A 3 DAYS TRIP TO CLERVAUX – LUXEMBOURG
The perfect weekend getaway!
It’s more than just a city
Let’s be honest, Clervaux is probably not on top of your bucket list when you choose your next trip. In this article, we want to make it clear why it should be quite high on your list, especially if you are a fan of unspoilt nature.
Clervaux is not only the name of a small city but also of a beautiful region in the northern part of Luxembourg. If you are wondering whether you should choose culture, city life, or a dip in nature, Clervaux is the place to be. This region (and town) has it all.
The city of Clervaux is a cultural hotspot. Although it’s a small town (in comparison to the rest of the world), Clervaux has an interesting and rich history (arising from its great importance in WWII) and a handful of museums and exhibitions. Nature and hiking routes of the region are peaceful, calm and simply beautiful. To be honest, Clervaux might remind you a little bit of Durbuy in Belgium, but it’s way quieter. The similarities between the two cities are striking, but you won’t find as many tourists in Clervaux as in Durbuy, which makes it (at least from our point of view), more pleasant and relaxed to visit this city and region.
Clervaux, a cultural city in full glory
As mentioned above, Clervaux can undisputedly be described as a cultural city. Apart from the rich history the city carries, you will find several cultural highlights. The castle of Clervaux defines the city image from the moment you arrive. The beautifully renovated castle is located in the centre of the city, which makes it the eye-catcher of the city. The castle was damaged during the second world war and you will find a lot of artefacts referring to the hard battle that raged around Clervaux. Nevertheless, the castle is fully renovated, and looks absolutely stunning these days, popping out over the city.
One of the cultural aspects that amazed us in Clervaux, was the outdoor photo exhibitions. We are of course a bit biased being photographers ourselves, but we were impressed by the work they’ve put up here to bring these expositions to the people on an accessible level. Nicely lit against the rocks where the castle is built on and lined up in the Castle’s gardens.
Part of the reason why Clervaux has such a rich history is that Clervaux was also the scene for the Battle of the Bulge, and more specifically the Battle of Clervaux which raged from December 16 until December 18 1944. The battle of Clervaux was the first tank battle of the Ardennes offensive.
Unfortunately, this battle ended in a total disaster for the Americans, who lost nearly 60 tanks, while the damage on the German side was a lot less, with a loss of only 4 tanks. In this regard, a visit to the Museum of the battle of the Ardennes constitutes an interesting experience. The museum itself is quite stuffed (mainly because it is located in a very small part of the castle), but it gives you a perfect impression of old costumes, suits, armoury and old papers & pamphlets. It’s unbelievable to see how many items and objects have been recovered from the war and in what good condition they were found.
The other 2 highlights of the city, “literally”, are the church and the abbey. The imposing Benedictine Abbey of Saint Mauritius, built in the neo-romantic style, towers majestically high above the town. It was built in 1909-1910 and founded by the Benedictine monks from the French abbey of St-Maur de Glanfeuil. If you are going on a hike around in the region, the abbey is practically visible from everywhere. Despite the fact that you can see the abbey from practically everywhere, it is worthwhile to go and admire it from up close. It’s open for visitors and every day at 10 am you can attend mass. By the way, dogs are not allowed inside the abbey (whoops).
Unfortunately, we didn’t have time enough to visit the Church in the centre of the city. But when wandering around in Clervaux, take your time (especially around noon) to listen to the special melodic chime of the bells of the parish church.
Every first Monday of the month, the monks of the abbey open their doors for a guided visit to the church and the crypt. The visit starts just after the daily mass at 10 am, during which you will have the opportunity to listen to the magnificent Gregorian chants sung by the monks.
Highlight: The Family of man
“A legendary photo exhibition, assembled by Edward Steichen and registered as a UNESCO Memory of the World heritage since 2003.“ Even though the previous sentence covers it all, we do want to highlight the beauty of this exhibition.
You can find over 500 photos from 273 photographers originating from 68 countries. You will find names such as Henri Cartier-Bresson, Lou Bernstein, Robert Capa and Dorothea Lange, who are considered to be the founders of modern photography.
The exhibition shows all aspects of human life. Divided into 37 themes, Steichen created a maze of coherent pictures which gives you a point of view to reflect on. Starting from giving birth, until the tragic event of death.
Steichen created the photography department in the MOMA in New York and started this exhibition in 1955. Even though this is more than 65 years ago, the expo is still recommended as one of the greatest expos of all time. Since 1994, the exhibition is permanently based in the Castle of Clervaux, where the beauty of the expo is only enhanced by the stunning atmosphere of the castle.
Walks & nature
For outdoor lovers, who enjoy calm and peaceful walks around nature, Clervaux offers you the top. Over 150 km of hiking trails pass through the municipality of Clervaux in the Luxemburg Ardennes. Whether you are visiting Clervaux as a family, or a trained hiker, you will find a path to your liking.
Normally we would choose the more adventurous paths, but given the fact we were visiting Clervaux with our 7 months old “puppy”, we were obliged to make shorter walks, due to the fact that his puppy joints are not yet fully grown. Nevertheless, we made beautiful walks around the area, and we asked the Tourist info centre for some hiking information. They offered us 3 walks which were perfect for us at the time.
The first day we discovered the Our Valley with a beautiful hike along the Our (a side river of the Sûre). A combination of deep forest, clear flower fields and the flow of water below make the perfect scenery for a relaxing walk. Once again the connection with nature is very strong here, due to the fact you have the feeling you’re walking alone in this giant forest. We walked for a few hours and didn’t see anyone else here.
On our second day, we chose to take a walk around the city of Clervaux. The walk was even more beautiful than we expected because the immediate area around the city is already covered in forests and fields. At certain points, you have marvellous views over the city and majestical views over the valley. Just watch out, as the route indicators in Clervaux were being replaced, we took a wrong turn, and ended up missing part of the walk… Oops!
On the last day, we took a walk around Munshausen. To be fair, this walk was absolutely amazing. Every few minutes we had different scenery to hike through, going from thick pine trees to broad-leaved trees and unbelievably stunning viewpoints. We can try to describe these hikes, but we advise you just to do it yourselves, afterwards you will understand why it’s not easy to describe!
Tip: Clervaux also offers multiple day-hikes, which for us is definitely a reason to come back here. When Floki is fully grown, we’re planning to take one of the longer hikes, where you are hiking for 3 or 4 days. It Is the perfect getaway, given the fact wild-camping is forbidden, but bivouacking is tolerated. This means you are free to set up camp from sunset to sunrise after a long hiking day. Now, leave your cellphone on plane mode for the weekend, and your relaxation trip can start.
We stayed at the Cornelyshaff, an all-in-one package with a brewery, restaurant and a hotel. The Cornelyshaff has renewed its image and made some authentic renovations to the main hall. Due to the Covid restrictions, we were not able to experience the full gastronomic experience in Clervaux, but we can say, the food and drinks we received in the Cornelyshaff gave us a pretty good image of the tastiness of the local products.
A place where we did go for lunch was Chateau d’Urspelt. Completely restored with passion and respect for the heritage, this majestic castle is classified as a National Monument. Located amidst the Natural Park of Our, a bit away from the centre of Clervaux, the castle combines the hospitality and comfort of a 4-star hotel with the enchanting and refined setting of a romantic, historic castle. The food we had here was amazing, which didn’t surprise us, given the fact the Chateau is already hosting guests since 1694.
If you want to experience a luxurious weekend in this region, we can strongly recommend staying in Chateau d’Urspelt, where you will be spoilt with good food, an amazing spa and very hospitable people.
Clervaux has something to offer for every taste. You may choose an active outdoor holiday or a luxury relaxation weekend. You will always find accommodation in Clervaux that fits your needs. If you’re into nature and want to spend your entire weekend outside, it’s recommended to choose one of the beautiful campsites Clervaux has to offer. One is located in the centre of Clervaux, but there are also other campsites which are a bit further away, but calmer and surrounded by nature.
If you want to be submerged in the local traditions, and eat delicious local food, the Cornelyshaff, where we slept, is highly recommended. But as mentioned before, you can also choose a more luxurious option, as there are different high end (design) hotels in and around Clervaux.