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Our visit to Alsace in France


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Posted on Monday, May 12th, 2008 at 1:50 pm CET

Last weekend we drove to the Alsace region in France and visited the area around Strassbourg, especially the Vosges Regional Nature Park in the south and north of this region. We visited the Caves of Han in Belgium, Strassbourg, Kintzheim, Munster, Gérardmer, Épinal and La Petite Pierre.

View from Kintzheim Castle
View from Kintzheim Castle

We left early morning on Wednesday 30 April and stopped on our way in Belgium in Han-sur-Lesse to visit the caves there (see other post of this visit). Then we drove on to Strassbourg where we arrived in the evening of Wednesday 30 April and checked into an Etap Hotel there. We had dinner at a small Italian restaurant near the hotel named Francesca on 23, Rue Tribunal, which was excellent!

The next day we tried to find a bakery for breakfast, but it was May 1st and everything was closed. Luckily a small boulangerie in the Gare du Strassbourg was open and I was able to buy my beloved Chausson au Pomme, which I am always looking forward to when we are in France.

Strassbourg train station

Breakfast
Mmm, Chausson aux Pomme!

That morning we drove on to the Ballons des Vosges Regional Nature Park in the south of the Alsace and had a short stop in Kintzheim and then in Munster, which is famous for its storks. There were stork nests all over town. We asked at the visitor center where these birds feed, but in fact they are fed by humans in a field nearby.

Stork nests in Munster
Stork nests in Munster

We first had a short walk in the nice city park of Munster and then had lunch at a terrace in the sun viewing the storks flying around. There wasn’t much vegetarian on the menu except for a little Munster cheese pie, which unfortunately we didn’t like very much.

Chaffinch
Chaffinch in Munster park

Munster

Lunch in Munster
Munster cheese pie in Munster

We drove on west from Munster and crossed the highest pass of the Vosges Mountains at 1139 meters (3737 feet) at Col de la Schlucht. Here we took a ski lift up a hill and an alpine slide down, which was a lot of fun.

Vosges summit at 1139m
Col de la Schlucht pass

Alpine slide
Alpine slide

We ended up in the touristy town of Gérardmer that evening and checked into Hotel Marmot.

Hotel Marmot in Gérardmer

The next morning we drove west on the D11 and came across the Grande Cascades du Tendon, a 32 meters (105 feet) waterfall. We hiked up the mountain to view the waterfall from the top, which was a really nice walk, but we had to turn back and couldn’t finish the loop due to rushing water over the path. The trail was quite rocky at some points:

Rocky trail at Tendon waterfall

Grande Cascade de Tendon
Arthur at Grande Cascade du Tendon

In the afternoon we did most of La Route des Mille Etangs (route of a thousands lakes), which is a 60km signed road tour along many small lakes in the Ballons Nature Park. The route was a bit disappointing because almost each of the thousand lakes seemed to be privately owned with a big fence around it and “stay out” signs, and the road was quite narrow most of the time, so there were not many places where you could stop and look around. We bought bread and cheese at a supermarket before the route and it took 90 minutes (seriously) before we finally came across a picknic table.

Route des Mille Etangs (thousand lakes)
Along the route

Picnic on Route des Mille Etangs
The only picknic table on the 60km route

In the late afternoon we headed north and stopped at the American Cemetery and Memorial near the town of Épinal, which is one of six US cemeteries for World War II in France.

American Cemetery at Épinal
Épinal American Cemetery

That evening we ended up in the small town of La Petite Pierre and checked into the Hotel Aux Trois Roses.

Hotel Des Trois Roses at La Petite Pierre
Hotel in La Petite Pierre

Visitor Center at La Petite Pierre

Historic Center of La Petite Pierre

Blue Tit
Blue Tit in La Petite Pierre

That evening we walked around town to look for a restaurant and ended up at a small Alsacian restaurant named Le Puits Gourmand, which looked simple from the outside but the food was most excellent!

Le Puits Gourmand in La Petite Pierre

On Saturday morning we walked back to town and did the walking trail named Circuit du Baerenberg around La Petite Pierre, which took us about 2 hours to complete. We didn’t see many birds on this walk, but it was a really nice trail.

Trail near La Petite Pierre

Trail

View of La Petite Pierre
View of La Petite Pierre

In the afternoon we drove around some more in the Northern Vosges Nature Park and made a couple of small walks, including around the lake of Donnenbach. Then we drove the 5 hours home back to Leiden.

IMG_8788
Le Donnenbach

 

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