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Part two/2: From Petite Pierre to Guebwiller

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After Mollkirch take the road to Klingenthal and direction Mt. St. Odile.

After Klingenthal turn right onto the D214 instead of climbing up the Mont St. Odile. A long and steady climb will take you up the rolling hills.

After the "Neuntelstein" a road from your right (D130) will come up. Driving this one down you will soon arrive at Natzweiler-Struthof. This was one of the infamous Nazi concentration camps where slave workers labored until they died. Anyone should have seen this horror once in his lifetime. This camp however was not an extermination camp although it had it's gas chambers.

 

If you don't drive down to Natzweiler you stay on the D214 until you reach the tower of the "Champ de Feu". On a clear day it's well worth the climb upstairs. A wonderful view all around will reward you. Champ du Feu is on the ridge, hovering over Alsace. From the top of the 100 year old toer on a clear day one can see the Alps, the Black Forest, and the Alsacian plain through which flows the Rhine.
Stay on the D214 until a small tarmac road D215 turns off left to Fouchy. Near the first houses of Fouchy turn right onto the D48 over the Col de Fouchy and to Lièpvre.
After Lièpvre cross the large N59 and keep to the direction of Haut-Koenigsbourg. After some 7 km there is the turnoff to Haut-Koenigsbourg but you stay right on the D42 past Thannenkirch.
Right: The castle of Haut Koenigsbourg
Soon after you arrive at the foot of the hills. The next village is Bergheim where you turn right (D1b) and pass Ribeauvillé direction Kaysersberg (D10). Before reaching this village turn left direction Ingersheim. Take the D11 II, an road uphill to Trois-Epis. (also look at the map below)

The Col de la Schlucht

Stay on the D11. This road runs all the way over the ridges but often view is blocked by thick forests. This wonderful region once saw some of the most merciless combats. Continue up to the Col du Wettstein where you turn down left to reach the main D417 some 400 metres below.

Turn right direction Gerardmer until the Col de la Schlucht. Turn right to Hohneck and Le Markstein (D430). This road is also known as "Route des Crêtes" running all the way on the ridges.

This road alone is well worth the trip. It offers breathtaking views all over the Vosges and the Alsace plain. While running constantly at over 1000m it's way more exposed to ice and snow than the warm valleys below. Potholes and cracks are abundant. On nice summer days tourist trafic may be quite dense. It's also a favorite among motorcycle riders so take care when speeding through the corners.

About 13 km passed Le Markstein you reach the highest point in the Vosges, the Grand Ballon.

View from the Grand Ballon

The hotel and restaurant which lies there is quite a popular destination in winter. I spent a week there almost 15 years ago and was rewarded with heavy snow and absolute quiteness as the road was closed for all trafic. Of course this wasn't for the visitors of the hotel and so we pushed all day long through waist-deep snowdrifts with our Suzuki and an Chevrolet Blazer at that time. But that's another story.

Passed the Col you drive down the other side of the mountain until a large road crossing. You must look hard to find the small road turning off to the right (east). The next 12 km are hell for anyone getting carsick as one turn follows the other. It's quite a dangerous road as locals use to drive it at full speed. I prefer to do it in the dark so upcoming lights give you a chance to look for an escape place.

Down at Soultz turn left towards Rimbach.

After 5 minutes you reach the small village where the Aigle d'Or lies on your right side. It offers good, VERY undisturbed rooms at a very reasonable price as well as a shady garden and excellent food. The picture right is from the Guide Michelin France but dates back to 1993 so the phone number will have changed to (0) 3 89 76 89 90. For motorcycle riders: They also have an garage for their guests.