From Freiburg, Germany we went back across the river for a leisurely 70km ride to Colmar in France. We rode along the canals where the tow paths have become bicycle paths. Past forests and fields of wild flowers.
Colmar survived the French revolution, a couple of world wars and the developers. It has remained a virtually intact 13 century village, adored for its beauty and canals earning the title Little Venice., perhaps the most beautiful town I have ever seen .
Evidently Audie Murphy, the baby faced war hero and actor won the medal of honour at the battle of Colmar Corner in 1944 just outside town. I remember Audie Murphy staring in Westerns. He was always the good guy. Westerns appealed to me as a child because they contained no moral ambiguity. A man had to do, what a man had to do, whatever that was and goodness always won out in the end! Sometimes I think Touring Cyclists are like modern day Cowboys, as we travel along the open road at roughly the same pace on our iron horses, dispensing goodness and light as we go.
The rich soils of the Rhine support a wondrous number of seasonal crops; spinach, strawberries, asparagus, fruit trees and grains of all description. In the crisp cool morning air the chocolate flavoured soil gives off cinnamon vapours. I believe you could grow anything here. I remember hearing stories of the Australia Solider’s from the First World War coming home to their farms with new ideas learnt from there French farmer allies. Double digging the soil otherwise known as The French Intensive Method, which sounds like some exotic continental sexual practice, but is in effect a gardening technique.
People in this part of the world really enjoy their gardening. I’m impressed by the thoughtfulness and symmetry that is obvious in the public displays on show. Planter boxes are everywhere. On light poles, bridge railings, windowsills, overflowing with red geraniums, pink pelargoniums, yellow daisies, white allysium, blue lobelias. Such magnificent colours and fragrance.
We crossed back into Germany on a fairly rough surface in wet conditions as we cycled back along the Rhine. At Bad Bellingen, where we opted out of the Naturalist Camping option, too bloody cold Bad Bellingen and its no relation to the good old Bellingen in New South Wales, camped under the biggest fruiting cheery tree I have ever seen. It certainly gave a little extra flavour to this mornings muesli.
More gravel pot holes and mud along a patched up path had us on to the outskirts of Basel around lunchtime. We set up camp right in the city, next to the 3 nations bridge (Germany, France and Switzerland).
Basel seems to have a museum for every conceivable area of human activity. I guess we might stay here for a couple of days a check a few of them out before cycling on down to Lucerne to meet our son.