We leave Verdun and head towards Paris where we will be for Bastille Day and we look for an aire closer to make the trip better. We settle for Chateaux Thierry which we find after debating going back a bit as we need fuel. We have been a bit slack about filling up as we put a deisel injecter cleaner in the fuel and want to run it down before we refill with premium deisel. We decide to risk finding it tomorrow than drive back 25kms to the Total we know is there. The aire is ok but backs onto Maccas so there is the noise of orders and with the school holidays boy racers on their noisy 2 strokes till around 11pm. We pay the fee but not for power as it is for 12 hours only which means no coffee in the morning. We put the power on next morning so we can have Nespresso – $2.50 well spent.

We head off towards Paris and happy days see a servo so fill up so risk averted. It is like a golden rule to fill up when under half as fuel runs out real quick and, murphys law, we will not find servos. We cant afford to run out as apparantley you have to get the vans computer rebooted plus the many card machines wont take foreign cards. We work our way towards Paris on the motorway with traffic getting heavier by the mile. The van is still smoking and running sluggish so hope the cleaner and premium deisel will kick in. We are a bit worried because as you get closer to Paris the pollution laws kick in but luckily our campground in outside the area. We pass a refugee tent camp just off the motorway and it looks like what you see on tv in africa with plastic and makeshift tents and rubbish everywhere. So close to the best city in the world and the government cant stop it so sad.  After winding through a myriad of streets and lanes we find the camping ground, settle in, have lunch and pack everything for our three days in gay paree. The bus comes right to the door every 15 minutes takes us to the train station we get an overground to another station then the underground to our stop a short walk to our hotel. We are instantly hit with the noise, drama and exitement of downtown Paris which where we are has a huge asian look about it which we dont remember from 8 years ago even though we are in the same area. Maybe we just didnt notice it then but lots of japanese restaraunts especially.

We find our hotel which is central to the louvre and all the areas we want to see. We have a rail ticket for two of the three days so can travel on trains and buses if we want. Our room is fantastic for the type of hotel (or is it the fact we live in a camper?) with a large bed-firm- and great (but very tiny)shower. No view but who cares we have luxury, a real bed and a shower that is not a facecloth! We have a short rest, I have a refreshing beer and we set off to Sacre Coeur and the Montmatre area as this is close enough for a late afternoon walk. Vicki has an uncanny knack for direction and can remember areas from last time we were here but I have no idea and just go with the flow and we walk the mainly uphill journey to where the Sacre Coeur sits on top of a high hill. This is where I proposed to Vicki so it has a special place in our hearts. The climb is quite long but we are rewarded by the sight of this beautiful church and the not so beautiful sight of the 294 steps to get to it. It is really packed with tourists both just sitting around revelling in the wonderful views of Paris and lining up to get into the church via security. We opt to bypass the church for the moment and head to the Montmatre market and art area which has a cultural and quirky feel to it. We look around as Vicki missed out on getting a painting as a souvenir last time but it seems to have changed a bit and less local and meaningful work and geared more to tbe quick buck portraits and crap sketches. A lot more of the artists are of Asian descent and it seems to me that a lot of the paintings everywhere are not painted here but are the same as what we see everywhere where the style is so Thailand/Indonesian mass produced with a French theme. How different from last time and very disapointing though the atmosphere is still here but nothing to what it was like when it was the bohemium enclave of painters an artisans that made this area so marvellous. Vicki bought a neat french t shirt which is at least printed in france and we head to the Irish bar for a drink-Guiness for me wine for Vicki as a reward for the 294 steps! Then it was back down the stairs and off to find a pizza place which we find and have a yummy pizza and carafe of red. Then its the quiet meander mainly downhill back to the hotel basking in the Parisness of this amazing place.

Bastille day next morning so we are up early (as it turns out not early enough), have our croissant and cafe breakfast and head out. Paris have a military parade on at 10.30am and we know it will be crazy and the security tight. What we hadnt anticipated was the approx half a million people all trying to get there as well and the fact that the security was so tight, they had blocked off all streets within about 1km of tbe champs elysee and made all spectators walk about an extra 3km around the outside of the no go zone. They only allowed us to enter at a couple of points. By the time we got there, there wasnt a hope in hell of seeing anything as the crowd was at least 10-15 deep and some points impassible and it seemed we should have got up at 6am to get there early. So we stopped on a side street where we could get a glimpse of the passing parade and lucky for us all the horses came and waited down our street to join the end of the parade. We also saw about the 60 odd aircraft flying over which was cool. It wasnt quite what we had hoped to see but we were there. It was almost as if more people than normal had come out in solidarity taking a stand saying we wont be fearful of attending these events.

The parade finished about midday and we headed away which was a long trek, but stopped for coffee on the way. We found a metro station that was open and took it to the Louvre which isnt far from our hotel. The Louvre is free on Bastille day and i had read that it doesnt get as busy as you think so we checked out the line for about half a second and decided the 2 hour wait wasnt worth it. We sat and enjoyed the sun in the Tuilleries along with hundreds of others before going back to the hotel for a rest for an hour or so.

We headed out early to the concert and fireworks that were on at the Eiffel Tower. The concert started at 9pm and the fireworks at 11pm. We walked to the metro and took it to a nearby station but discovered there was also a massive exclusion zone around the Eiffel tower and we had about another 3km walk to get to the concert. The security was really quite unbelievable. You could not have snuck in anywhere. If you lived in the exclusion zone you had to show paperwork and photo id to get in and no cars were allowed. We had bag checks at one point and then to get into the concert we had another bag check. We had 2 water bottles which they wouldnt let us in with unless we threw the tops away. So you could take any topless bottle in which we thought was hilarious. We watched those who knew and they pocketed their tops well before security so it wasnt a problem. We decided to sit outside the concert area where the view was acceptable of the tower. Since we were early we had to wait 3 hours for the fireworks. Not so bad if you were maybe having a few drinks, however they had maybe 12 toilets for the half a million spectators – something France does incredibly badly and so the queue was about an hour wait. Scot even had trouble finding a bush with the thousands of soldiers and police patrolling as he didnt want to be in trouble. I just didnt drink as it wasnt worth the hassle. At no time did we feel unsafe there and the police and soldiers were watching everyone closely, occassionally pulling someone up and searching their bag and body. They were ready for anything but thankfully it was an uneventful night for them.

Although our view was limited a little, the 35minutes of fireworks are the most spectacular we have ever seen. The view from the gardens across the Seine would have been awesome but they had reserved that for vips. It was worth the trip but i wouldnt do it again. We then had to walk back to our hotel as the metro would have been so full it also wasnt worth the hassle there either. Our hour + walk was tough after maybe already walking 15 or more kms that day. It was lovely to finally see Paris by night – a first for us both. I had wondered about walking back to our hotel at that hour but we were joined by hundreds of thousands of other revellers so i think it was only the last 100m we walked in almost solitude. It was about 7km back and my body and legs were killing me. I dont know the last time i walked nearly 25kms in a day.

The next day we had a slight sleep in and after breakfast packed our bags, left them at reception and did the walk up the Tuilleries. We continued on up the Champs Elysee to the Arc de Triomphe. The big thing here now is to hire a Lambourgini or Ferrari for a drive around Paris. I have no idea of the cost but there were those signing up. The latest scam is the Romanian beggars getting you to sign a petition and giving over money to them to help some cause or other which was obviously pocketed. We didnt get approached but saw people telling some who were, not to do it. We walked around a bit more and eventually went back to the hotel, picked up our bags and headed back on the metro, train and bus to the campground and Morrie.

We love the atmosphere in Paris and it was nice to be back for a short stay.


We leave quite early as not much to hang around for and it is not the most pleasant outlook and head towards Verdun. This is one place I have always wanted to visit & experience but not for the enjoyment. Verdun was the area of the greatest battle the world has ever seen in the later years of WW1(1916). It lasted for 10 months and killed, wounded or lost more than a million from mainly France & Germany and other countries. It was so bloody and horrible that it truly defies logic but by that stage of the war all common sense was gone and it was like they did not know how to stop. For example in the first 6 days over 2 million shells were fired.

We first visited the memorial Douaumont Ossuary in the forest above the city. This was finished in 1932 and was built to home the bones of the 130,000 men never identified. These are housed under the building and can be seen through tiny windows and is quite chilling. The grounds before the monument has the graves and crosses of the 15000 identified soldiers and is very sad. At one point a tourist lady was ranting on the phone to someone and in the silence for reflection was very disrespectful and I glared and gestured to her husband but thankfully she moved away. We then went into the building itself and the two long wings has all the names of the dead, so many born in the 1880 & 1890s only boys some as young as 15 when they died. I couldn’t help but think of my kids born on 1985 and 1990 a century apart and hope to hell it never happens again.

We paid admission and watched a film on the longest battle of the war and it was very sobering though educational as well. The battle lasted for 300 days and 300 nights. It was then up the tower to a small museum and sweeping views of the surrounding countrside and graves which from up here gives a better scale of buriel ground.  We then travelled towards our next stop which was the Douaumont Fort a huge fort built into & under the hillside, heavily fortified with a big gun that rose out of the turret to fire at the enemy sometimes miles away as well as steel machine gun pods . It was built by the french, taken over by the germans then back by the french towards the end of the war. Again it is impossible to describe the conditions they would have lived in but it was like an underground city with all amenities. We walked all around the different levels inside as well as the big gun turret that gives you an idea of the size of the bloody thing, the kitchens, sleeping areas, toilets etc. Though now empty you get an idea of what it was like but now it is very dank and wet with water dripping and the beginnings of stalagtites from the constantly dripping water through the limestone. As fascinating that it is, like the KGB headquaters in Lithiuania it is very depressing and you can feel the bad energy not surprising when you take into account the hundreds plus who died here. At one point 60 odd germans died in one area when a bomb hit. The memorial room is still there. We saw all we wanted to see and Vicki was starting to feel ill as the whole atmosphere is very disturbing.

Back outside gratefully but its cold and wet so we head off but stop just outside on the road and look at the original communication trench that runs for miles. Just inside the forest are concrete bunkers all collapsed, from the war bombardment or time we are not sure. The landscape is weird as though there is now a full forest the ground is very ‘lumpy’ as this was absolutly shelled to smithereens for hundreds of miles and would have looked like the moon barren and lifeless, mud and waterfilled craters now overgrown with new trees and undergrowth. God only knows what still lies beneath.

We find the aire in Verdun which is near the bus terminal which has room for 5 campers but we are the 6th but park up anyway. We bike into town which is a pretty one and has a quite wide river and a lovely feel about it. Verdun would be a nice place to spend a day but tbere are hopefully better places down the track and we are concious that we dont have a lot of time left here in france. Verdun has what I think is the best war memorial I have seen in a town. Quite large with double stairs going quite a way up adorned with stone sculptures. I cant resist so run up the 50 odd stairs and rewarded with a sweeping view of the town and river. We dont want to spend any more money today so resist the urge to have a drink (easier for Vicki than me) and head back to the van. I would have liked to have visited the museum but no time and feel I have seen enough war today.


We left Pont a Mousson and headed to Metz. Pronounced ‘Mess’ it is quite close to the German border and is a city with a huge cathederal with the largest expanse of stained glass windows in the world and I think the 3rd largest in France. Again as much as cities can be a busy hassle it is often worth it for the buildings. We find the free aire in a municiple carpark next to a caravan park. This costs around 40 euro a night so we opt for free though carparks do bother us and this has its fair share of long term caravans probably gypsies. The aire only holds 5 campers and it will be full by late afternoon.

We head off into town, about a 20 minute walk and it is still hot as as we meander down along the river. There is a beautiful church on an island that is very old and flowers adorn the many bridges making everything very pretty and colourful. We first find the info centre after walking around the cathederal which is bloody huge and has amazing ornate features. We find we have missed any free concerts the night before like we had at Pont de Mousson, most places are having these for summer, but we will get a good look at Metz. We first take a look at the cathederal which is as cavernous and huge on the inside as out and the windows are absolutly amazing. My only gripe is that though they are restoring & cleaning the outside slowly the whole aura inside is let down by the grime and dirt covering the windows and taking away the light effect.

We head outside and wander around trying to follow the touristy highlights. For some reason there are heaps of foot patrols of soldiers in groups of 4 and police everywhere so not sure if this is normal security for Bastille day coming up. It is a little un-nerving as they hold their machine guns with their finger on the trigger in a ready to fire position. However it does make us feel more secure. We walk past a man on the street begging and though we tend to ignore them as there are to many to help this man does not look like your typical beggar and has a sign saying he is hungry so we buy him a sandwhich and he is very appreciative. Most want money but we feel better giving food. Scot contemplates giving him one  of his beers but he may be a recovering alcoholic so dont want to tempt him.  (Lol….Scot wrote this but I don’t think he wanted to part with one of his newly bought beers)

We find ourselves on the outer of the old town area by the river and the old 12th century walls and newer castle fort which we assume once protected the city. We have a coffee in a small bar then head home towards the large scenic park and river boat walk. It is very picturesque and we love that the french spend so much effort on gardens and cleanliness with mature trees everywhere.  We try to find a church we are told is the oldest church in France – goes back to about 600 or 700 century but the lady in the tourist bureau has given us wrong instructions and after a long walk we deem it to be too far away so give up the idea. We get back to the van have dinner and crash.




It’s Friday morning and we leave Nancy.  It is still so hot and I for one will be glad to be away from the city to a quiet place we can have our windows open without worrying.  Today is the start of the French school holidays and as we drive north on the motorway, the traffic driving south is manic.  We have been told about this – everyone is leaving for their summer holiday and doing so a little early.  Every 2nd car is loaded to the hilt with luggage, kids and bikes and are in the huge backlog of traffic thankfully going a different way to us.

We need to find a laundry which has been a little difficult this time.  We are going to stop only a short way between Nancy and Metz to have a break from the tourist thing.  I have found a place called Pont a Mousson where there is an aire on a marina again with all included in the price for 9.50euro a night.  Not bad.  We find a Laundromat and get the washing done.  These little Laundromats are located with a supermarket and they consist of a small shell with a large washing machine, a small one and one dryer.  A lot of people use them to wash their large doonahs as the large machine takes 18kilos.  Unfortunately I just beat another lady to the large machine and she is pissed off, but hey that’s life and my whole weeks wash has to be done, not just a blanket!

We head to the marina which I am aware is very popular and will fill quickly so we hope there is still parks available.  We are in luck and settle in.  Canal boats stop here and it seems to be popular with them too.  An English lady who chats as she passes tells us that even the washing machine and dryer are free here, so great value for money with showers and all (except we just paid to do our washing down the road). In the Moselle river which the marina feeds off there are lots of swans and nearby mother ducks with the ducklings which are just gorgeous.  There are swans by the marina walkway nesting and she is sitting on eggs that should soon hatch.  Shame we won’t be here to see them.

Saturday night we found out there was a concert on in the local market square so we went for an hour to listen to the music.  It was quite good and they had a really good crowd gathered.  It was standing only unless you got there really early to get a seat.  Why is it that being so short, every man and his tall dog seem to want to come and stand in front of me so that I can’t see a thing.  It happens all the time and I can’t figure it out.  I am feeling like I must be so short I am becoming invisible to the average Jo blogs.  Scot said I need to look more intimidating, so am contemplating face piercing and tattooing to see if that works….Lol.

Anyway, this is where we are now.  We decided to have a break for the weekend and stay here since the heat is killing us and here it is safe and quiet to keep all windows open at night in the hope some cool air might come in. It has been 26+ every night and the forecast keeps telling us we will have a storm but never happens.  Tomorrow – Monday 10th July it will be cooler supposedly and we are heading up to Metz.  Our plan for this week is Metz, then Verdan and then closer to Paris – sticking the van in a campground for 3 nights and we have accommodation booked in Paris for 2 nights so we can help celebrate Bastille day there.  Our next posts will most likely be on/after next weekend.



After leaving Haut Koenigsbourg castle we head down the long road away. We briefly stop at the bottom to get our bearings and decide where we will head for the night. We could stop where we are but time is a marching on and we want to get to Nancy in the Lorraine region. We decide we will head west on the highway to get through the Vosges Mountains and into Lorraine. The highway has a 6km tunnel and you pay the price to travel on it – 10euro for the privilege and Morrie does not need another hard grind over mountains it was bad enough up to the castle.

We decide to stop on the way to Nancy at Saint Die de Vosges, an ordinary town where the aire is about 5euro for the night but has free power. We now know why we pick and choose big towns as really unless there is something special they just aren’t worth the hassle. We find the way to the aire but there is a tiny bridge that is really difficult to fit over so go into the parking lot of the large swimming complex (wouldnt it be a nice swim but there are too many kids) to work out how to find another way across the river. A lady pokes her head in and asks if we are lost so we explain our situation and she tells us about a bridge up the road. Again we are blown away about the french helping tourists especially in dodgy areas as we find later when we pushbike to get supplies and  go through typical immigrant settled highrises.

We head away the next day so that we are in Nancy early as the aire at the port only takes a few vans and if you are late, you miss out. It turns out there are plenty of spots and this place is expensive. You pay for your spot, electricity, a shower, water etc but they know you dont have a lot of options here. A shower is again very welcome as the heat has turned into the mid to high 30s again. It is another stinker but we reluctantly set up shop and have lunch, unsurprisingly a baguette!

We then walk into the city and make our way to the main attraction the Stanislas Square and the surrounding area. What a cool square and all in light pinky sand coloured building and huge forecourt with a statue of Stan the Man in the middle. Not surprisingly it is stifling hot and we try to find the info place to get an understanding of what to see with tbe least effort. We consider taking the local tourist train (not a real one but a snazzy fibreglass one towing carriages which we see in all the tourist towns & cities a bit like a quaint sugarcane train) that in 45 minutes takes you around the tourist highlights. We quickly decide they are not airconned and would be too hot crammed in with other tourists so decide, cleverly on Vickis part, to just follow the same route as the train which will enable us to see the main sites. The popular parts are the bars and cafes where the cold drinks are but we need to do tourist penance and see the beautiful buildings and then have a couple of coldies in a tabac bar.

We then walk through to the large park and see they are setting up for a piano concert in the rotunda. A young girl is playing and she is really good. We find out that it starts at 5pm with the main man on at 8. We tottle off to the nearest shop and grab a couple of beers and crisps and head back. The chairs quickly fill up and we are entertained by 5 young kids playing Bach, Liszt and Beethoven and they are absolutly amazing we cant believe these maybe 12 to 15 year olds can play like this. We are totally gobsmacked and the last little lad played Liszt like he should be (and probably is) playing in the Royal French Synphony. I personally walk away with tears in my eyes feeling so humble and privilaged to be a human being. It doesnt take me long to think of all the kids with talent in our world that are shitheads and wasters due to our way of life and I realise there are oasis of beautiful kids out there.

We find out there is a light show on at 10.45 that night as that is when it is dark so head back to our home and have dinner then wander back to the square. We hang around till the show starts we are in the middle of Stanislas Square and the 3D CGI show is phenomenal and three sides of the square are illuminated with the most amazing colours and images for 30 minutes. We again sit with our jaws dropped as we witness a spectacular free show that the square is perfect for. This is on all month and though the aire is not cheap we are very satisfied we made the effort to see Nancy. We head home at 11.30pm, it is still 31c and we sit outside wondering how the hell are we going to sleep.

Here I will say that Scot falls asleep quite quickly.  We have our windows wide open and we are in the middle of a city – not a place I feel safe or comfortable in even though there are police surveillance and security men with dogs in the area. I don’t like to sleep when I know someone can easily climb in through our window and with the heat it is difficult to anyway.  I think I must doze off about 4am as I am so tired by that time and the van is still showing 27deg without a breeze.


As usual we surface around 8.30am when it becomes a bit warm and noisy. I cant believe I always feel so jaded maybe the heat but i seemed to sleep alright. Vicki says for Polly to put the kettle on so I get an extra 5 minutes while the gas jug boils to pretend I am still sleeping, a bit like your snooze alarm. A cuppa always makes the difference and after brekky with the customary stowing and check we head off.

We try to find the aire near Ribeauville but find it is closed so we find a carpark near the local pool. This has a few campers in it so all ok. We bike into town which unlike the past few is one long street with short private streets branching off. It is also very pretty with contrasting pastel colours, lashings of flowers in baskets, troughs and tubs with some very original art work decorating the facades. This is a little bit more touristy with shops and things but it never gets that chintzy, cheap & nasty  feel. We really enjoy the artisan shops with local art and crafts which I find quite original and I am getting lots of ideas for future inspirations. I think I have a lifetimes of photos for this. Even though the gifts can be repetitive in shops every now and then one is a class above and we curse that we cannot bring all the things we love home.

After walking up and a walk back we grab a placemat we are sort of collecting as reminders as everytime we see one we want we say we will get it on the way back or a cheaper one will be down the road and we miss out. We get back to the van and for a change we have a baguette for lunch. Lo and behold we are at the point of debating whether we will bike to Bergheim or give it a miss and head straight to the castle when our swede friends bowl on up. Now I think they are stalking us!

We have made up our minds to go and they are already sizing up our park which is under the trees so cooler. So we say Au Revoir, unfortunatly not in swedish, till we see them again and head off up into the mountain. We can see the chateaux way up on top of the mountain as we wind past the sea of vineyards and then into the thick forest with glimpses of the surrounding countryside which gets more and more expansive the higher we get. Poor Morrie churns his way up the steep roads as we try and find the gear that suits the incline hopefully 3rd as second can be tough but when we hit the hairpins we have no choice. 1st gear is the one we like to avoid so it is often a choice of carrying speed into the corner and risking van contents or slow and steady wins the race. No guessing which one Scot is!

We park a little way from the castle as it is always a gamble to how far to push for a park. This castle is huge and was rebuilt in 1903 by a very clever architect and luckily with the open coffers of King Louis the whatever and unlimited gov money. This one costs 9 euro to get in but given the size and the fact we have come all this way it is cheap considering what we have paid in the past. As it is new but fastidiously rebuilt to exacting research it is heavy on architecture and substance which is awesome but obviously a bit short on paintings, everyday items etc but has a good range of cannons, weapons and beautiful furniture and also examples of the huge spectacular ceramic tiled fireplaces/ovens that have been remade I think. At the end of the tour you can see the excavation & archeological history and how it was rebuilt. It was in such disrepair this 10 century castle took 8 years to rebuild, had its own railway to it from the quarry, a forge and pioneered its own building techniques that were cutting edge for the day. It basically had a whole community supporting the build. Even after the beautiful chateaux in the Loire this one is right up there and thank goodness for the foresight of these people on behalf of the next thousand years of visitors.

We slowly drive the steep descent down and Vicki uses the gears well as we do not want to overheat the brakes as we did in Norway. We have been told that you should use the gear you came up in for the way down which is sound advice. We head away from the Alscace with a bit of a heavy heart and head to the Lorraine region. We have so much enjoyed this wine region with the germanic and prussian influence with its amazing vineyards and outstanding award winning colourful towns and know we will never forget this special region of France. We could spend a few more weeks here seeing the many other similar villages as we have seen but perhaps another day, another time.



We took advantage of the showers again and wash in luxury before heading off after our coffee, which we take full advantage when when we have electricity plus the Nespresso brand is so nice we save $$ & its better than bought. We say goodbye to our swede neighbours and head off to Kaysersberg (voted 2017 french town of the year) which is not far way as these towns are all along the Alsace wine trail. K’berg is another beautiful town and after settling in the Aire which is only a small bike in from the old town, off we go.

After a pleasant walk around despite the heat we settle for another savoury Flammekurch, ale & wine and then resume exploring. We bump into a pom & his wife who were at our previous aire that live in Germany and we recommend the flammekurch. Its funny amongst all the tourists, you see people from around, met or unmet, from previous towns often as like me they probably wear the same clothes for a few days! Dr Albert Schweitzer is famous in this village as he was born here and there are statues and a museum about him.

We finish our sightseeing and head back to the van for lunch then decide to bike to a neighbouring village Riquewihr about 6 km away through the vineyards over the hills or 10 km the long way around but supposedly flatter terrain. Slightly out of town we turn off the road and after about 2 minutes bike on uphill gravel in 35c+ heat decide that this is going to do Vicki in, so we consult god google and opt for a slightly different tarmac route. Unfortunatly it is 4 km of uphill slope that is very deceiving from below but we struggle on with numerous stops for water and to get the heartrate down. Our bikes are really crap for this, as two 70 year olds wizz past on their bloody electric bikes on the hard parts while we push our bikes on foot. We pass a walking young couple (in sandles??!!) on a flat bit then they overtake us as we stop to avoid carking out but we finally reach what we think is the summit only to be rewarded with a 10 second downhill then uphill again. Finally we reach the downhill and are in the village quickly.

These villages continue to amaze and though similar, all have their own quirky feel. After a very quick orientation and to find a post box its off to a bar for a very well deserved drink. Vicki is an absolute trouper digging in out of her fitness &  comfort zone and I always admire her tenacity (or is it stubborness) not to give up. I wish we had been able to do this years ago when younger but better now than never. Funny enough as we take our well earned drink and cool down the young couple sit down at the same bar as if they were on a sunday stroll. How the heck did they get here just after us considering our mad last downhill dash!

We have an enjoyable look around which is easy when a lot of these are built in a circle for protection so you dont get lost or miss much. There is a lot of history in these places especially being close to Germany and the info place has guides so you can read about the buildings and their place in that history. The ride back is the opposite to earlier as there is an initial tough uphill for half a km or so, then basically downhill all the way back which really makes us realise how hard it was earlier. We arrive exhausted but really satisfied and so glad we made the effort. Lo and behold there are our Swedish friends who are parked up practically next to us.

It is still hot and hard to sleep but we move from maybe a cooler spot to another across the carpark away from the road which at 9pm is still really noisy, especially trucks and realise it is the main thoroughfare through this part of the Vosges range. At least it is a little bit quieter with the windows open which is a must. Tomorrow it is along the flat road we could have taken and to Ribeuville, and depending on how we feel and back up from todays effort we will leave Morrie and bike the couple of kms to Bergheim supposedly another must on the trail.



Monday morning we left Eguisheim and headed to a nearby city Colmar. We pulled into the aire here which is at a port. It isnt a normal port as it is in the middle of the country and not on the sea. It is for canal boats to moor up and get electricity, fresh water and dump toilet waste etc like us. We find our spot and check the marina out. This place has 2 showers and they are free. We immediately head to the showers to have one. This is our first real shower in about 7 weeks so we really enjoy it. We then enjoy a coffee before heading into the city for a look around. We read the walk is only 10 mins but it is really 20 by the time you get to the old part and hindsight is great when Scot moans we should have taken the bikes. Colmar is very pretty, like Eguisheim on a much larger scale and there are more tourists and tour groups around.

We decide we are going to try the local food for lunch which is a Flammkurchen. This is a traditional Alsace dish made of a really fine pizza type base with cream, onions and bacon on top. You can get varieties with a few other toppings as well and we have cheese as well. They are very nice especially with the very thin base. We enjoy a local beer and local wine with it for lunch.

Colmar has a small waterway running through its centre which is big enough to have small tour boats on so they call one part Petite Venice as the houses are built on the canal type waterways. The flower boxes here are very pretty and we are spoilt for photo opportunities. One thing we didnt mention about Eguisheim and the same applies here is that people make the front of their building as unique as possible by putting all different types of things as in a theme. Some put things based on the shop contents and some houses just put all sorts of things that attract your attention. You will see some from the photos, but they look quite cool.

Back at the marina we have a Swedish couple beside us who we get talking to. They have encountered rain everywhere they have travelled for the past 2 weeks but now are going to get the sun & heat. We tell them of a few places they should visit in this region. They like many others, want to get to NZ so we have this joke that we will see them there in 2 years time.

The last photo below is a supermarket aisle. This is only one of two aisles in the supermarket, where there is more wine than we have seen in any bottle store.



As we pack the van up and drive onto the water and toilet dump area our power point was very quickly taken over. We headed out of Belfort and onto the road to Eguisheim. We only had about an hour and a half journey to get there and the closer we got the more the vineyards took over the countryside. I thought we had seen a lot of vineyards since being here but on this side of the Vognes mountains they are really unbelievable. They stretch out like an ocean on all sides. There are many beautiful little villages they recommend that we see along the Alsace region. Eguisheim is the first of many here. The Alsace region is famous for riesling, gewurztraminer, pinot noir and pinot gris wines amongst a handful of others. Not many regions make gewurztraminer wine, but it is a favourite of mine.

We arrive at the aire in Eguisheim and it is just on the outskirts of the village and it is free. It is mid afternoon Sunday so we take a stroll into the village. Here you can see the German and Austrian influence with the tudor style of buildings. We are hardly in the village when the first winery beckons us to come and taste some wines here. A lot of people probably just taste the wine and walk away, but i always feel obliged to buy something. We dont really like the riesling we taste but it has been matured in oak and i think you have to like that added flavour of the oak. We both love the gewurztraminer so get a couple of bottles of that plus one other. We keep on walking and this village won the most beautiful village in France in 2013, so you can imagine how lovely it must be. We cant get enough of the stunning colours of flowers everywhere, they are just so spectacular and we cant stop taking photos knowing they will never do this place justice, the place looks so lovely. We love colour and this place is magic.

We stop for the compulsory drink which is very welcome as the temperature has been climbing the last day or so and we are now experiencing high 20s again but it is heading back into the 30s which isnt so great. Scot bought his first and i think last glass of this trip – a storky pills glass. The stork is a signicant icon in this region as they roost on top of the rooves, normally where people have erected platforms for them. It is baby season, so many of the nest have young in them which is a photographers heaven. Eguisheim was a fortified town and once fortification wasnt necessary they built houses against the walls such that the main street goes around in a circle. In the market square you find the typical fountain and church. When we went into the church it was the most beautiful feeling of serenity and calmness we have ever felt. The church was small and round shaped inside. Its hard to describe but in all the churches we have been into throughout Europe this was the one i think we will remember because of its atmosphere. It wasnt over powering with icons or other things, but it was like going into a cosy home.

This is a place Scot would like to have stayed a bit linger but we knew there were many villages like this to see here.



We left Moliner earlyish and headed up into the Alsace region. We had a really long day travelling and arrived at Belfort about mid afternoon. The aire here is free, but there are only 8 free powerpoints so you have to be early to get one. There were more than a dozen vans when we arrived so it was a case of hoping someone left and grabbing the power before anyone else.

We didnt hang around for that though and we took a walk into town and it was drizzling, but a lovely temperature. We went to find the tourist bureau to get some info on the Alsace region, but they were closed on the Saturday. We kept walking around and checked out the town. Belfort has a large fort on the top of the hill. The fort was used extensively in the war between the Prussians and the French in the late 1800’s. Frederic Bartoldi built a massive lion statue to comemerate the freedom of the French after the war ended. Bartoldi was also responsible for building the statue of liberty. Aparently an amazing man. The Belfort lion stands guard over the town of Belfort.

There was a bicycle thing on in the town and we had a chat to a couple of lovely people. The picture of me on the bike is a bike made for wheelchair people who can get themselves around on it. I could only just touch the ground on that one. The statue photo symbolises freedom of the people.

The next morning we were lucky to spot someone leaving and snagged the power point to charge our electronics. We then headed down town after a nespresso coffee – which we can only have when we are hooked up to power. The tourist bureau was open and we got some info on the wine trails and then headed up to the fort. On the way we strolled through an antique flea market where there were some quite cool stuff and not just junk.

The fort is a bit of a climb but the view was amazing from the top. We have to remember that these places, though tourist attractions now were once living & working environments where whole communities lived, fought and often died trying to keep together entire countries. The seige here lasted over a 150 days. I had another coffee here, a gourmand cafe they call it which is a coffee of your choice and then 3 small cakes or little desserts. I hadnt tried this before and it was a delight. We were lucky as it was the 1st sunday of the month and the fort and lion viewing were free. We then headed back to the van to pack up and leave. Colmar is next and isnt a long journey.