Saturday, July 13, 2013


Le Donon: a very nice hike in the Vosges near Strasbourg

West-South-West of Strasbourg in the Vosges is the Vallée de la Bruche, a river valley not far from the city where some people have their "get-away" houses for week-ends and vacations. In this continental climate, summers can be very hot and humid; some years it seems there is s thunderstorm every afternoon or evening for a month or more. But in the mountain valleys with the rivers or streams running through it is cooler, quieter, breezier: a refreshing comfort, particularly before air conditioning became widely available.
Bronze plaque indicating directions.
Posed by German administration in the 1880s.

A few kilometers from Schirmeck, a town with a railroad station well into the Bruche valley [about 47km from Strasbourg via A35, A352, N420, D1392], are a pair of mountain tops called le Donon (semantically, "high place") and le Petit Donon (nearly as high, but not semantically). Although not a stand-out peak visibly highest in the area, the Donon has historically--and pre-historically--been recognized as "special" by the Celts and Gauls and Romans, who built temples (and possibly other culturally significant sites) on its top. Later, as the archeological vestiges were discovered, a museum was built in emulative stone temple style (1869); it has long been abandoned, however, and most of the stone carvings have been taken to a museum in Strasbourg for curation.
Stone temple-style museum, built in 1869.

The visit hike is very well presented. It is a relatively easy trail, but does rise about 270m (to 1009,25m) in a couple of kilometers; the round trip took us about two and a half hours. The main difficulty is that much of it is steps rather than ramp (so no prams!); there are gaps in the stone at the top where one really has to watch one's step, and there are opportunities to fall for lack of railings.
Some of the appreciable points are :
The prominent television antenna is an eye-sore, yet one can ignore it (and its service road, which the trail crosses twice) and have a very nice half-day outing. Schirmeck has plenty of restaurants and bakeries (and even a couple of supermarkets) to feed the hungry hikers, too.

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Very nice! Beauiful description. You'll have to take me next time I come dad.
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