Nature reserves: Naturpark Öewersauer, Luxembourg's lake district

Naturpark Öewersauer, also known as the Upper Sûre Nature Park, is in the north-western part of the Éislek region, in the Luxembourg Ardennes. This 200km2 nature area on the border with Belgium was established in 2005. Approximately 15,500 residents live in the five municipalities associated with the park, which work together to protect nature whilst fostering economic development in the region. Naturpark Öewersauer is the perfect destination if you are looking for beautiful landscapes, as well as water-based sports and leisure activities!

Naturpark Öewersauer, a vast open water area

At the centre of Naturpark Öewersauer is the Upper Sûre Lake, Luxembourg's largest drinking water reservoir, which provides drinking water for around 70% of the country's population. The lake is also the ideal setting for sports and sustainable leisure activities – but it is not the only feature that creates the region's characteristic waterscapes. Water is everywhere: the river Sûre and its many tributaries cross the region, creating a haven for wildlife and also for anyone seeking a peaceful place to relax and unwind.

The park is named after the Sûre and the Upper Sûre Lake.

The Sûre is a tributary of the Moselle. It is 206km long, with 136km flowing through Luxembourg. The source of the river is in the Belgian village of Vaux-lez-Rosières. It enters Luxembourg at Rombach, crosses the north of the country and flows into the Moselle at Wasserbillig.

At the Esch-sur-Sûre dam, it forms the Upper Sûre Lake, created in 1961 around 1km west of Esch-sur-Sûre. The lake measures 308 hectares and provides drinking water and electricity for the region, while also regulating the water level of the Sûre.

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. The aim is also to provide local residents with opportunities for sustainable economic and socio-cultural development that respects this heritage.

Naturpark Öewersauer currently has five member municipalities: Boulaide, Esch-sur-Sûre, Lac de la Haute-Sûre, Wiltz and Winseler. Since January 2020, the park has been working closely with Goesdorf with a view to it becoming a member municipality in future. In cooperation with the State, the municipalities form the Syndicat pour l'aménagement et la gestion du Parc naturel de la Haute-Sûre, which manages the conservation and development of the park. This involves various nature conservation projects and initiatives in the fields of agriculture, energy, culture, tourism and environmental education – all of which provide a wide range of opportunities to explore the park.

How to explore Naturpark Öewersauer

Explore the natural environment

The park's main attraction is the lake, where you can try your hand at a variety of water sports and also relax in one of the areas where swimming is permitted:

Swimming season in Luxembourg generally runs from 1st May to 30th September, and water sports (as well as swimming) are often only possible during this period. Since the lake is Luxembourg's main drinking water reservoir, a number of regulations and restrictions must be observed!

Explore what nature has to offer with the Vum Séi range

For many years, farmers and producers in the member municipalities have been committed to using innovative, sustainable methods that respect the park's natural resources such as water and energy. This philosophy has given rise to the Vum Séi brand (literally "from the lake"), which includes a range of products:

  • Téi vum Séi: teas and medicinal and aromatic herbs.
  • Bléi vum Séi: soaps, cosmetics and sweets.
  • Käre vum Séi: grains for bread making.
  • Gebäck vum Séi: breads and pastries.
  • Véi vum Séi: meat products.

If you prefer to keep your feet on dry land, the Naturpark Öewersauer also offers a host of other nature-related activities. Here is a small selection:

  • A group hike with the Nature Park Ranger, who will show you the park's highlights and provide detailed explanations.
  • Self-guided hiking trails for walkers of all levels:
    • Themed trails are generally accessible to everyone. They include the Sculptures Trail and the Waassersenneswee meditation trail.
    • Medium difficulty walking trails require a good level of fitness and hiking experience – we are in the Ardennes, after all! These include the 18 Éislek Pied circular trails, designated as Leading Quality Trails by the European Ramblers Association.
  • Horse riding, with more than 120km of riding trails and accommodation options for both riders and horses.
  • You can also explore the park by bicycle, although the network of cycle paths here is less extensive than elsewhere in the country because of the topography of the area. A number of mountain bike routes offer a great introduction to the site: Mountainbike-Tour Bavigne, Mountainbike-Tour Goesdorf, Mountainbike-Tour Wiltz and Mountainbike-Tour Winseler.

Explore the national heritage

The Ardennes region has an eventful history. The Second World War was one of Luxembourg's darkest chapters, and in the final months of the war, the Battle of the Bulge devastated the north of the country, leaving traces that are still visible today.

The Schumannseck Remembrance Trail leads you in the footsteps of a decisive encounter during the Battle of the Bulge. The full circuit is 2.8km long and should take around two hours. Dotted along the route are human-sized silhouettes created from photos dating from the time of the battle. The trail takes walkers past visible remains and reconstructed shelters. Twenty themed points along the route provide additional information and QR codes to access testimonies and new historical insights.

The fascinating history of the cross-border region that is home to Naturpark Öewersauer can also be explored in the exhibition "Our Common Heritage" in Boulaide, which looks back at the lives of local populations from the Belle Époque to the early days of European integration. It features five exhibition modules and an immersive experience.

Would you like to explore other nature reserves? Check out the portal of Luxembourg's nature reserves, where you will find a wide range of publications to help you plan your trips.