I wake up early and once it was light enough decided to go on an exploratory ride, checking out a few villages…all before Ben and Sharon arose was the concept anyway.
I mapped out a ride but had not been able to upload it to my Garmin so took my iPad.
This is the route I completed today. The thick pink line indicates the border between Switzerland and France, with a smattering of Germany top right.
There were a few navigational issues initially and I was then on my way to Leyman, although not as originally plotted.
Just a few hundred metres short of the border I stopped to take these photos.
The road weaved around and I came to this sign. I was pretty sure I needed to take it, and it looked ok bar the red no entry sign.
So a short climb and I was at the top of a small hill looking back towards Switzerland hills, although the town is in France.
The road turned to gravel. At first the gravel was fine, you just needed to slow down more.
The gravel got looser and lumpier and I ended up pushing my bike up a hill. There were side tracks everywhere and I was just hoping I was on the right one.
The gravel became bitumen and I thought, yes….you are on the right one…it lasted all of a few hundred metres as I arrived at this Chapel, bang smack in the middle of nowhere.
Chapelle de Heilenbrunn was apparently a former place of pagan worship, and a chapel with a spring with healing powers. Where is that spring??
The chapel was first recorded in 1359 and the present building dates back to 1682.
It was sold as national property during the French Revolution, being bought by the municipality in 1812 and restored to a place of worship.
It has since been renovated three times and hosts various events during the year.
Only catch is a shite gravel road! MTB bikes and 4wd worshippers preferable! If you survive, somewhere in that deep dark forest might be some healing springs to soothe your nerves and aches.
Right, so which direction from the chapel? It looked like a dead end until I noticed a small opening in the forest.
This is quite steep and I pushed my bike up. Photos never do justice to degrees of climbing.
It plateaued out at the top and this was the view all around me. Left or right…..I decided right and was met by so many choices as to further track alternatives. Crap!
I figured being in the middle of a forest, if I stuck with the ‘better quality’ track it should end up somewhere ok…..then I started thinking about all of the Monty Pythons puns about being lost in a dark forest, looking for a shrubbery!
There was no Lady of the Lake, King Arthur or Patsy, just me on my touring steed.
I did not see the healing spring, nor did I see one sign post. The Swiss love their sign posts, whereas the French have skimped!!
Eventually my theory was right and I ended up on a major road….one that I had not plotted on my route…but I figured it out and headed to the next town.
What a shame…a French bakery was open…what do? Well one chocolate croissant later I was moving again.
From here, navigation was easy as I just memorised the names of each village, and fortunately in each village, the next village in each direction was listed at intersections.
So many pretty towns.
It was now around 9am and the sleepy villages were arising. I had two smaller hills to climb to drop back I to Switzerland.
At the top of his one is what appears to be an air traffic control tower. This hill is the highest point around and Basel’s international airport is actually located in France.
I had scouted nearby earlier in my route.
A bit more forest, back into Switzerland and oooh look, a sign post!! I was heading to Oberwil and yes it was listed.
Back at base Therwil, Sharon and Ben were up and about to have breakfast. Great timing.
We then took Wags for a walk in the adjacent forest. Dogs doing what dogs do…..
The the rest of the day unfolded. We caught a tram into central Basel. Went to an amazing pet shop so Sharon could buy Wags some donuts! Yes, dogs eat donuts too it seems!!
Wags will eat anything but not sure if he would eat this! You know the only way you should cook kale is with coconut oil. That way, it is easier to scrape into the rubbish bin!!
Then we hopped onto a train to head to the Swiss capital of Bern. A few sights.
Then another train to Stettlin, the village that Sharon grew up in with her parents Stephan and Judy, sisters Davita and Joy.
It is perched high on the hill overlooking Stettlin and valley towards Thun,
Stephan and one of his daughters attended a course in how to construct pizza ovens and then built this with all locally sourced material. So yes, home made pizza for tea.
Here we are enjoying dinner.
Then it was a train back to Bern, train to Basel where there was this bike with a keg type of barrel on the back. I hope it is empty.
Finally a team back to Therwil, walk back to home base and I jumped straight into bed!!
Thanks for reading…tomorrow the plan is to do a site seeing ride around the Colmar – Vosges Mountains in France.
2 thoughts on “I once was lost…and then found myself…in France..in a dark forest!”
Such beautiful country, good on you for your bravery and I’m glad you agree with me about kale!
Yes kale sucks! Even the blender burns out trying to chop it!