Françoise, from France, leaves the hustle and bustle of town life and walks, and walks, and….
I would like to tell you about the very beautiful landscape around Wissembourg where we can walk for days in luxuriant forest, discover and visit beautiful fortified castles and climb imposing and high rocks of pink sandstone.
Wissembourg is a small town in Alsace, located at the foot of the North Vosges Park and at the border of the Germany’s state: The Palatinate.
It’s very easy and usual to cross the border on foot from Wissembourg to Germany, many paths lead us across vineyards or forests.
Since 1989 these two regions (Regional Park of « Vosges du Nord » and the Regional Park of « Pfalz » have been recognized by the UNESCO as a biosphere reserve with an ecologically and culturally rich territory.
A veritable ocean of greenery runs through these two parks. It covers 2/3 of the area from near Mannheim in Germany to Saverne, about 160 km further south, in France.It is a true paradise forbirds, animals… hikers, climbers and bikers too.
These hiking trails cross and lead to the peaks (sometimes along the old border markers), plunge into the charming valleys (village, meadows and orchards) and lead back to other summits dominated by old fortified castles. Walk these paths, up and down, up and down through beech, oak, scot pine forests.
Yes, going across this country can transport you in the magic universe of nature and can give you a deep sensation of peace and energy.
Red and green are omnipresent colours on the ground and in the height.
Indeed, the cliffs and rocks are scattered here and there and under the effects of erosion again become grains of sand and tingle the ground with their red colour.
About a thousand rocks and cliffs were counted in the Park of North Vosges. They are mainly at the top of the hills, form an isolated rocky outcrop or are in the form of a cliff. The rocks sometimes scatter over a distance of one kilometer forming a belt of peak cliffs or a line of rocky ridges.
All these rocks attract climbers from around the word. Climbing is a very practiced sport with 72 climbing spots in Palatinate (Pirmasens, Hauenstein, Annweiler, Dahn, Fischbach) and 23 spots in Vosges du Nord (Eguelshard, Obersteinbach, Winstein, Niederbronn).
When you look up, you can see that humans have also marked the red sandstone landscape by building big castles on the summit of cliffs. There 35 castles are listed in the region. One of the most famous is the castle of Fleckenstein, situated about 20 km from Wissembourg. Other human traces appear in the rocks: the troglodyte houses. You can visit them in Graufthal.
There are many hiking paths marked and maintained by the Club Vosgiennes (a local hiking association).
I like hiking and climbing, because, year after year I discover new ways, rocks and landscapes with friends, family or alone.
So, it was a great and enjoyable experience to follow the GR 5 (which goes across from the northern France to Nice). I started from the Pigeonnier Pass, near Wissembourg and arrived near Bourg St. Maurice in the Alps one month and nine days later.
I walked across the entire Vosges mountain, a part of Jura mountain along the Doubs river, on its highlands, its green meadows and black spruces. The soil is limestone. White and stony paths, wide areas for raising cows, large point of view have made me discover a completely different landscape than that of the Vosges mountains.
From Lake Geneva to my arrival point I crossed 15 passes in The Alps, followed waterfalls and torrents, crossed rivers in grandiose landscapes and snowfields.
Each day was for me a simple and deep joy to be in nature and to go alone on foot.