Durbuy is a small city in the French-speaking province of Luxembourg. The city used to be known as ‘the smallest town in the world’, and its tourism board still advertises it as such. It got the status of ‘city’ as early as 1331 and until 1977 it only had 400 inhabitants, so there was some truth to this claim. In 1977, however, the town joined with several surrounding towns into a single commune of about 10,000 residents. It’s an attractive slogan though, tourism-wise, which each year still draws tens of thousands of visitors.
While in medieval times the city’s main commercial activities were industry and trade, nowadays it focuses on recreation and tourism. Lying on the banks of the Ourthe River, at the edge of the hills and forests of the Ardennes, it’s a wonderful place for outdoorsy activities in summer. The kayaking on the river is truly fantastic and there are adventure companies offering a wide range of activities. There are plenty of fine-dining restaurants and bistros, but what I loved most about this quaint little city were the dozens of craft shops and local specialty stores.
It’s a very small city; the car park is about as big as the rest of the town. Despite being so small, it’s possible to spend an entire day strolling through the medieval cobble stone alleyways, visiting the many shops and stores, having a Belgian beer (or two) and some world-class food. The houses with their gray stones are typical for the Ardennes region.
Castle of the Counts of Ursel
The castle of Durbuy is the most striking building in the city. It was built in the 11th century and rebuilt by the Ursel family in the 17th century on the ruins of the former feudal fortress.
‘Roche de la Falize’
This straight and symmetrical rock formation is a fantastic example of the synclines and anticlines that were formed by tectonic movements. The region’s layers of dolomitic limestone can clearly be seen here. It’s shaped as a dome and lies just outside the city center, near the car park.
Maze of Alleyways
The old town of Durbuy is a real maze of narrow cobble stone alleyways, stone houses with ornaments and many, many shops. It’s great fun to walk around and explore.