It wasn’t a good year for riding for me – too many things going on or just uncooperative weather. But now the weather looked vaguely promising and we had no other plans. We would take out the bikes for possibly the last decent ride of the season.
October 12, 2014
Naturally, we didn’t have a plan. The closest we had gotten to forming a plan was to head north through France and perhaps through Alsace. We meandered our way out of Basel, avoiding the motorway, and ended up alongside the Rhine. Out of novelty, we decided to follow the Rhine, taking whichever roads came our way.
It sounds much more romantic than it was. “Riding along the Rhine through France” was actually just a series of chemical factories, business parks and cornfields while the Rhine stayed hidden behind a high berm. And that’s when I noticed the massive fortified wall set deep into the landscape. Dan and I decided that it needed further investigation and pulled off to learn more about it.
The walls were extensive and massive, with a thick gate guarding the entrance to the city behind. We parked the bikes and began scouting for information. Neuf-Brisach was built in 1698 as a fortification to guard France from the Habsburgs, who had taken over the original town of Breisach on the other side of the Rhine. The city itself wasn’t much to look at but Dan and I enjoyed the walk between the outer concentric star-shaped earthworks and inner bastion wall.
Colmar Gate to Neuf Brisach
Inside the gate
Door at the outer end of the gate
Our bikes, parked while we explore
View from the inner wall of the bridge to Colmar Gate
View of the gate from the moat
Walking between the walls
We had made it a quarter of the way around the fortification and realized that the rest wouldn’t be that much different. We entered the city by a second gate and found ourselves in the large and depressingly empty center square.
One of the nicer buildings in town
We read about the history of Neuf Breisach and decided to check out Breisach, on the other side of the Rhine and in Germany. We returned to our bikes and left by the south gate, crossed the river and found ourselves in a darling town full of charm.
Leaving Neuf Brisach
Unusually large corncrib
Village of Breisach
Parked – illegally, it turned out (but no ticket)
We parked the bikes and walked up the hill to the Munster we could see at the top. It was an easy walk despite the gear but there wasn’t much for it. The view from the Munster was pleasant, overlooking the Rhine and France, but the day was overcast and the sight distance was limited. Informational signs gave us some indication of the extensive history of the town, and one such sign informed me that early records showed that Rome’s Emperor Valentinian I stayed there in the year 369. Breisach has been around for a while!
View over Breisach
View of France across the Rhine
Because we had belatedly realized that we had parked illegally on an residents-only street we didn’t want to dally too long. We took an alternate route back to the bikes, deciding that it was better to keep our visit short than to deal with a possible ticket.
Dan riding through one of the gates of Breisach
Water tower at the top of Breisach
Leaving through a different gate
Ivy covered building
The City Museum – I think
We decided to head home, but not in the most direct route. The weather was looking good and the Black Forest was nearby. I poked at the GPS and asked it to use the “curvy roads” feature to help us extend our riding pleasure. The GPS – and the Black Forest – did not disappoint. We started out in the plains of the Rhine but eventually found the hillier areas. Here are some pictures, as they’re worth more than I could say.
Wine and corn – and heavy clouds
“A German village”
More vineyards and corn
Sunshine! And more vineyards!
Entering the forest
Bus stop in the forest
The Black Forest’s “fall colors”
It felt good to get out on the bike and take some curvy roads “at speed”, as most of the roads we were on were empty. It was a short day, but a good day.
Dan says “Thanks for reading!”