hosts two nature parks – the Nature Park of the Upper Sûre and the Nature Park Our – and offers exceptional hiking experiences. The 23 circular trails of the NaturWanderPark delux with a total of 400 km take you through unique cultural and natural landscapes along the Sûre and Our rivers. Certified as “Leading Quality Trail – Best of Europe”, the hiking trail Escapardenne of 159 km, from Ettelbruck to La Roche-en-Ardenne (in Belgium), allows you to discover splendid panoramic views. More information on www.visit-eislek.lu/en.
The Land of the Red Rocks
The Land of the Red Rocks (Terres Rouges) in the south of the country has been strongly marked by its industrial culture. The old opencast iron ore mines – hence the name of Red Rocks - have now become protected nature reserves with several mountain bike and hiking trails. The park of Galgenberg (Gaalgebierg) in Esch-sur-Alzette, the capital city of the region, is also worth a visit. More information on www.redrock.lu/en.
Luxembourg’s Little Switzerland
Often referred to as Luxembourg’s Little Switzerland, Mullerthal – or Mëllerdall in Luxembourgish – owes its name to its hilly landscape reminiscent of Switzerland. The region has a diverse and unique geological heritage of imposing sandstone cliffs with narrow clefts and deep gorges. That is why the nature park “Mëllerdall” is also a Geopark which aims at promoting public awareness of its geological area through tourism. On a length of 112 km, the spectacular Mullerthal Trail passes all the natural particularities of the region. Natural paths lead through forests and meadows and can be combined with impressive canyons and bizarre rock formations. More information on www.mullerthal.lu/en and www.mullerthal-trail.lu/en.
Escapes in the Moselle’s nature
Forming a natural boundary with Germany, the Moselle river lends its name to one of the most beautiful valleys of the country, renowned for its wineries, charming hotels, medieval town and… landscapes. The region has several nature reserves – “Grouf” and “Strombierg” in Schengen, “Haff Réimech” and Biodiversum on the bottom of the wine slopes between Schengen and Remich, “Kuebendällchen” in Wintrange - and many theme trails lead the hikers to observe countless species of fauna and flora. More information on www.visitmoselle.lu/en.
Good for your physical and mental health
Walking in the forests can have beneficial effects on your health. Several scientific studies have shown that the molecules released by the trees, the phytoncides, would strengthen the immune system, reduce blood pressure, lower blood sugar levels and improve concentration, memory, cardiovascular system and metabolism. In Japan, forest therapy, or tree therapy, has been recognised as a preventive medicine since 1982. Trees can also significantly reduce stress and risk of depression.
And the good news is that you don’t have to walk in the woods for hours to feel these benefits. A few minutes is enough. So, do not hesitate. Take regularly your dose of forest bathing, even once a week, and you will be better, both physically and mentally. For example, why not make a lovely little walk in the woods during your lunch break? As you know it now, the forest is never far away in Luxembourg.
Immigration has always played a decisive role in the Grand Duchy’s economic development and and this trend is not going to stop. In 1961, the number of inhabitants in Luxembourg amounted to 314,900 people with a proportion of 13.2% of foreigners.
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