Wednesday, September 09, 2015

Family fun in Luxembourg and France

The weekend before we went to the Belgian Grand Prix, my parents came for their first visit to Luxembourg, to see Jules's home country and meet his family for the first time. It was nice to show off what is, I think, a pretty underappreciated destination. The weather wasn't playing into our hands, but we still enjoyed walking around the key areas of Luxembourg City with them. We even went over the fortifications to the other side of the Grund valley, where I'd actually not been before (obviously I had been on that side of the river plenty of times, but not specifically the part straight across from the Bock). The large amounts of green space, the different levels between valleys and plateaux, and the old city fortifications makes it a very picturesque city for a walking tour.

View of the Grund

Ha, me and a small child

It got a bit drizzly by the time we got to the far side of town
The next day, we went just over the border to France, to visit Château Malbrouck. The route passed through the town of Schengen, in Luxembourg, and you can really understand why it gave its name to the Schengen zone. When you're in Schengen, you drive onto a bridge across the Moselle river and you're in Germany for 100 metres or so, and when you get to the bank on the far side, if you turn left you stay in Germany, but if you turn right, as we did, you're now in France. After we visited the château, we had lunch just down the road in Germany before driving back over into Luxembourg for a drive along the Moselle. It really made you realise just how inconvenient things would be if they ever did end up going back to proper borders.

The Château, which is actually named after the Duke of Marlborough, Churchill's ancestor, who came here at some point during the War of Spanish Succession or something (there was an explanation of this in the château but I got a bit lost in all the details), is mostly reconstructed, but it's been done really well. One interesting thing in one of the towers was a display of the methods used to reconstruct the site. The level of detail and the care they took to make sure they used authentic methods and tried to reconstruct exactly what was here before it fell into ruin was very impressive. I think it's one of the biggest and most expensive castle renovations undertaken in France.

On the walls of Château Malbrouck

View from the Château

The main reason for visiting the château on this occasion was that I saw a friend's photos of its current exhibition, Knights and Samurai, on Facebook. It's a pretty interesting concept for an exhibition - to compare and contrast the culture, lifestyle and history of European Knights and Japanese Samurai. On one level, the similarities are obviously - both noble classes of fighting men. But it went deeper to show how the two groups fit into the wider culture of their homelands - the influences of things like courtly love poetry and adventure literature in Europe and the place of knights in Japanese art and literature, knights and samurai on film, the different ceremonies that took place to become a knight or a samurai, the codes of honour - chivalry and bushido - etc.

There were some great displays of samurai armour and masks too. I'm usually not that interested in displays of armour and weaponry, but the intricate Japanese armour really was a work of art. Interestingly, most of these pieces came from a single, private collection, which I imagine must be someone's lifework and passion (or maybe they're just really rich?)

Samurai armour

I liked how you could really see the influence of traditional Japanese art on things like manga (not that I'm an expert)

Got to have that fake moustache

Cute 19th-century owl
We finished off the weekend with a very nice dinner with Jules's family in the heart of Luxembourg - with our old friends the péckvillercher standing guard outside. I think it was a pretty successful family visit!

Péckvillercher outside the restaurant


  1. There is no honour in Bushido!

  2. Cheeky!!! I am 5'1" I'll have you know! M x
    p.s. yes, it was very successful and thanks again to Jules x

  3. And now I feel really stupid for not knowing that Schengen is a place. Or maybe I learned that at some point and then forgot? That seems a bit more likely.

    Glad you had a nice family visit!

    1. I knew before we went, but I don't think I knew before like a year ago. Or at least not that it was in Luxembourg.


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