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Esch2022, an opportunity for the “Grand Est”

By Press release August 26, 2021
Esch2022, an opportunity for the “Grand Est” Photo by Emile Hengen

The entire region of Esch2022, including Esch-sur-Alzette, Luxemburg's second biggest town, the 10 Pro-Sud towns in Luxembourg and the 8 towns in France that make up the Communauté de Communes Pays Haut Val d'Alzette (CCPHVA) will be put on the radar of tourists thanks to the project Esch2022, European Capital of Culture. At the breakfast meeting on 26 August, the Esch2022 team and its partners presented their strategy supported by a wide range of projects and initiatives that will highlight the region and enhance its long term development.

“The Esch2022 project is leading to the creation of new offers to tourists which will transform the former industrial region into a visible and tangible, innovative and attractive tourist region. Together with a number of partners, the project aims to create a new setting for this industrial heritage and offer a unique ambiance as well as sustainable models for tourist experiences”, explains Thieery Kruchten, in charge of tourism, mobility and sustainable development.

How can this former industrial region, with its abandoned blast furnaces and derelict pits, be turned into something that visitors would want to explore?

The Esch2022 programme has found new and inventive ways of telling the story, through the use of enhanced reality technology. It is developing an enhanced reality application which brings together regional sites that are rich in history. The app associates industrial history, the Esch2022 region and technology: it will take the tourists to some of the most important cultural or historical meeting points. Its sister project, “Urban Time Travel” will invite visitors to take a virtual journey through time. This will allow them to discover the history of the Belval site, thanks to virtual reality technology.

The “Minett Trail” footpath will allow visitors to discover Luxemburg's biospheres that form part of the Unesco's “Man and the Biosphere” (MAB) programme. This particular trail combines three existing trails and thus stretches over more than 90 kms through the South of Luxemburg right up to the Ellergron, in the towns in the north of the Moselle and the Meurthe-et-Moselle departments in France. Cultural events along this trail have also been planned during the Esch2022 programme. Some of these are the “Les Ensembles2.2” project, created by a Strasburg based studio that specialises in using sound and technological arts, the “Landscapes” project which challenges i.a. the relationship between territories and memory, mankind's actions and nature's bounce back, or the “Loop” project which brings together art, gardens, nature, cityscape and rambling.

Like the Minett Trail, the Minett Cycle Tour, a 150 kms long cycle track which symbolically connects the towns in this region, invites the visitor to explore nature reserves, industrial history and architectural treasures. Unusual accommodation facilities all along the track will allow cyclists and ramblers to spend the night there.Visitors will be able to get together, share their travel experiences and learn more about local culture.

Esch2022, an opportunity for the “Grand Est”

“The Esch 2022 project is part of the strategy that seeks to develop tourism in the “Grand Est” (Great East) region. It is based on two building blocks: digital technology and sustainability, brought together to focus on tomorrow's tourism, which will be all about the search of experiences and a greater respect for the ecosystem of the sites to be visited.” David Brabis, the director of the Regional Office of Tourism in the Grand Est explains: “This way, we are meeting the objectives of Esch2022: sustainable development and soft mobility.

The Grand Est region is using this opportunity to introduce means of boosting the availability of sustainable accommodation and soft mobility within the region, which are enhanced through the cultural programme. The Grand Est region has launched a call for proposals for ecological pop-up accommodation in view of creating a global experience in line with the theme that runs through the various events in the Communuté de Communes Pays Haut Val d'Alzette (CCPHVA). In practical terms this means that financial help of up to 15 000 euros may be available for proposals that are successful.

As far as soft mobility is concerned, the Grand Est region is encouraging the extension of a network of cycle routes. In order to allow visitors to move sustainably from one site to the next during the Esch2022 events, there will be money for schemes that encourage cycling. One of these schemes is to be the creation of a cycle route between Belval and Micheville. This permanent, 4,2 kms long cross border link will enable us to reach cycle path 8 safely at Belvaux by going through Audun-le-Tiche and Russange. It is part of the INTERREG V-A ABACTIV (Alzette Belval on foot or on a bike) plan, which aims to develop a fully integrated and safe network of foot paths and cycle lanes and facilities within the Alzette Belval conurbation.

Continuing this policy of encouraging soft mobility between France and Luxemburg and making use of the booster effect of Esch 2022, the CCPHVA intends to create two temporary cycle lanes. The first, 1,8 kms long, will link Rédange and Belvaux. The second, 2,7kms long, will link Ottange and Rumelange.

A cultural offer that promotes the attractiveness of the region

As part of Esch2022, European Capital of Culture, the south of Luxembourg and the Communuté de Communes Pays Haut Val d'Alzette (CCPHVA) will be hosting over 2000 events and activities as part of 140 cultural projects in 2022. All eyes will be on this cross border region and it will shine under the spotlights. It is the perfect occasion for local actors to make full use of the region's potential and to root an extensive cultural offer that will last beyond 2022.

During breakfast with the press, the Esch2022 team ilustrated this potential, referring to three projects that are part of the Esch2022 programme. “Les Voix des Terres Rouges” is one such project. Directed by Sibylle Brunot, it proposes regional amateur choirs, regardless of competence or age, to join the choir project at the Orchestre National de Metz. They will be interpreting a new work, celebrating the industrial past of the Esch2022 region and its cultural diversity. It will bring together several amateur choirs and result in a number of concerts during the summer of 2022.

Stéphanie Luzi, the director of the MJC in Villerupt (a popular educational association), who has been active both in Villerupt and the wider region for over 60 years making culture accessible to all, will be presenting her project “Bal Pop”. It will propose a festive and congenial event to the whole population, combining dance and music from everywhere, from all cultures and for all ages.

La Grande Marche”, directed by Simon Brunel and Nicolas Panetier, will be using documentary and participatory means in an attempt to find an alternative way for a Europe of human dimensions. Using walking boots, a rucksack, photo and film cameras, sound recorders, the project invites us to discover our cross-border region. It seeks to encourage dialogue with the local inhabitants, collect their opinions and their views of life together, languages, otherness, ecology or solidarity. The “Grand Marche” exhibition will take place in June 2022 in four towns in the cross-border region around south Luxemburg: Saarbrücken (Germany), Thionville (France) Aubange (Belgium) and Esch-sur-Alzette (Luxemburg).

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