Only four weeks to go, so time to take stock and put a bit of a plan together. We have always said Switzerland was out as expensive and not enough time, so Sunday night we agreed to go to Interlaken! Monday morning sanity was restored and we turned right instead of left and arrived back in France.
A moment of panic when we realised we were on a motorway with has tolls, we took the first exit before we reached the toll booth. As we have plenty of time we intend to keep off the toll roads and amble North on the back roads.
With a mile or two we had remembered why we were so taken with France 11 months ago – quiet roads, quaint villages (still bereft of people) and as with Germany an easy life for a motorhome with specific parking and signs for ‘Camping Cars’ at every town and village.
With no real plan of what to do in France we followed the road until we reached the Regional Park of Ballons des Vosges – when in doubt head for the green bits on the map seems to work well for us. From a first glance it doesn’t appear to be the most touristy of areas, that is a plus for us as we are looking for a quiet week seeing a little bit of somewhere that to be honest we had never heard of until we arrived here!
First stop, Guewenheim, two chevaux village with a butchers a bakers possibly a candle stick maker but nothing much else. Strangely enough the French here speak French with a German accent, probably because they have alternated being under the control of the French and the German several times over the last couple of hundred years. We popped into the bakers and stocked up with some very good looking breads and pastries and then followed the signs to a campsite a few hundred yards out of the village.
Guewenheim – picture pretty but no people
The campsite was about to close for the year, all the pitches were empty except a few seasonals still packing up. Madame La Campsite owner was more than happy to have stay and offered us a price as cheap as chips so we parked up for a few days. With the weather being a bit overcast we have set about a big clean out in the van, done a ton of washing and packed away anything we are unlikely to use in the next month.
The weather improved today so we cycled up to the next village, Masevaux for a coffee and cake break. The Alsace has over 10,000 km of marked walking and cycling trails, the one we took followed the route of an old railway line, a slight incline all the way but we prefer that as we know going home is going to be easy peasy.
Masevaux is famous for it’s annual organ festival, sadly we will be missing that as its not on until next month. Despite it being so close to the border it does feel very French, even such a small village has a boulangerie, bouchers, charcuterie and of course a couple of patisserie – the only thing missing was a few French guys playing boules. As we wandered around the little pedestrian High Street we noticed the piped music playing, nowhere else have we come across this other than France, The Village People, Brotherhood of Man, – all the songs that make you proud they are in English 🙂
The village was as we find with most French villages- a bit deserted to us, the shops were open but not many people around. We sat outside at a pavement cafe with our coffee, and Iain’s enormous croissant, and saw just a handful of people pass by.
The French certainly take the ‘in bloom’ thing a bit seriously, the villages here are marked with stars on how well they did. Guewenheim has only two stars and a few window boxes, whereas Masevaux has four stars and some fairly amazing floral displays. the best of which was a full wooden building with flowers spilling out around wooden figurines, stunning.
We want to go up to the highest peaks in the park so have been waiting out the grey weather – from tomorrow its forecast wall to wall sunshine so time to get out and explore the park and maybe find a chateau or two.