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Paris, Alsace, Black Forest, Berner Oberland in 30 Days

Paris, Alsace, Black Forest, Berner Oberland in 30 Days

Jul 23rd, 2019, 01:48 PM
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Paris, Alsace, Black Forest, Berner Oberland in 30 Days

My DH and I recently returned from a fabulous month in eastern France, the Black Forest area of Germany and the Berner Oberland region of Switzerland.

Many thanks to the Fodorites who provided us with great advice in helping us plan our trip this past June, particularly PalenQ, kja, StCirq, neckervd and Thibaut.

We have been traveling independently for the past 40 years and love planning what we will do on our next adventure. We always get great advice from this forum. We enjoy splitting our time between villages, small towns and cities, mid-size cities and large cities to experience a little of each.

We always start planning the following year's trip a year out since we want to use miles and companion tickets for business class and need to book as soon as they become available. Part of the enjoyment of our trips is the planning and research.

Our final itinerary:

Day 0: Flight to CDG
Day 1-4: Paris
Day 5-7: Beaune day trips to-->Montbard Abbey-->Alise-Ste-Reine-->Chateauneuf-en-Auxois, Abbey of Fontenay, wine villages south of Beaune
Day 8-9: Dijon -->drove the north vineyards Route des Grands Crus; stopped at Chateau due Clos de Vongeot
Day 10-13: Colmar-->day trips to Riquewihr, Hunawihr, Ribeauville, Haut Konigsburg, Equisheim, Kaysersberg, Bergheim, Mont St Odile
Day 14-15: Strasbourg-->stopped at Obernai en route to Strasbourg
Day 16-17: Baden-Baden-->Castle Hohenbaden ruins,
Day 18-21: Freiburg-->stopped at Gengenbach and Hausach on way to Freiburg; day trips to Triberg, St. Margen & St. Peter, Gutach, Staufen
Day 22-26: Wengen-->day trips to Kleine Scheidegg, Grindlewald, Lauterbrunnen, Murren, Gimmelwald, Schilthorn, Thun, Interlaken, First, Jungfrau
Day 27-29: Lucerne-->day trip to Mt. Pilatus
Day 30: Zurich
Day 31: Fly Home

We stayed at hotels except for Wengen where we rented a charming apartment that overlooked the Wengen-Mannlichen cable car. We only had light rain a few days but it never interfered with our travels.

We found this part of France not as crowded as other areas we've been which was a wonderful surprise. The only village that was overrun with tourists was Riquewihr but otherwise, we had no problems finding parking. Strasbourg was crowded, of course, with day trip cruisers but not overwhelmingly busy like we see in the larger cities in Italy. We were pleasantly surprised at how much we enjoyed Freiburg and the Berner Oberland was breathtaking. The only real crowds were at the top of the Jungfrau. We timed our visit when it was a perfectly clear day.

Day 1: Paris

We had arranged for a driver to pick us up at the airport through Suntransfers.com. We had to call as they were not waiting for us but the driver showed up in about 10 minutes. We made it to the hotel by 1:30 where we dropped our bags and began our walk. We've been to Paris on 4 prior visits so didn't feel the need to re-visit many of the most popular tourist attractions again.

We stayed in a quiet location this time around as well, just up the street from the Rodin Museum and a 2-minute walk to the Varenne metro. We had a lovely room that was large for Paris and a large bathroom as well. We would definitely recommend this hotel.
Hotel de Varenne Paris ****, OFFICIAL SITE - Paris RIVE GAUCHE INVALIDES

As usual, Paris was very crowded and the area around Notre Dame was blocked off which made it difficult to maneuver around those streets. We wanted to see the sad remains of this lovely cathedral as well as the Tulleries Gardens. We had picked up a garnet of metro tickets which worked out perfectly for our 4-day visit.

While we walked around the Louvre, we did not visit it again. There was a strike by the workers on this day and you can no longer buy tickets at the museum, they must be bought on-line.

Day 2: Paris

We had tickets at 10:30 to the Atelier Des Lumieres to see the Van Gogh exhibit. We got there at 10:00 and they let us enter early. The facility is a large warehouse and there is limited seating (almost non-existent) except for a few places in the upper area. This was not a problem for us but if you have difficulty standing for long, it could be a problem. The show was fantastic (we love Van Gogh) and lasted about 1 hour.

After the show was over, we walked to the Marais district since it was fairly close to the exhibit. We always enjoy the Place des Voges and wandering the streets in the Marais. We had a light snack and drink at a cafe that was a good place to people watch. Tonight we had reservations at the restaurant Le-Basilic which was fabulous. The restaurant has a beautiful patio with vines covering the trellis and it looked like a place you'd find in the country, not in the middle of Paris. The food was delicious too.
Restaurant Le Basilic : brasserie - restaurant Paris 7ème

Day 3: Paris
Today was a Saturday and we had been warned that the protesters were still demonstrating so we decided to take a tour out of the city. We booked a day trip to Fontainebleau and Vaux le Vicomte with ParisCityVision. We had to reach their office and pick up location by 9:00am. We thought it wouldn't be problem getting there from the Varenne metro stop. As it turned out, many metro stops are closed if they go near the demonstrations. Since we couldn't get on at the Varenne metrop stop, we walked to the next nearest one at Invalides. We ended up having to switch to multiple metro lines as most of the stops were closed. We should have just walked to the pick up location! We got there just in time for the departure.

We stopped had several hours at both Vaux le Vicomte and Fontainebleau. We enjoyed them both although we were somewhat disappointed in Fontainebleau. It certainly doesn't compare to Versailles.

Day 4: Paris

Today we visited the Marmottan and Rodin Museums, two museums we had not been to on prior visits. We really loved both of them-the Rodin's outstanding sculptures and beautiful gardens and the Marmottan's lovely setting in a beautiful townhouse with all of those wonderful Monet paintings.
What a fantastic way to spend several hours. Additionally, while busy, they were not too crowded which made for a very enjoyable visit.
We walked around the Rue Cler neighborhood and had dinner at Cafe du Marche. As usual, we've never had a bad meal in France.

As an aside: We live in the DFW area and went to the Kimbell Art Museum in Ft. Worth recently where they are having an exhibit of Monet's later years. We found that at least 35 of the 52 paintings on exhibit came from the Marmottan. We had to come home to see the best of the them

Up Next: Beaune

TravelerKaren is offline  
Jul 23rd, 2019, 02:20 PM
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Nice itinerary. What were the dates of your trip?
dugi_otok is online now  
Jul 23rd, 2019, 04:56 PM
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dugi_otok: We were gone from May 31 until June 30.
TravelerKaren is offline  
Jul 23rd, 2019, 05:06 PM
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Day 5: BeauneAfter having our continental breakfast at Hotel de Varenne, we had a taxi take us to the Sixt Car Rental office at the Gare du Nord. We didn’t have too long a wait and we were off at 9:45am to Beaune. Of course, getting out of Paris is not easy. There are lots of road construction and closures going on all around Paris and it took us an hour to get to the peripherique. As soon as we reached it about 10:45, it was an easy drive to Beaune. We arrived around 2pm and quickly found our B&B for the next 3 nights. Based on a recommendation from MaiTaiTom, we reserved our stay at the charming Les Jardins de Lois Sarl. WOW! This is one of the best places we have ever stayed. What a beautiful oasis just outside the old town on the ring road. We were right across the street from the parking lot for the Hotel Dieu, so easy to walk to the center of this lovely town. We had a large room with sitting area, large bathroom with huge walk in shower. The room was in a separate building (which housed our room and an apartment upstairs) and we had a view of the lovely gardens where we enjoyed relaxing each afternoon. Free on-site parking made this one of our favorite stops. Each morning, Ann Marie fixed eggs to order and had wonderful breads, croissants, yogurt, fruit, cereal, teas and coffee available. A truly wonderful hostess. Atmosphere - Atmosphere in les Jardins de Loïs - Bed and Breakfast à Beaune en Bourgogne - Anne Marie et Philippe DufouleurAfter unpacking and meeting the friendly on site kitty, we walked to the old town center and visited the magnificent Hotel Dieu. This was a charity hospital founded in 1443 and still used until 1971. This is a can’t miss stop in the Burgundy region of France.
After our tour of the Hotel Dieu, we walked around town and had a light meal with a local Burgundian wine at the Baltard Café, overlooking the Hotel Dieu. Whenever we can, we enjoy eating outside and this trip was no different. We spent some time relaxing with kitty in the garden of our B&B. Day 6: Beaune with day trips to Chateauneuf-en-Auxois, Alise-Ste-Reine and Abbey of FontenayAfter another wonderful breakfast, we drove to Chateauneuf-en-Auxois. Unfortunately, the castle was closed but still had awesome views. It is worth stopping next to the canal bridge in the valley below Chateauneuf to appreciate the view up to the castle on the top of the hill. With the white charolais cattle in the fields the view is magnificent. We walked around this quaint village admiring the homes built in the 15th C before heading to Alise-Ste-Reine. Along our drive, we stopped to get pictures of the gorgeous poppies that were still in bloom. I just love seeing the fields of red poppies during this time of year.
We stopped at Alise Ste Reine to see the Roman remains from a famous battle from 52BC between Caesar and the Gauls. Even though the Romans were outnumbered by 20,000, Caesar won by surrounding the town with Walls and starved out the citizens. There is a fabulous museum dedicated to this battle, especially if you like ancient history and includes a good audio guide with the tour. The top of the museum has trees planted for relaxing in the shade. There is a reproduction of the Roman Walls here too with a re-enactment of the siege of Alise. Unfortunately they had no re-enactments during our visit. We had lunch at the on-site café, but it was just OK. We would not recommend the buffet. We spent about 2hrs in the museum and highly recommend it.After Alise Ste-Reine we drove to Montbard to visit the stunning Abbey of Fontenay, a Cisterian abbey which was built in 1118 in the Romanesque style. Monks slept together in one room on straw mats and there are dirt floors in the church, no stained glass or adornments of any kind. It fell into disrepair during the French Revolution and was eventually bought by a wealthy man from Lyon who restored it. There are beautiful gardens as well as impressively restored buildings including the forge. Another World Heritage site not to be missed in this area.

Day 7: Beaune driving tour to the villages south of BeauneAfter another fantastic breakfast at the B&B, we walked to the old town for their Wed morning market. It was rather small so we didn’t spend a lot of time browsing the stalls. We did, however, buy another Michelin map at the bookstore nearby. Many people book wine tasting tours while in this area but we can no longer drink a lot of wine during the day or we’d be asleep by 4:00 �� So we save our wine drinking for dinner but still enjoy seeing all vineyards in the area. We drove south of Beaune on the Route des Grand Crus and stopped to see the many beautiful Charolais cows grazing along the roads as well as the many vineyards just starting to have grapes.We wanted to stop at the Chateau de la Rochepot which was supposed to open at 10am. We arrived and there were a few other visitors waiting but the chateau didn’t open. We walked around the area for about a half hour thinking they were just late but then met a fellow from the Netherlands who was staying with family in the area that told us the chateau wouldn’t be opening because the owner was in jail! The chateau is owned by a Ukrainian who faked his own death after being accused of money laundering over 12 million dollars and fled to France where he bought this chateau. The French police got curious about the transaction and arrested him! This story was more interesting than probably touring the chateau ��

We returned late afternoon to our lovely B&B and again took advantage of the lovely gardens to relax and enjoy our last day in Beaune. In the early evening, we again strolled the town for a last look at this charming town and had dinner at Brasserie Carnot on Place Carnot.
Up Next Dijon……
TravelerKaren is offline  
Jul 23rd, 2019, 05:53 PM
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Your pictures are beautiful. I and my camera and the poppies never managed to be in the same place at the same time this year, so I am jealous!

I need to learn more about Burgundy. It's the last uncharted territory for me in France.
StCirq is offline  
Jul 23rd, 2019, 06:28 PM
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Nice start to your trip report! I'm looking forward to reading more.
kja is offline  
Jul 24th, 2019, 01:08 AM
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on for the ride
bilboburgler is offline  
Jul 24th, 2019, 01:43 PM
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St Cirq: Thanks for the compliment on my red poppies. I just love it when I find a good poppy field!
kja & bilboburgler: Hope you enjoy following us in this part of France, Germany & Switzerland, although I can't compete with kja's wonderful writing style
TravelerKaren is offline  
Jul 24th, 2019, 01:50 PM
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Looking forward to Switzerland!
Melnq8 is offline  
Jul 24th, 2019, 01:51 PM
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Day 8: Dijon
After our last delicious breakfast at the B&B, it was time to head north along the Route des Grand Crus. Côte de Nuits is famous for it’s red wines made from pinot noir. It was a cloudy, chilly day but we enjoyed seeing the beautiful vineyards along this route in a different light. We drove through Nuits-Saint-Georges, and stopped in the village of Vougeot to visit the Grand Cru vineyard of Clos Vougeot. This vineyard is massive by Burgundy standards and produces 3 times as much wine as the rest of the commune. The vineyard covers 124 acres and has 75+ owners . You can visit a number of its working buildings built by the Cistercian monks in the 12th century:the winery that houses four huge presses;the cellar, a building dating from the 12th century and built to accommodate 2000 wine casks, and the dormitory of the monks whose magnificent woodwork dates from the 14th century. We found this all fascinating and recommend this stop as you travel along the Route des Grand Crus.

We arrived in Dijon in late afternoon and fell immediately in love with this city. The best part is that this is a real French city, not a town made for tourists. Yeah! I know, we are tourists too 😊 We did a city walk in the area and admired the many Burgundian roofs, and the beautiful architecture from the Middle Ages to the 19th C. We also found that most of the attractions are free! I could live here. Whenever we are driving and need a hotel in a fairly large city, we always find hotels that offer parking. We booked 2 nights at the Hotel des Ducs, just 100 meters from the Palace of the Dukes and the Fine Arts Museum. The parking garage was tight as many in Europe are, but after backing up multiple times, I was finally able to get the car in a spot. I knew we weren’t going to be taking the car out again until we left Dijon so it was fine. Since it was a cool, somewhat drizzly day, this was one of the few times we ate dinner inside. We ate at one of the many restaurants on Liberation Sq. where we had their famous boeuf bourguignon and pinot noir.

Day 9: Dijon
After another great breakfast at the hotel, we walked to the TI to purchase their Owl Guide. This is a great way to learn about the city. There are bronze owls on the sidewalk to keep you on track. After about 2 hrs, we back tracked and spent more time in the places that were of great interest to us. I love half timbered houses and there were many to admire in this lovely city. Before we started our Owl walk, we browsed the Friday market. This is a huge market covering many streets. We love browsing French markets, seeing the locals purchasing their produce, while admiring the colorful vegetables and fruits. We usually walk away with something small. Today I found some really gorgeous pillow cases, one of Monet’s Water Lillies and another one from Van Gogh. These are easy to pack and a great remembrance of our time in Dijon. Additionally, we couldn’t leave without purchasing some Dijon mustard!

We visited the stunning Cathedral Saint-Benigne de Dijon, which is considered a masterpiece of Romanesque art. The abbey church was built in 1007 and features a crypt containing sculptures dating from the eleventh century. Really beautiful cathedral inside and out.

The Paroisse Notre-Dame de Dijon is a stunning gothic cathedral. We were immediately struck by the wonderful bristling of gargoyles on the facade, and the very strange architecture. In fact, the most interesting interior feature is the strange ancient statue of the Virgin, with an extraordinary history and quite a few miracles attributed to her. There are also some good stained glass windows.

We spent time in the Palace of the Dukes / Museum of Fine Arts. This is an amazing piece of architecture. The museum covers an enormous range from very early art to present day, a very eclectic mix, including the painting called "The Dijon Nativity", one of the first panel paintings to show convincing people, emotions, and landscape; the gilded triptych showing the crucifixion of Jesus and related scenes, and the beautiful painted wings that formerly covered it plus many other rare objects.The Palace of the Dukes is an extraordinary place with remarkable tombs of Burgundian dukes. The tombs are masterpieces and represent how Burgundy once upon a time was one of the wealthiest states in Europe. It is must for everyone who loves history.

We also spent a lot of time wandering around the Rue Des Forges. This lovely area is buzzing with life and activities. The restaurants here are really busy and the food is good. It is one of those parts that you won't get tired of seeing. It's right in the heart of the city center and has fabulous architecture, from the roofs to the doors. One of the things I’ve noticed in many French cities are the carousels from around 1900. I love admiring the craftsmanship that went into making these beautiful structures.

Next stop: Colmar

TravelerKaren is offline  
Jul 24th, 2019, 02:15 PM
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Enjoying your TR! Looking forward to more.
joannyc is online now  
Jul 24th, 2019, 05:39 PM
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You are too kind -- thank you!
I haven't visited many of the places you are describing, and am looking forward to doing so. Thanks for sharing your experiences!
kja is offline  
Jul 25th, 2019, 12:57 AM
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Really enjoying your report
Adelaidean is online now  
Jul 25th, 2019, 07:11 AM
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An interesting and stimulating report with wonderful photos...thanks so much for posting. I have saved much of it for a 2020 trip.
MarnieWDC is offline  
Jul 25th, 2019, 07:45 AM
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Day 10: Colmar

Wishing we had more time in Dijon, we reluctantly left and headed to Colmar.

We selected the James Boutique Hotel, just outside the old town on the ring road. It was very convenient to walking to the old town and leaving town for day trips. We selected this hotel as it had parking available and had gotten good reviews on Trip Advisor. It didn’t disappoint. We picked a large room with a balcony since we were going to be here for 4 nights. We like having some outdoor space so that we can relax outside with a drink after our sightseeing ends each day. The front desk personnel were the best. They asked us about our day whenever we returned from our day’s outings and we felt that they were genuinely interested in hearing about our day. All of the staff were great and we enjoyed the great breakfasts there too. Parking was in a large lot just outside the hotel with easy in/out. https://www.james-hotel.com/en

We got started on our old town walk late afternoon after picking up the map from the TI. It met all of our expectations from the reviews we had read about this town. The little Venice area was full of gorgeous flowers, cobbled streets and the setting is spectacular on the canal. We were again in awe of the half-timbered buildings around town and could certainly see the German influence here. There were more tourists here, as expected, but we managed to secure a table at Le Comptoir de Georges-Restaurant overlooking the canal for dinner. Touristy but beautiful setting and the meal was good. I had pork tenderloin with Pinot noir sauce and DH had pork shank with sauerkraut. Along with a nice glass of pinot noir wine, we couldn’t have asked for a more romantic meal.

Some of the interesting buildings not to be missed are the Maison Pfister and Maison Schongauer (painter whose works are in the Unterlinden Museum) and the House of Heads. There was a wine festival going on around the Old Customs House, which was one of the most beautiful buildings in Colmar, so we couldn’t see it very well, but returned later in the week when they had an evening of traditional folk dancers which we enjoyed watching. The lighting was much better and made for a great picture.

Days 11-13 Colmar and villages along the Route du Vin AlsaceWe visited many villages along the Route du Vin Alsace over the next 3 days and enjoyed all of them. While they were all gingerbread cute, they all had their own individual charm and uniqueness. I think it would be hard to pick a favorite. As we drove out of Colmar we ran into a ‘Statue of Liberty” on a little island in the road by the sculpture Frederic Auguste Bartholdi who was from Colmar. It was fun to see a smaller replica of this famous statue. We were amazed at all of the storks nest in the area. Every town has stork nests on the top of churches/buildings. We had a hard time seeing the babies but we knew they were in there as we could see their little heads bobbing. We would later see storks up close at various ages at the small nature Center of Reintroduction in Hunawihr.

Some of the villages we visited were:
Riquewihr – this is the most touristy of all the villages and is indeed beautiful. We arrived early and were lucky enough to find a parking space along the walls. They had a performance by the local symphony which we really enjoyed. Today’s line up included themes from various movies. They were quite good.
Ribeauville – the unique beauty of this town were the 3 castles (the Saint-Ulrich, the Ribeaupierre and the Girsberg) that overlook the town. This made for a fantastic view as you were strolling the main street. We thought of taking a hike up to one of the castles but it was muddy from the light rain they had earlier in the day. We had lunch here and tried the local specialty of Tarte Flambe. Delicious.

Château du Haut-Kœnigsbourg – we visited this spectacular medieval castle after our stop in Ribeauville. This amazing castle was built in 1147 and restored in 1901-1908. This was definitely one of the highlights of our visit to this area. This place was very crowded and cars were lined up along the road to find parking. There is no parking lot and cars must park along the road to the castle. It is a long way up. Many people were parking far below and had a long walk. Fortunately, there were no parking spots early on our drive up and as we got closer, several cars were leaving and we were able to secure one fairly close. We spent about 3 hours exploring the inside and outside of this magnificent castle with views of the Vosges Mountains. Don’t miss this site. https://www.haut-koenigsbourg.fr/en/...ring-the-site/

Kaysersberg – Another cute village with a river running through it. The town is in a very picturesque setting, in a valley surrounded by vineyards and with forested hills rising above the town. There is a 13th-15th century Church Sainte-Croix. The front facade is among the oldest parts of the church, and as you enter the church there is an impressive carved door and altarpiece. There is also a glassworks factory here and we found it most interesting to watch them making glasses.
Equisheim – it was a little dreary the day we visited here but the town is lovely with double walls and streets arranged in concentric circles around its castle. It was fun to wander around the narrow paved streets full of beautiful old half-timbered houses with geranium bedecked wooden windows. The central square is also magnificent with its fountain, the Eguisheim castle and the colourful Saint-Léon-IX chapel. We found a great little Italian restaurant called Le Dagsbourg where we had great pasta Bolognese.

Bergheim – this town was very cute but almost empty. It is a completely fortified town that includes a double defensive wall and a defensive gate and 9 towers. We did enjoy walking the ramparts which were built in 1311 and walking around the attractive Place d’Arme lined with numerous gorgeous homes. The town hall and church are the main sights here.

Hunawihr – This little town is surrounded by beautiful vineyards that produce Riesling wines. The church is perched on a little hillside overlooking the village. Inside are famous frescoes named after Saint-Nicolas which were rediscovered in 1878. The choir gallery, the transept and the nave all date back to the 16th century and the organ case to the 18th century. The church has been used for both Catholic and Protestant services over the last 3 centuries. One of the interesting things is that Catholics are buried inside the walls of the church while Protestants are buried outside the walls. After strolling through this cute town, we walked to the nearby nature center, the Stork and Otter Breeding Centre (Parc des cigognes et des loutres, which aims to reintroduce storks in Alsace). This is really a place for kids, of which there were many, but we enjoyed it too. They had lots of storks and nests full of babies from 2 days to 2 months old. It was really great to see them at various stages of growth. We also enjoyed seeing the otters and other animals at this nature center.

Colmar Unterlinden Museum – This is Colmar’s claim to fame. We visited this fabulous museum which was a former 13C convent. The collections are from the middle ages to the 21st C and are arranged beautifully. Grunewald’s magnificent painting “Isenheim Altarpiece” from 1515 is a series of 2 sided paintings on hinges that pivot like shutters. They are doing restoration work which is on view. It’s very interesting to see this process.

Up Next Strasbourg....
TravelerKaren is offline  
Jul 26th, 2019, 03:57 AM
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Anybody who wants a full taste of the Unterlinden can examine my report from 2016 -- Musée Unterlinden - Colmar | Any Port in a Storm

Then you can return to the excellent program in progress.
kerouac is offline  
Jul 26th, 2019, 04:44 AM
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The catholics were buried nearer the church because they had the money to pay for the special space while the protestants were poorer or kept their money to themselves. ;-)
bilboburgler is offline  
Jul 26th, 2019, 08:49 AM
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Originally Posted by kerouac View Post
Anybody who wants a full taste of the Unterlinden can examine my report from 2016 -- Musée Unterlinden - Colmar | Any Port in a Storm

Then you can return to the excellent program in progress.
kerouac Thank you for posting your report of the Unterlinden.* I lost some of my photos that day when I forgot to back up to the cloud **
bilboburgler I think you must be right about the Protestants keeping their money to themselves * Thanks for following along.*
TravelerKaren is offline  
Jul 26th, 2019, 09:12 AM
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Day 14 – Strasbourg with stops at Mont Sainte Odile and Obernai

We left Colmar early so we could make several stops on our way to Strasbourg. Our first stop was Mont Sainte Odile, a 760-metre-high peak in the Vosges Mountains. It has a monastery/convent at its top called the Hohenburg Abbey. We visited the tomb of St Odile which was breathtaking, the Chapel of Tears and the Chapel of Angels, and the terrace with its spectacular panoramic views. There are some good hikes from here but we didn’t take the time to do so. This is a must see while in the area.

After leaving Mont Sainte Odile, we drove to the town of Obernai. This is another cute town but I think we preferred the ones closer to Colmar. We walked around this town for about an hour and then headed off to Strasbourg.So far we’ve not had any problems driving, parking or getting lost, but arriving in Strasbourg broke that trend. We do have a Garmin GPS which has been mostly reliable but I hate when it says turn right and you are not sure if it’s the right in the exact spot or the next right which might be 50’ away 😊 We selected the Hotel de l’Europe as it had a parking garage. As we drove into the city, we missed going right when we should have, so we had to circle back around and then when we got to the street where the hotel is located we couldn't get to the hotel or their parking garage because the street is blocked with ballards (the metal barrel that rises out of the street). I had seen a public parking garage as we passed close to our destination goal, so decided that we would need to park there until we checked into the hotel. We made another circle around to get back to the public garage. As we entered the garage, I noticed it had a ‘red light’ on the entrance. I was puzzled about that so I waited and sure enough a car was coming out of the entrance. After that the light turned green and I entered. The ramp so was high I couldn’t see out the front window over the front hood. It was like climbing up a roller coaster ☹ I was nervous driving up, thinking what if someone attempted to come down. There was no way 2 cars could fit. This was a nail biting experience. Round and round, each level was full. I finally reached the top level (6) and found one available spot. It was probably vacated by the car that had just left. We had already decided that we weren’t taking the car out for any day trips, but this sealed the deal. We dragged our luggage the one block to the hotel and the receptionist told us that they offered a discount parking rate for that garage. I was relieved because I surely didn’t want to drive the car out and get into the hotel’s garage. The receptionist also told us about the red/green lights but said that most people don’t pay attention to the light. Very reassuring….. ☹

Thankfully, the rest of our stay in Strasbourg was filled with delights. I’m glad we didn’t attempt to make this a day trip from Colmar. We really enjoyed staying in the city and needed the full 1.5 days to see everything we wanted. I’m also glad we didn’t make Strasbourg our base for exploring the rest of Alsace as it would have been a nightmare getting into and out of the city every day.

After dropping our bags, we were given a map of the city and immediately headed to the famous Cathedrale de Notre Dame. Wow, nothing can prepare you for the grandeur of this stunning architectural masterpiece. It was indeed jaw dropping. We were lucky that we arrived in the afternoon, as the light hit the cathedral and displayed it in all its glory. Just perfect! Also, the hordes of day trippers were gone and we had a relatively crowd-free experience inside. We spent several hours admiring this phenomenal cathedral which was the highlight of our visit to Strasbourg. Inside at the west portal the dark red stone is what differentiates this cathedral from other great Gothic churches in France. The stones, which date from the 13th-14th C were quarried from the northern part of the Vosges mountains. There is an exquisite gold leafed organ and marvelous stained glass windows, 80% original, surviving from the 12th to 15th C. The rose window is 36’ wide and was hidden by the French during WWII. It was carted away by the Nazi’s however, but finally saved and returned by the Monuments Men. The fascinating and intricate astronomical clock from the 1500’s is a wonder. Every quarter hour the bell rings and a stage of life parades past the grim reaper. We saw this quick display but didn’t stay for the 20-minute movie that explains the clock’s workings.

We walked around the Place de la Cathedrale admiring the half-timbered buildings, then headed to the Petite France quarter. The river is split into several canals with a lock and swing bridge. It was a perfect day for wandering this area. We would return tomorrow to take a boat ride along the river. The half-timbered buildings in this district belonged to tanners, millers and fisherman during the 16th and 17th centuries.

We found a delightful, though touristy, restaurant overlooking the river with a postcard-perfect façade and a scenic balcony, so we checked out the menu and decided to give it a try. We had a lovely meal of grilled fish, potatoes and vegetables at the Au Pont Saint Martin.

It was quite warm today so when we got back to our hotel room, we tried to turn on the A/C but it wouldn’t turn on. DH went down to talk to the receptionist and she told us the A/C in the entire hotel was out and wouldn’t be fixed until after we left. Arg!!! We had to open windows to get air, but it was extremely noisy. Didn’t make for a good night’s sleep!

Day 15 – Strasbourg

After a good breakfast, we ventured out to the Place du Chateau and then wandered down the river to get on a boat tour. We booked the 11 am batoroma tour that returned at 12:30. There are boats that can be booked that are fully enclosed and air conditioned but we wanted to enjoy the open air on this beautiful day. This was a pleasant way to see some of the other sites in Strasbourg. Particularly interesting was the Parlement européen de Strasbourg building. It was very modern and such a stark contrast to the rest of the architecture in this beautiful city.
We visited 2 museums that we of interest to us; the Strasbourg Historical Museum, which was excellent and the interesting Alsatian Museum. The Strasbourg Historical Museum had good English descriptions and audio guide and the Alsatian Museum displayed many interesting and well presented collections of Alsatian folk art. You learn about Alsatian life and traditions from birth to death and rooms are beautifully re-created as those found in traditional homes. We thoroughly enjoyed both of these museums.

We strolled the town in the afternoon, taking in some of those hidden away cobbled streets off the tourist track. We also strolled the river front and followed a couple of swans with their baby and then had an ice cream break at Le Petite Glacie while taking in some people-watching.

Up Next: Baden-Baden
TravelerKaren is offline  
Jul 26th, 2019, 09:23 AM
Join Date: Sep 2005
Posts: 680
Great pics make this report even better.
Wekiva is offline  

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