A Travellerspoint blog

The local villages ...

sunny 30 °C

There are many lovely villages to explore .. many of them define themselves as 'the most picturesque town in Alsace'. Indeed, they are all picturesque with beautiful colourful old buildings adorned with magnificent splashes of vibrate flowers, part of the Alsace wine trail surrounded by peaceful vineyards. However, each is different and has its unique feel.

This is only a brief review of the few that we visited.

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Unfortunately there was not a lot for Olivia to do in Andlau, so our first excursion was to a lovely nearby swimming lake at Benfeld, which we visited several times. It was fun to be surrounded by French families enjoying their summer holidays.

Set to go ..

Set to go ..


Refreshing swim

Refreshing swim


Enjoying a relaxing day at the lake

Enjoying a relaxing day at the lake

Another major requirement was food. Andlau did have a small supermarket, but we decided to travel to Barr for our bigger shopping expeditions. We found a wonderful wholefoods organic supermarket which suited us perfectly. Olivia had another win as we also found a great toy shop to buy a few activities for her to play with at home.

Which sparkly dress to choose ...  decisions, decisions!!

Which sparkly dress to choose ... decisions, decisions!!


Olivia in seventh heaven ..  The Princess and the Pop Star

Olivia in seventh heaven .. The Princess and the Pop Star

We had passed through the neighbouring village of Mittelbergheim on our way to Barr. It looked lovely and worth exploring. It has lovely interesting houses which open onto large courtyards. Surrounded by vineyards it is indeed picturesque, but has another aspect to its winegrowing as it is the only village which is allowed to grow and produce the Zotzenberg grand cru wine. As with all of the villages, we enjoyed an enjoyable and relaxed lunch at a lovely restaurant tucked in one of the large courtyards.

Interesting artwork

Interesting artwork


Lovely restaurant where we had lunch

Lovely restaurant where we had lunch


Lunch in the courtyard

Lunch in the courtyard


Yes please!!

Yes please!!

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We specifically visited Ribeauvillé to enjoy the 'Vin et Gastronomie' festival. We anticipated a lovely lunch with food and good wine, however it was more a tasting with small serves only of wine and food from local restaurants. We were looking for something a little more substantial, so went exploring the village. This was definitely one of the more 'tourist' villages we visited and we had a great time wandering through the (some very narrow) streets.

We did stop by the festival after lunch and enjoyed a quiet drink, and some unexpected, fun traditional music and dance. From my non-existent knowledge of Alsatian folk music and dance, it did appear to me to have a strong German influence. I thoroughly enjoyed it.

Lovely attractive building

Lovely attractive building


Beautiful colourful flowers

Beautiful colourful flowers


Wandering the streets  ..  castle in the distance

Wandering the streets .. castle in the distance


Enjoying the wander

Enjoying the wander


Amazing shop front display

Amazing shop front display


Olivia having fun on the footpath

Olivia having fun on the footpath


Brightly coloured buildings

Brightly coloured buildings


A bird quenching his thirst in the fountain

A bird quenching his thirst in the fountain

Interesting narrow streets

Interesting narrow streets


OMG ...  I nearly died when my beer arrived.  I don't think I've ever drunk such a large glass ...  and I didn't finish this one either.

OMG ... I nearly died when my beer arrived. I don't think I've ever drunk such a large glass ... and I didn't finish this one either.


The Butcher's Tower, and Town Hall square

The Butcher's Tower, and Town Hall square


Busy tourist village

Busy tourist village


Summer holidays ...

Summer holidays ...


Alsation folk dancing

Alsation folk dancing


Alsation folk dancing

Alsation folk dancing


Support from the band

Support from the band

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Thought to be symbols of happiness and faithfulness and bring fertility and good luck Storks have been part of Alsace for centuries. When numbers fell in 1970s, a successful program was started to repopulate. Today you see storks nesting on chimneys and rooftops, and in trees .. this one in Ribeauvillé.

Stork nest

Stork nest

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Our visit to Dambach-La-Ville was also for a special reason ... a lovely wine tasting at the Ruhlmann Dirringer vineyard which has been in this family for four generations. A friend had suggested this vineyard to Aaron with the proviso ... "If you visit bring some back for me" (which we did). We enjoyed sampling four of their wonderful wines in a uniquely decorated room, and met the winegrower and his wife. We left with five cases between us. Very enjoyable.

And of course, we also had a wonderful lunch in the village, and a visit to the local playground.

Pinot Gris Grand Cru Frankstein

Pinot Gris Grand Cru Frankstein

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I forgot to mention previously that we arrived in Andlau on 11 July, and were excited that we could celebrate Bastille Day, the French National Day celebrated on 14 July, in France. We expected a big local celebration. On the evening before Aaron, Rikke and Chas were enjoying an relaxed drink on the balcony when they were presented with a wonderful fireworks display. Thinking this was the 'dress rehearsal' for the big event, we excitedly ventured forth into town the next evening only to find ... nothing!!! We had missed it all. Apparently it is not uncommon for the celebration to occur on the evening of the 13th. So, we held our own celebration with champas in the town square.

The fireworks display was fantastic

The fireworks display was fantastic


Fireworks over the church tower

Fireworks over the church tower


Our lonely Bastille Day celebration in the town square ...  complete with champas ..

Our lonely Bastille Day celebration in the town square ... complete with champas ..

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And lastly a special visit to Strasbourg ... but more on that adventure in my next blog.

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Posted by patsaunder 01:49 Archived in France Comments (0)

Aarhus Botanic Garden

sunny 25 °C

We enjoyed a lovely lunch with Aaron, Rikke and Olivia at the botanic gardens greenhouses. We had visited the gardens previously, but hadn't been to the greenhouses. Established and managed by Aarhus University, it was a lovely surprise with numerous plant collections presented in four different climate zones -- mediterranean, desert, forest and tropical.

This is an interesting aerial photo Botanic Gardens Greenhouse aerial photo

The large dome houses the tropical greenhouse

The large dome houses the tropical greenhouse


The greenhouse on the right houses the mediterranean, desert and forest areas

The greenhouse on the right houses the mediterranean, desert and forest areas

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There is also a small area, very well set up, prior to entering the greenhouses with several displays which I found quite interesting.

The first pic shows the area of land under cultivation in Denmark. 64 percent of the land area produces enough food for 15 million people. (Denmark's population is 5.6million). The agriculture and food sector as a whole represents 20 per cent of total Danish commodity exports. Big business. However the next graphic shows that 84% of wheat grown is used to feed animals. This is also an issue as much of the grains grown worldwide are used to feed animals. If it could be used to feed people surely there would be enough to feed all.

Agriculture in Denmark is big business.  Interesting graphic showing the area of Denmark under cultivation in 1628, and 2012.

Agriculture in Denmark is big business. Interesting graphic showing the area of Denmark under cultivation in 1628, and 2012.


Another interesting graphic showing that 84% o wheat grown in Denmark is used for fodder for animals. Hmmm..  as 51 percent or more of global greenhouse-gas emissions are caused by animal agriculture, this is an issue which affects all of us.

Another interesting graphic showing that 84% of wheat grown in Denmark is used for fodder for animals. Hmmm.. as 51 percent or more of global greenhouse-gas emissions are caused by animal agriculture, this is an issue which affects all of us.

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I found the info on the amount of morphine and other opiates used in just one week quite shocking. Our dependence of drugs generally is a concern. Obviously an age-old issue given the info in the book from 400 years ago.

Almost 400 years old, this beautifully illustrated book describes major medicinal plants of the 1600's when opium became a common remedy.  Even back then one could only buy opium at the apothecary's shop with a proper prescription

Almost 400 years old, this beautifully illustrated book describes major medicinal plants of the 1600's when opium became a common remedy. Even back then one could only buy opium at the apothecary's shop with a proper prescription

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These 342 assorted packets and glasses, which held about 10,000 tablets, vials, suppositories, powders and drops with morphine and other opiates, were collected at Aarhus University Hospital in 2014.   They represent one week's consumption.

These 342 assorted packets and glasses, which held about 10,000 tablets, vials, suppositories, powders and drops with morphine and other opiates, were collected at Aarhus University Hospital in 2014. They represent one week's consumption.


Interesting paradox

Interesting paradox

Unfortunately, the issue with the GMOs is also a global issue. We are fortunate in Australia as our labelling laws state that food products must identify if GMO products are used in the ingredients. I'm not sure about other products such as cotton clothing.

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Strolling through the greenhouse, from one climate area to another, was lovely. There were plants from most parts of the world. It was quite a sensuous experience also with many beautiful flowering plants, and also the sounds, smells and the heat of the tropical rainforest.

However, the wonder for me was the tropical greenhouse. Immediately on entering you are aware of the butterflies. ... they are everywhere. It was magical to stand still and have butterflies fluttering about, and even past my face. I have never experienced this before. It was lovely (but unfortunately very hard to photograph well as they flitted about!).

Desert area

Desert area


Desert area in chilly Denmark

Desert area in chilly Denmark


Interesting carnivorous plants

Interesting carnivorous plants


Fine mist ensuring correct humidity and conditions for the plants

Fine mist ensuring correct humidity and conditions for the plants


Of course Australia wasn't forgotten.

Of course Australia wasn't forgotten.


Flowering Indian clock vine in the forest greenhouse

Flowering Indian clock vine in the forest greenhouse


Sacred Lotus flower

Sacred Lotus flower


Sacred Lotus

Sacred Lotus


Sacred Lotus

Sacred Lotus


Butterflies everywhere

Butterflies everywhere


Longwing Butterfly

Longwing Butterfly


Longwing butterfly

Longwing butterfly

Observatory tower within the tropical greenhouse

Observatory tower within the tropical greenhouse


On the platform overlooking the wonderland below

On the platform overlooking the wonderland below

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We also enjoyed a relax in the gardens, which are quite large and beautifully set out. There were many families enjoying a picnic in the lovely summer weather.

Traditional wooden windmill in the gardens

Traditional wooden windmill in the gardens


Delicious vegan lunch which was on the menu.  Very impressed as it is a small cafe.

Delicious vegan lunch which was on the menu. Very impressed as it is a small cafe.


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11218080_10153523978396015_6848419219901239587_o(1)


Relaxing time in the gardens

Relaxing time in the gardens


Sharing time together

Sharing time together


The joy of chasing bubbles

The joy of chasing bubbles

Horse-drawn carriage in the gardens

Horse-drawn carriage in the gardens

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Posted by patsaunder 08:08 Archived in Denmark Comments (0)

Château du Haut-Kœnigsbourg

sunny

Château du Haut-Kœnigsbourg is one of the most visited tourist attractions in the area attracting more than 500,000 visitors each year.

We decided to take a guided tour to learn and understand more of the history and significance of the castle. We had the full attention of the guide as we were the only visitors to take the English speaking tour on that day. Even better!!

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First mentioned in historic records in the 12thC, Château du Haut-Kœnigsbourg was a medieval castle located at Orschwiller, Alsace, on a 700metre high peak of a mountain overlooking the Upper Rhine Plain below. This was a strategic location at the junction of two important trading routes. Possession of the castle was held by a number of different noble families through to 1633 when, during the Thirty Years' War which opposed Catholics to Protestants, the Imperial castle was besieged by Protestant Swedish forces. After a 52-day siege the castle was burned and looted by the Swedish troops. It was then abandoned and left unused for two and a half centuries.

In 1865 the castle came into the possession of the nearby town of Sélestat which gave the ruins to the German emperor William II in 1899. William decided to commence a complete restoration of the castle as he wanted to mark symbolically his power over Alsace which had been returned to German rule in 1871.

After a detailed survey of the ruins, a series of photographs, and advanced archaeological, historic, and architectural observations, meticulous restoration work was carried out from 1900 to 1908. Although not a completely accurate reconstruction, the finished castle is a unique and credible impression of castle life led during the middle ages.

Unfortunately for Germany the restored castle was confiscated by the French state after World War I according to the 1919 Treaty of Versailles. It was officially designated a national historic site by the French Ministry of Culture in 1993.

The castle is very impressive. A look at this short video shows what an amazing achievement it was to transform the ruins and complete the reconstruction in eight years Château du Haut-Kœnigsbourg

The views in all directions from the castle are spectacular. There are many small villages dotted around the plains below, some only a few kilometers from each other, and the Rhine River is easily seen in the distance. Very picturesque.

It was a great visit.

Looking up to the castle from Ribeauvillé.

Looking up to the castle from Ribeauvillé.

Looking over the valley

Looking over the valley


High on the mountain top

High on the mountain top


Ceramic stove

Ceramic stove


Ceramic tiled stove

Ceramic tiled stove


Beautiful detail of stove

Beautiful detail of stove


Looking down onto chapel

Looking down onto chapel


Beautiful wall decoration

Beautiful wall decoration


Weapons room

Weapons room


Ceiling detail

Ceiling detail


Weaponry

Weaponry


Wall decoration

Wall decoration


Coat of arms of 'Tiersteins' who had possession in 1479

Coat of arms of 'Tiersteins' who had possession in 1479


Detail on downpipe

Detail on downpipe


Lovely view

Lovely view


Exploring

Exploring


Miss cheeky  ..

Miss cheeky ..


Impressive structure

Impressive structure


Beautiful stained windows

Beautiful stained windows


Into the distance

Into the distance

Posted by patsaunder 08:32 Archived in France Tagged buildings castles historical Comments (0)

Chateau Haut-Andlau

sunny

Andlau has not one, but two, medieval castles protecting it ... Chateau Haut-Andlau, and Château de Spesbourg. We decided to take an enjoyable, relaxed walk through the forest to visit Chateau Haut-Andlau.

At 451m, the castle, with its two towers, dominates the valley below. It was built between 1246 and 1264 by a member of Andlau family using blocks sourced from the granite outcrop on which it is stands, and pink sandstone for the window surrounds. It consists of a long main building on three levels, with a circular tower at each end about 8 meters in diameter and 21 meters high. These two towers once symbolized the power of the nobles of Andlau.

The castle stayed in the Andlau family until the French Revolution when it was confiscated. Sold to a merchant who commenced selling it piece by piece, it was purchased back by the family sometime between 1814-1830, with repair and restoration carried out. It was classified as an historic monument in 1926.

The castle still remains in the Andlau family. In December 1998, an enclosure wall collapsed, evidence of the advanced deterioration of the building and the need to intervene or close the castle. As a response the owner created the 'Friends of the Castle of Andlau' to enable funds to be obtained to both preserve and maintain the site.

It is pleasing to see that part of their approach is to engage people with the castle by using various forms of artistic expression, such as contemporary art exhibitions, and theatre shows and musical presentations. Seems to be working.

The castle was interesting, and the walk through the forest relaxing and enjoyable. Another great day!

640px-Haut-Andlau. Note the pink sandstone surrounds of the windows

640px-Haut-Andlau. Note the pink sandstone surrounds of the windows


Looking towards the castle

Looking towards the castle


Looking through to the valley below

Looking through to the valley below


Inner area

Inner area


Lovely sandstone lined arches

Lovely sandstone lined arches


Strolling through the castle

Strolling through the castle


Moi!

Moi!


Aaron

Aaron


Chas

Chas


Granite outcrop on which the castle has been built

Granite outcrop on which the castle has been built


An enjoyable walk in the forest

An enjoyable walk in the forest


A challenge for little feet

A challenge for little feet

Posted by patsaunder 09:42 Archived in France Tagged buildings castles historical Comments (0)

Abbey church of Saint Peter and Saint Paul

sunny 30 °C

The abbey was founded in 880 by Ste. Richarde, Empress and wife of Charles the Fat, grandson of Charlemagne. There are many stories about her life. Apparently the legend states that, despite being a virtuous wife, over a period of 10 years her husband accused her of misconduct. In a bid to assure him of her innocence, she finally assented to an ordeal by fire. Barefoot, and wearing a shirt covered in wax, the flames nevertheless refused to touch her. Disheartened by her husband's continued mistrust, Richarde left the imperial palace and wandered into the forest. There she was visited by an angel, who ordered her to establish a convent in a specific spot shown to her by a bear. On the banks of the river, she saw a bear scratching in the dirt. It was here that she built the abbey and the bear became its special symbol. She died here in about 895 and was buried in the abbey church. (Info obtained from Wikipedia, of course!!)

However, my further research shows that Richarde was born in Alsace into a noble family and built the abbey on her ancestral lands seven years before her divorce from Charles the Fat. Nonetheless, she was obviously a significant figure in the area, and the church continues to be influential, and to dominate its landscape.

In 1045 the church burned down but was rebuilt as it appears that it had the support of wealthy locals and received many privileges. It was subsequently consecrated by the Pope in 1049 and it was at this time that Richarde was canonized and the church became known as the Abbey Church of Saint Richarde.

There have been many restorations since the rebuilding of 1049. One part of the crypt church dates from around 1045, another 1080, with further additions to the building in the 12th and 18th centuries, and enhancements to the interior throughout. The abbey was disbanded during the French Revolution in the 18thC, and the church rededicated as a parish church dedicated to Saints Peter and Paul.

The church has been classified as an historical monument, as have many other buildings and structures in the area. The abbey is most famous for the Roman Frieze on its exterior, the earliest such sculpture in Alsace.

It is easy to see the part the legend of the bear still plays when looking at the pictures below .. St Richarde and the bear and almost always depicted together. The story is still very much a part of the folklore of the church. On the day we visited a lovely lady (obviously a member of the church) gave us an overview of the significant artworks and history of the church, even taking us down into the crypt church to explain the story of the bear and show us the trapdoor in the floor where the bear had scratched the earth. She stated that many people when visiting step down into the trapdoor, place their hand into the mouth of the stone bear, and make a wish !!!

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My photos do not do justice to the artworks and architecture of this amazing church located in a little village in Alsace. Take a moment to visit this website to see the rest of the interior, and the beautiful Roman Frieze which I omitted to photograph. Professional images

Another aspect of the church which ensures its significance to the village is its bells which toll regularly throughout the day. While they may have been recording just the passing of time, it seemed to me they were often ringing. While it was quite enjoyable for the short time we were there, I imagine they could cause some angst if you lived permanently in the church surrounds.

The unique metal sculptures are the work of local artists Local artists

Church of Saint Peter and Saint Paul

Church of Saint Peter and Saint Paul


The church dominates the landscape

The church dominates the landscape


Large wall painting showing the foundation of the abbey.   Donated to the abbey in 1840.

Large wall painting showing the foundation of the abbey. Donated to the abbey in 1840.


The original sarcophagus of St Richarde

The original sarcophagus of St Richarde


The Shrine of St Richarde

The Shrine of St Richarde


The beautiful ornately decorated St Richarde's Chapel

The beautiful ornately decorated St Richarde's Chapel


St Richarde and the bear

St Richarde and the bear


The crypt church

The crypt church


The stone bear guarding the trapdoor in the floor of the crypt church marking the spot where the bear scratched the earth

The stone bear guarding the trapdoor in the floor of the crypt church marking the spot where the bear scratched the earth


'Pieta' 1330.

'Pieta' 1330.


Centuries old statue of St Richarde and her bear adorn a town well

Centuries old statue of St Richarde and her bear adorn a town well


St Richarde and her bear atop the fountain in the village square

St Richarde and her bear atop the fountain in the village square


Cooling off in the summer heat in the St Richarde fountain (1876)

Cooling off in the summer heat in the St Richarde fountain (1876)


Olivia cooling off in St Ricarde's fountain

Olivia cooling off in St Ricarde's fountain


The bear eating the local grapes

The bear eating the local grapes


Part of the abbey surrounds.  Note the interesting design on the roof.

Part of the abbey surrounds. Note the interesting design on the roof.


The former residence of the nuns, now a retirement home

The former residence of the nuns, now a retirement home


One of the amazing metal sculptures dotted around the church grounds

One of the amazing metal sculptures dotted around the church grounds

Amazing metal sculptures

Amazing metal sculptures

Posted by patsaunder 00:57 Archived in France Tagged churches buildings history Comments (0)

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