A walk in Bourglinster
The mystery of the sleeping village
As you walk down the narrow road through the forest and rock formations, the village emerges like a suspended dream, a place of mystery and beauty that stimulates the imagination and triggers the most lynchean of fictions.
Located in the commune of Junglister, Bourglinster is considered by some to be the most beautiful village in the Grand Duchy. Even if this assessment has its share of subjectivity, the fact remains that the locality is eminently picturesque and seductive, combining history, architecture and nature in a single gesture. It is a romantic landscape that has given rise to many paintings and postcards - and can still be admired today from several vantage points high up on the surrounding hills.
When fiction transcends place
Bourglinster, a small, quiet village that has lain at the foot of its castle for ages, suddenly saw the global spotlight shine on it after the phenomenal success of the Luxembourg series Capitani, which will air on RTL Télé Lëtzebuerg in 2019 and on Netflix in February 2021. Some of the scenes in this production, directed by Christophe Wagner for Samsa Film, were shot in and around Bourglinster. This unexpected local branding has led to an influx of new visitors to the locality in recent months, Capitani fans from all over the world, delighted to discover an authentically Luxembourgish village, whose languid and taciturn side perfectly matches the moods of their beloved thriller.
A world-famous castle
The history of the town is closely linked to that of its Romanesque castle, whose origins date back to the 12th century and which was remarkably renovated by the Luxembourg State after its acquisition in 1968. Since 1982, the castle has hosted exhibitions, concert series, conferences and receptions. In its former stables, it also houses a centre for artistic creation, the Annexes, where national and international artists of all disciplines meet. In addition to these creative spaces, the Annexes are home to the non-profit organisation Les Amis du livre (Lëtzebuerger Bicherfrënn), whose members are committed to the 'revival' of books. The "Pabeierscheier" (the paper barn) collects books of all styles, second-hand works that are sold at modest prices. For the past 40 years, the Friends of Bourglinster Castle have been organising a renowned chamber music festival here every year. In addition, since 2005, the Château de Bourglinster has become a reference on the international gastronomic scene, thanks to the tasty and inventive cuisine of René Mathieu, who has been awarded a Michelin star since 2012 and was elected Chef of the Year 2010 for Luxembourg by the Gault Millau guide. New awards in 2020 and 2021: for two years in a row, the Green Guide, the global reference for vegetable cuisine, is awarding the We're Smart prize for Best Vegetable Restaurant in the World to the Distillerie, the restaurant run by René Mathieu.
A paradise for humus lovers
This winter, we too wanted to feel the vibrations emanating from this strange town where time seems to have no hold. We went for a walk, certainly not hoping to meet Inspector Capitani or Brigadier Elsa Ley - their investigation is long over and season 2 takes them further south in Luxembourg - but experiencing the very special atmosphere that may have inspired the series' creators. Armed with our camera and a microphone, we walked through its impassive streets, crossed the threshold of the village café and the Pëtzenhaus, met Chef René Mathieu and visited the Pabeierscheier des Bicherfrënn. Not forgetting to climb to the Buchholz viewpoint to enjoy an unbeatable view of the village and its castle. From this balcony perched on the hill, Bourglinster appears in all its splendour, hidden in the heart of a bewitching nature, rich with all the mysteries of the centuries.
For some years now, the village, which has been defined as a historical ensemble, has been protected by the municipality of Junglinster, of which it is a part, and by the state. This largely explains the authenticity and homogeneity of the place, which has not been disfigured by outrageous and disproportionate modern constructions. Moreover, thanks to this public support, many old houses have been restored. In the centre of the village, the Gonnerengass and the village square have retained their original character, with the three restored fountains, the church dating from 1860, and the Pëtzenhaus (former Pütz house).
René Mathieu, tarred SChef, La Distillerie, Côté Cour
"I have been working in this setting for almost 17 years. The place is magical. The castle is part of Luxembourg's heritage and has been remarkably restored, keeping its authenticity, its beauty and its medieval soul. The prize for best vegetable restaurant in the world that we received two years in a row brought us even more visitors from all over the world, attracted by our table and by this wonderful setting. The cuisine I practice is inspired and valued by the local. Everything that grows around us in terms of vegetables and fruit, we can use to feed ourselves. At the same time, if you think local, you think seasonal: in winter, root vegetables, carrots, celery, Jerusalem artichokes, etc.; in spring, young shoots, peas, beans, asparagus, etc.; in summer, tomatoes, aubergines, courgettes, pumpkins, etc. There is enough variety in our woods and gardens to feed us properly, there is no need to bring in food from the other side of the planet! I work a lot with wild vegetables - so that they retain as much of their nutritional properties and flavour as possible - from small local producers. Our school system should teach children to eat properly from an early age. It is up to all of us, consumers and citizens, to change our eating habits for the benefit of both the planet and our health.”
The brewery in the heart of the village
Three friends - Mich, Nora and Paul - joined forces in 2019 to revive the old village café, which they renamed Café Millebières. The interiors have been redone with a classic, cosy brewery feel, with some nice bohemian accents. The variety of beers is assured, in keeping with the name of the café, and as for the menu, you only have to browse the Facebook page to see that there are some very nice things on offer, rich in flavour and colour. "We wanted to recreate a meeting place in the centre of the village, a warm and friendly place where people can meet in all simplicity, have a drink, chat, laugh, listen to music...". It's confirmed, the place has a soul.
A paradise for old books
Lëtzebuerger Bicherfrënn - Les Amis du livre was founded in 1997 by book lovers with the aim of promoting, supporting and preserving literary heritage and books in the broadest sense of the term. Since 1999, the Bicherfrënn has had its own space, the Pabeierscheier, in the annexes of Bourglinster Castle. A real literary Ali Baba's cave, the space is dedicated to the reception of book donations, storage and resale. In 2007, a second point of collection and sale of books was added: the Bicherstuff Wolz. The profits made by the association are donated to charity. In Bourglinster and Wiltz, book lovers can choose from thousands of books in all categories: classic and detective novels, science fiction, art and architecture, philosophy, history, cooking, wellness, comics, children's books, etc. Arranged by theme, the books are in almost new condition, and offered at a hyper-democratic price. Come and browse in this exceptional bookshop, you will certainly make some great discoveries. The Pabeierscheier is open every first Sunday of the month, from 2 PM to 6 PM, and every Thursday, from 5 PM to 7 PM.
A historic house as a new youth hostel
Among the historic buildings in the village centre, the Petzenhaus immediately stands out with its striking façade and elegant appearance. Used as a youth hostel between 1952 and 2018, the house is a former farmhouse in the Baroque style. It was built in 1761 by Joseph Putz, the then mayor of Junglinster. After the youth hostel was closed due to its unsuitability for modern needs, the state established a socio-educational centre for underage girls in 2019. In preparation for the new use, the Public Buildings Administration, in cooperation with the Siegle Christophory architectural firm, renovated and reconfigured the interior. The multi-sports field and the surrounding area were also refurbished. The remaining historical elements of the house were restored according to the rules of art in order to enhance the value of this architectural heritage.
The Annexes - a space for creative experimentation
Since their creation in 2013, the Annexes of Bourglinster Castle have been housing workshops for emerging artists from the national cultural scene and for international artists. In 2021, as part of the cultural recovery plan "Neistart Lëtzebuerg", the Ministry of Culture has entrusted the artists' collective K+A - following a call for applications - with a residency-mission to manage and animate the complex for a period of three years. This residency officially began on April 6 2021, with the handover of the keys to the Annexes and its outbuildings. K+A defines itself as a collaborative creative laboratory whose objectives are artistic research and experimentation. The core of K+A is the dance company K+A Danz, known as Kadanz, around which other disciplines such as visual arts and theatre revolve. The K+A collective is supported by the non-profit organisation DanceXperience, founded in 2011 and chaired by Georges Rischette.
The most recent event held in the framework of the Annexes was the workshop "K'âges - Je me libère. Les vertus du théâtre pour tous les âges”, led by director and comedian Saïf Settif, member of the K+A collective. Photos: Black Magic Tea