To get the holiday season started, my girlfriend and I decided to visit the Christmas market in Luxembourg City first. It was my first time in Luxembourg and I didn’t really know what to expect. I certainly didn’t think I’d find three Christmas markets in such s small city.
Place d’Armes Christmas Market
The Place d’Armes is the old parade ground in the center of Luxembourg City. It’s now the center of tourism within the city with all the most expensive restaurants and shops surrounding the square. It’s also the first Christmas market we ran across.
After seeing the monstrosity that the Edinburgh Christmas Market has developed into, I was surprised at how small this market was. There were about two dozen stalls arranged around a central stand-up eating area. About half the stalls sold food and drinks while the other ones sold jewelry, Christmas decorations, candles, iron-wrought figurines, etc. We arrived on November 22nd, the day the Christmas market opened, and the crowd was rather thin – just the way we like it.
For our first meal, we obviously had to get a sausage. We chose the stall with the longest line (as that’s almost always the best way to pick the best establishment). Bratwurst and mettwurst were both available. The former is the typical German sausage, usually white and mildly flavored. Mettwurst is more common in Luxembourg. It’s dark red in color and flavored with garlic and other spices.
I asked the vendor which was better and he said he preferred the mettwurst. We followed his recommendation and weren’t disappointed. The sausages are thick and juicy. They were tricky to eat without accidentally dripping or spraying our clothes, and I can’t say we were altogether successful. For only €4 ($4.40) per sausage, they were one of the cheapest meals in town. We very quickly learned that Luxembourg is a very expensive country to visit or live in.
We returned to the Place d’Armes market later that evening for dinner. This time, we picked up a stack of gromperekichelcher from the same stall. These translate from Luxembourgish as “potato cookies” or “pancakes”. They’re like American hashbrown patties deep-fried and flavored with some really nice spices. Potato pancakes can be found all around Europe with different names, but I think gromperekichelcher from Luxembourg just might be my favorite! Three of them set us back €5 ($5.50). They were enough to fill us up, but we wanted to go back and pick up another dozen. To save our waistline, we didn’t.
The following day, we returned for one more meal at this market. This time, we grabbed a bratwurst from the other sausage stall. It was good, but the mettwurst was definitely better. The line was shorter than the other stall and the sausages were slightly cheaper at €3.80 ($4.20) each.
One other meal I saw at this market which looked really good was spätzle. This is an egg noodle pasta served all over Europe in different variations. I think the one at the Christmas market in Luxembourg had some kind of meat mixed in, but my German wasn’t good enough to read the menu. A serving was €6.50 ($7.15).
Place Guillaume II (Kneudler Square) Christmas Market
The second Christmas market in Luxembourg City is just a couple minutes from the first, located in Kneudler Square in front of the City Hall (which is now a hotel). This market is far smaller than the first and only has food and drink stalls.
The first dish we saw was quite tantalizing. It’s called tartiflette and is made with slices of potatoes, bacon lardons, reblochon cheese (similar to brie but softer) and onions. It was reminiscent of the potato and sausage meals I had so many of at the Edinburgh Christmas market. One serving cost €8 ($8.80). As tempting as it looked, we didn’t get a bowl of it.
Instead, for lunch on the third day, we visited the sausage stall and picked up a bacon-wrapped bratwurst. Of all the sausages we had at the Christmas markets, this one was our favorite. This was also where I introduced Laura to andalouse, a Belgian sauce made with mayonnaise, tomato paste and paprika. It’s been my favorite since the first time I tried it in my first month of traveling around Europe, and she loved it too.
As if we hadn’t already had enough sausages, we returned for one more in the evening. Well, Laura went for the bacon cheeseburger while I had the XXL-wurst. It was basically a two-foot-long sausage folded in half into the bun. I was kinda bummed when a rather large portion of one of my sausages fell onto the ground, but it was probably for the best as this was the one that made me a bit sick to the stomach.
That same day, Sunday, a crew brought several large bricks of ice to the market and spent the better portion of the day carving them with chainsaws. By the evening, they had the most incredible display with a house, a sleigh, Santa on a seat and a table and stools, all carved with meticulous detail.
This square is also where ice skating is set up. Edinburgh usually has a circular rink in St. Andrew’s Square (but the money-hungry businesses of St Andrew’s Square banned it this year). The rink in Luxembourg is more squarish and gives the feel of a frozen pond with people skating about. One of my favorite parts of the Edinburgh rink was picking up some speed as I went round and round. Tickets to skate are €5 ($5.50) for adults, plus €2 ($2.20) for the skates.
Constitution Square Christmas Market
The final market is in what’s called Constitution Square. This spot is just gorgeous, overlooking Adolphe Bridge and the valley that wraps around the city center. This market is the biggest of the three with a larger selection of foods and wares. New dishes included different soups, fresh-made sandwiches and smoked salmon.
The one meal we had at this market (which was available at all three) was churros with a cup of chocolate fondue on the side. Not that sausages are particularly healthy, but this dessert was positively decadent! Thankfully, we’d been walking over 15,000 steps a day to burn off the calories these Christmas markets put on us.
While the Place d’Armes market has a merry-go-round and the Kneudler market has the ice skating rink, it’s the Constitution market that has all the other rides, including a large Ferris wheel rising up above the cliff edge. We didn’t go on any of the rides ourselves, but they looked like a lot of fun, especially the bungee jumping for kids.
Some Observations on the Christmas Markets in Luxembourg
As mentioned, the markets weren’t that busy when we arrived on Friday. The weekend was a completely different story. Saturday afternoon was packed, and the evening was even more so. It became a struggle to get through the markets, especially on Sunday when we had our backpacks on. There are other Christmas markets around Luxembourg, such as in Esch-sur-Alzette where we stayed for one night. While we didn’t see the Christmas market there ourselves, our host told us there were less than a dozen stalls. Apparently, all the locals just make their way to the three markets in Luxembourg city.
Although the markets got busy on the weekend, they never felt unsafe. I didn’t hear anything about pick-pocketers or the like. There were some younger boys roaming the streets later at night, and a couple drunks here and there, yet I got the notion that Luxembourg doesn’t have a lot of crime (a fact I later confirmed on Numbeo).
I probably should have reviewed more of the drinks at the Christmas markets but, as you know, I’m not a big alcohol drinker. Besides, spending $3 on several hot chocolates just seemed too much for our budget with everything else we had planned. We ended up getting nearly all our drinks at local supermarkets, where you can get a liter (quart) of juice for about $2 or water for $1. However, if you did want to get something to drink at the Christmas markets in Luxembourg, I would recommend the Glühwein (German mulled wine). I just can’t tell you which stall serves the best.
There could have been a couple other small Christmas markets in Luxembourg City that I didn’t know about. We saw a few closed stalls near the Central Train Station that could have been another small market, but I’m pretty sure the three above are the key ones to visit in Luxembourg.
Usually I try to keep my blog quite lighthearted, but there’s one more thing I must comment on. Sadly, a tragic accident occurred late Sunday night involving the aforementioned ice sculpture, and on Monday all the markets were closed. My condolences go out to the family that had such a tragedy befall them in this merry time of the year.
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Luxembourg is one of the smallest countries in the world, but there are still quite a few things to do there. Here are a few other ideas for how to spend your time in the country.
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