Clervaux, Luxembourg

Photo: Jean-Pol GRANDMONT
Photo: Jean-Pol GRANDMONT

Trying to avoid the crowds? Refuse to stand in another line? It sounds like you’ll have to cross most of Europe off your list. From England and France to Italy and Greece, Europe is full of tourists. It’s hard to enjoy Big Ben, the Eiffel Tower, the Colosseum, or the Parthenon when hundreds–if not thousands–of people are doing the same thing. So you might have to look beyond the obvious to find some undiscovered gems. Luxembourg, one of the smallest countries in Europe, is a good place to start.

Take a train on the Liège-Luxembourg line to Clervaux. The small town, in the northern Luxembourg Ardennes, is surrounded by high mountains and dense forests. Clervaux Castle sits on a rocky spur overlooking the village. The whitewashed castle, along with most of Clervaux, was burned during World War II before being liberated by the U.S. Army.

Visit the Battle of the Bulge Museum at the castle to see artifacts from the war, including a U.S. Sherman tank and German artillery. Stay to wander through the Family of Man exhibition. The black-and-white photographs, by artists like Dorothea Lange and Ansel Adams, show what binds people and cultures around the world.

The Church of Saints Cosmas and Damian sits on a promontory of the winding River Clerve. And to the west, the Abbey of Saints Maurice and Maur rises above the trees. The Benedictine abbey hosts a mass in the morning and vespers with Gregorian plainchant in the evening.

Photo: Le Clervaux Boutique & Design Hotel
Photo: Le Clervaux Boutique & Design Hotel

Now that you’ve seen all the major attractions in Clervaux–really, that’s it–you can relax and enjoy the little town. Wander through the streets, stopping to drink coffee, chat with shop owners, or take pictures. The woman working at the pastry shop will recognize you after a few days. Walk the nine-kilometer Clervaux Trail around the perimeter of town. Bike to nearby Lake Weiswampach. Enjoy a leisurely Italian dinner at Da Lonati or select from the game menu at the steakhouse Rhino. Cap off the evening with jazz music and an etter fruit spirit at Cabana Lounge. Your room is right upstairs at the end of the night. Le Clervaux Boutique and Design Hotel is modern and sleek. Suites have freestanding tubs, rain showers, and floor-to-ceiling windows that overlook the castle.

This is the Europe you were looking to find. Just don’t share your little secret.

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