The Naturpark Our, also known as the Our nature reserve, is located in the north of the Éislek, at the heart of Luxembourg's Ardennes region. Created in 2005, it covers a surface area of 420km2 and borders Belgium and Germany. Approximately 24,000 inhabitants live in the eight municipalities, which work together to protect nature whilst fostering economic development in the region. If you're looking for a diverse landscape, it's the ideal destination!
The ever-changing scenery of the Naturpark Our
The Naturpark Our is characterised by vast plateaus and narrow valleys carved into the rock by the Our and Clerve rivers and their tributaries. Unique biotopes which form vital habitats for a wide range of plant and bird species have been preserved in the marshes on the high plateau and in isolated areas of the river valleys.
The Our, the river which lends its name to the reserve
The river originates in the eastern Hautes Fagnes region at an altitude of 653m, in a place called Eichelsberg near Manderfeld (Belgium). It then flows south, roughly marking the border between Belgium and Germany as far as the village of Ouren (Belgium). Thus, it serves as a natural border between the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg and Germany, with condominium status. Shortly before Vianden, the left bank delineates a Luxembourgish enclave that includes a large part of Vianden. Downstream, it acts as the natural border and continues its course to Wallendorf (Germany), where it flows into the Sûre, after covering a total distance of 78km.
What is a nature reserve?
A nature reserve is an area of at least 5,000 hectares incorporating a natural and cultural heritage of great significance. The creation, planning and management must pave the way for the conservation, restoration and promotion of the natural and cultural heritage. Moreover, its objective is to provide the reserves's inhabitants with opportunities for sustainable economic and socio-cultural development that respects this national heritage.
What is a biotope?
A biotope is an environment where plants or animals live. Animals can use the biotope in order to feed, reproduce, shelter or rest. Above all, the environment is characterised by the physical conditions of the landscape (nature and water regime of the soil, exposure, micro-climate, relief, etc.). Therefore, land on a south-facing slope or land creating a depression where water can rest will create a biotope for plants that thrive in these types of conditions. The vegetation that covers a plot of land can itself provide a habitat for other plants and animals. For example, a bed of reeds or a hedge can form a living habitat for other plants and animals.
Would you like to find out more about Luxembourg's biotopes? Check the land registry of biotopes for open environments and woodland on the environment portal, emwelt.lu.
At present, the Naturpark Our comprises eight municipalities: Clervaux, Kiischpelt, Parc Hosingen, Putscheid, Tandel, Troisvierges, Vianden and Wincrange. Since September 2021, the park has been working closely with the municipality of Weiswampach in order to bring it on board. In cooperation with the State, these municipalities form the Syndicat pour l'aménagement et la gestion du Parc naturel de l'Our, which manages the conservation and development of the park. These activities are carried out via various nature conservation projects in the fields of agriculture, culture, tourism and environmental education. They provide a wide range of opportunities to explore the park!
How to explore the Naturpark Our
Explore the natural environment
A large number of national and international walking and hiking trails await you, and also include themed trails. Here is a small selection:
- The Ourdall trail, which allows visitors to immerse themselves in the valley's past and present via a series of 10 themed islands. The 8.5km trail is located between Stolzembourg and Vianden.
- The sound trail is a 6km hiking route along which artists have set up audio installations that invite you to listen to the sounds of nature. It is located in Hoscheid.
- The arboretum, in Parc Hosingen, covers an area of 5ha, and includes 45 species of trees and shrubs, which are described in detail.
- The Smugglers Trail in Troisvierges, follows the route taken into Belgium by Luxembourg resistance fighters and people who refused to be forcibly conscripted during the final years of the Second World War. Two trails are available: 12km and 9km.
- The cross-border trails between Luxembourg and Germany.
Cycling and mountain bike enthusiasts can also explore the reserve: In addition to the national cycle routes, the nature reserve has two cycle routes and six mountain bike trails with varying degrees of difficulty. Furthermore, E-bike t'Our "Looss d'Kierch am Duerf" circuits have been specially designed to cater for electric bikes. They cover a distance of 28km, linking Troisvierges and Weiswampach.
Discover the joys of nature by savouring regional products
We eat every day, but where does our food come from? What is the relationship between the food we eat and the environment, the climate and regional development? And what about flavour? The School of Flavour answers these questions via interactive teachings units and workshops.
Discover national heritage
Many breathtaking castles illuminate the landscape of the Naturpark Our:
- Vianden castle was built between the 11th and 14th century on the foundations of a Roman fort and a Carolingian refuge. This restored palace-castle is one of the finest and largest feudal residences of the Romanesque and Gothic periods in Europe.
- Clervaux castle was built in the 12th century and stands proud in the heart of the city. It also plays host to "The Family of Man" exhibition (UNESCO's Memory of the World programme), an exhibition of models of Luxembourg's fortified castles and the Battle of the Bulge Museum. In summer, the Clervaux Castle Summer Festival, showcases up-and-coming young bands and artists from Luxembourg. Come and enjoy the event - admission is free!
In Vianden, you can also visit the House of Victor Hugo, a literary museum dedicated to the French writer who stayed in Luxembourg on numerous occasions.
However, if you're interested in geology, we highly recommend a visit to the Copper mine museum in Stolzembourg.