It was always going to dawn on us, at some point in time, that as lovely as the Alsace Wine Route is, it’s not really furthering our aims to travel south, towards the lavender fields. It’s all too easy to slip into a time warp here: a lunch there, a wine tasting there, oh look there’s another village we haven’t seen. A month could slip by seamlessly.
It’s with more than a little reluctance we tear ourselves away, back to the plan. But not before a very quick stop at Turckheim. Settled in 1312, west of Colmar on the eastern slopes of the Vosges mountainous, it’s another mediaeval wonderland.
Our tourist discovery trail is led by a cheerful dragon, but I can’t discern why – there’s no legend behind it, teasing that he might have once existed. The village is guarded by a magnificent entrance: the Porte de France, on top of which is perched a stork’s nest filled to the brim with spring hatchlings.
Since our visit to the breeding centre I’ve learnt that storks are the symbol for Alsace – horrifying for the region, I’d imagine, to once have been down to only three nesting pairs.
Also rather magnificent, is the Eglise St Anne with its Burgundy influenced tiled spire and Parisienne organ.
I can’t help but wonder, looking at the spire, whether the designers realised that the pattern is reminiscent of a giant python, coiled atop thier tower. Very old testament.
The Fecht river flows through the village and it’s also the entry point to the Munster valley – it’s very picturesque.
(My Munster meanwhile, is making its presence very felt in our fridge, despite being under heavy scent guard).
The afternoon sees us on the road, heading over the Vosges. The mountains are an immediate change of scenery.
Vineyards give way to spruce, pine and fir. Insane lycra clad cyclists huff and puff up these mountainous for the joy of zooming down. Personally, don’t see the appeal. Give me a red sports car any day, for my midlife crisis. You can keep the Lycra.
Our way is paved with wildflowers, forests and occasional reminders about deer. I watch expectantly, but spot none. I do see lots of colourful lupins on high and frequent cycling decorations – I think the Tour de France must have gone through these mountains at some point.
We pass ski fields, busy with summer hikers, their chairlifts still running.
It’s becoming warmer as we travel south, out of the mountains, as expected. Our journey is taking us through country roads into a relatively remote area, making finding a place to stop for the evening a little tricky. But find a spot we eventually do, and perhaps it’s not quite as remote as I’d thought. At 10 pm, there’s an unexpected treat – a half hour fireworks display that lights up the evening sky.