The Capper Nomads Europe Adventure travel blog





























The weather was forecast to be good so we headed into the Vosges Mountains to drive the Route des Cretes or Crest Road. This road was built for strategic purposes by the French during World War I to facilitate the movement of munitions and supplies. According to our guide book “it is a spectacular road traversing thick forest and open pasture.” Our guide book was not wrong.

We started from the south heading north from Cernay. Our first stop was at Vieil Armand or Hartmannswillerkopf. It was here during the First World War that France and Germany fought to get control of the mountain peak. Fighting took place throughout 1915. 30,000 soldiers died near Hartmannswillerkopf with the majority of deaths suffered by the French. After about 11 months of fierce combat, both sides began to focus most of their attention farther north on the Western Front Only enough men to hold the lines were left at Hartmannswillerkopf. The lines remained relatively stable for the remainder of the war and generally only artillery exchanges took place. Today the area is a French cemetery but just behind the cemetery and covering the peak is an extensive network of trenches both French and German and because the lines were static for such a long period, the trenches are very well preserved, especially on the German side of the mountain. We were able to walk a trail up the mountain through the communication trenches. Unlike the sanitised trenches in the Somme and Flanders theses trenches gave a real impression of how the trenches operated and were constructed.

Moving on we drove further along the road enjoying the magnificent views until we stopped at the parking for the Grand Ballon the highest peak in the Vosges Mountains at 1,424m. Here we enjoyed a walk up to the summit with its 360° panoramic views and Daisy enjoyed a roll in the snow still lying by the path.

By the time we returned to our car we realised time had gone on and it was time to return to base. The rest of the road would need to be explored on another day.

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