Graham Holdup is a résoptimist and has been living in Strasbourg since 1974 ! A genuine bon vivant, he tells us about his passion for hiking in the Vosges mountains and also his europtimism.
A great location
Strasbourg is a magnificent city, ideally located between the Vosges mountains and the Black Forest on the other side of the Rhine.
When I get the urge to breathe in the country air, one of the best ways is to go hiking in the Vosges, the mountains which stretch from the Pays de Bitche, in north-eastern Moselle (the northern Vosges) right down to the High Vosges and the Grand Ballon, at 1424 m the highest point of the range.
Right next to Strasbourg, but away from it all
What’s really handy, especially if you have kids, is that you find a great range of possibilities a 45-minute drive or train ride from Strasbourg. With the huge variety of hikes, there really is something for everybody. Go up and look round a château or two, admire spectacular geological features, walk around a lake, stroll up and down the vineyards, wander along forest tracks, get up close to a waterfall, explore an Alsatian village… the most difficult thing is actually deciding which hike to do!
Follow the guide
The best thing I’ve found so far, is the Visorando application, which is in French, but you can always use Google Translate to help you along the way. The application offers a wide choice of hikes and it gives, of course, the distance, the points of interest, how difficult the hike is, etc. You can also download a topographical map to keep you on your trail (there’s a small yearly subscription for this, but it’s well worth it) and if you’re using it, you have to make a fairly big effort if you want to get lost!
I like to try out a new hike whenever I can, and here are 5 of the best I’ve recently done :
the Dossenheim-sur-Zinsel archeological circuit (Northern Vosges), with the Château of Warthenberg
the 3 Châteaux near Haegen (Northern Vosges)
around the château de Frankenbourg (in the village of La Vancelle just down from the château, you’ll find the Auberge Frankenbourg, a marvellous family run, Michelin starred restaurant)
une Rothlach and its surroundings (a hike at 1000m).
What I love doing, personally, is finding a hike with a couple of châteaux on the trail (Haut Barr, Fleckenstein, Bernstein, Lichtenberg…), leaving with the dog early on Sunday morning and getting back for a well-deserved beer in time for Sunday lunch.
The whole family also often sets off together with a couple of backpacks full of local sausage, ham, cheese, baguette and, of course, the indispensable bottle of Alsace wine from a nearby cellar. A few kilometres walking in the hills and mountains, then a field or a clearing, out with the plates and glasses and then, when everything’s finished, back on our feet, a few kilometres more and then to Strasbourg after a great day in the country.
And if you want to go the whole hog, reserve (it’s highly recommended, especially at weekends) a table at a ferme auberge, which is basically a restaurant in an Alsatian farm. The food’s all made on the farm, it’s remarkably generous, there’s just about always a great atmosphere and these are places you keep on coming back to.
All round Strasbourg, the wonderfully varied countryside offers so much to do for a day or the whole weekend.
Author : Graham Holdup
Date of publication : 21 May 2021
Photo crédits : Graham Holdup