Saturday, December 22, 2007
over the river and through the woods...to France
This morning we left Saarbrücken and headed south, over the Saar River and into France. After leaving Germany we drove into a thick fog, and could barely see the landscape other than the frosty trees along the road. We first went to the Haut Koenigsbourg castle, south of Strasbourg nestled into the mountains. We had lunch at a little restaurant in the village at the foot of the mountain, which was heated by a little wood stove! We had some Alsatian wine, of course, and tarte flambée and coq au riesling. As soon as we started up the mountainside we got out of the fog and the sun had melted the frost off the trees. We had a gorgeous view from up by the castle, as the surrounding mountains were just barely visible through the fog.
The castle itself is really fascinating. It was built in the 12th century, was at its height in the middle ages when the German empire stretched from this area in the west and into Poland and Austria in the east, and was finally destroyed by the Swedes in the Thirty Years War in the 1600s. Then it just kinda fell into ruins, became overgrown with trees....until the Germans fought a war against France in 1870 and annexed this region. They then restored it in the early 1900s as a symbol of German power, and to strengthen German ties to this area. So what is there today was rebuilt by the Germans and then kept as a national monument by the French after the war.
We then traveled north to the city of Strasbourg, which was fully decorated for the Christmas season. Lots and lots of lights hanging above the streets! We walked around, through Petite France (the German-looking buildings), visited the Cathedral, and had some vin chaud and crepes to warm up.