7-9 April 2017
We had identified a nice looking ACSI campsite on the Routes des Cretes that we thought would be a good place to lie up and enjoy the unseasonal good weather forecast for the weekend.
An early start from Riquewihr with the intention of travelling on the Routes des Cretes wherever possible to our destination at Ranspach at the far end of that route.
What a rollercoaster. Wonderful, amazing views and challenging driving all the way. Mad hairpin bends, narrow roads, steep ascents and even steeper descents. We followed the sat nav until the roads ran out then a combination of map reading and re-formatted satnav would get us heading in the right direction again. Three times the Routes des Cretes was closed and we had to retrace steps and re-route the sat-nav. But the views!
We climbed to over 3,500 feet, passing the now silent ski lifts and ski-schools. After around 3,00ft there was still snow left at the sides of the road, presumably where the snow-ploughs had piled it high. It was hard to comprehend that vehicles – perhaps even coaches – drive on these roads in the snow.
The route changes added an hour to our journey but once Danny was comfortable with the capabilities of the van on such roads we really did have a lovely drive. Although we were grateful that traffic was so light. Up and down we went, over col after col, until the final steep descent to Kruth with Kate looking ahead through the hairpins to advise Danny on the road – and traffic – ahead.
We reached our campsite destination, Flowers Les Bouleaux in Ranspach, soon after 1pm and found reception closed until 2pm. Considered lunch in the van which we parked just outside but the need for a cold beer drove us into the busy campsite bar-restaurant, “Flammer-eck”. Unable to translate the short lunchtime menu properly, and faced with staff who spoke both french and german but definitely not english, we both opted for the Salade Vigneronne. Oh dear! Turned out to be a plate of shredded luncheon meat and cheese. Danny hated the cheese – though he did try it – & Kate wasn’t fond of the meat. The beer went down well though, as did the plate of frites.
Lunch over we walked round the site which had a fair number of chalets/statics and apparently long-term caravan lets, and picked a likely spot for our van in a quiet space overlooking a field. Then to reception which was staffed by a man who was clearly german and certainly not admitting to speaking english. Not the friendliest and when we said we didn’t have a reservation he did a sharp intake of breath to indicate we’d be lucky – until we told him we wanted the empty plot number 20 for 3 nights.
We paid up front and Danny parked us so that we would get the sun all day and satellite TV reception. It was warm out of the breeze so we finally got out our groundsheet and chairs and worked out together how to put the windbreak up. Finally we had a proper outside living space! We sat out enjoying the warmth until around 5pm when we wandered 10 minutes down the road to the supermarket on the edge of the next town, St Amarin, to get in food and wine.
Settled for the night feeling slightly disgruntled as the mens block was under renovation and apparently closed meaning that one disabled toilet/shower was all that was available for the men on site.
Saturday 8 April
In the morning Kate had a long chat with mum who had been overdoing it in the garden and strained her shoulder. Danny was reassured by the more than acceptable nature of the facilities in the shower block. The sun was shining and the scenery around us was lovely, with great views of the hills. All was well with the world and after discussion we decided not to cycle or walk, just to relax for 2 full days.
Put the bedding in for a wash – a steep €4 for the wash and €3.50 to dry. Kate wandered down to the supermarket whilst Danny sorted some stuff on the laptop, and then we had lunch outside with a cold beer.
Relaxed for the afternoon, with the temperature peaking at 23C, nicely protected from the cool breeze. The chicken casserole had to be eaten inside as the temperature had dropped but hey, who’s complaining.
Sunday 9 April
A proper Sunday cooked breakfast – scrambled eggs with bacon and mushrooms. Then we sunbathed all day and Kate finally finished her book. Cold beers at lunchtime and the internet went down so no distractions.
After 5pm we went to the bar ‘Flammer-eck’ for a cold drink and managed to order a campari and soda water in an acceptable enough manner to get one. There was a large party finishing up – families with children, each child bearing a square white box of chocolates, a bag of chocolate eggs each covered in brightly covered foil, and a clutch of sticks with easter animals on the end. All very good natured and the children were very well behaved. We then wandered back and cooked the BBQ – burgers, merguez sausages & fresh prawns with salad and bread washed down with a Alsace Riesling. Then exchanged a few pleasantries with our German neighbours who tow a trailer with both mountain bikes and a very nice motorbike behind their motorhome. They have been doing this for 30 years – first tents, then caravans, and now the children are grown, a motorhome. Lovely couple.