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Maria Taferl Basilica overlooking the Danube in Austria

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On Saturday morning, the weather forecast for Sunday promised bright sun, blue skies and 19°C (even better than Saturday) so we intended to cycle from our Radlerpension in Hagsdorf to Melk for lunch then drive up to the Maria Taferl basilica to save our knees – it’s at the end of 4 km of winding road.

Saturday's blue sky and blue Danube
Saturday’s blue sky and blue Danube

However, by Saturday evening, the forecast has changed – a maximum of 15°C with fog all day. I guess yesterday was our last day of cycling for the year. We go to the local village for bread and other supplies but soon discover that even in the bigger towns around us, Sunday is a day of rest. We manage to buy some bread though at a place that has a breakfast café attached to it. Each time we go past a church, we see families in their traditional Sunday best which we remember from the last time we were here.

The dining room at Pichler's
The dining room at Pichler’s

After spending some time looking for a hotel in our next location, Bamberg, we drive towards Melk for lunch but stop on the way at a likely-looking hotel/restaurant called Pichler’s in Emmersdorf. Inside, the waitresses and some of the patrons are also in traditional dress – certainly a far cry from the ultra-tight highly revealing apparel we have seen in other parts of Europe recently.

The konditorei where we have coffee and cake
The konditorei where we have coffee and cake

By the time we finish lunch, the sky has cleared to a pale blue and the temperature is 14°C, certainly not cycling weather but we should get a good view from Maria Taferl, which is the second most important place of pilgrimage in Austria. We’re a little bit worried about the crowds, but it’s not very busy and we are able to park very close to the basilica just opposite a Konditorei.

Maria Taferl Basilica
Maria Taferl Basilica built from 1660 to 1710

The current baroque church was built from 1660 to 1710 on the site of a shrine to the Virgin Mary celebrating several miraculous recoveries. Its construction also gave the local inhabitants renewed courage after the bubonic plague.

The Danube from the panoramic terrace in front of Maria Taferl Basilica
The Danube from the panoramic terrace in front of Maria Taferl Basilica

We go onto the panoramic terrace first. The view of the Danube and surrounding countryside is quite superb despite the lack of blue sky.

The main altar and painted ceilings
The main altar and painted ceilings

The Inside of the church is standard gilt baroque and beautifully painted pastel ceilings.

The holy picture collection at Maria Taferl Basilica
The holy picture collection at Maria Taferl Basilica

We notice a side door and wander into an exhibition of holy pictures that covers the walls of three flights of stairs. I’m surprised there aren’t more people.

An unusual coffee grinder
An unusual coffee grinder

After visiting the basilica, we have coffee and some sort of cream cake in the Konditorei. Like the restaurant at lunchtime, there is a lot of beautiful polished wood everywhere. It also has an unsual porcelain coffee grinder.

Maria Taferl on top of the hill
Maria Taferl on top of the hill

On the way back, Jean Michel chooses a different route and we find ourselves opposite a stunning view of the basilica which looks very romantic through the slight haze.

The rest of the day is given over to R&R and finding an apartment in Bamberg in Germany, whose historical centre is on the Unesco World Heritage list. It is one of the few places we haven’t visited in Bavaria. It will be a good place to finish off our holiday.

May Flowers in the Country

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Last time, I took you on a tour of my garden in May. I thought you might like to see the wild flowers in the surrounding countryside as well. Here are the photos I took last Friday when we cycled along the Loire from opposite Saint Claude sur Diray to Saint-Dyé-sur-Loire, then through the forest to Château de Chambord, a 30 km round trip.

eglantineThe first flowers I noticed were all the dog roses (églantine in French) which are a delicate pink.


These are elder trees (sureau). The berries are used to make elderberry wine.


These very tall trees (Jean Michel is on the bike path in front of me) are the Robinia pseudoacacia or false acacias that I mistook for wattle in my last post. It’s a bit confusing as the French actually call them acacias.

water_irisesThese yellow water irises are a little past their prime but I still love seeing them.

buttercupsButtercups are everywhere at the moment. These are on the banks of the Loire at Saint Dyé. When I first came to France, I fell in love with the buttercups and used to take my moped out into the countryside and lie down in the fields feeling very romantic.


You see both these flowers on stone walls everywhere. I understand that the lavendar one on the top right is a geranium (what we usually call geraniums are actually pelargoniums). I have no idea what the ones on the left are though.

blue_astersThese pretty little asters are also very common. You can see another geranium at the bottom of the photo.

cornflowersThese cornflowers are next to a field of barley on the path from Saint Dyé to Chambord.


No flowers in this one but I couldn’t resist posting a photo of one of my favourite châteaux!




Friday’s French – je me débrouille

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“Je me débrouille” is one of Jean Michel’s most oft-used expressions. The verb brouiller comes from the Gallo-Roman brodiculare which is turn comes from the verb brodigar in the Italian dialect of Bergamo (a lovely city, what’s more) meaning to sully or soil, a derivative of the German brod, meaning broth. In old French, it was used figuratively to mean to alter and finally to mix up or disrupt.

This is not Bergamo of course, but Milan, which is the next big city.
This is not Bergamo of course, but Milan, which is the closest big city.

Apart from its use in “oeufs brouillés” (scrambled eggs), the initial meaning has been lost. It is now used figuratively to mean “to create confusion by eliminating order” as in “brouiller les pistes” which literally means to cover tracks but metaphorically means to confuse or cloud the issue.

This has led to a series of uses that all revolve around the idea of something not being clear.

Il a des idées brouillées:  His ideas are somewhat muddled.

Après avoir fermé le coffre, il faut brouiller la combinaison – After closing the safe, you have to scramble the numbers.

Cette affaire d’argent l’a brouillée avec sa famille. – This money business has created bad feeling with his family.

La buée a brouillé mes lunettes – My glasses have misted up.

Il m’a brouillé avec l’informatique – He really put me off computers.

Now for débrouiller. Well, it’s the opposite of brouiller, used in expressions such as débrouiller les fils (untangle the thread)s, débrouiller les papiers (sort out your papers), débrouiller un élève en informatique (teach a student the basics of computing).

In the reflexive form, i.e. se débrouiller, it takes on the meaning of being able to work something out for yourself despite the difficulties, which is the way Jean Michel uses it.

Tu es sûr que tu as assez de briques? Je me débrouille : Are you sure you have enough bricks? I’ll make do.

As-tu la liste des courses? Je me débrouille : Do you have the shopping list? I’m looking after it.

Il pleut. Comment fais-tu pour le béton? Je me débrouille : It’s raining. What will you do about the concrete? Don’t worry.

In fact, the essential meaning is “don’t worry, I’ll find a way and you don’t have to ask me any more questions about it”. But I’m one of those (annoying) people who likes to know how problems are solved so I’m always asking “Tu vas te débrouiller comment ?” (How are you going to do it?). But I don’t always get an answer. I should learn to use it more myself, but being a woman, I always feel I have to give an explanation for everything!

Getting to Granada and First Impressions

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We leave Blois at 10 am on Saturday to drive to Orly Airport where we’re leaving the car in a somewhat suspicious-looking long-term parking lot near for the airport for 70 euros. If the car’s still there on our return, it’s a hassle-free way of get to the airport. Otherwise, we would have had to catch a train to Gare d’Austerlitz in Paris and taken a train out to the airport.

Pale skies on leaving Blois
Pale skies on leaving Blois

After my week of flu I seem to be having a relapse and the first thing I do on the Transavia flight to Malaga leaving at 4.35 pm is to nearly faint on the way back from the ladies. The hostess lies me down on a double seat and I sleep until our arrival at 7 pm. We collect our baggage and are relieved to see that the shuttle we booked at for 21 euro is waiting for us.

Our room at the Hotel Soho in Malaga
Our room at the Hotel Soho in Malaga

It’s quite balmy at 13°C. Malaga looks very clean and modern. The driver takes us to our boutique hotel . The rooms are small but very trendy. The sign behind the door says 200 euro but we are paying 72 euro per night, I guess because it’s winter. We leave our things and go to find a restaurant. Jean Michel says we’re near the sea so have to have fish.

Bodeguita de Carlos
Bodeguita de Carlos

At Bodeguita de Carlos that we find by accident, I order a grilled John Dory to share and Jean Michel eats about ¾ of it. I certainly can’t manage any more. All I really want to do is go to bed.

Next morning I am not feeling brilliant at all. We get dressed and go down for breakfast but the breakfast café is very busy and there are no tables. I start feeling really ill and we go back upstairs. Jean Michel goes down to secure a table and order coffee because I seem to be having orthostatic hypotension again and need to get the adrenaline pumping. We finally get served and Jean Michel has a buffet breakfast. I pull off a few bits of bread.

Olives and the Sierra Nevada from the bus on the way to Grenada
Olives and the Sierra Nevada from the bus on the way to Grenada

We decide to go straight to the coach station to take the 1 pm bus to Granada and I manage to eat a tortilla frances while Jean Michel has some sort of fish. The bus is new and takes 1 ¾ hour to get to Granada. It costs about 23 euro for both of us. From there we take a taxi to our rental accommodation. The sky is bright blue.

View from the flat
View from the flat

A very unwelcoming Spanish woman with minimal English shows us the flat which is arranged on two stories. The two bedrooms (one about the size of a monk’s room) are on the first floor with a patio outside and a bathroom up three and down two steps. Great in the middle of the night! A narrow tiled staircase leads up to a living room and rudimentary kitchen with a large patio outside with a lovely view of the city walls.

None of it feels very warm with a current outside temperature of 10°C predicted to fall below zero during the week.

Front patio
Front patio

We unpack our belongings and see that apart from oil and vinegar, the kitchen has nothing else, not even a teapot. The bed doesn’t look wonderful and there is a large round window without a shutter that turns out to be lit by a street light. Sigh.

Typical Albaicin street
Typical Albaicin street

Our street is called Cuesta Alhacaba which means  double hill. All is said. We walk up to the top of the old Albaicin quarter by which time I am completely exhausted of course but I love the houses and Moorish decoration along the way.

Our first sighting of the Alhambra
Our first sighting of the Alhambra

We get our first sighting of the famous Alhambra and wander through the gardens of the Palacio de los Cordova. At the bottom of the hill on the other side, we walk along the Darro River until we reach the main thoroughfare.

In the Cordova palace gardens
In the Cordova palace gardens

I’m suddenly hungry so we go into a bar called Minotoro where we order freshly squeezed orange drinks, some slices of goats cheese and what turns out to be French fries with mayonnaise and tomato ketchup on them! Not exactly what I feel like …

Mayonnaise and tomato ketchup French fries
Mayonnaise and tomato ketchup French fries

We decide to make our way home so we can have a siesta despite the fact that it’s near 6 pm but I’m feeling pretty exhausted at this point and we still have to climb our double hill to get back.

Church in Albaicin
Colegiata de San Salvador  in Albaicin

The house is gradually warming up but I’m still quite cold. It probably hasn’t been heated for a while even though we’ve turned the electric heaters up to maximum. We sleep for an hour or so.

The courtyard of Le Ladrillo where we have dinner
The courtyard of El Ladrillo (the brick?) where we have dinner

Since there are no shops open on Sunday afternoon we still have no food so at about 8 pm (early by Spanish standards) we go looking for dinner. All those great tapas bars that we open during the afternoon are now closed but we eventually find a place called El Ladrillo selling grilled fish. Jean Michel misreads the menu and the waiter’s English is very basic so we end up with a large platter of fried seafood and a mixed salad. I eat the battered octopus pieces and half the salad but am not tempted by the rest.

Before we’re even finished, they’ve closed the kitchen, we’ve already paid and the waiter is whisking away our plates as soon as he can!  We walk all the way down the hill for a decaff coffee (I must be crazy) and halfway back again to our cold house. I’m too tired by then to do anything else except go to bed!

Château de Chaumont in Winter

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I’m off to visit Château de Chaumont with Black Cat and the Flying Dutchman. I suggest we park along the Loire and take the front entrance to the castle. Not a good idea. It’s closed so we have to walk a kilometer up the hill at a nearly freezing 2°C.  Stoic, the Flying Dutchman does not complain about leaving his earmuffs behind.

View of an island in the Loire from inside the castle
View of an island in the Loire from inside the castle

We take the back entrance, next to the parking lot where we usually leave the car, and walk through the gardens towards the château which is just as beautiful as it usually is, despite the cold, because at least the sky is a wan blue.

Chaumont has a spectacular view of the Loire River below. It initially belonged to Catherine de Medicis but after the death of her husband Henri II in 1560, she swapped it with Henri’s mistress, Diane de Poitiers, for Chenonceau. Diane was understandably very disappointed in the exchange and preferred living in the Château d’Anet to the west of Paris.

There are not many people which is always pleasant when visiting and I am surprised to discover that there are lots of things I missed the last time.

The Ruggieri Room
The Ruggieri Room

In the Ruggieri Room assigned to Catherine de Medicis’s personal astrologer, I suddenly realise the connection with the Astrological Tower near the old Commodities Market (Bourse du Commerce) in Paris where we used to live.

We then closely examine a series of seventy medaillons and eight moulds produced in the 18th century by the Italian artist Jean-Baptiste Nini. The delicately sculpted medaillons depict celebrities of the time such as Louis XV, Louis XVI, Marie-Antoinette and Benjamin Franklin as well as members of the Leray famille, who owned the château at the time, and the local bourgoisie – doctors, lawyers, etc.

The aristocratic nose of Charles III of Spain
The aristocratic nose of Charles III of Spain

The beautiful 17th century majolica floor in the Council Room which originated in Collutio Palace in Palerma in Sicily and acquired by the last owners, the Boglie family,  provokes an interesting discussion about transporting art and archeological works from other countries.

At another point we spend time looking at old photographs of the Broglie family showing the fashions and moustaches of the time.  When Princess Henri-Amédée de Broglie, the granddaughter of sugar magnate, Louis Say, first saw Château de Chaumont as a child, she immediately declared “Je veux ça, je veux ça” (I want that). In 1875, at the age of 17, she became the owner of the castle and the one thousand and so hectares around it. Hard to imagine.

One of the giant cedars in the park surrounding the Château, seen through a grisaille window
One of the giant cedars in the park surrounding the Château, seen through a grisaille window

It’s closing time before we know it so we walk very quickly down the hill in the cold spurring each other on with thoughts of tea and Christmas cake in front of the fire!

Friday’s French – poêle, poeliste, fumiste, fumisterie

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I would just like to point out straight away that poeliste is not a real word but it amused my Solognot neighbour Alain no end. We are thinking of putting a wood-burning stove in our downstairs living room (as I mentioned earlier this week) and the stove installer recommended by Alain came round to give us a quote.

One of several porcelain stoves in Meissen in Germany - un poêle.
One of several porcelain stoves in Meissen in Germany – un poêle.

The French for wood-burning stove is poêle from the Latin pensilis, meaning suspended, from the verb pendere, to be suspended, which gave pendent and pendulous in English. Pensilis may seem far removed from poêle, but remember that an ê in French often indicates that an “s” dropped out. In this case, the “n” got lost as well.

Initially it designated baths suspended from vaults and heated underneath in all those rich Roman villas. After that it meant a heated chamber and eventually the cast iron or earthenware stove we know today.

When poêle means a stove, it’s masculine. But listen to this. When it means a frying pan, it’s feminine. Same spelling, same pronunciation and everything. But it doesn’t come from pensilis. It comes from patella meaning a small dish. Patella first became paielle then paele and maybe poesle (1579) which would explain today’s poêle. A small frying pan is a poêlon, which of course is masculine. How we’re supposed to remember that I don’t know.

Une poêle à crèpes
Une poêle à crèpes

I based my use of poêliste on fumiste (from fumée, smoke) which means heating mechanic and also chimney sweep, although the more usual word is ramoneur.

But fumiste has another meaning – a shirker. I asked Alain why but he didn’t know. Good old Wikipedia came to the rescue. Apparently it comes from a vaudeville show called La Famille du fumiste about a heating mechanic who wasn’t the sort of person you could really count on!

The noun fumisterie whose real meaning is a heating mechanic’s workshop now has the same derogatory meaning as fumiste. C’est de la fumisterie means it’s a fraud. So I’m hoping our poêliste is not a fumiste or I am going to be cold all winter …


Lunch with Learners

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Our party of four arrives just before noon in front of the local hospitality high school in Blois. It’s important to be on time because class goes back at 1.30 pm. We enter the building and can see the students through the window of the restaurant on our left, all dressed smartly in white shirts, purple vests and lavender aprons, some looking a little anxious.  The door opens and we are greeted by a young man who checks our name against his reservation list.



A supervisor hovers discreetly, intervening when necessary. Two young girls offer to take our coats, one reciting her learnt phrase, the other a little less formal. They aren’t sure what to do with Jean Michel’s hat. I glance around and see there are no hooks so I explain that you always place a hat on its crown and not its brim. The supervisor tells them to put it on the shelf above the coats.

We are shown to our seats, just opposite the open-plan kitchen where we can see the students in their white coats and chefs’ hats.


Our waitress asks if we’d like a before-lunch drink and gives us the list. Françoise tells us about a recent experience here. Two of her party had ordered the local vouvray sparkling wine and the young waitress came back to explain that it would be wasted if they opened a bottle and no one else wanted it. Only instead of saying pétillant, she used the slang péteux (from the verb péter, to break wind).

Today, the set menu , a bargain at €9.50, consists of a pumpkin, chestnut and cream soup, chicken with crayfish, and floating island with a choux dessert whose name I can’t remember.

All the students apply themselves, politely setting our places when necessary, bringing our dishes, asking whether we enjoyed them and taking them away.


The wine seems to be the only problem. As the waitress is opening the bottle of red we have ordered, the cork breaks. “It would happen to me”, she says, disconsolately. I reassure her and say that she just has to check there is no cork in the glass when she pours it. She asks who will taste and Jean Michel is nominated.

After he has tasted and approved the wine, she then proceeds to top up his glass, but he explains that she must start with the others first and serve him last. She serves Françoise, then goes on to Paul, but is told “ladies first”. This throws her a bit – she obviously isn’t used to such subtleties.

All goes well however. The food is perfectly edible, but not very sophisticated. Last time we came, it was later in the school year so our young chefs had been practising for a bit longer!


We finish off with coffee and the total bill comes to 60 euros for 4 people, which is certainly excellent value for money.

The school also has a Thursday night Gourmet Brasserie that we haven’t tried yet (menu €20 not including drinks) and a Gourmet Restaurant called 17 4 on Friday night (menu €30) both of which we intend to try out.  We just have to check the dates, as the restaurants are closed during school holidays and exam periods.

LHT  Vallée de la Loire, 174 rue Albert 1er, 41000 BLOIS.  Open from midday to 1.30 pm Monday to Friday (closed during school holidays). Reservation at 0 55 51 551 54.

This post is part of the All About France Link-Up. Click here for other contributions.


Friday’s French – déménager, déménagement, ménager

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Nos cartons de déménagement
Nos cartons de déménagement

Lundi on déménage ! For some reason, it sounds more specific in French than the English “We’re moving on Monday !” I guess it’s because “move” can be used to mean so many different things but déménager always means moving house (or office or whatever).

A ménage, which comes old French mesnage, a derivative of the Latin mansio (house), is a married couple or a household, so déménager literally means “breaking up the household”. And that is exactly what is happening at the moment as I sort out and pack up our goods and chattels accumulated over the last 9 years (and more).

We’re having déménageurs do the actual moving with a camion de déménagement. Déménageur refers to both the removalist company and the individual person doing the moving. I had 5 devis (quotes) done. The estimated volume ranged from 52 cubic meters to 67 cubic meters, which is astonishing. And the prices ranged from 2,500 euro to 4,700 euro to move our belongings to Blois, 200 kilometers away.

I was so suspicious of the lowest quote that I rang them to find out why. They had made a mistake and quoted for Paris! They increased the quote to 3,000 euro which was still belong the next price of 3,600 euro so we chose Ultimate Déménagement. We’ll see how competent they are!

Taking the piano down 4 flights of stairs
Les déménageurs descendent le piano quatre étages

Déménageur has given the expression il a une carrure de déménageur – he’s built like a tank. But the champion of all was the single porteur who originally carried our piano up four flights of stairs on his back. It took two déménageurs to take it down again. They had heard of a porteur but never seen one in action.


Another expression that I like is déménager à la cloche de bois: to sneak off in the middle of the night. Though why there is a wooden bell involved, I don’t know!

Also, ça déménage is slang for “it’s brill/awesome”.

The verb ménager, however, means something totally different. The idea is to make sure a person is not offended.

Il faut vraiment la ménager, elle est très sensible – You have to treat her gently – she’s very sensitive.

Il faut qu’on ménage les deux parties – We have to keep both parties happy.

Si vous ne la ménagez pas, elle va beaucoup souffrir – If you don’t treat her tactfully, she will be very hurt.

Another great expression is ménager la chèvre et le chou (the goat and the cabbage) = to sit on the fence.

When applied to an object, ménager means to treat something with care or sparingly. The most widespread use is ménager ses forces or efforts = to save or conserve one’s strength.

So we can put déménager, déménagement and ménager together in the same sentence:

Un bon déménageur sait ménager ses forces pour mener à bien le déménagement. = A good mover knows how to save his strength so the move will go well.

Now I have to get back to my cartons de déménagement

Friday’s French – taxi, fiacre, taxis de la Marne

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parisian_taxiI’m very excited because yesterday, I discovered the origin of the word taxi! And it’s Parisian. Who would have imagined that?

I learnt about it while taking some Australian friends on a walking tour that included the oldest houses in Paris.

Paris has lots of street signs explaining its history and we came across one that talked about the invention of the fiacre.

In 1612, a coach company from Amiens rented a house in rue Saint Antoine in Paris, bearing an effigy of Saint Fiacre, the famous barefoot friar (carme déchaussé, if you’re interested) who predicted that Anne of Austria would have a son (one chance out of two, as my friends pointed out). He’s also the patron saint of gardens.



In any event, Saint Fiacre eventually became a sort of Saint Christopher and his image was displayed on coaches all over Paris to prevent accidents. Ever since, coaches have always been called fiacres. Just before the French revolution in 1789, there were about 800 of them parked on 33 stations including more than 650 under shelters called remises.

The coach drivers had a terrible reputation and the police did everything they could to control them. Each driver had a number that cost a fortune to buy and a booklet containing their licence to park and drive the coach. After reaching their zenith at the turn of the 20th century, horse-drawn carriages declined and were replaced with the automobile.

The name of taxauto was soon adopted, followed by taxi, which is an abbreviation of taximètre and designated not the taximeter, but the vehicle containing it. The term taxi took over completely after a famous historical event in the first world war known as the “Taxis de la Marne“.


On 7th September 1914, in order to reinforce the Maunoury army, General Galliéni requisitioned 700 Parisian taxis to ferry the 7th division troups from Sevran, Livry and Gagny in the east of Paris (i.e. the Marne) to Nanteuil-le-Haudouin and Plessis-Belleville in Picardy, which represented a distance of about 40 kilmeters . The meeting point was boulevard des Invalides.

During the night, with four men to a taxi, most of the division was transferred, totalling more than 5,000 combatants, a somewhat modest number compared with the Maunoury army’s total of 140,000, but the story has gone down in history. You can find more details here.

And would you believe, when I was taking my photo of a Parisian taxi, I accidentally took one of a Taxi de la Marne, even though I had never heard of it before! But since it’s a modern cab, I checked it out and learnt that during the recent centenary – 7th September 2014 – a reconstitution took place with 10 originals taxis and 120 modern ones bearing the  insignia shown on the photo as well as a number of military vehicles as you can see from the video below on the France 3 regional television website.

I wish I’d known at the time!

Cycling in Germany #4 – Koblenz where the Moselle meets the Rhine

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We’re off to a late but chilly start today. After we leave the car a few kilometers out of Koblenz to avoid the usual large town parking problems, we both put on our windcheaters and don’t take them off for the rest of the day. This time I didn’t forget our rain capes …

As we cycle over the bridge over the Moselle and get our first view of Koblenz we remember why we try to avoid cities! It’s big and noisy and full of cars. We also know that the old town was completely destroyed during the war and there isn’t much to see. The name Koblenz means confluence and this is where the Moselle joins the Rhine on its way through Germany so the big attraction is the Deutsches Eck or German Corner.

Along the way we see some amusing facades such as the night club above. Jean Michel who’s fallen a little behind catches me up, “you missed something back there” he says so I ride back. I look up and burst out laughing.

We keep going towards the Eck, passing lots of cruise boats, one of which has walking frames lined up on the quay! “There but for the grace of God” as my mother used to say. The best view of the confluence is from the huge monument to Kaiser Wilhelmina I erected in 1897. The equestrian statue was destroyed in 1945 just before the end of the war and rebuilt in 1993. We think the flags are regional.

We follow the beautiful Rhine Promenades past some lovely late 19th century homes and some surprising modern buildings.


Eventually we find ourselves on the outskirts of Koblenz and are getting hungry. We decide not to eat at a Biergarten obviously set up for World Cup enthusiasts. I bet it’s popular at night.

Our bike path lies between the Rhine and a railway line and takes us past Stolzenfels Castle built in 1250 and destroyed during the Nine Years War in 1689. It was restored in 1838 by Crown Prince Friedrich Wilhelm which explains why it’s not made of granite like all the other hilltop castles in the area. I accidentally put my new iPhone 5S on black and white so the photo isn’t quite what I expect.

There are no places to eat near the castle so we push onto the next town called Rhens. By the time we arrive it’s 1.30 but in Germany you can get a meal at any time, we have discovered. We see an inviting Biergarten and choose a riverside table. Below is the view from the Ladies!

However it turns out to be too cold so we eat inside the restaurant which is across the road. Note that I’m still in black and white mode.

During lunch where we order the inevitable Wiener schnitzel and chips (it’s that or pizza) with a side salad and trocken riesling, we’re entertained by a little boy on a trike without pedals and his older sister who comes through occasionally playing Jingle Bells on a whistle and softly hitting a drum.

We decide it’s not warm enough to cycle any further down the river and head back towards Koblenz. I finally get a photo of a patriotic car with no owner around. Check out the rear view mirror! Good thing I’ve worked out how to take colour photos again.

We find another Biergarten in Koblenz but are told we have to go inside the restaurant for coffee so we keep going. Good thing we did because we accidentally found a local institution – the Weindorf. Created in 1925 for the Reich German wine exhibition, this “wine village” is the perfect place to have a glass of wine or real cappuccino.

As we haven’t had dessert, jean Michel thinks we should try the cakes. I can definitely recommend the apfel strudel … Not to worry, it’s an intermittent fast day tomorrow.

By the time we get back to the car, we’ve cycled 34 km which is kinder than yesterday’s 49! Tomorrow we leave Kobern-Gondorf for the Elbe and Swiss Saxony, about 570 km east of here. And I’m hoping for a proper wifi connection so I can use my laptop again! See you there.


Cycling in Germany – Tips & Tricks
Cycling in Germany #1 – Kobern-Gondorf 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 – 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
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