Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Still in Alsace, France: Saint Hippolyte, Haut Koenigsbourg and Vineyard Village Views

My last day, well morning to be exact, in the Alsace Wine Route will be a visit to another wine village called Saint Hippolyte in the north and to a castle—Haut Koenigsbourg located a few kilometres from the village. I am not really excited about the castle per se but about its location. Sitting on top of a mountain, the castle is well endowed with panoramic views of the surrounding vineyards, villages and plateaus, and on a clear sunny day you can even see as far as Germany. Now that is just cool.

To have an idea of the Alsace Wine Route please go to this previous entry: Overview and Map of the Alsace Wine Route. The best time to visit is between May and October.

Passing a ghost village: Saint-Hippolyte
Information: Saint-Hippolyte Brochure

I was really looking forward to have my very late morning coffee here but this is what welcomed me in Saint Hippolyte (Sankt Pilt in German). Empty streets. Closed doors and windows. Nobody seems to be alive? Where is everybody???

So this is April in Saint Hippolyte and this is what the village looks like in early spring. But I would like to believe that perhaps it is the greyish weather that made people hide inside their homes.

Nevertheless, I did not stop over here, although I did drove around town seeking for signs of life which proved to be quite difficult. If the Dutchman would have been with me in the car, I am sure he would say—‘This is the reason why I do not want to be travelling with you in France! Bah, moth-eaten, dead villages. Not even the French wants to live in these places, except for some naive foreigners.’ Then he would look at me. Haha. But then again, everything he says about France, I take with a grain of salt. The country is beautiful! The Dutchman had just too much France when he was a kid.

So I thought I will just head straight to the castle and have coffee there.

Can you see someone breathing on these streets?

Except for the pretty and colourful architecture, the village has so signs of life. Helaas, pindakaas.

Chateau du Haut-Koenigsbourg 
Website: Haut Koenigsbourg

The 10th century chateau is located in Orschwiller in the Bas Rhin region of Alsace right on the border between Haut Rhin and Bas Rhin. It is about 7 kilometres from Saint Hippolyte and as I climb the meandering road I began to worry. Mist enveloped the winding road to Haut Koenigsbourg. I knew the repercussions: NO VIEWS =(

Indeed, upon reaching the top, a heavy white sheath cloaked the castle and its direct surroundings. There is nothing much to see really, and sadly, I came here for the Alsatian panoramic landscape views and not for the castle! Argh!

I was so disappointed that I elected not to visit the castle. I’ve seen so many castles in my lifetime already and it was not my intention to spend an hour enclosed in a dreary antediluvian stronghold. Do not get me wrong, with a weather like this, all castles are by default dreary. Anyway, sorry Haut Koenigsbourg!

At a souvenir shop I spied these post cards. This is how the chateau and the surroundings look like during a clear weather day.

Very lush surroundings...

Fog through the trees... and some people I am sure will argue it is romantic.... but these people are usually the ones living in tropical climate areas. Those of us living in countries with 4 seasons have become so jaded with cold weather.

Nothing in sight. Just a few meters visibility.

With that I went back to the car and drove down. Just before reaching Saint Hippolyte, the fog lifted up and I caught a glimpse of some lovely vineyard views.

Vineyard & Village Views

It is a zigzagged road going down which means it is difficult to stop half way, but luckily I spotted a little clearing by the curve and quickly signalled to pull over. Beside the clearing is a little foot path leading to the vineyards, and these are the views…

When I emerged out the foot path this is what I saw...

Rollings valleys and vineyards.

Must be Saint-Hippolyte in the distance with the church tower.

Alas, my visit to this area did not go to waste.

It is now time to head over to Strasbourg and have my long-awaited choucroute lunch. La Choucroute is the region’s traditional dish.

Travel Period: April 2013
Destination: Saint-Hippolyte (Haut Rhin) & Haut Koenigsbourg (Bas Rhin) – Alsace, France

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