Legends from our own lunchtimes

Thursday, August 19, 2010

High Barr

I am yet to come to an understanding of why castles and fortifications were always built on the highest bit of ground. Sure they are easy to defend, and one could always see the bad guys sneaking up, but surely all a bad guy has to do is sit at the bottom of the hill with a few thousand of his mates, and wait for one to run out of food. It all seems so obvious and pointless, but if something has stood there for a thousand years, it has obviously already made some sort of point, so perhaps I shouldn't question it too much more.

When the sign in Saverne said "Haut Barr", with an arrow pointing up the hill, and the brochure promised an ancient chalet with views over the entire Alsace region just five minutes away by car, it was time to once again investigate. We figured it had to be walking distance, so began stepping confidently through the suburbs. After what seemed like the sort of distance one could drive in about five minutes there was no sign of a chateau, and I began to suspect that "minutes" in so far as they refer to driving distances in France, are calculated by sending an eighteen year old out in a Peugeot rallye machine, with the authorities perhaps failing to notice that he has reported perhaps a slightly lesser time than he actually took to drive there. Or perhaps the "mn" after the number refers to "Miles Nautique" not minutes after all.

This suspicion was not allayed when we came across a shortcut through the forest, and an information map helpfully indicating we had "37000 metres" still to go, and which we interpreted to be like one of those temperature "feels like" descriptions - "1.8km to go, feels like 37.". We did the only sensible thing we could think of at that point, and carried on ever upward through the forest. It transpired that the remains of the Chateau were on the top of something akin to one of our very own Glasshouse Mountains, a spectacular spot indeed, four hundred and fifty metres above the surrounding countryside.

The city thoughtfully built a restaurant gastronomic among the ruins in 1900, which remains as a positively modern structure amid the rest, and while we weren't in the right frame of mind to lash out more than the original construction cost of the palace on lunch, we did manage a very satisfying slice of plum tart and coffee to help us through the descent, thankful that the last siege had been concluded some time around six hundred years ago.

We were of course prompted to pop into the Supermarche on the return journey, lest the waterways become surrounded in the near future, one can't be too careful about these things.

1 comment

Annie said...


talking about glasshouses. I drove past them the other day. I actually made it to Maroochy and back. About time.

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