Dabbling in Jet Lag
If you read my previous blog post, one day in Luxembourg city, I discussed the importance of spending time understanding and learning about what lies just outside your front door, especially now when travel is more restricted. It was also a revelation for me, as I realized that I have not really done this myself. So, as I live in Strasbourg, I decided to start exploring Alsace, the east of France. In general, Alsace is full of activities, particularly outdoor activities. There are endless hiking and biking trails, which makes it difficult to know where to start. I, personally, choose to begin with one of the most iconic monuments in the area, Mont Sainte Odile, and what better way to visit this masterpiece than by hiking.
My journey began in a small village, Rosheim, where I start my hike to Mont Sainte Odile. At the end of this article, you will find a detailed guide to help you plan your next trip.
Rosheim to Mont Sainte Odile
I took the train from Strasbourg to Rosheim, only 20 min! It was fast, easy, and cheap. Rosheim is a small town that lies on the Route des Vins and on the eastern slopes of the Vosges mountains. Perhaps the most notable structure is the Saints Peter and Paul church that was built in the 12th century.
The hike began on the bike route and was mostly pavement for the first two hours. The path wove in and out of forests, farm fields with vineyards occupying a majority of the landscape. Eventually, the trail passed through Boersch, and, before I realized it, I had missed the turn for Ottrott. I ended up on the other side of the town! I had to cross the entire town of Ottrott to arrive back on the trail, while it is not that big, missing a turn during a hike is always annoying.
Useful Tip: Pay attention to the signs. The paved trail will continue, but you will need to turn right. I have noted all the streets in my step-by-step guide below.
I meandered down the streets of Ottrott and found the town to be very colorful. The houses were painted with bright colors, sometimes multi-colored, and decorated with baskets of flowers. I probably spent too much time admiring Ottrott, but it was well worth it. When I finally arrived at the trailhead, the trail changed in an instant to a beautiful forest-covered path, and the gradual incline to Mont Sainte Odile began.
The trail I choose to take to the Mont Sainte Odile was originally used by the pilgrims (Le Sentier des Pèlerins) and is not technically difficult. As the trail climbed, the air became significantly cooler – a much-needed relief from the heat and blistering summer sun. Hiking in Alsace in the summer can be brutal with the heat, so this was an excellent escape. After about 1.5 hours, I reached the stairs to Mont Sainte Odile. A short climb to the top, and I was at the entrance of the church.
Useful Tip: Sunscreen and water are essential if you plan on hiking in the summer. The first part of the trail is not covered and you are exposed to the sun for the first two hours.
The mountain is, actually, named after Saint Odile. It has a monastery/convent at the top called the Hohenburg Abbey and is notable also for its stone fortifications called “the Pagan Wall,” which surrounds the church.
At the top, I was greeted with beautiful views over the Vosges mountain range. On a clear day, it is possible to see the Notre Dame cathedral in Strasbourg. I was lucky enough to be able to see not only the Notre Dame cathedral in Strasbourg but several other villages that were significantly farther.
While it is possible to hike back to Rosheim in one day, I decided to spend the night at the top. There is a hotel inside the church, and, if you spend the night, you can watch both the sunset and sunrise over the church. There were significantly fewer people at both of these times, which makes the experience that much better.
The Return to Rosheim
The next day I made my way back to Rosheim. Of course, it is possible to take the same way back, but there are also several other routes. I decided to take Le Sentier des Merveilles, and it was stunning. Along the trail, there are sculptures of various woodland creatures, and they were quite impressive. I also had beautiful panoramic views of the surrounding landscapes and even passed a castle, Château de Rathsamhausen.
Useful Tip: Sometimes the signs are pointing in the direction you need to turn, but they are not entirely visible. Make sure to take your time and follow the correct signs. It is very easy to continue walking and find yourself on another trail.
The trail, eventually, finished in Ottrott, and I continued back to Rosheim along the same path I had used the day before. Although, this time, I was more conscientious of the trial, and did not miss any turns.
While there was some information online, the instructions I used were out of date, as the path has since been rebuilt. So, here is a step-by-step guide on the route I used. Additionally, there is a link to an interactive map so that you can download the map directly on your phone (after the step-by-step guide).
Exploring Alsace via the Rosheim Circuit – Mont Sainte Odile and Le Sentier des Merveilles
The Rosheim Circuit offers beautiful views over Alsace, with the highest point being Mont Sainte Odile at 763m. The hike can be done over two days with a stop at the Mont Sainte Odile hotel (reservations are recommended). Another possible variant starting from Ottrott instead of Rosheim (this will shorten the length of the hike by about 4-5 km).
Time: 9-10 hours
Highest point: 763m
GPS coordinates: N 48.498852° / E 7.470056°
Starting/ending: Rosheim (the hike can be shortened by starting in Ottrott)
Necessary Gear: At least 2L of water per day (if hiking in the summer months), and sunscreen (for the first part of the trail)
Map: Provided at the end of the step-by-step guide.
Useful Tip: Some turns can be easily missed so it is important to pay attention to the signs, especially when arriving at Ottrott and on the way back to Rosheim.
Arriving in Rosheim:
By Car: Parking near the fortified gate called the Lion Gate, Avenue Clémenceau in Rosheim.
By Train: 20 min from Strasbourg (tickets can be purchased the same day).
Description of the Hike:
Take the green lane parallel to Avenue Clémenceau (this is the bike and walking path) and then proceed straight ahead. You will cross D604 (aka Route de Grendelbruch). Continue straight along the bike/walking path.
1. The road will begin to bend to the left. Stay on the road and continue to the bridge of the road linking Rosheim to Boersch.
2. After crossing the bridge overgrown with vegetation. Continue straight. Go to the Boersch artisanal zone and turn onto the Rue des Jardins.
3. Continue walking straight. This path is paved and there are no options to turn right or left.
4. Eventually you will reach Léonardsau Park. Keep going straight ahead. You will, then, reach a crossroad that leads to Ottrott on the Chemin des Aulnes.
5. Turn right to end up on the Route de Boersch. Cross L’Ehn canal and turn slightly right onto Rue du Schliffweg, which leads to a traffic circle. Be careful not to miss these turns.
6. Cross the traffic circle and take the Rue du Colonel de Witt Guizot. Continue on this street until you reach the crossroads of the Château du Windeck and its park. Stay on the Rue Principale.
7. Turn right at Rue des Sapins which runs along the cemetery. At the crossing with the Rue des Châteaux, take the path in front of you. Take the Rue du Mont Sainte Odile and turn right. The Pilgrims’ Path (Le Sentier des Pèlerins) is marked out Yellow X to be followed up to the Mont Sainte Odile.
8. Starting from Mout Sainte Odile go down the stairs and cross the large meadow in the direction of the Stollhafen Pass. Then the path goes along the cliffs to reach the Etichon cave. Follow the Le Sentier des Merveilles (indicated by blue markings) and Rochers des Géants signs (marked with a Blue X).
9. From there Le Sentier des Merveilles trail begins and you will see numerous wooden carved sculptures along the way. Quickly join a new crossroads of paths.
10. Leave the path marked with a Yellow X on the left to take the one marked with a Blue X. Pass by the Rochers des Géants (Giant Rocks) to reach a viewpoint before starting the descent to the Ottrott castles. You will, eventually, arrive at Rathsamhausen castle.
11. Leave the path marked by a Blue X on the left to take the Rectangle Red-White-Red path. Cross an asphalt road.
12. Continue straight ahead following the Yellow Circle signs to reach the traffic circle already encountered on the outward journey.
13. Take the Rue du Schliffweg on the left. Join the green lane and follow the same route as on the outward journey to Rosheim.
Interactive Map: Click here to access an interactive map of this hike.
Summary of the Hike to Mont Sainte Odile
I found the hike to Mont Sainte Odile absolutely stunning, and it was the perfect way to start exploring Alsace. The path was well marked, and the trail was full of beautiful landscapes. Since I completed the hike in August, it was also a wonderful break from the stifling heat in Strasbourg.
This was my first article on exploring Alsace, and I have to say that I really enjoyed the experience. Stay tuned as I continue my exploration of this wonderful region of France.
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