Friday’s French – Ecole Normale, normal, standard, norme, norm

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The first time I heard the expression école normale was when I took up a post as an assistant English teacher in Nantes many moons ago. I soon discovered that it was a teacher training college. I then heard about the école normale supérieure which is one of the most prestigious and selective university and research institutions, in both the arts and sciences.

photo_213_clocheville_primary_school

The école normale supérieure is run and financed by the State with the aim of training researchers, university lecturers, teachers of grande école preparatory classes and secondary school teachers.

So I was somewhat astonished when reading Thomas Hardy’s Jude the Obscure to learn that Sue Brideshead had enrolled in a Normal School to become a teacher. It was the first time I had thought about the word “normal” used in this context.

Ecole normale was the term given to the institution set up in French in 1794 to provide teacher training to students selected by means of competitive examinations. Normal in this context refers to the fact that it was to serve as a model for other schools of the same type i.e. to establish teaching standards or norms. The English institution was modelled on the French école normale. The name “Normal School” was gradually replaced by “teachers college” or “teacher training college,” so called because almost all collegiate level education programs are sub-departments of larger colleges and universities.

In France, there are now 4 écoles normales supérieures (ENS) and admission is highly selective: 218 places à Lyon, 205 à Cachan, 191 à Paris Ulm et 50 à Rennes en 2014.

The ordinary école normale no longer exists. Both primary and secondary school teachers are now trained at an E.S.P.E. (Ecole supérieure du professorat et de l’éducation) which replaced a previous institution, the I.U.F.M. (Institut universitaire de formation des maîtres), in 2013. And, incidentally, a primary school teacher is now called a maître des écoles (literally school master) and not an instituteur or institutrice which is amusing when you consider that in English, the old school master has been replaced by teacher.

The word norm or norme in French comes from the Latin norma, meaning a set square in the concrete sense and a rule or standard in the figurative sense.

Norme is the basic word for standard in French:

normes de fabrication – manufacturing standards

normes de sécurité – safety standards

normes françaises (NF) – French standards

Hors norme(s) literally means something that isn’t standard, what we would call unconventional or unusual in English. C’est une voiture hors norme(s) – it’s no ordinary car.

The use of “norm” in English does not usually include the idea of an official standard but rather something that is usual or typical. Its use is more restrictive and much less common than the French norme.

Strikes were the norm – Les grèves étaient la norme.

The norms of good behaviour in the civil service – Les normes de bonne conduite dans le service public

Many teachers themselves believe that 70 hours a week is the norm. – Beaucoup d’enseignants pensent que 70 heures par semaine est la norme.

The French normal can often be rendered by the French “normal”, but not always.

De dimension normale – normal-sized, standard-sized

C’est tout à fait normal – It’s quite normal/usual.

Il n’est pas normal – he’s not normal/there is something wrong with him.

On the other hand, in the case of “ce n’est pas normal“, we would be more likely to say “there must be something wrong”.

Ce n’est pas normal qu’ils aient droit aux soins gratuits – It’s not right that they get free treatment/They shouldn’t be getting free treatment.

Revenir à la normale – to get back to normal

Ses notes sont au-dessus de la normale – His marks are above average.

Similarly, in the other direction, normal in English is not always normal in French.

She bought it for half the normal price – Elle l’a acheté à moitié prix.

Classes will be as normal – Les cours auront lieu comme d’habitude.

Do you have any other examples?

Posted in French customs, French language | Tagged , , | 1 Comment

Cycling in the Loire – Luynes to Langeais: Castles & Troglodytes

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It’s one of those perfect summer days in the Loire Valley and we’ve chosen to cycle from Luynes to Langeais via a loop we’ve found in our La Touraine à vélo book. Luynes is about 50 minutes from Blois by car. You can see the castle as you approach the village.

Luynes Castle

Luynes Castle in the distance as you approach the village

We  park in the public parking lot at the entrance to the town just opposite the itinerant circus. I heard on the radio the other day that there are now very few municipalities that have adequate grounds to house a circus. As a result they have downscaled and are forced to stay in the same spot for too long for business to be brisk.

An itinerant circus in Luynes

The itinerant circus in Luynes

Le  Saint Venant on the main road is the perfect spot for a coffee before we start the day. It’s very busy, as it also sells cigarettes and lottery tickets. We notice there are several small restaurants open for lunch but we’ve brought a picnic today.

15th century half-timbered house with sculptures

15th century half-timbered house with sculptures around the doors and windows

Luynes is a very attractive little town. In particular there is a beautifully preserved 15th century half-timber house the front of which used to have two entrances. The present door was the private entrance while the other door opened onto the shop. There are four sculptures: Saint James, Saint Geneviève, the local patron saint, a Pietà and Saint Christopher.

The covererd market in Luynes

The covererd market in Luynes

There is also a covered market with a very old troglodyte dwelling right next to it.

The very old troglodyte dwelling in Luynes just opposite the covered market

The very old troglodyte dwelling in Luynes just opposite the covered market

We  ride out of town northwards to find a second century aqueduct. The signs are not that easy to find and are also quite low, obviously aimed at hikers and cyclists.

The approach to the aqueduct from the road

The approach to the aqueduct from the road

The pillars suddenly loom up in the middle of nowhere. I trample through the sunflower field opposite to get a good view of the 300-metre Gallo-Roman aqueduct.

The aqueduct from the sunflower field opposite

The aqueduct from the sunflower field opposite

There is a bench just opposite so we park our bikes and have lunch there with a perfect view of the nine arches, six of which are the original construction.

Luynes Castle, now closed to visitors, with troglodyte cellars below

Luynes Castle, now closed to visitors, with troglodyte cellars below

On our way back into Luynes, we can see the four towers of the castle but can’t get any closer. It’s been closed since June 2016 because it doesn’t respect today’s safety and disability standards. The owner says the outlay is two great for him to make the investment. Only time will tell whether State aid is forthcoming.

Troglodyte house with blue doors and shutters

Troglodyte house with blue doors and shutters

We continue on our way towards Langeais past lots of interesting troglodyte houses and take a detour to Vieux Bourg, a delightful little village with several old half-timbered and stone houses, outside bread ovens and the little church of Saint Etienne which is unfortunately closed for repairs.

A half-timbered house with an outside bread oven in the foreground in Vieux Bourg

A half-timbered house with an outside bread oven in the foreground in Vieux Bourg

As  we approach Saint Etienne, we see a man and his wife coming out of a little troglodyte house and we say “hello, looks like a great house”. “Would you like to come in and visit? You look as though you are interested.” Jean-Michel starts politely refusing but I immediately say “Yes, please! We’d love too.”

A troglodyte house that was originally a wine cellar

A troglodyte house that was originally a wine cellar

They explain that the house was originally a wine-cellar which means it’s quite deep and not easy to ventilate. The main problem is in summer when it remains very cool and has a lot of condensation which is not great for anything electronic. They have ceiling fans to direct the heat towards the lower part of the rooms when heating in the winter. They are trying to find a way to solve the problem.

You can see the end of the steel tie on the right

You can see the end of the steel tie on the right

I would love to take photos but feel it wouldn’t be polite. The only one I take is of the ceiling in the main room which shows where steel ties have been used to make sure the ceiling doesn’t cave in!

More troglodyte houses along the way

More troglodyte houses along the way

They are both retired and happy with their choice but admit there is a lot of work to be done and a lot of problems to overcome. Troglodyte houses that started off as houses are not as deep and don’t have the same problems. I have to confess that I don’t particularly like the idea of living under the earth!

The "modern" church of Saint Etienne built in 1860

The “modern” church of Saint Etienne built in 1860

We  thank them for their visit and continue onto the town of Saint Etienne which has a very attractive, although quite modern church built in 1860.

Cinq-Mars funerary tower built in the 3rd century A.D.

Cinq-Mars funerary tower built in the 3rd century A.D.

We  go past more troglodyte houses until the Cinq-Mars funerary tower looms into view. We’ve seen it often in the past but never visited it. We lug our bikes up an excessively steep hill so that we can see it up close.

A close-up of Cinq-Mars tower with its decorative brick panels

A close-up of Cinq-Mars tower with its decorative brick and stone panels

Built between 150 and 200 A.D. it is a type of funerary tower well-known in Roman times. It is the best preserved and highest funerary stack still extant (29.50 metres) while its brick veneer is rare in Gaul. At the top, twelve decorative brick and white stone panels replace the traditional niche seen on other stacks.

The houses with their decorative friezes in Cinq-Mars

The houses with their decorative friezes in Cinq-Mars

The town of Cinq-Mars is only a few kilometers further. We’re hoping for a coffee but there is nothing open. It must have been quite a thriving town once from the look of the stone friezes on the houses opposite the church.

Our first view of Cinq-Mars castle

Our first view of Cinq-Mars castle – this part is a B&B

We’ve decided to visit the Cinq-Mars castle even though there isn’t much left of the original feudal castle. I don’t quite manage to get to the top of the hill on my bike. It’s one of those day when I think that an electrically-assisted bike might be a good idea.

The very deep dry moat

The very deep dry moat

The owner, a retired architect, turns out to be a mine of information and very willing to talk. The price is a reasonable five euro each.

The stone bridge from in the moat

The stone bridge taken from the bottom of the moat

We  visit the dry moat which is extremely deep, then walk across the magnificent stone bridge with its three arches that replaced the 15th century drawbridge.

The two 13th century towers

The two 12th to 15th century towers

The two 12th to 15th century towers each have three vaulted rooms one on top of the other, but only one tower is open to visitors.

A vaulted room inside the tower on the right in the photo above

A vaulted room inside the tower on the right in the photo above

The name itself is derived from the name of the first known owner, Geoffroy de Saint Médard. It became Saint-Mars after André de Saint-Médard died in the Holy Land in 1210 then for some unknown reason turned into Cinq-Mars in the 16th century.

What remains of the top floor

What remains of the top floor

The castle’s most famous character is Henri Ruzze d’Effiat, Marquis of Cinq-Mars, favourite of Louis XIII, who was beheaded for treason at the age of 22. According to local legend, the castle itself and even the trees were decapitated. His tragic end inspired Alfred de Vigny’s novel, “Cinq Mars” which I’ve never read. Maybe I should.

The area known as the Juiverie at Cinq-Mars castle, overlooking the church

The area known as the Juiverie at Cinq-Mars castle, overlooking the church

It’s nearly 5 pm and we are not even halfway along our itinerary. Jean Michel suggests we go to Langeais and follow an alternate much shorter route back to Luynes.

Langeais Castle from the wrong side of the railway track

Langeais Castle from the wrong side of the railway track

We find ourselves on a main road but can see the bike route over to the right which means scrambling up and down an embankment. It’s a very rough path but it’s better than having traffic whizzing past at 90 kph! We finally see Langeais on the other side of the railway track. Somehow we’ve missed our exit and the path gives out. We squeeze past a post and return to the main road but fortunately we only have to take it a short distance.

One of our favourite teashops - La Maison de Rabelais just opposite Langeais Castle

One of our favourite teashops – La Maison de Rabelais just opposite Langeais Castle

Five minutes later we’re sitting in front of one of our favourite teashops – La Maison de Rabelais, just opposite the castle (which we’ve visited several times before), which is a combined patissier, chocolatier and glacier. After restoring ourselves with an excellent ice-cream, we return via another route which is also a main road. I think I preferred the bumpy path.

Painted pillars in Saint-Etienne

Painted pillars in Saint-Etienne

At  Saint-Etienne I ask for a break and we visit the church. Although it is recent – 1860 – I find the inside very harmonious and attractive with its painted pillars and mosaic floors.

The back of the entrance of Saint-Etienne with its mosaic floor

The back of the entrance of Saint-Etienne with its mosaic floor

We  arrive back at the car around 7.30 pm and it’s still full daylight. We didn’t get to Château de Champchevrier but we can go there another time. It’s one of the most interesting and enjoyable rides in the Loire we’ve had in a long time!

The bike map showing the original itinerary. We only went from Luynes to the aqueduct then onto Langeais.

The bike map showing the original itinerary. We only went from Luynes to the aqueduct then onto Langeais.

Posted in Architecture, Cycling, Loire Valley, Loire Valley châteaux, Restaurants | Tagged , , , , , | 7 Comments

Cycling along the Loir – Vendôme to Lavardin: troglydytes and murals

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Before I begin, just a little note to say that I really am talking about the Loir and not its cousin, the Loire River. We’ve been to Lavardin before – on a cold winter’s day in December last year during the Christmas markets – and promised we’d come back and cycle around the area in the summer.

The imposing entrance to Louis Gatien school in Villiers-sur-Loir

The imposing entrance to Louis Gatien school in Villiers-sur-Loir

We’ve found an itinerary on the web that we’ve printed out and are starting at Villiers which is the closest point to Blois (50 mins away by car). We park in front of a school called Louis Gatien which must surely have been something else in its heyday. Nothing else could explain the entrance!

The water tower designed by Mr Fortier

The water tower designed by Mr Fortier in 1868

It has a large round building at one end that I later discover is a water tower with an artesian bore built by a Mr Fortier in 1868 for his personal use. It also supplied water to a wash-house; any surplus water was taken via a ditch to the Loir. Maybe the school was his house.

The town hall in Villiers-sur-Loir with its 2-metre diameter monumental clock

The town hall in Villiers-sur-Loir with its 2-metre diameter monumental clock

The centre of little town of Villiers, which has a population of just over 1,000, seems to be thriving. Around the central square is a church, a town hall with a 2-metre diameter monumental clock, a baker, a butcher, a Proxi supermarket, a bar, a restaurant and a hair-dressing salon. It’s Sunday morning and bustling with people.

The bike and camino signs at Villiers-sur-Loir

The bike and camino signs at Villiers-sur-Loir

We see the little green and white bike route sign indicating Loire à Vélo and start following it. We are also on the Camino path. We go past an amazing number of troglodyte dwellings, some of which are quite sophisticated. One even has crenellations and bull’s eyes!

A troglodyte castle

A troglodyte castle

The first village is Thoré la Rochette built over the river. It has a hotel/bar/restaurant that is actually open (but it’s too soon for a capuccino stop).

Hôtel du Pont bar and restaurant in Thoré

Hôtel du Pont bar and restaurant in Thoré la Rochette

We  keep following the little bike signs until we come to another very busy place: a train station that doubles as a wine-tasting venue. The red and white wine produced in the area is vendomois, made with chenin and pinot d’aunis grapes, a cousin of chenin blanc. The room is full of people so we don’t taste any wine.

The Loir Valley Tourist Train statoin at Thoré la Rochette

The Loir Valley Tourist Train station at Thoré la Rochette

The station has been rehabilitated for the Loir Valley tourist train, a rural railcar from the 1950s. The 2 ¾ hour trip stops at the troglodyte village of Tröo and the “tunnel of history” in Montoire where Pétain and Hitler met up during the Second World War. I try out the “dry toilets” and wonder why there aren’t more along the bike paths in France.

A less sophisticated troglodyte house

A less sophisticated troglodyte house

We  continue towards Rimay past more troglodyte houses. What a pity we can’t have our picnic at this one!

The castle of Lavardin in the distance

The castle of Lavardin in the distance

At  one point we can see the ruined castle of Lavardin in the distance. With some difficulty regarding signage (our itinerary no longer coincides with the Loire à Vélo bike route), we arrive in Montoire. We should have gone to the left of the roundabout with the waterwheel and not to the right.

The waterwheel intersection where we should have gone left

The waterwheel intersection where we should have gone left

I don’t know the reason behind the flags on the town hall in Montoire but I find them very attractive.

The town hall in Montoire with its colourful flags

The town hall in Montoire with its colourful flags

We  finally reach Lavardin where we’re hoping to find some shady picnic tables. We find the tables – 8 of them, but only two are in the shade and both are occupied. Everyone else is picnicking on rugs on the ground.

Picnic tables in Lavardin

Picnic tables in Lavardin

As  we continue on to Lavardin, we see the perfect place to picnic – shady tables on the banks of the Loir. Sigh.

Alongside the river in Lavardin

Alongside the river in Lavardin

Lavardin itself is much prettier without the Christmas market. We have a café gourmand in an open-air restaurant with a view of the castle. There is a stand with tourist leaflets on it and I pick up one mentioning the murals and frescos in the church of Saint Genest which we were not able to visit last time.

A curious sculpture of a snake on one of the façade stones of the church

A curious sculpture of a snake on one of the façade stones of the church

We  walk around it as directed to find the sculpted stones that were included in the façade when it was built.

The castle seen from the side of the church

The castle seen from the side of the church

It  proves to have a perfect view of the castle as well.

Paintings on the ceiling of the apse depicting Christ in Majesty

Paintings on the ceiling of the apse depicting Christ in Majesty

Inside we discover a magnificent series of wall paintings, two frescos and painted capitals that are well worth a visit.

One of the painted pillars

One of the painted pillars

Afterwards, we walk up the hill towards the castle so I can take some more photos. We can now see the church of Saint Genest in full.

The Romanesque churcvh of Saint Genest probably built at the end of the 11th century

The Romanesque churcvh of Saint Genest probably built at the end of the 11th century

The castle is certainly photogenic. Founded by the Counts of Vendôme in the 9th century, it was rebuilt in the 14th and 15th century by John 1st of Bourbon-Vendôme. After being occupied by members of the Catholic league, it was captured and dismantled on the orders of Henri IV in 1590. All that is left of the feuldal castle is a 26-metre high rectangular keep with flat buttresses topped with crenallations. The only remaining part of the two walls built in the 14th and 15th centuries is the entrance flanked by two circular towers and a drawbridge over a moat.

Lavardin Castle with its keep and moat

Lavardin Castle with its keep and moat

We  head out of town and past a magnificent Pierre Ronsard rose bush and a church for sale, then have to backtrack. We’re in the wrong direction again.

Magnificent Pierre Ronsard roses in Lavardin

Magnificent Pierre Ronsard roses in Lavardin

We  arrive at the waterwheel roundabout just in time to see the tourist train go by.

The Loir Valley tourist train

The Loir Valley tourist train

Our itinerary takes along the Loir and past more troglodyte houses.

Another variation of troglodyte houses - these could be at the seaside!

Another variation of troglodyte houses – these could almost be at the seaside!

We  come to the little town of Les Roches d’Evêque whose church has an unusual buttress and see another shady picnic table that we now no longer need.

The church with its unusual buttresses

The church with its unusual buttresses

After more troglodyte houses, one of which is three stories high, we find ourselves on a busy road with cars speeding past at 90 kph. I see a sign off to the right saying Château Mézière so suggest we follow it.

A three-storey troglodyte house!

A three-storey troglodyte house!

It’s worth the detour! There is a beautiful Renaissance porch, a moat, a stately main building, a chapel, a boat landing and an orangery, all very romantic and used today as a wedding venue.

Château de Mézière with its Renaissance porch

Château de Mézière with its Renaissance porch

Unfortunately the upkeep must be enormous and much of the main building is very dilapidated.

The moat and boat landing at Château de Mézière

The moat and boat landing at Château de Mézière

There is a sign under the porch saying that visitors are welcome to walk around the outside without charge.

Château de Mézière from inside the courtyard. You can see the Orangery on the left, with the church in the middle and porch on the right.

Château de Mézière from inside the courtyard. You can see the Orangery on the left, with the church in the middle and porch on the right.

By  the time we arrive back at Villiers, we are ready for an ice-cream. I know there is no hope of finding anything that might resemble a German Eiscafé but I’m hoping they might have a Miko.

The church of Saint Hilaire in Villiers

The church of Saint Hilaire in Villiers

The main square in Villiers is TOTALLY deserted. Nothing is open. So we visit the inside of the church of Saint Hilaire which has 16th century wall paintings along one side known as the “three living and the three dead”: three young rakes are called into a cemetery by three dead who remind them of the brevity of life and the importance of saving their souls.

The mural in Saint Hilaire in Villiers

The mural in Saint Hilaire in Villiers depicting the Three Living and Three Dead

The stalls in the chancel have some interesting sculptures as well.

One of the scuptures on the stalls in Saint Hilaire

One of the scuptures on the stalls in Saint Hilaire

Jean Michel takes a photo of a curious motif on a wall which turns out to be a clock jack made by Alain Henry, a copper manufacturer in Villiers, with the help of a fellow craftsman from Bourges. It recalls the legend of the Serpent’s Hole. Unfortunately, it is no longer in operation.

The clock jack in Villiers sur Loir

The clock jack in Villiers sur Loir

According the legend, in the time of the Merovingian king, Childebert I, who lived in the area, a dragon was terrorizing the population. Its den was a cave honed out of rock in Saint-André. The king ordered one of his prisoners, Brayanus, to kill the monster, in exchange for his freedom. Brayanus, mounting a chariot with long sharp steel blades attached to the wheels, charged at the monster while it was slaking its thirst in the river and cut it into three pieces.

The cathedral seen from Saint Martin's Bar in Vendôme

The cathedral seen from Saint Martin’s Bar on Place Saint Martin in Vendôme

We  ride back to the car having clocked up 38 km and 2 hours 40 minutes and Jean Michel suggests we go to Vendôme for an ice-cream as it’s only 10 minutes by car. We find a vendor on Place Saint Martin that only has about six uninteresting flavours so we go looking for somewhere else.

The inner courtyard of the Town Hall, built in 1623 as a college by a religious congregation

The inner courtyard of the Town Hall, built in 1623 as a college by a religious congregation

Although we enjoy walking through the streets of Vendôme, which we have visited several times in the past, we do not find any other ice-cream vendors so go back to Place Saint Martin.

The sun setting over the buttresses of the Cathedral

The sun setting over the buttresses of the Cathedral

The result if very disappointing. Even Carte d’Or ice-cream is better! But we eat them in the cathedral cloisters and enjoy the view of the sun setting over the buttresses.

Porte Saint Georges in Vendôme

Porte Saint Georges in Vendôme

I later discover, to my great dismay, that we missed two major monuments along the bike path – Saint Rimay tunnel where Pétain and Hitler meet up during the Second World War and St Gilles Chapel in Montoire which was the priory of the poet Ronsard from 1566 until his death in 1585. It is said to have murals of exceptional symbolism painted in the 11th to 13th century. We’ll have to go back! But next time, we shall start in Vendôme and follow the little green and white bikes the whole time. That way, we won’t keep getting lost. Or maybe we should just take the tourist train.

Posted in Architecture, Art, Cycling, France, Sightseeing | Tagged , , | 8 Comments

Troyes – A Taste of Late Mediaeval France

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We are on our way back to Blois from our cycling holiday in Germany and are looking for a stopover in France. There is nothing interesting midway but Troyes is about 3/5 of the way which is fine. We book a hotel that is a bit higher than German prices but seems to be well located.

The rood-screen in the church of Saint Madeleine as you enter the church

The rood-screen in the church of Saint Madeleine as you enter the church

We have been to Troyes already several times and I particularly want to go back to see the rood screen in one of the churches, after seeing one recently in Tübingen in Germany. Much of the city’s architecture also corresponds to more or less the same period of history that dominates the towns in Germany that we have just visited.

The parking lot in front of Conforama with our hotel on the right (white building)

The parking lot in front of Conforama with our hotel on the right (white building)

I’m a little nonplussed when I see the hotel, which is a Kyriad, a chain we have never used before. It’s three stars so I figured it would be like a Mercure. It looks very modern and ugly. Still, we only want a bed. It’s next to Conforama, a furniture chain. There is a bike path just in front of the hotel so we can’t even pull up there. Jean Michel waits in the Conforama parking lot while I go in. The girl at reception is friendly enough but does not seem to have learned to rules of polite conversation. “Do you want a bill or what?” she asks the person before me in French.

Our bedroom at the Kyriad

Our bedroom at the Kyriad

There is an extra charge for underground parking which I didn’t see on booking.com. The receptionist tells me we can park for free at Conforama which has cameras operating all night so I choose that. When we get up to the room, I decide I am striking Kyriad off my list forever. It is just too ugly and shoddy.

Some beautifully renovated half-timber houses in Troyes

Some beautifully renovated half-timber houses in Troyes

After resting from the 5-hour drive, we walk into the old town, which really is only 10 minutes away. The first thing we see is a set of beautifully renovated half-timbered houses that we don’t remember seeing before. Troyes, with its rich history, has a large number of 16th and 17th century Renaissance-style half-timbered houses that have gradually been restored since the 1990s, especially in rue Passerat.

Troyes Cathedral

Troyes Cathedral

Next, the cathedral, which I certainly don’t remember.

The main square at 5 pm on a Saturday in summer

The main square at 5 pm on a Saturday in summer

I do remember the main square, Place Maréchal Foch, but it was not this animated on our previous visits. We don’t think we’ve ever been here during the summer. Everybody looks are though they are enjoying themselves.

Saint Madeleine's from the outside

Saint Madeleine’s from the outside

We head down the main street which is full of restaurants until we find Ruelle aux Chats on the right, which leads to Saint Madeleine’s church which has the rood-screen. The nave of this gothic church, which claims to be the oldest in Troyes, was built in the 13th century, while the chancel and apse were built in the 16th century and the tower in the 17th century. It is one of the rare churches to have preserved its Renaissance stone rood-screen finely sculpted by Jehan Gailde.

The rood-screen from the back

The rood-screen from the chancel

It is as magnificent as I remember. There is only one person in the church so we are able to take plenty of photos.

The painted wood calvary in Saint Madeleine church probably dates from the mid 16th century

The painted wood calvary in Saint Madeleine church probably dates from the mid 16th century

I particularly like the gold-painted calvary on one side of the rood-screen.

Stained glass window in the church of Saint Madeleine

Early 16th century stained glass window in the church of Saint Madeleine

The ambulatory has a magnificent set of beautifully-coloured stained glass windows from the same period (around 1500) that show considerable technical skill.

The view from the terrace of the restaurant

The view of Saint John’s church from the terrace of the restaurant taken earlier

After visiting the church we join the throng on the main square for an aperitif. We then have dinner in a street parallel to the main restaurant street. What I didn’t see is that our restaurant has a terrace on the other side which means that there are a lot of customers and obviously not enough kitchen staff! Our meal takes a very long time to come. But it doesn’t matter – we’re not in a hurry.

Saint Rémi, rebuilt in the 14th century is thought to be one of the oldest churches in Troyes, despite its more modern look. The fresco was painted in 1772.

Saint Rémi, rebuilt in the 14th century is thought to be one of the oldest churches in Troyes, despite its more modern look. The fresco was painted in 1772.

Next morning, after a good night’s sleep (at least the beds are comfortable), we leave our ugly hotel (the man on reception has more personal skills than the girl yesterday) and walk into the centre for breakfast as neither of us wants to have it at the hotel.

The main square on a Sunday morning

The main square on a Sunday morning with not a soul in sight

Visiting Troyes on a Sunday morning is a different experience. There is practically no one around and I am able to take more photographs. It’s even quite difficult to find somewhere for breakfast.

Half-timbered houses on the other side of the square from Saint John's

Half-timbered houses on the other side of the square from Saint John’s

We go past the church of Saint Jean in front of which there is plaque dedicated to Marguerite Boureoys, the founder of public schooling in Montreal and “apostle of French culture in Canada” born on 17 April 1620 in one of the nearby houses and baptized the same day in the church. She died in Quebec in 1700, was beatified in 1950 and canonized in 1982 as the first female saint of Canada. If you would like to know more about her very interesting life, click here. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marguerite_Bourgeoys

Troyes City Hall built during the second half of the 17th century

Troyes City Hall built during the second half of the 17th century

We finally have breakfast looking out onto the main square, with the Town Hall on the left and some of Troyes’ colourful old half-timbered houses on the left.

Our breakfast view of typical painted half-timbered houses in Troyes

Our breakfast view of typical painted half-timbered houses in Troyes

Our return to the car takes us past the Haute-Seine canal next to the 27-km long 3-meter wide asphalt bike path joining up nine of the surrounding villages. It’s part of a route that will eventually take cyclists to Paris. We regret that we didn’t try it out the previous day.

A delightfully pink house!

A delightfully pink house!

We discover the very attractive fountain in front of the Préfecture (Troyes is the “capital” of the Aube département, one of France’s 96 administrative divisions).

The fountain and préfecture

The fountain and préfecture

Oh, and I nearly forgot to say that the old town of Troyes, which is part of the Champagne region, is in the shape of a champagne cork!

The Voie Verte bike route

The Voie Verte bike route

Troyes, once a thriving drapery centre, is also known for its outlet stores – McArthur Glen, Marques Avenue and Marques City http://www.troyesmagusine.com/ – which we visited many times in the past until they were developed in the Paris region. However, now that we no longer live in Paris and Jean Michel is retired, our vestimentary requirements have changed and we do our clothes shopping during the sales in nearby Tours.

AllAboutFranceBadge_bisThis post is my August contribution to Lou Messugo’s All About France link-up. For other posts about France, click here.

Posted in Accommodation, Architecture, Cycling, France, Sightseeing | Tagged , , | 6 Comments

Cycling along the Neckar in Germany #3 – Rottweil to Oberndorf

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It’s the last day of our cycling holiday in Germany. We’ve checked a few on-line sources and studied the cycling map and are driving to Altoberndorf a half an hour away so that we can cycle along the Neckar to Rottweil and Oberndorf. After an excellent breakfast at the Martinhof, Hotel including Spiegel ei, we are off.

The rathaus in Alto

The rathaus in Altoberndorf

There are roadworks on the motorway (again!) so we take an earlier exit than planned along very small roads. Since Germany developed a free motorway system very early on, there are few major roads otherwise. Some of the time, we are driving along the recommended bike route.

Altoberndorf and the Neckar

Altoberndorf and the Neckar

At Altoberndorf we park near the new rathaus. We are soon in pretty countryside, in a very narrow valley. We come to the first covered bridge of the day. On the other side there are two wooden sculptures – and a very devoted photographer. His wife is waiting patiently further on. I wonder how often she has to do so.

A very devvoted photographer at the first covered bridge

A very devoted photographer at the first covered bridge

The route then runs along the railway line. So far, it’s quite flat but we know we have a steep climb before we get to Rottweil.

The pretty little village of Tauhausen from the bike path

The pretty little village of Talhausen from the bike path

At Talhausen, it’s cappuccino time so we go into the village. Nothing. I suggest we try further up the hill because I can see a sign that looks promising. At the top, there is a bar with a view. The only problem is that it’s closed on Friday’s until 4.30 pm.

The second covered bridge of the day, taken from the side

The second covered bridge of the day, taken from the side

We go back down the hill to join the bike path again and soon come to our second covered bridge. We have seen these in other parts of Germany but are not sure of their purpose.

We follow the Neckar for some time

Following the Neckar

We follow the Neckar for a while until we pass under the motorway bridge. Not soon after that, we come to our long climb – 1.7 kilometers. I can see Jean Michel far ahead of me on the next bend. The road seems never-ending but once I find my pace I work my way steadily up. There is a wonderful view over to my left but I do not stop for photos or I’ll never make it to the top.

The motorway bridge in the distance as we climb the hill

The motorway bridge in the distance as we climb the hill

I think the end is in sight, but can’t see Jean Michel, so I assume the climb isn’t finished. When I am almost at the top, I see a group of four German cyclists resting in front of me. One is even lying down on the grass. I put on my best smile and say “Hallo” very energetically. I am a little disappointing that no one says “Bravo”. I later learn that only one of them cycled up the hill and she had an electric bike.

Me as I get to the top of the hill

Me as I get to the top of the hill

Just round the corner I see Jean Michel waiting for me. He takes a photo and congratulates me. This is most definitely the longest climb I’ve ever done. He says he expected me to walk at least part of the way. I’m very proud of myself.

The first painted house we see in Rottweil

The first painted house we see in Rottweil

We cycle the last few kilometers into Rottweil and each time we freewheel I think of how hard it’s going to be after lunch – even with the 1.7 km descent to look forward to.

The fountain in the main square in Rottweil

The fountain in the main square in Rottweil

Rottweil is a delight to the eye with painted façades and decorated oriel windows everywhere. I am only sorry that the sky has been gradually filling with clouds.

The other side of the square in Rottweil

The other side of the square in Rottweil

We call in at the tourist office and I ask whether there are restaurants other than the Greek, Chinese and Italian ones we can see on the main square. She says to go into the side streets.

More oriel windows in the main street

More oriel windows in the main street

Jean Michel finds a terrace next to the church but is soon told that the kitchen is closed – it’s 1.15 pm.

Our lunch terrace

Our shady lunch terrace

I suggest we go down to the bottom of the square and turn right as there is a park. Just before the bridge, we see a terrace but aren’t sure how to access it. I walk through a porch and out into a courtyard with a little tree-covered biergarten at the end. It’s an Italian restaurant as it turns out – but who cares? The setting is perfect. So is the food and the Italian wine.

Outside the restaurant - Hochebrucke

Outside the restaurant – Hochbrücke – it looks German but is actually an Italian pizzeria

We see there is nothing in  particular to visit in the town – we are not really interested in the Rottweiler dog museum – so go back to the main square to take some more photos.

The second fountain in the main street

The second fountain in the main street

Jean Michel checks the map so we don’t have too many ups and downs before we get to our 1.7 km descent. We go past a tower-like construction we noticed before called Test turm. We later check it out on the Internet. The 246 metre high Tower of Light is a lift test tower whose construction began on 2nd October 2014.

The "Tower of Light" test tower just outside Rottweil

The “Tower of Light” test tower just outside Rottweil

We arrive at the 1.7 km descent at 3.30 pm and this time, I can stop for photos! You can just see the motorway in the distance.

The view from the hill on the way down

The view from the hill on the way down

At the bottom we stop to fill our water bottles at a fountain provided by the local waterworks for cyclists and hikers. The water is nice and cold. We manage to keep it fairly cool with our Australian stubby coolers.

The waterworks where we fill up our water bottles

The waterworks where we fill up our water bottles

We ride past Altoberndorf and on to Oberdorf where we see our fourth covered bridge. There are riotous kids on rubber rafts floating along the river below.

Kids on rafts from the fourth covered bridge just outside Oberndorf

Kids on rafts under the fourth covered bridge just outside Oberndorf

It looks as though the town is up on a hill. Oh dear. Our cycle path takes us onto a ramp that ends in a spiral. I’m walking this!

You can see the spiral bike ramp on the right

You can see the spiral bike ramp on the right

However, before we reach the spiral, there is a sign on the right directing us to the rathaus, Information Office and a church. It’s nearly 5 pm and no sign of life. I stay downstairs with the bikes while Jean Michel goes into the rathaus. I start looking at a guide book in French on the Black Forest that we bought in Rottweil. A man comes up and asks in English if I need help. I explain I’m waiting for my husband who is in the rathaus.

Outside the Rathaus in Oberndorf

Outside the Rathaus in Oberndorf

“Have you visited the church?” “No, not yet.” “It’s nearly 5 o’clock, it’s going to close soon. Come with me”. I follow him, leaving the bikes behind unattached and hoping Jean Michel will not worry when he doesn’t find me. “Where are you from?” he asks. “Well, I’m Australian, my husband is French and we live in France”, I explain. He then says a few words in French because he had noticed the book I was reading.

The church near the rathaus in Oberndorf

The church near the rathaus in Oberndorf

We can go into the church but only the narthex is open. The wrought iron gates leading into the nave are closed. “This is our town’s most famous place”, he says. “It’s a Christmas scene on the ceiling and a crucifixion at the end.” Jean Michel arrives at this point and I explain in French what’s going on. The man offers to find a key to get into the nave but we say we can see well enough from the narthex.

Inside the church in Oberndorf

Inside the church in Oberndorf

He then explains that the town is famous for its church and the manufacture of Mauser weapons. No wonder it was bombed during the war!

The upper part of Oberndorf

The old town of Oberndorf

At my insistence we go up to the old part of the town although Jean Michel is not convinced there is anything up there. However, there are several pretty houses and, more importantly, an eis café. We choose our flavours (we know all the vocab now) and sit down on a nearby bench in a sort of kiosk to eat them. Two other people are sitting there as well and start asking us questions about our holiday, where we live, etc. This is probably the first time we’ve had a real conversation in Germany.

The fountain in the old town of Oberndorf

The fountain in the old town of Oberndorf

The sky is getting darker and darker and it’s also getting very windy. “Do you have rain clothes?” asks the lady. “Yes, we have our capes”, I reply. Thank goodness. We are just finishing our ice-creams when the first drops start to fall.

The owner of the eis cafe quic;klky putting down the parasols

The owner of the eis cafe quickly putting down the parasols while Jean Michel puts his paper in the bin

We hastily put our capes on (Jean Michel does not refuse this time) and head for the ramp. I walk my bike down as I’m afraid it might be slippery. By the time we leave the town, it’s absolutely pelting down and doesn’t look as though it will let up soon. Suddenly, we realise that we’ve gone too far and don’t know where we are.

The rain pelting down while I am in the bus shelter

The rain pelting down while I am in the bus shelter

I see a bus shelter and we wait there for a bit. Jean Michel goes off to reconnoiter and eventually locates the underpass into Atloberndorf. that we missed It’s still raining heavily and the gutters are still flooded when we approach the car. I see a place where we can park the car while we put the bikes on without getting even wetter.

We are soaked from the thighs down and our sandals are swimming with water. Fortunately we have a suitcase of clean clothes in the car plus a second pair of sandals so are able to change before going home. It’s still raining when we leave. I make a mistake when entering the address in the Tom-Tom and we end up in Freundstadt. It takes another ¾ hour to get home.

map

Our cycling holiday in Germany is over and the weather seems to agree that it’s time to go back to Blois where the temperatures have improved considerably.

We have now cycled along the Danube, the Rhine, the Moselle, the Elb, the Romantic Road (the Tauber), the polders in Friesland, Lake Constance and the Neckar in Germany on four different occasions. The Danube and Lake Constance remain our favourites.

OTHER POSTS ABOUT CYCLING IN GERMANY

Cycling in Germany – Tips & Tricks
 
Cycling in Germany #1 – Kobern-Kondorf on the Moselle
Cycling in Germany #2 – Rhine from Saint Goar to Lorch
Cycling in Germany #3 – Cochem to Zell on the Moselle
Cycling in Germany #4 – Koblenz where the Moselle meets the Rhine
Cycling in Germany #5 – Bad Schaugen to Pirna along the Elbe
Cycling in Germany #6 – Bastei Rocks, Honigen and over the border to Czech Republic 
Cycling in Germany #7 – Dresden: accommodation & car trouble and Baroque Treasure  
Cycling in Germany #8 – Dresden Neustadt: Kunsthof Passage, Pfund’s Molkerei, a broom shop & trompe l’oeil
Cycling in Germany #9 – Country roads around Niderlommatzsch on the Elbe
Cycling in Germany #10 – Meissen on the Elbe
Cycling in Germany #11 – Martin Luther Country: Torgau on the Elbe
Cycling in Germany #12 – Martin Luther Country: Wittenberg on the Elbe
Cycling in Germany #13 – Wörlitz Gardens and the beginning of neo-classicism in Germany
Cycling in Germany #14 – Shades of Gaudi on the Elbe: Hundertwasser
Cycling in Germany #15 –  Turgermünde, the prettiest village on the Elbe
Cycling in Germany #16 – Celle & Bremen
Cycling in Germany #17 – Windmills & Dykes
Cycling in Germany #18 – Painted façades from Hann. Münden to Höxter
Cycling in Germany #19 – Bernkastel on the Moselle: a hidden treasure
Cycling in Germany #20 – Trier & the Binoculars Scare
 
Cycling along the Danube – A Renaissance festival in Neuburg, Bavaria
Cycling along the Danube – Watch out for trains!
Cycling along the Danube – Regensburg & Altmuhle
Cycling along the Danube –  The Weltenburg Narrows
Cycling along the Danube – from its source to Ehingen
Cycling along the Danube – Ehingen to Ulm
Cycling along the Danube – Singmarigen to Beuron
Cycling along the Danube – Binzwangen to Mengen including  Zwiefalten
 
Eurovelo 6 – Cycling around Lake Constance
Eurovelo 6 – Moos to Stein am Rhein and Steckborn on Lake Constance
 
Heading home to France after a month’s cycling holiday
 
Cycling along the Neckar in Germany #1 – Ludwigsburg
Cycling alnog the Neckar in Germany #2 – Horb – Rottenburg – Türbingen – Bebenhausen 
Cycling along the Neckar in Germany #3 – Rottweil to Oberndorf
 
Cycling along the Romantic Road in Bavaria #1 – Peiting to Wies
Cycling along the Romantic Road in Bavaria #2 – Lechbruck to Fussen via Neuschwanstein Castle
Cycling along the Romantic Road in Bavaria #3 – Peiting to Diessen
Cycling along the Romantic Road in Bavaria #4 – Augsburg 
Cycling along the Romantic Road in Bavaria #5 – Nordlingen, Wallerstein, Dinkelsbühl and Feuchtwangen
Cycling along the Romantic Road in Bavaria #6 – Rothenburg am der Tauber and Tauberbishofsheim
Cycling along the Romantic Road in Bavaria #7 – Würzburg
Cycling along the Romantic Road in Bavaria #8 – Tauberbishofsheim to Creglingen
 
Posted in Cycling, Germany | Tagged , , | 7 Comments

Cycling along the Neckar in Germany #2 – Horb – Rottenburg – Türbingen – Bebenhausen

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We seem to have scored with our hotel at last. It is well-located, right on the bike path, the room is spacious with a sofa, two chairs and a desk, the bed is comfortable (and there is even a double bed unlike most accommodation in Germany where two single beds are usually pushed together), it has black-out curtains, the floor doesn’t creak, the shower doesn’t have water spiking out every which way, it has real towels, the breakfast is excellent and the staff is friendly and accommodating. It’s called Martinshof in Rottenburg am Neckar and I can recommend it! We are staying four nights.

The Martinshof Hotel in Rottenburg am Neckar

The Martinshof Hotel in Rottenburg am Neckar

The little town of Rottenburg am Neckar has a marktplatz with several historical buildings and a path along the Neckar where we go to have our picnic dinner each evening as we don’t have a terrace. The light is perfect the first time we go there and I manage to take several stunning photos. It also has one of the best ice-cream parlours we’ve been to in Germany. The dark chocolate is to die for.

Along the Neckar in Rottenburg

Along the Neckar in Rottenburg

The weather prediction for the three days we are staying here is warm and sunny, even very hot the first day. We make the effort to get up early (8 am) and are on our way by 9.30.

The marktplatz in Rottenburg

The marktplatz in Rottenburg

The Neckartal-Radweg path takes us through pretty countryside and is mostly flat. We look for a café in the first village, Obernau, to no avail, so push on to Bieringen which has a seemingly non-descript bakery/open air café that is obviously known for miles around as people keep pulling up in their cars and dashing in to pick up boxes and packets.

Cycling country outside Rottenburg

Cycling country outside Rottenburg

We enjoy our cappuccino but aren’t hungry enough for cake. By now it must be about 28°C.

A golf course literally in the middle of nowhare

A golf course literally in the middle of nowhere

To our immense surprise, we go past a golf course. You’d wonder where the people come from. It’s getting hotter and hotter and we are positively sweltering by the time we reach Eutingen Im Gäu. From then on, we spend most of our time going up and down hills. When we see the motorway bridge above us, we’re not surprised.

The motorway bridge above the bike path

The motorway bridge above the bike path

Fortunately, we then go through a wooded area or we may not have survived! We keep stopping to drink water which we keep chilled with our Aussie stubbie coolers.

The tower on the hill near Horb

The tower on the hill near Horb

Our destination, Horb, is not exactly what we expected. First, it is on top of a VERY HIGH HILL which we walk up, of course. At the top, we see the painted rathaus and church but no restaurants so we go back down the hill.

The painted rathaus in Horb am Neckar

The painted rathaus in Horb am Neckar

I suggest we ride along the river in the opposite direction to see what we can find. Jean Michel is very dubious but I insist. Suddenly we come across an outdoor Italian restaurant under shady trees. It has a very basic menu but we don’t care.

The shady Italian eatery

The shady Italian eatery

There is a high school just behind and the students are all cooling themselves off in the river a hundred metres on. We order wiener schnitzel to be on the safe side with French fries and they are excellent. Jean Michel tells me everyone is calling them “pommice”. We later learn it is the German pronunciation of pommes short for pommes frites, which means French fries in French. I feel sorry for the Italian mamma who’s cooking today. We are reasonably cool in the shade.

Chilling out on the roadside bench

Chilling out on the roadside bench

I am dreading the ride back because of all those hills but in fact, they are not so steep in this direction. After an hour, though, I am happy to stretch out on a conveniently located wooden bench to recuperate.

A vineyard on the way home

A vineyard on the way home

We call in again at the bakery in Bieringen. By now it is 32°C in the shade and we need to cool off again. Business continues to be brisk but we still don’t feel like eating cream cakes and my dictionary does not tell me what holzofen brot is.

The bakery in

The bakery in Bieringen

All we want when we get back after cycling 55 km in 4 hours is a cold shower. Our room does not have air-conditioning but we cool off along the river with an ice-cream. On the way home, we hear an impromptu concert in one of the squares.

It’s next morning and an intermittent fast day. Fortunately, it isn’t as hot and the temperature is only expected to get to 28°C. We shall have to drink a lot of water though.

The beautifully painted rathaus in Tübingen

The beautifully painted rathaus in Tübingen – unfortunately it’s delivery time

We pack our picnic lunch and set out at 9.30 am. Initially, the route is not very exciting, but at least it’s flat. Tübingen, our main destination, is only 12 km away. Since it was not bombed during World War II, most of the houses are very old, many are half-timbered and some are painted.

Marktplatz in Tübingen

Marktplatz in Tübingen

The rathaus with its oriel window is particularly attractive.

Having coffee next to the canal

Having coffee next to the canal

We have an espresso next to a little canal to the accompaniment of live music from Budapest and watch two enormous trucks try to get past each other.

Houses along the Neckar in Tübingen

Houses along the Neckar in Tübingen

After visiting the main sights in the upper part of the town, we cycle down to the tourist office just next to the Neckar Bridge. Tübingen has a population of 66,000 people, one third of whom are university students. They seem to be everywhere!

 

Punts on the Neckar

Punts on the Neckar

We see gondola-like boats on the river which apparently are the local tourist attraction.

A biergarten along the Neckar. What a pity it's an intermittent fast day!

A biergarten along the Neckar. What a pity it’s an intermittent fast day!

As we haven’t determined where we are going next, I ask the man in the tourist office to suggest something to visit within a radius of 10 km. He gives me a brochure on Bebenhausen monastery and castle which is 6 km out of town.

The bike café on the way to Bebenhausen

The bike café on the way to Bebenhausen

On the way, we come across a little café on the bike path and have an espresso. Dark rain clouds are threatening and I haven’t packed our rain capes. In the little wood just after the café, there are definite signs that a shower that has already taken place. Let’s keep our fingers crossed.

One of the houses in the village of Bebenhausen

One of the houses in the village of Bebenhausen

When we reach Bebenhausen, we are enchanted. I don’t understand why the brochure only shows the rather drab inside of the castle and church when the village itself is so pretty.

The clock on one side of the abbey

The clock on one side of the abbey

Although it is not teeming with tourists we are not on our own. There are two groups of schoolchildren and two groups of adults which makes it difficult to take photographs!

Another view of Bebenhausen

Another view of Bebenhausen

We stop off at Tübigen on the way back to visit the cathedral because it has a flamboyant gothic jubé. There are some interesting wooden statues at the end of some of the pews.

The jube in Tübingen cathedral

The jube in Tübingen cathedral

We’re back at our hotel by 4 pm, having cycled 42 km in 3 hours 20 minutes in near-perfect weather.

Traditional music in Rottenburg am Neckar

Traditional music in Rottenburg am Neckar

We have dinner along the river as usual, but no ice-cream because it’s an intermittent fast day. As we reach the marktplatz we can hear music. We’ve arrived at the tail end of some sort of organised event but it’s good to know that our little town is so active.

map

OTHER POSTS ABOUT CYCLING IN GERMANY

Cycling in Germany – Tips & Tricks
 
Cycling in Germany #1 – Kobern-Kondorf on the Moselle
Cycling in Germany #2 – Rhine from Saint Goar to Lorch
Cycling in Germany #3 – Cochem to Zell on the Moselle
Cycling in Germany #4 – Koblenz where the Moselle meets the Rhine
Cycling in Germany #5 – Bad Schaugen to Pirna along the Elbe
Cycling in Germany #6 – Bastei Rocks, Honigen and over the border to Czech Republic 
Cycling in Germany #7 – Dresden: accommodation & car trouble and Baroque Treasure  
Cycling in Germany #8 – Dresden Neustadt: Kunsthof Passage, Pfund’s Molkerei, a broom shop & trompe l’oeil
Cycling in Germany #9 – Country roads around Niderlommatzsch on the Elbe
Cycling in Germany #10 – Meissen on the Elbe
Cycling in Germany #11 – Martin Luther Country: Torgau on the Elbe
Cycling in Germany #12 – Martin Luther Country: Wittenberg on the Elbe
Cycling in Germany #13 – Wörlitz Gardens and the beginning of neo-classicism in Germany
Cycling in Germany #14 – Shades of Gaudi on the Elbe: Hundertwasser
Cycling in Germany #15 –  Turgermünde, the prettiest village on the Elbe
Cycling in Germany #16 – Celle & Bremen
Cycling in Germany #17 – Windmills & Dykes
Cycling in Germany #18 – Painted façades from Hann. Münden to Höxter
Cycling in Germany #19 – Bernkastel on the Moselle: a hidden treasure
Cycling in Germany #20 – Trier & the Binoculars Scare
 
Cycling along the Danube – A Renaissance festival in Neuburg, Bavaria
Cycling along the Danube – Watch out for trains!
Cycling along the Danube – Regensburg & Altmuhle
Cycling along the Danube –  The Weltenburg Narrows
Cycling along the Danube – from its source to Ehingen
Cycling along the Danube – Ehingen to Ulm
Cycling along the Danube – Singmarigen to Beuron
Cycling along the Danube – Binzwangen to Mengen including  Zwiefalten
 
Eurovelo 6 – Cycling around Lake Constance
Eurovelo 6 – Moos to Stein am Rhein and Steckborn on Lake Constance
 
Heading home to France after a month’s cycling holiday
 
Cycling along the Neckar in Germany #1 – Ludwigsburg
Cycling alnog the Neckar in Germany #2 – Horb – Rottenburg – Türbingen – Bebenhausen 
Cycling along the Neckar in Germany #3 – Rottweil to Oberndorf
 
Cycling along the Romantic Road in Bavaria #1 – Peiting to Wies
Cycling along the Romantic Road in Bavaria #2 – Lechbruck to Fussen via Neuschwanstein Castle
Cycling along the Romantic Road in Bavaria #3 – Peiting to Diessen
Cycling along the Romantic Road in Bavaria #4 – Augsburg 
Cycling along the Romantic Road in Bavaria #5 – Nordlingen, Wallerstein, Dinkelsbühl and Feuchtwangen
Cycling along the Romantic Road in Bavaria #6 – Rothenburg am der Tauber and Tauberbishofsheim
Cycling along the Romantic Road in Bavaria #7 – Würzburg
Cycling along the Romantic Road in Bavaria #8 – Tauberbishofsheim to Creglingen
Posted in Accommodation, Cycling, Dieting, Germany | Tagged , , , | 9 Comments

Cycling Along the Neckar in Germany – #1 – Ludwigsburg

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We have come to the end of our cycling tour of the Romantic Road and have a week left before we have to be back home in Blois. We look at the map to see where we can do some more exploring by bike. The Neckar river starts in Villingen-Schwenningen in the Black Forest and joins the Rhine in Mannheim. We manage to find a Bikeline map of the Neckar Valley and decide that Rottenburg am Neckar looks like a good base for four nights.

The main façade of Ludwigsburg Palace when you first see it

The main façade of Ludwigsburg Palace when you first see it

Ludwigsburg which is on the Neckar just north of Stuttgart looks like a good lunch stop. It has one of Germany’s largest Baroque palaces. It started off as a hunting lodge built by Ludwig of Württemberg at the beginning of the 18th century. Over the years it was expanded and improved until it became a royal residential palace.

Cappuccino time

Cappuccino time

After parking in the covered carpark in the large shopping centre opposite the palace we have an excellent cappuccino in an Italian osteria where everyone speaks to us in Italian. When we arrive at the palace at about 11.30 am, we learn that we have to join a one-hour guided tour. The next one in English is at 1.30 pm, which is a little annoying. We buy our tickets at 7 euro a piece and decide to have lunch into the very extensive gardens. But the entry is another 8.50 euro each which sounds ludicrous so we go into the little town centre instead. The heat is excruciating by now.

The marktplatz in Ludwigsburg on market day

The marktplatz in Ludwigsburg on market day

There is a fresh market in the main square which only seems to have cafés and no restaurants but we eventually find one that serves salads and pasta and settle for that. Its main recommendation is that it is on the shady side of the square. We buy some tomatoes and fruit before we leave. The vendor’s daughter tells us that her cousin is going to Australia for a year.

The other side of marktpltaz showing the modern buildings behind

The other side of marktpltaz showing the modern buildings behind

Our tour begins on time and our guide speaks good English and is very knowledgeable. Considering the time he spends on each room and in answering people’s questions, I don’t see how it can only take an hour. We can’t take photos, as usual, and Jean Michel has a description of the visit in French.

One of the baroque ceilings that still remains on the ground floor

One of the baroque ceilings that still remains on the ground floor

The castle consists of 452 rooms and 18 buildings but we are only visiting the Queen’s rooms and theatre. The main building has a series of rooms that connect up and form an enfilade that is 150 metres long. During the Empire period, the Baroque décor was considered to be outdated and the beautiful ceilings painted over. We find this part very boring although I hear some other people saying how pretty it is.

The b est view of the original building from the new wing

The best view of the original building from the new wing

However, in the oldest part (the hunting lodge), the original Baroque decoration remains and is much livelier.

We are able to see the formal garden from the terrace of the palace. We learn that the gardens total 30 acres and are very beautiful. Maybe another time!

The formal gardens seen from the first floor of the original palace building

The formal gardens seen from the first floor of the original palace building

Although the Empire rooms seem very dull after all the Baroque and rococo we have been seeing along the Romantic Road, we still feel the visit is worthwhile.

Bike signs in Rottenburg - we are on a lot of bike routes!

Bike signs in Rottenburg – we are on a lot of bike routes!

Back in the car, we encounter a lot of road work along the way, something we have often experienced on the motorways in Germany. We get to Rottenburg around 5 pm and are looking forward to 3 days of cycling.

map

OTHER POSTS ABOUT CYCLING IN GERMANY

Cycling in Germany – Tips & Tricks
 
Cycling in Germany #1 – Kobern-Kondorf on the Moselle
Cycling in Germany #2 – Rhine from Saint Goar to Lorch
Cycling in Germany #3 – Cochem to Zell on the Moselle
Cycling in Germany #4 – Koblenz where the Moselle meets the Rhine
Cycling in Germany #5 – Bad Schaugen to Pirna along the Elbe
Cycling in Germany #6 – Bastei Rocks, Honigen and over the border to Czech Republic 
Cycling in Germany #7 – Dresden: accommodation & car trouble and Baroque Treasure  
Cycling in Germany #8 – Dresden Neustadt: Kunsthof Passage, Pfund’s Molkerei, a broom shop & trompe l’oeil
Cycling in Germany #9 – Country roads around Niderlommatzsch on the Elbe
Cycling in Germany #10 – Meissen on the Elbe
Cycling in Germany #11 – Martin Luther Country: Torgau on the Elbe
Cycling in Germany #12 – Martin Luther Country: Wittenberg on the Elbe
Cycling in Germany #13 – Wörlitz Gardens and the beginning of neo-classicism in Germany
Cycling in Germany #14 – Shades of Gaudi on the Elbe: Hundertwasser
Cycling in Germany #15 –  Turgermünde, the prettiest village on the Elbe
Cycling in Germany #16 – Celle & Bremen
Cycling in Germany #17 – Windmills & Dykes
Cycling in Germany #18 – Painted façades from Hann. Münden to Höxter
Cycling in Germany #19 – Bernkastel on the Moselle: a hidden treasure
Cycling in Germany #20 – Trier & the Binoculars Scare
 
Cycling along the Danube – A Renaissance festival in Neuburg, Bavaria
Cycling along the Danube – Watch out for trains!
Cycling along the Danube – Regensburg & Altmuhle
Cycling along the Danube –  The Weltenburg Narrows
Cycling along the Danube – from its source to Ehingen
Cycling along the Danube – Ehingen to Ulm
Cycling along the Danube – Singmarigen to Beuron
Cycling along the Danube – Binzwangen to Mengen including  Zwiefalten
 
Eurovelo 6 – Cycling around Lake Constance
Eurovelo 6 – Moos to Stein am Rhein and Steckborn on Lake Constance
 
Heading home to France after a month’s cycling holiday
 
Cycling along the Neckar in Germany #1 – Ludwigsburg
Cycling alnog the Neckar in Germany #2 – Horb – Rottenburg – Türbingen – Bebenhausen 
Cycling along the Neckar in Germany #3 – Rottweil to Oberndorf
 
Cycling along the Romantic Road in Bavaria #1 – Peiting to Wies
Cycling along the Romantic Road in Bavaria #2 – Lechbruck to Fussen via Neuschwanstein Castle
Cycling along the Romantic Road in Bavaria #3 – Peiting to Diessen
Cycling along the Romantic Road in Bavaria #4 – Augsburg 
Cycling along the Romantic Road in Bavaria #5 – Nordlingen, Wallerstein, Dinkelsbühl and Feuchtwangen
Cycling along the Romantic Road in Bavaria #6 – Rothenburg am der Tauber and Tauberbishofsheim
Cycling along the Romantic Road in Bavaria #7 – Würzburg
Cycling along the Romantic Road in Bavaria #8 – Tauberbishofsheim to Creglingen
Posted in Architecture, Cycling, Germany, Travelling | Tagged , , | 5 Comments

Cycling along the Romantic Road in Bavaria #8 – Tauberbishofsheim to Creglingen

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After a refreshing sleep in our sccond hotel room in Tauberbishofsheim and Spiegel ei for breakfast, we are ready to go. We’re on our bikes by 9.45 am and it’s already 17°C and expected to get to 22°C in the afternoon.  This is the best weather we’ve had for several days. As we ride through Tauberbishofsheim, we take a few more photos and are soon out in the country. This is what we’ve been waiting for!

Little chapel just outside Tauberbishofsheim

Little chapel just outside Tauberbishofsheim

It’s Sunday morning and we see people milling around the church and cemetery but in this area, no one is dressed in traditional costume. Just out of town, there is a little chapel with a cemetery which is also popular this morning.

Hops growing

Hops growing

We go past a field of hops which seems to have an educational purpose and remember all the hop fields when we cycled along the Danube.

Our "special" cappuccino in

Our “special” cappuccino in Lauda-Königshofen

In Lauda-Königshofen, our first stop, we have a cappuccino at an eis café and the owner talks to us in Italian. Nearly all the eis cafés we’ve been to here are run by Italians. When he brings out the coffee, he shows us the sugar sticks – men for me, women for Jean Michel.

Baroque bridge over the

Baroque bridge over the Grünbach in Gerlasheim

There are several attractive 17th and 18th centuries houses but Lauda-Königshofen’s main claims to fame are its vineyards, the little baroque bridge over the Grünbach with its larger-than-life statues of Holy Kilian, Burkhard, Michael and Nepomuk at nearby Gerlasheim which also has an abbey church.

Geese grossing in front of the calvary on the other side of the bridge

Geese grossing in front of the calvary on the other side of the bridge

The bridge is as romantic as the guide book says and just as I’m crossing it, I see a flock of geese walk timidly across the road in front of a calvary.

18th century baroque church of Heilig Kreuz

18th century baroque church of Heilig Kreuz with its blue stucco pillars

We arrive at the 18th century baroque church of Heilig Kreuz, built as an abbey church in 1723 – 1730, just as mass is over which means we can also visit inside. The apse is blue, which is unusual. Pastel pinks are more common.

Riding past wheat and barley fields

Rectangular hay stacks

The ride, which is mostly flat, continues to be very pleasant, following the Tauber and passing in between fields of hay, maize and wheat, with vines on the hillslopes.

Marktplatz in Bad Men

Marktplatz in Bad Mergentheim

Our furthest destination today is Bad Mergentheim which is a spa town. The marktplatz is very similar to many others, with a fountain in the middle and the rathaus at one end flanked by several half-timbered houses.

Our Greek restaurant in Bad Mergentheim

Our Greek restaurant in Bad Mergentheim

We cycle around a bit looking for a restaurant for lunch but there are mostly only cafés and after going to the tourist information office we end up in a Greek restaurant that looks anything but!

The somewhat amateur 1920s event in Bad Mergentheim

The somewhat amateur 1920s event in Bad Mergentheim

We have been told at the tourist office that there is an event at the spa with a 1920s theme. It seems very amateurish and somewhat of a disappointment so we don’t stay long.

Signs of my ancestor Dr Sebastian Kneipp

Signs of my ancestor Dr Sebastian Kneipp

I have seen on the map that there is a walking path called Pfr Sebastian-Kneipp who is one of my ancestors so we set off to find it.

The Italian eis cafe in Lauda-Königs

The Italian eis cafe in Lauda-Königshofen

On our way back to Tauberbishofsheim, we stop off to visit the little baroque church of Lauda-Königshofen where we had our cappuccino. We were not able to visit it earlier because there was a mass. It’s no different from any of the others except for maybe it’s blue draperies above the altar.

The little baroque church in Lauda-Königshofen

The little baroque church in Lauda-Königshofen

After 46 km and 3 hours of cycling and more sun than we expected, we’re glad to relax on our balcony at the hotel. We are still having internet problems though.

Hard-boiled eggs that you can buy in the supermarket

Colourful hard-boiled eggs that you can buy in the supermarket

Next morning, it’s an intermittent fast day and we need to pay a visit to the supermarket. One of the things on my list is hard-boiled eggs, which you cannot buy in France, but which are readily available in Germany. You can recognize them by their bright colours.

Marktplatz in Weikersheim

Marktplatz in Weikersheim

We then drive to the little village of Elpersheim which is just a few kilometers from Weikersheim, the next village mentioned on our Romantic Road map and renowned for its castle, once the residence of the princes of Hohenlohe. We are on our bikes by 11 am and arrive at Weikersheim fifteen minutes later. It is already 23°C and, as you can see in the photo, we are not alone!

One of the contemporary statues in Weikersheim - I love the attitude!

One of the contemporary statues in Weikersheim – I love the attitude!

The marktplatz has a church at one end with gabled houses around it. It also has a number of contemporary statues of young girls which are the second attraction after the castle and very life-like.

Weikersheim Castle from the garden

Weikersheim Castle from the garden

The castle itself is extremely interesting. Unfortunately, there are only guided tours and they are all in German but we are given brochures in French so we won’t get bored. No photos unfortunately. It is one of the rare Renaissance castles that still has its original furniture. The plan is always symmetrical with the male quarters on one side and the female quarters on the other, organized so that you can see right through from one end to the other.

The bedroom with the golden cradle in Weikersheim

The bedroom with the golden cradle in Weikersheim

I take a sneak photo of the most prestigious bedroom with its golden cradle.

The fireplace and ceiling in the Knights' Hall in Weikersheim

The fireplace and ceiling in the Knights’ Hall in Weikersheim

We then go into the Knights’ Hall which is quite overwhelming and most unusual. Completed in around 1600, it is 40 metres long with a painted caisson ceiling to match the three-dimensional stucco figures of hunting trophies.

The poster outside the castle

The poster outside the castle

One of the people in the group starts taking photos and the guide explains in English that he has special permission and that, as a result, we, too, can use our cameras. We don’t hesitate of course!

The gardens at Weikersheim

The gardens at Weikersheim

After the visit, we take photos of the gardens then find a bench in the nearby park to eat our lunch under the linden trees which are very common in Germany.

One of the other sculpturess in the marktplatz at Weikersheim

One of the other sculpturess in the marktplatz at Weikersheim

It has turned very hot and at 2 pm, we are only just beginning our 45 kilometer round trip.

The sundial and bridge at Ta

The sundial and bridge at Tauberrettersheim

At Tauberrettersheim, the next village, there is an old stone bridge with figures of saints and an unusual sundial.

One of the more traditional sundials in

One of the more traditional sundials in Röttingen

But the sundials really begin with the next village of Röttingen which they have become a speciality.

The apartment tower in

The apartment tower in Röttingen

The village also has several towers, one of which has been rehabilitated and turned into holiday flats!

One of the towers in Credlingen

Another town in Röttingen

By the time we get to our destination of Creglingen after a steady though not very steep climb of 4 kilometers, we need a cold drink, but have to content ourselves with a Coca Cola Light. No ice-creams allowed on a fast day!

The wooden altar at

The wooden altar at Herrgott

Creglingen itself doesn’t have much to offer but a couple of kilometers further on, up a steep hill this time, is the church of Herrgott which has a famous 11-metre high early 16th century wooden altar. We decide it’s worth the climb!

Barley fields

Barley fields

As we leave Creglingen, I’m looking forward to 4 kilometers of freewheeling but Jean Michel suggests we take an alternative route. I stupidly agree. So much for coasting down the hill. On the other side of the Tauber it’s up and down all the time.

We have a rest next to the bridge in Tauberrettersheim and are amused by the second hand dealer opposite.

The other side of Weikersheim

The other side of Weikersheim

In Weikersheim, we discover a tower we didn’t see on our way through and take some more photos of the main square.

This sculpture is opposite the castle exit

This sculpture is opposite the castle exit

We are very happy with our two days of cycling and have now completed the main sights along the Romantic Road. We would have liked to visit more on our bikes, but the weather did not permit – it’s no fun cycling when it’s cold and rainy.

The tourist officde bike map

The tourist officde bike map (We used Bikeline as well)

Tomorrow, we’re moving to the Neckar Valley, starting with Rottenburg am Necker which is about 170 km southwest of Tauberbishofsheim. So stay with us on our last week of cycling in Germany.

The Romantic Road Map on the tourist brochure

The Romantic Road Map on the tourist brochure

OTHER POSTS ABOUT CYCLING IN GERMANY

Cycling in Germany – Tips & Tricks
 
Cycling in Germany #1 – Kobern-Kondorf on the Moselle
Cycling in Germany #2 – Rhine from Saint Goar to Lorch
Cycling in Germany #3 – Cochem to Zell on the Moselle
Cycling in Germany #4 – Koblenz where the Moselle meets the Rhine
Cycling in Germany #5 – Bad Schaugen to Pirna along the Elbe
Cycling in Germany #6 – Bastei Rocks, Honigen and over the border to Czech Republic 
Cycling in Germany #7 – Dresden: accommodation & car trouble and Baroque Treasure  
Cycling in Germany #8 – Dresden Neustadt: Kunsthof Passage, Pfund’s Molkerei, a broom shop & trompe l’oeil
Cycling in Germany #9 – Country roads around Niderlommatzsch on the Elbe
Cycling in Germany #10 – Meissen on the Elbe
Cycling in Germany #11 – Martin Luther Country: Torgau on the Elbe
Cycling in Germany #12 – Martin Luther Country: Wittenberg on the Elbe
Cycling in Germany #13 – Wörlitz Gardens and the beginning of neo-classicism in Germany
Cycling in Germany #14 – Shades of Gaudi on the Elbe: Hundertwasser
Cycling in Germany #15 –  Turgermünde, the prettiest village on the Elbe
Cycling in Germany #16 – Celle & Bremen
Cycling in Germany #17 – Windmills & Dykes
Cycling in Germany #18 – Painted façades from Hann. Münden to Höxter
Cycling in Germany #19 – Bernkastel on the Moselle: a hidden treasure
Cycling in Germany #20 – Trier & the Binoculars Scare
 
Cycling along the Danube – A Renaissance festival in Neuburg, Bavaria
Cycling along the Danube – Watch out for trains!
Cycling along the Danube – Regensburg & Altmuhle
Cycling along the Danube –  The Weltenburg Narrows
Cycling along the Danube – from its source to Ehingen
Cycling along the Danube – Ehingen to Ulm
Cycling along the Danube – Singmarigen to Beuron
Cycling along the Danube – Binzwangen to Mengen including  Zwiefalten
 
Eurovelo 6 – Cycling around Lake Constance
Eurovelo 6 – Moos to Stein am Rhein and Steckborn on Lake Constance
 
Heading home to France after a month’s cycling holiday
 
Cycling along the Neckar in Germany #1 – Ludwigsburg
Cycling alnog the Neckar in Germany #2 – Horb – Rottenburg – Türbingen – Bebenhausen 
Cycling along the Neckar in Germany #3 – Rottweil to Oberndorf
 
Cycling along the Romantic Road in Bavaria #1 – Peiting to Wies
Cycling along the Romantic Road in Bavaria #2 – Lechbruck to Fussen via Neuschwanstein Castle
Cycling along the Romantic Road in Bavaria #3 – Peiting to Diessen
Cycling along the Romantic Road in Bavaria #4 – Augsburg 
Cycling along the Romantic Road in Bavaria #5 – Nordlingen, Wallerstein, Dinkelsbühl and Feuchtwangen
Cycling along the Romantic Road in Bavaria #6 – Rothenburg am der Tauber and Tauberbishofsheim
Cycling along the Romantic Road in Bavaria #7 – Würzburg
Cycling along the Romantic Road in Bavaria #8 – Tauberbishofsheim to Creglingen
Posted in Art, Cycling, Germany, Sightseeing | Tagged , , , | 6 Comments

Cycling along the Romantic Road in Bavaria #7 – Würzburg

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We’re on our way to Würzburg, at the northern tip of the Romantic Road, known for its wine and the former residence of the Würzburg prince-bishops, Unesco world cultural heritage site and one of the most important baroque palaces in Europe. The weather doesn’t look too bad but it’s only 15°C so we don’t know whether we will cycle or not. I am still feeling a little disgruntled after my poor night’s sleep.

The façade of the Residenz

The façade of the Residenz

We ask the GPS to take us to the Residenz parkplatz and we’ll take it from there. We find it’s always best to visit popular monuments in the morning before they get too crowded. I suggest we take our photos of the façade after our visit because the sun is on the wrong side. We join the queue to visit the inside. It goes quickly and we are soon in the cloak room putting our phones and cameras in a locker as they are not allowed. We later see many people blatantly taking photos  which we find surprising.

The fresco by Tiepolo, said to be the largest in the world

The fresco by Tiepolo, said to be the largest in the world

Admittedly, it is very frustrating not to be able to use our cameras. The Würzburg Residence is quite sumptuous, with the world’s largest fresco by Tiepolo, an amazing mirror cabinet and various other Baroque and rococo rooms. I’m including two photos from our guide book and hope the authors won’t mind.

The Hall of Mirrors in the Residenz

The Hall of Mirrors in the Residenz

When we get to the end of the visit, Jean Michel says there are still some rooms we haven’t seen but we don’t know where there are. Then we see some people being let through a door which is closed after them. We ask the man who opened the door if we can go too. He explains that the rooms are only open during the week-ends to groups. However, if we wait for the next “house group”, we can go in with them. He goes off to find where they are up to and tells us they will be along in about 15 minutes.

The photo I managed to take in the Garten

The photo I managed to take in the Gartensaal

We join the group which has a German guide with a very loud, clear, grating voice and spends more than 5 minutes in each of the six rooms. We don’t understand a word, of course, but at least we have time to examine the rooms in detail. The cabinet of mirrors is especially intricate. We find it’s all terribly over the top but are glad to have seen it all.

We collect our belongings and I take a quick photo of the Gartensaal on the ground floor with its beautiful frescoes by Bossi. An official immediately calls out to me not to take photos. I can’t believe it. Not a word was said to the photographers upstairs!

The Residenz from the gardens

The Residenz from the gardens

After a quick look around the gardens (there is a wedding in the baroque chapel so we can’t go in), we set off to visit the town.

Dom Saint Killian

Dom Saint Killian

It’s quite disconcerting as there doesn’t seem to be a proper centre which can be explained by the fact that Würzburg was very severely bombed during the war.

Falkenhaus on Marktplatz

Falkenhaus on Marktplatz

There are a few historical buildings that has been restored, such as the Dom Saint Killian, Falkenhaus and Marienkapelle, but otherwise, most of the buildings are modern.

Marienkapelle on Marktpatz

Marienkapelle on Marktpatz

We arrive at Marktplatz which has lots of bratwurst (sausage) and chip stalls but we’d like a real meal. At Juliusspital a little further on, there is a restaurant in a large tree-shaded courtyard but it’s a little more sophisticated than what we are looking for. Just outside is a small shady Weingarten attached to a Weingut (cellar door), called Bürgerspital, which has homemade wild boar bratwurst so we have that with an excellent dry gewurztraminer. We are in the middle of a wine region, after all.

Enjoying a glass of gewurztraminer in the Weingut

Enjoying a glass of gewurztraminer in the Bürgerspital Weingut with the wine in the foreground

The gewurztraminer comes in a pretty bottle so we buy two to take home to Blois. We later learn that it is the typical bottle of the Würzburg area. As we go back through the marktplatz we see there is a wine tasting stall. We find out how it works – you pay 5 euro to rent a glass and can taste as many wines as you want. Among the whites, we try sylvaner, riesling, weissburgunder (pinot blanc), grauerbungunder (pinot griggio), muscatel and muller-thurgau, all German. Among the reds, we try saint-laurent and maréchal foch (Swiss) and lagrein (Italian from the south Tyrol). In case you are worrying, we do spit most of it out, but the fumes still go to your head.

Winetasting at a temporary stall

Winetasting at a temporary stall

Enough wine-growers speak English or French for us to converse with them. No wine can be bought on-site. You can either order it on-line or visit the vineyard which makes the wine-tasting a very different event from those we have been to in France. When we give the glasses back, we are refunded 10 euro!

Modern rococo in the Neumünster cathedral

Modern take on rococo in the Neumünster cathedral

We visit a couple more baroque churches on the way back to the Residenz to visit the chapel now that the wedding is over. This time, there is no restriction on photos!

The Residenz chapel

The Residenz chapel

By now, the clouds have come over well and truly and the temperature is not high enough for comfortable cycling – or for taken a decent photo of the Residenz – so we drive back to Tauberbishofsheim where we now have a more comfortable room but I have to sit on the steps leading up to the second floor halfway down the corridor to use the Internet.

The "garden" view from our terrace. Nothing wonderful but it's better than being inside a room.

The “garden” view from our terrace. Nothing wonderful but it’s better than being inside a room.

After a picnic dinner on our terrace we go back to our favourite eis café and the helpful waiter greets us from afar with a hearty “Bonsoir”! Tomorrow, we are getting back on our bikes, come what may.

The Romantic Road Map on the tourist brochure

The Romantic Road Map on the tourist brochure

OTHER POSTS ABOUT CYCLING IN GERMANY

Cycling in Germany – Tips & Tricks
 
Cycling in Germany #1 – Kobern-Kondorf on the Moselle
Cycling in Germany #2 – Rhine from Saint Goar to Lorch
Cycling in Germany #3 – Cochem to Zell on the Moselle
Cycling in Germany #4 – Koblenz where the Moselle meets the Rhine
Cycling in Germany #5 – Bad Schaugen to Pirna along the Elbe
Cycling in Germany #6 – Bastei Rocks, Honigen and over the border to Czech Republic 
Cycling in Germany #7 – Dresden: accommodation & car trouble and Baroque Treasure  
Cycling in Germany #8 – Dresden Neustadt: Kunsthof Passage, Pfund’s Molkerei, a broom shop & trompe l’oeil
Cycling in Germany #9 – Country roads around Niderlommatzsch on the Elbe
Cycling in Germany #10 – Meissen on the Elbe
Cycling in Germany #11 – Martin Luther Country: Torgau on the Elbe
Cycling in Germany #12 – Martin Luther Country: Wittenberg on the Elbe
Cycling in Germany #13 – Wörlitz Gardens and the beginning of neo-classicism in Germany
Cycling in Germany #14 – Shades of Gaudi on the Elbe: Hundertwasser
Cycling in Germany #15 –  Turgermünde, the prettiest village on the Elbe
Cycling in Germany #16 – Celle & Bremen
Cycling in Germany #17 – Windmills & Dykes
Cycling in Germany #18 – Painted façades from Hann. Münden to Höxter
Cycling in Germany #19 – Bernkastel on the Moselle: a hidden treasure
Cycling in Germany #20 – Trier & the Binoculars Scare
 
Cycling along the Danube – A Renaissance festival in Neuburg, Bavaria
Cycling along the Danube – Watch out for trains!
Cycling along the Danube – Regensburg & Altmuhle
Cycling along the Danube –  The Weltenburg Narrows
Cycling along the Danube – from its source to Ehingen
Cycling along the Danube – Ehingen to Ulm
Cycling along the Danube – Singmarigen to Beuron
Cycling along the Danube – Binzwangen to Mengen including  Zwiefalten
 
Eurovelo 6 – Cycling around Lake Constance
Eurovelo 6 – Moos to Stein am Rhein and Steckborn on Lake Constance
 
Heading home to France after a month’s cycling holiday
 
Cycling along the Neckar in Germany #1 – Ludwigsburg
Cycling alnog the Neckar in Germany #2 – Horb – Rottenburg – Türbingen – Bebenhausen 
Cycling along the Neckar in Germany #3 – Rottweil to Oberndorf
 
Cycling along the Romantic Road in Bavaria #1 – Peiting to Wies
Cycling along the Romantic Road in Bavaria #2 – Lechbruck to Fussen via Neuschwanstein Castle
Cycling along the Romantic Road in Bavaria #3 – Peiting to Diessen
Cycling along the Romantic Road in Bavaria #4 – Augsburg 
Cycling along the Romantic Road in Bavaria #5 – Nordlingen, Wallerstein, Dinkelsbühl and Feuchtwangen
Cycling along the Romantic Road in Bavaria #6 – Rothenburg am der Tauber and Tauberbishofsheim
Cycling along the Romantic Road in Bavaria #7 – Würzburg
Cycling along the Romantic Road in Bavaria #8 – Tauberbishofsheim to Creglingen
Posted in Accommodation, Architecture, Cycling, Germany, Sightseeing, Travelling | Tagged , | 5 Comments

Cycling along the Romantic Road in Bavaria #6 – Rothenburg am der Tauber and Tauberbishofsheim

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We have three memories of our visit to Rothenburg am der Tauber in 1999. We bought two beautiful handmade enamelled champagne glasses; we discovered Käthe Wohlfahrt’s Christmas shop; and we had an unforgettable chanterelle salad in a restaurant with a romantic flower garden.

Klingen Bastion in Rothenburg

Klingen Bastion in Rothenburg

We arrive in Rothenburg by car at 11.30 for a lunch stop as it is still too cold to be cycling. We immediately look for a parking lot outside the ramparts (we have now learnt it is pointless to go ito the centre) and pay for 3 hours, which seems plenty. There don’t seem to be too many people.

Markt Platz in Rothenburg

Markt Platz in Rothenburg

Rothenburg is a beautifully preserved mediaeval town with much larger public buildings than Dinkelsbühl. There are quite a lot of tourists but fewer than I expected.

The oldy worldy car outside Käthe Wohlfahrt

The oldy worldy car outside Käthe Wohlfahrt

We soon find Kathe Wolfhart’s shop – there is a large oldy-worldy vehicle parked outside – then head for the tourist office to get a map. There are two women in the tourist office: one is most unfriendly and the other is super-friendly, probably because she has to make up for her colleague! We buy a book in French on the Romantic Road that we regret not buying earlier, but this is the first time we have seen it.

Inside the second store

Inside the second store

After the tourist office, we go to Käthe Wohlfahrt’s first shop (opposite the oldy-worldly vehicle) and walk out again without buying anything. I even wonder how I could have been so enthusiastic the first time.

Rows and rows of decorations

Rows and rows of decorations

Then we go into the second shop and the magic starts working! This is what I remember. There are decorations of every type and colour, every material and texture. Jean Michel picks up a shopping basket. It’s hard to resist, I have to admit. They pack the decorations carefully so they won’t break and we walk out with a large bag!

The surrounding countryside from the ramparts

The surrounding countryside from the ramparts

Jean Michel is very worried however. Apart from Käthe Wohlfahrt’s shop, he has no memory of Rothenburg at all. I am reassured! I don’t remember it either, but that is much more usual. We don’t even remember the view from the ramparts.

A painted oriel in Rothenburg

A painted oriel in Rothenburg

It’s now 1 pm and we are starting to get hungry. “Let’s find the restaurant with the flower garden”, says Jean Michel. We still haven’t found it about a half an hour later but we see a place called Gasthaus Butz in a quiet little square in the Jewish quarter that has fresh pfiffelingen (chanterelle mushrooms).  We console ourselves by saying that maybe we would have been disappointed with our previous restaurant even if we’d found it! The waitress speaks good English and gives us an English menu. We order our pfiffelingen with Wiener Schnitzel for me and knuckle of pork for Jean Michel.

Gasthaus Butz where we have lunch

Gasthaus Butz where we have lunch

By the time we finish our lunch it’s 2 pm and we only have a ½ hour left on our parking ticket so we take a different route back to the car. We are surprised at how many people are now thronging the streets. We would have like to visit the water mill quarter but can only do so on foot and have had enough sightseeing for one day.

After lunch, the main square is considerably more crowded

After lunch, the main square is considerably more crowded

We arrive in Tauberbishofsheim (the home of the bishops of the Tauber) at 3 pm and go straight to our hotel, Badischer Hof. I ring the bell and am eventually answered in German. I say who I am and wait. A very grumpy man eventually arrives. He gives us the key to number 35. We are supposed to have a large, airy “superior” room with a terrace and wifi. Only the wifi doesn’t work. We go back to reception and the even grumpier man explains that when a lot of people are using the internet, there is no connection. I have doubts.

The main square in Tauberbishofsheim, on the right of the rathaus

The main square in Tauberbishofsheim, on the right of the rathaus

He says the hotel is full and he doesn’t have any other rooms. OK, we’ll have to find another hotel then, I say, knowing that there is nothing left in the area on booking.com. He then suggests a room without a terrace, but good Internet. We check it out. It’s smaller but looks OK. We take it.

The rathaus in Tauberbishofsheim

The rathaus in Tauberbishofsheim

After unpacking our things, we go to explore the little town and pick up some information from the tourist office. There is roadwork on the way but once we get into the centre, we find it quite attractive. The tourist office is closed of course but there are some free brochures in the entrance.

We need some fruit, vegetables and cheese for dinner so we look for a supermarket. Nothing. So I ask a waiter. He tells us there are five supermarkets, all outside the town. What a nuisance. We’ll have to take the car. As we are leaving however, I spy a “Natura” sign which turns out to indicate an organic supermarket. That is fine by us!

he Schlosshof in Tauberbishofsheim

The Schlosshof in Tauberbishofsheim

Back in our hotel room, we realise that our room gives onto the main street and that, despite the double glazing, it is very noisy. What I don’t realise until we go to bed is that there is street lighting all night and the curtains are very thin. At no time during the night is the room dark. Also, the floor cracks and the person above us seems to walk around the room half the night.

I wake up totally unrested and determined to ask for another room. I have checked booking.com and there is nothing else available in the area within our budget, not surprising in a weekend in July. Breakfast is very disappointing with no eggs in sight. When the grumpy man asks us what we want to drink (tea or coffee), I ask for eggs, but am not sure if he has understood. He eventually brings us two hard-boiled eggs but I see that the Spanish people at the next table have fried eggs. Tomorrow, I’m asking for spiegel ei.

The other side of Schlosshof

The other side of Schlosshof

When I go to reception, there is a much friendlier lady with a large onion in her hand. I explain my problem and she says she will see what we can do. In the end, as there is nothing else available, we opt to go back to the room with the balcony overlooking the garden because it’s away from the street, and go down into the reception area when we need to use wifi.

Tauberbishofsheim at night

Tauberbishofsheim at night

The weather seems to be improving so we set off to Würzburg, on the northern end of the Romantic Road, in the hope that we might be able to do some cycling.

The Romantic Road Map on the tourist brochure

The Romantic Road Map on the tourist brochure

OTHER POSTS ABOUT CYCLING IN GERMANY

Cycling in Germany – Tips & Tricks
 
Cycling in Germany #1 – Kobern-Kondorf on the Moselle
Cycling in Germany #2 – Rhine from Saint Goar to Lorch
Cycling in Germany #3 – Cochem to Zell on the Moselle
Cycling in Germany #4 – Koblenz where the Moselle meets the Rhine
Cycling in Germany #5 – Bad Schaugen to Pirna along the Elbe
Cycling in Germany #6 – Bastei Rocks, Honigen and over the border to Czech Republic 
Cycling in Germany #7 – Dresden: accommodation & car trouble and Baroque Treasure  
Cycling in Germany #8 – Dresden Neustadt: Kunsthof Passage, Pfund’s Molkerei, a broom shop & trompe l’oeil
Cycling in Germany #9 – Country roads around Niderlommatzsch on the Elbe
Cycling in Germany #10 – Meissen on the Elbe
Cycling in Germany #11 – Martin Luther Country: Torgau on the Elbe
Cycling in Germany #12 – Martin Luther Country: Wittenberg on the Elbe
Cycling in Germany #13 – Wörlitz Gardens and the beginning of neo-classicism in Germany
Cycling in Germany #14 – Shades of Gaudi on the Elbe: Hundertwasser
Cycling in Germany #15 –  Turgermünde, the prettiest village on the Elbe
Cycling in Germany #16 – Celle & Bremen
Cycling in Germany #17 – Windmills & Dykes
Cycling in Germany #18 – Painted façades from Hann. Münden to Höxter
Cycling in Germany #19 – Bernkastel on the Moselle: a hidden treasure
Cycling in Germany #20 – Trier & the Binoculars Scare
 
Cycling along the Danube – A Renaissance festival in Neuburg, Bavaria
Cycling along the Danube – Watch out for trains!
Cycling along the Danube – Regensburg & Altmuhle
Cycling along the Danube –  The Weltenburg Narrows
Cycling along the Danube – from its source to Ehingen
Cycling along the Danube – Ehingen to Ulm
Cycling along the Danube – Singmarigen to Beuron
Cycling along the Danube – Binzwangen to Mengen including  Zwiefalten
 
Eurovelo 6 – Cycling around Lake Constance
Eurovelo 6 – Moos to Stein am Rhein and Steckborn on Lake Constance
 
Heading home to France after a month’s cycling holiday
 
Cycling along the Neckar in Germany #1 – Ludwigsburg
Cycling alnog the Neckar in Germany #2 – Horb – Rottenburg – Türbingen – Bebenhausen 
Cycling along the Neckar in Germany #3 – Rottweil to Oberndorf
 
Cycling along the Romantic Road in Bavaria #1 – Peiting to Wies
Cycling along the Romantic Road in Bavaria #2 – Lechbruck to Fussen via Neuschwanstein Castle
Cycling along the Romantic Road in Bavaria #3 – Peiting to Diessen
Cycling along the Romantic Road in Bavaria #4 – Augsburg 
Cycling along the Romantic Road in Bavaria #5 – Nordlingen, Wallerstein, Dinkelsbühl and Feuchtwangen
Cycling along the Romantic Road in Bavaria #6 – Rothenburg am der Tauber and Tauberbishofsheim
Cycling along the Romantic Road in Bavaria #7 – Würzburg
Cycling along the Romantic Road in Bavaria #8 – Tauberbishofsheim to Creglingen
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