Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Château du Haut-Kœnigsbourg: an Alsatian chef-d'oeuvre


article from I Collect Castles.com  

Château du Haut-KSnigsbourg
High on a rock, overlooking the Rhine Valley, the pink sandstone fortress is a magical place.

We got to visit this beautiful medieval castle during a 2 and a half day trip to Alsace, France.
This is how we made the most of our Alsatian visit:
Day 1: Paris > Strasbourg
We spent the first day in Strasbourg. Make sure to see the Grand Ile (the Cathedral Dome is worth going up the few hundred steps) and the Petite France neighborhoods.
Strasbourg Canal

Day 2: Strasbourg > Selestat > La Montagne des Singes > Chateau du Haut-Koenigsbourg > Selestat > Colmar > Strasbourg
Next morning we took the train from Strasbourg, heading south towards Selestat. There are no seat reservations on the train and it's usually completely packed, therefore make sure to be there a bit early so you can at least get in.
Selestat is the town from where you take a shuttle bus to the Haut-Koenigsbourg castle (from right outside the train station).
Great thing about the shuttle bus: the ticket (~4eur) is available throughout the day so you can actually hop on and off to see other sites along your way to the castle.
Shuttle is called Line 500, here you have a complete bus line map and schedule.
Our stop was La Montagne des Singes - a 200 macaques monkey natural park. You need approx 1 hour to see it. If you leave Strasbourg around 9am you'll get there before 12:00 and you get to see how the monkeys are fed. In any case they give you pop-corn at the entrance and you can actually get pretty close to the monkeys. Cool experience!
Montagne des Singes 

The way upwards, to the castle, is a truly nice ride. Beautiful scenery, you'll have a very good view of the Rhine Valley from up there.
At the castle, if you get the chance to join a guided tour take it, it's free and you get to have some history bits and discover cool things about the castle's restoration; the tour guide we had was remarkably committed - he really made the tour.
See Château du Haut-Kœnigsbourg official website for extra details.
Tip: make sure to buy a day train ticket instead of just a round trip to Selestat, it's a bit cheaper and you get to hop on any train within the Alsace region.
By the time you finish the castle visit you'll probably have a few more hours to spend around the region. When back to the Selestat train station you can get the train to visit other places too. We picked Colmar, a pretty little town close to the German border. It looks very much like the Petite France neighborhood in Strasbourg, picturesque with very well preserved old town.
Colmar, France 

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