Thanks to the recommendations of the same French hairdressers that cut Aussie’s hair, we stopped in Dole. You should always listen to your hairdresser! It proved to be an interesting town.

Like in many of the medieval towns, metal plates within the pavements, this ones adorned with a cat, lead you around the old cite to all the sites. We walked in the footsteps of the town’s poor along the disused arms of the Doubs river and through passageways following underground canals. Here Louis Pasteur was born in one of the tanneries along the water where once hides were washed.  There are signs and monuments of him all over town. In this damp and unhealthy environment then teeming with vermin, he just had to find a vaccine for rabies -and do something about the milk quickly too: before you knew it the milk was past- your- eyes (ouch)! We also walked in the footsteps of the old Habsburg and the Spanish at the time when Dole was the capital of Bourgogne.

The “canal de rhône au rhin” flows along the 17th century Hotel Dieu, an important hospital at Pasteur’s time and there we had the chance to watch an automated lock being used.

At lunchtime we continued on towards the Alsace.

Trying to reserve a room close to Colmar via phone, we found a vacancy in Muhrbach and followed instructions of our GPS. This was not the first time we doubted our guidance system (always unjustified), but this time we were really worried. It took us far from the mainstream into gradually decreasing roadways, more like bushwalking paths, deep into the forest and up the Vogese mountains. Any minute we expected Red Riding Hood or the woolf to jump out. To our surprise there was actually a lonely but lovely family hotel/ restaurant at the very end of it, similar to what I remember from family holidays in the Black Forest.



Waking up in the big country style bed and opening the window to crisp mountain air looking onto pine forest, I thought for a moment that I was in Germany. The Alsace or “Elsaß” has actually changed hands a few times between Germany and France, and most people are bilingual.

So we did what good Germans would do and started walking through the forest and up the mountain. A very steep ascent brought us to a hut at 1000m elevation with a clear mountain spring. And this all before breakfast!

Coming back down we threw our suitcases into the car and snaked our way  down to the nearest village. Coffee at last!!!

I wanted to show Aussie the town of Colmar with its Fairytale half-timbered houses and colourful roofs and window shutters. We booked into an inexpensive hotel and strolled the 1km to the center after our usual picnic lunch.

Starting at “little Venice” with tiny tourist barges making their way through the romantic scenery and under the very low bridges, we did the historic walk right through town.  Here like in Dole the water was used in medieval times for the tanneries and to allow farmers to barge their goods into town.

In the old custom’s house we enjoyed the Exhibition of “Recycle Art” with sculptures made from garden tools, collages from flattened beer lids, tires and soft drink cans and amazing ikebana sculptures made from bus and train tickets.

We took a break at a sunny table of non other than the local Irish Pub “Le Murphy’s”!(love the name!)



Since we had seen almost all there is to see in this little town we started late and retraced our steps until we reached the well known “Unterlinden Museum”. The mueum houses among a collection of Christian art, the famous Issenheimer Altar by Mathias Grünewald, Martin Schongauer paintings, whose Madonna in the Rosery we admired yesterday in St. Martin’s church, and an amazing altar piece by Albrecht Dürer. Now, those names probably don’t mean a lot to Aussies, but every school kid here learns about these artists.

Time for an afternoon nap and some reading! Tonight we are planning to eat one of the Elsaß specialities: Tarte Flambée (similar to cheese and onion pie but sounds better!), Baeckeofe (don’t quite know what is in it), Spätzle (a kind of homemade noodles) with pork and sauerkraut and maybe some Kouglehopf glacé for desert!

I can see we have to do a long walk again tomorrow!

Wished we wouldn’t have checked out the Manly/Storm game at lunch-time!

PS: By the way, the sculptor Frederic Auguste Bartholdi was born here in Colmar. He sculpted among others, the Statue of Liberty, a replica of it was erected here in 2004 to commemorate 100 years after his death. Rather oddly, it stands in the middle of a roundabout here. Nobel prize winner Albert Schweitzer was also born close by in neighbouring Kaysersberg. 

© Austin Robinson 2019