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Visiting the Mosel and Sauer Rivers at Wasserbillig, Luxembourg: fluvial and psychological confluences

Updated on January 10, 2014
Flag of Luxembourg
Flag of Luxembourg | Source
The Sauer flowing into the Mosel at Wasserbillig
The Sauer flowing into the Mosel at Wasserbillig | Source
Mouth of the Sauer at Wasserbillig
Mouth of the Sauer at Wasserbillig | Source
Sign at a bridge over the Sauer river, indicating Luxembourg-German border
Sign at a bridge over the Sauer river, indicating Luxembourg-German border | Source

The logic of mingling waters

If one looks at a map, one will see that at Wasserbillig (Létzebuergesch: Waasserbelleg)(1), in the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg, the picturesque and historic Mosel and Sauer Valleys converge: the confluence of waters of the Mosel and the Sauer occurs here.

I have supplied two photos (right) of the waters of these two rivers in confluence.

The border between Luxembourg and Germany passes along these rivers; Germany's Rhineland-Palatinate (German: Rheinland-Pfalz) is found north and east of the Sauer and Mosel respectively. (I have also supplied a photo of the international border sign at one of the various bridges over the Sauer river.) Thus it is that an international boundary passes through the swirling and eddying waters of the river confluence depicted in the photos.

The boundary at this confluence is not only polticial, however. The existence of various spellings for these rivers is also a tribute to the fact that Luxembourg is a multilingual country. Mosel and Sauer serve as both German and Létzebuergesch spellings, while Moselle and Sûre are the French versions. There is even a Walloon version of the name: Seure (2).

Visiting a place such as Wasserbillig, it is clear that, with international borders following natural features such as the Sauer and Mosel rivers — and particularly with the upper reaches of the Sauer/Sûre being in Belgium — countries such as Luxembourg, Germany and Belgium are very obviously likely to pursue mutually convenient economic and political links with one another. Such moves toward integration might sometimes be articulated in terms of ideology, within international institutions such as the European Union.

However, one can also see how these may to some extent be driven by sheer, territorial and fluvial psychologies, (whereas countries such as Great Britain have traditionally been driven by oceangoing communications and outlook).

Thus, amidst the seemingly random mingling of the whirls and eddys of the waters at these two rivers' confluence, might a deeper logic for the region be found?

October 25, 2013

Map of Luxembourg with Wasserbillig marked
Map of Luxembourg with Wasserbillig marked | Source


(1) Létzebuergesch is designated the national language of Luxembourg.

(2) An alternative Walloon spelling Soere is sometimes seen also. Some readers may object: but surely Walloon is not a language of the Grand Duchy? Well, maybe not significantly, but historically there are some Walloon-speaking villages in the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg. The river itself rises in the Belgian province of Luxembourg (yes, really; it is called by the same name) and it intersects the north of the Grand Duchy from the Belgian border until the German border.

Also worth seeing

Langsur, Germany (distance: approx. 1 kilometre) is a picturesque, 1000-year old village, located on a meander in the Sauer River, three-quarters surrounded by Luxembourg territory.

Trier, Germany (distance: approx. 15 kilometres) is an ancient city, already settled in Roman times, from which era its amazing Porta Nigra dates.


How to get there: The nearest large international airport is Luxembourg (Aéroport de Luxembourg ), at Findel (distance from Luxembourg City to Wasserbillig: approx. 34 kilometrers);. For North American travellers making the London, England area their touring base, airlines flying to Luxembourg include Luxair (from London Heathrow Airport and London City Airport) and CityJet (from London City Airport). Some facilities may be withdrawn, without notice. You are advised to refer to appropriate consular sources for any special border crossing arrangements which may apply to citizens of certain nationalities.

MJFenn is an independent travel writer based in Ontario, Canada.


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