Cycling through Alsace - Part 2
Leaving Breisach and going back into France...
After reaching Breisach and spending the night there, I decided to head back into France by crossing the Rhine and cycle to the historic city of Colmar. I had seen a lot about this city in guidebooks about Alsace and how pretty the ‘Centre Ville’ was, so it made sense to go being so near.
Normally I like to stick to the pre-prepared plan and had decided on continuing along the Rhine following the German segment of the Rhine Cycle Path, however as Colmar was only a 40 km cycle away along a named cycle route, I thought why not? I could go to the central square, get some breakfast from a nice bakery and then carry on down to Mulhouse from there. Easy!
Neuf-Brisach and circling Colmar...
Once I had finished taking the obligatory border crossing photo, I re-entered Alsace without ceremony and stopped off at the UNESCO World Heritage Site – Neuf-Brisach. A fort town built by the ‘Sun King’ Louis XIV who is possibly better known in contemporary life as the main character in the excellent, yet erotic BBC/Canal Plus drama – Versailles.
The octagonal-shaped fortress was completed in 1699 to protect the French from the Roman Empire. Whilst being very well preserved, this is certainly a place that is better seen from the air to appreciate the size and distinct shape of the settlement.
I didn’t stay long in Neuf-Brisach and set off pedalling through some of the pretty villages of Alsace. I passed through numerous wheat fields, quiet rural roads and traffic-free cycle paths. The sun was shining and all was going well until I approached the outskirts of Colmar. I even saw a group of fellow riders on a cycling holiday riding the same bike as me!
The problems started when a ‘Direction Colmar’ sign was missing and I ended up on the main road. Not sure if I could cycle on this, I took a detour off the dual carriageway at the first opportunity and found myself near the pretty village of Eguisheim. After lapping the village a couple of times to find a quieter road route to the city centre, I finally reached Colmar around 11 am. I had spent an hour going round in circles all because of a missing sign!
Busy times in Colmar City Centre...
I arrived into Colmar with what seemed to be half of all of the American tourists in Europe taking photos, on guided tours and following the clipboards held by the reps of the major river cruise companies. This caused a slight issue as the city centre and the area around 'Little Venice' was so tightly packed with people that I struggled to wheel my bike through!
I was a tad disappointed by my detour and frustratingly added another 50 km to my day. I was even more annoyed when I discovered that the way out of Colmar was retracing my journey back along the same route, was directed onto the main road and I ended up back in Eguisheim - again!
I finally left Eguisheim deemed to be ‘one of the prettiest villages in France’ after meandering around for an hour and headed out into the lower foothills of the Alsace vineyards. There were dozens of wine-growing areas that followed the route of the cycle path down towards to Mulhouse all on the official cycle route.
Through the vineyards to Rouffach...