On our tour we headed
north from Belfort into the Parc Natural Regional des Ballons des Vosges
on mostly long winding roads climbing steadily to the Grand Ballon
(1424m alt) a hill covered with scrub with extensive views as far
as the Swiss Alps. There is a fairly arduous 1km walk up rocky paths to
the summit from the road. This road is the "Route des Crêtes" and
continues north to the Col de la Schlucht near Gerardmer, the main town
for this area, and then further north to the Col du Bonhomme west
The small towns in the Alsace winegrowing area are mostly
very attractive with their timber framed buildings. We visited Riquewihr,
and Ribeauvillé as well as Kayserberg where there is a large aire, but
our favourite was Eguisheim south of Colmar.
Another small town worth
a visit is Munster, with storks nests on the roof of the town hall.
There is also a regional park centre with interesting exhibitions and a
helpful office de tourism.
statues in Munster for jazz
One place we discovered in the Vosges that deeply moved us was "Le Linge"
a WW1 battleground site 16km west of Colmar, where over 50,000 soldiers
were killed in the French and German trenches which are still intact a
few metres apart. There is an interesting museum explaining the history
of the battle and also white crosses where soldiers remains were
discovered as recently as the 1970's.
Further to the north
between Le Hohwald and Rothau, 21km west of Obernai, is a WW2 German
concentration camp at Natzwiller-Struthof. Many of the buildings remain
and the site is preserved as a memorial