Reipertswiller, AlsaceApril 16 in France ⋅ ⛅ 15 °C
No, we haven't crossed over into Germany, although you could be forgiven for thinking so, from the village's Germanic sounding name, Reipertswiller and the change in house styles and decoration. No, but we have entered the Alsace Region whose ownership has been contested by Germany and France up until 1945, when it became and stayed part of France. It even has its own language, Alsatian, which is taught in schools, although French is still the official language.
After 3 days at Richardménil, we covered 130km, heading East towards Strasbourg. Setting out, the roads were straight and wide, allowing us to make good progress, but as we drew closer to our destination, they became increasingly narrow and winding, climbing around horseshoe bends into beautiful Beech forests; a feast for the eyes and the soul! At some point we entered Parc naturel régional des Vosges du Nord where Reipertswiller is located in the wooded foothills of the low Vosges mountain range.
One of the reasons we chose to visit Alsace at this point is that easter celebrations seem far more pronounced here than in any other French region, perhaps due to its mixed cultural history. Entering the village, we were greeted with gaily painted, 2D wooden eggs in planters either side of the road. We've been used to beige and cream coloured houses in the northern areas, but many here are brightly rendered in yellows, blues, greens and pinks. Wooden balconies and rustic timber cladding are another standout feature we haven't seen so much of in other French regions. A significant number of gardens proudly display tasteful easter decorations, including small trees adorned with painted eggs hung from ribbons. It's beginning to feel a lot like easter!
Parking Martha in the gravel aire between a couple of single storey municipal buildings, we had a spot of lunch and after a rest, set out on a walk. There were many routes signed, but we chose one that lead through the forest, climbing and circling the rounded Buxenberg summit. The overcast sky rained intermittently but the air was still and warm enough, so we were happy. The scent of wood smoke carried faintly in the breeze and we passed many dwellings with neat stacks of logs, no doubt from one of several sawmills at work nearby. With leaves only just beginning to show on the trees, daylight still reached the forest floor which hosted a variety of wildflowers, perhaps the most subtle of which was the Wood Anemone, its delicate petals starting off pale, veined pink, then blooming into a bolder white. Towards the end of our walk we turned a corner and came accross a carpet of these flowers, of the like we've never seen before. There must have been thousands of them, but because they aren't as striking as bluebells, for example, it would have been easy to walk by this amazing floral display without even noticing it. Returning to the van, the steady beat of raindrops on the roof gradually grew and we counted ourselves lucky to have gone out and explored when we did!
Unfortunately there were no rubbish bins and the mains water was turned off. A notice asked vanners to telephone if they wanted to fill up for €5. We were low on water but this seemed a bit of a hassle, so we programmed a place with facilities into the sat nav and moved on eastwards.Read more