Where the Alzette and Petrusse Rivers meet, straddling green valleys and towered over by rocky medieval fortifications, a little bright jewel called Luxembourg stands.
Luxembourg City may be modest in size but it is a prosperous and bustling metropolis. Steeped in history, it was listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1994 and has twice been awarded the status of European Capital of Culture (in 1995 and 2007). Daily life in Luxembourg has a thoroughly cosmopolitan feel to it thanks to its multilingual and international inhabitants, its rich cultural history and its ever evolving museums, concert halls, theatres, galleries, cafés and bars. The city has been called a “true melting pot” and much of this is due to the fact that 60% of its population is foreign – there are not many other European capital cities quite as diverse as Luxembourg.
Luxembourg City is subdivided into twenty-four quartiers, which cover the major neighbourhoods and suburbs of the capital city. We have described the main ones below; feel free to add your own input if you feel we’ve overlooked a hidden gem!
Ville Haute is the charming historical and cultural centre of Luxembourg City which gives the city its UNESCO World Heritage Site status. If you’re a new arrival, it is to the Ville Haute (or Old Town) where you will first drift to be awed by prestigious places, buildings and monuments such as Place Guillaume II, Place d’Armes, Notre Dame Cathedral and the Grand Ducal Palace and where you can begin to absorb Luxembourgish culture, as well as its fine Michelin-starred restaurants and designer shops. To live here, right in the heart of the city, is unlikely, but if you do .. ah, sigh.. count your lucky EU stars.
Grund is an affluent neighbourhood located in the valley just below the Ville Haute on the banks of the Alzette River which you access by foot or by a lift which descends through the promontory of the Old Town. This very picturesque quarter is also one of the most lively and multi-cultural areas due to its numerous restaurants, bars and pubs and is consequently a lively and popular nightspot. To live here, be prepared to put up with noise, crowds and difficult parking, but if dancing the night away and rubbing shoulders with Luxembourg’s international young professionals is your bag then this just might be the area for you.
Clausen is another of Luxembourg’s affluent, upmarket, residential neighbourhoods. It sits just slightly above the energetic Grund section of the city. Not unlike the Grund, this part of town is known for its night-life and picturesque settings and, just like the Grund, it can be a noisy place to make home with parking issues to boot. In the last few years it has become even more popular in the evenings due to the recently converted old brewery area which has been beautifully restored into a number of vibrant bars and quality restaurants.
Gare, as the name suggests, is the quarter centred on the central train station. The gare itself was built in 1907 and is a beautiful copper-topped historical monument but, as with most central city train stations, if there is a “dodgy” area to live in, it is here. The neighbourhood is a bustling maze of shopping, dining, entertainment and business activity (not all dubious, of course). There are attractive boulevards here, most notably the Avenue de la Liberté, lined with offices, hotels and shops.
Pffafenthal sits below the Big Red Bridge (otherwise known as the Pont Grande Duchesse Charlotte) and therefore exists in a deep valley, along the banks of the river, shrouded by mist and damp.
Kirchberg quarter sits on a plateau to the north-east of the Ville Haute and is accessible by the Pont Grande Duchesse Charlotte. It is a residential-business district popularly known as the “European Quarter” due to the various European Union institutions situated here, including the European Court of Justice, European Court of Auditors, parts of the European Commission, the Secretariat of the European Parliament, the European Investment Bank, and the European School of Luxembourg. This area also comprises a number of buildings belonging to the University of Luxembourg, various offices, many international banks as well as an Auchan-owned shopping centre, the Luxexpo exhibition centre, the Utopolis Kirchberg cinema, and Kirchberg Hospital. Kirchberg is also home to many other institutions of national importance such as D’Coque arena which is the country’s largest sports venue (complete with Olympic-sized swimming pool), the Philharmonie Luxembourg which is Luxembourg’s national concert hall, MUDAM, a museum of modern art and the reconstructed Fort Thüngen, formerly a part of Luxembourg City’s formidable fortifications. Whilst Kirchberg has lots to offer facility-wise, it is slightly sterile from a residential point of view. It is effectively a long strip and can lack personality and a sense of community – especially at the weekends when it is quite deserted.
Wiemerskirch is called the “little parish” of the city of Luxembourg. A popular residential area, especially for those who work in Kirchberg and want a short commute.
Beggen is home to the oldest surviving football club in Luxembourg and Luxembourgers are surprisingly fond of football! Beggen has a pretty unimaginative layout in that it lies along both sides of the very busy Rue de Beggen (traffic could lessen once the motorway tunnel is finally completed). It also sits in a deep valley so suffers from damper, colder and mistier conditions than most other quarters. However, it is easy to reach the city centre and has many shops and amenities including lots of great restaurants.
Dommeldange merges with Beggen but is much prettier and has a cosy village feel. There are numerous new apartments being built here and it is becoming increasingly popular with expats.
Hamm is best known for the two World War II cemeteries, the Luxembourg American Cemetery and Memorial (the final resting place of WWII legend General George S. Patton), and the Sandweiler German war cemetery. It is a peaceful rural and residential area with a few dining places and due to the nearby forests, there are lots of running and biking trails. It is also home to St Georges International School (also known as the British School). But take note – the aircraft noise is probably the loudest in this quarter, hence the relatively cheaper housing.
Cents is another popular family area. Perhaps not as easy to reach the city centre as some other quarters, but it is a self-contained area with shops, restaurants and sporting facilities. It is within striking distance of the airport which is convenient, but there can be aircraft noise.
Neudorf-Weimershof, which is next to Cents but less upmarket, is up and coming due to its close proximity to Kirchberg (that popular business/European quarter) and so is becoming more and more international in its make-up. As with some other quarters, Neudorf sits in a valley and so parts can be damper, colder, mistier and have less sunlight than other quarters. Take note when house-hunting as you will want as much sunlight as possible when living in Luxembourg!
North Bonnevoie (Verlorenkost) & South Bonnevoie are the largest quarters and in many people’s opinion, the most exciting quarters to live in. Within striking distance of the city centre but with a large mix of people, shops and restaurants. One of the area’s most famous inhabitants was Gabriel Lippmann, a Nobel Laureate who was born here in 1845.
Gasperich is another pleasant area to the south of the city, an easy bus ride away rather than walking distance. Perhaps less exciting than Bonnevoie and with less variety of inhabitants, Gasperich has more of a village and family feel. It has its own shops, restaurants and facilities including the popular multi-lingual children’s library called ‘Il était une fois‘. It is a popular area with expats who want to be near the city centre but still have the space and garden that a house can offer.
Cessange is even further away from the centre than Gasperich and like Cents it can suffer from airport noise. However, it is becoming increasingly popular for those seeking houses due to its lower cost.
Belair is a very popular residential area within convenient proximity of the Ville Haute. It is primarily made up of very pretty town-houses and blocks of flats. It’s pretty, family friendly, has shops, many restaurants, good bus routes and great playgrounds (including the fabulous and very popular Castle Park and Park Merl). All of this and within walking distance to the old town? No wonder it’s the most expensive area to live in.
Limpertsberg, like Belair, is another expensive residential area to live in and immensely popular – with good reason! This quarter hosts the annual Schueberfouer fair, the largest fair in the country and not to be missed. Limpertsberg also houses the Grand Théâtre de Luxembourg and its Notre-Dame cemetery has a Monument de la résistance et de la déportation (Monument of the national resistance and deportation). To the south east is another iconic landmark, the Grand Duchess Charlotte Bridge (that Big Red Bridge). It connects Limpertsberg to the European district of Kirchberg over the Pfaffenthal and the Alzette river. Limpertsberg is also home to the wonderfully spacious Parc Toby Neumann. It is a lovely residential area of which most is within walking distance of the city centre and has enough dining, nightlife attractions, shops and even a cinema to keep residents happy. Again, like Belair, it is made up of lovely terraced town houses (primarily lived in by older Luxembourgers) and not so attractive blocks of flats (primarily lived in by expats).
Merl – is a lovely, green residential area that is ideal for families as it has plenty of parks and other facilities.
Feel we’ve missed something? Comment in the box below and tell us what to include in City Savvy Luxembourg!
Featured Photo: Wolfgang Staudt/flickr (Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC BY 2.0))