Good news! Emmanuel Macron said the second confinement wasn’t for now. It’s the perfect opportunity to get off the tarmac and expand our horizons. The borders remain closed but this crisis allows us to realize that we don’t need to go far to escape. Alsace abounds of hidden treasures in its massifs and vineyards so we decided to go for four days of hiking and discovery in the surroundings of Kaysersberg. Literally the “emperor’s mountain city”. The city was elected as the most beautiful city in France in 2017.
Day one, sunny day, lucky day! I went up to the castle of Kaysersberg offering a breathtaking view of the city and its vineyards. I was immediately struck by a billboard displaying a quotation from Albert Schweitzer (A Protestant doctor, pastor and theologian, philosopher and musician from Kaysersberg, who was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1952) : «Out of breath or not… You are in ! The effort engaged – nobody would have done it in your stead, and… nobody else other than you will reap the benefits. A hundred times a day, advertising repeat this : not only do you need this new object, but you are eligible to have it. And right now ! In an ideal world, where we live in nano second, the sense of duration and effort are absent… or reserved for those who work for you ! This comfort taken for granted has impacted our representation of the real world. Is this doing us or the society any good ? However, contrary to what « The spirit of our time » states, living in the physical, intellectual or moral comfort deprives us of our most essential food : The feeling of having expanded our present limits. ». Still in the spirit of the times 100 years later. Something to meditate upon! Albert Schweitzer’s thought is spread throughout the city. Highlighting the fragile balance of our ecosystems and man’s dependence and reliance on nature. It accompanies me while walking through the vineyards, while observing winegrowers taking care of their wines and along the tumultuous waters the Weiss River lined with beautiful half-timbered houses and local craft stores.
The following days were incredible hikes, finishing at 6p.m because of the curfew, pushing me to go beyond my limits and to discover timeless places where time is as if suspended and where nature takes back its rights. I notably discovered the magnificent ruins of three castles located in the heights of the town of Ribeauvillé. Apparently, there are not only casinos in Ribeauvillé (private joke for the Alsatians). I also undertook the perilous ascent of the Galtz in Katzenthal. It was worth it! The Galtz offers a breathtaking view of the Vosges Mountains, the plain of Alsace and the black forest. That day, I had the chance to observe an ocean of clouds covering the plain, while sipping a local beer. Besides, I took a bit of height at the Lac Blanc ski resort, sadly quiet for the winter season. But offering a dazzling white speckled view in the silence of the valley. On the way down I made a freeze frame stop at the white lake. An icy body of water nestled in the heart of the mountains. On the last day, before returning to Strasbourg, I strolled through the capital of the wines of Alsace and Auguste Bartholdi’s city, Colmar, at the entrance of which there is a miniature version of the Statue of Liberty. A symbolic vision before returning to my city, Strasbourg. At the end of these four days of freedom I felt grateful to live in the beautiful region of Alsace and I hope that freedom limitations due to the Covid-19 pandemic will soon come to an end.