Moustache Samedi 28 e-bike
My favourite cycling route
Most people have heard of the Moselle, the Sûre, the Our, and the Alzette. But what about the Syre? It is not often that you can start at the source of a river and follow it to the end, but if you are so inclined, one of my favourite bike rides does this (more or less).
If you are a ‘real’ cyclist, familiar with the extensive network of Luxembourg’s cycle paths, you will have come across the PC4 ‘Cycle path de la Syre’--except it isn’t really the Syre path, because the cycle path starts in Ernster. I prefer to start in the village of Syren, in the south east of Luxembourg, along with the real river.
The source itself, an artesian well, has a spooky feel to it in the sleepy village of Syren. From Syren I take the valley road to Moutfort where you can join a cycle path signposted Schuttrange, Ubersyren--where the Syre hydrates the beautiful Schlammwiss nature reserve, then Mensdorf.
From Mensdorf I take direction Roodt-sur-Syre, location of the Pietry restaurant (and the Yemeni consulate!).
Just after Roodt-sur-Syre, the path will meet the PC4 and the valley widens as does the river itself. From the cycle path I can see the Betzdorf space satellites. It looks like someone has just thrown a load of space junk down in a field. Are they really that important? While I factcheck SES: “worlds largest satellite operator”, I learn that Grand Duke Henri was born in Betzdorf Castle. (And that the mayor of Betzdorf is called Rhett Sinner).
From Betzdorf, the route continues to Wecker and then onto Manternach. If walking is more your thing, and you want to dip a toe in the Syre, check out the Manternach Fiels ‘dream loop’, a hard ten-kilometre hike that should be renamed a ‘nightmare loop’ in my creaky knees’ opinion.
After Manternach, it is all downhill with the Syre chasing along below at the bottom of an escarpement. The trickling stream that has become a pretty river is channelled by ugly concrete confines into the Moselle at Mertert, the largest river-port in Luxembourg!.
Between Mertert and Wasserbilllig, I weave between people on the riverside path as they mingle with the smell of sardines grilling in the back gardens of houses that back on to the river.
Even if you’re a late-life cyclist and the only spare tyre you’re carrying is a couple of covid kilos, you too can do this!
Wasserbillig may be the lowest point in Luxembourg, but it is the high point of this trip as I soak up the heady feel of a seaside resort at a well-deserved stop at one of the terraces overlooking the Moselle and the ferry boat to Germany.
Ride over. I put my bike on the train and do the whole trip backwards, in comfort.
Level of difficulty
Even if you’re a late-life cyclist and the only spare tyre you’re carrying is a couple of covid kilos, you too can do this! You can adapt this route by using the train (remember it’s totally free) which runs twice an hour from Luxembourg Gare to Wasserbillig. A good place to start would be Roodt Syr, or if you just want a big downhill, go all the way to Manternach and freewheel down to Mertert.
Highlights and comments
Although Luxembourg does have an extensive network of cycle paths, it seems that you can’t avoid being pushed out on to a road at some point. The Visit Luxembourg’s Velosummer 2021 initiative aims to combat this (for one month!). At the time of writing, specifics haven’t been announced, but there is a good chance that some of the route described will be shut to traffic during the month of August as part of the route : "Syrdall-Tour"
And you can’t avoid hills. You would have thought that following a river and dropping down to an even bigger river would be all downhill, it’s not. There are a couple of MONSTER hills, but the views from the top are worth it.
Why I ride
Because I have to keep moving and cycling is easier on the knees than running. Because I think cycling must be and is one of the best ways of getting around urban areas.
What is missing from the cycle infrastructure in Luxembourg?
Where do I start. Yes, there is an amazing rural network of cycle paths and yes, there are a lot of bike & train options. But a real political will is missing to promote cycling and, above all make it safer, in urban areas. Take the Cloche d'Or - virtually nothing for the cyclist. The redevelopment of the Gare - cyclists and pedestrians in the same space. This isn't old infrastructure that needs updating. It's brand new and yet not fit for purpose.