Thursday, July 29, 2010

Vauban's Forts – 23 July 2010

Model of Neuf-BrisachThe fortified town of Neuf-Brisach is really amazing. Now a UNESCO protected site, it was designed by Vauban, King Louis XIV's military architect. We first encountered Vauban in Briancon, where he was the architect, and the Vauban Museum in Neuf-Brisach gave us an insight into the amazing feats he accomplished. Many of his designs used the star shape design used here, and result is elegant and in its day was the epitome of military architecture.
Governor's Palace
Vauban designed 130 fortified towns all around the borders of France and Neuf-Brisach was his last work commissioned in 1698 and competed five years later. The Tourist Office has a great town trail, which we followed in the intermittent rain, having fortified ourselves with a delicious breakfast in a cheerful cafe, and feeling cheered that we had got our damp tent packed away before more rain arrived!

The Museum gave us the names of two more forts built by Vauban, which could be easily reached on our way back to Dunkirk. So after driving the Wine Route in Alsace (unfortunately in the rain), the sat-nav took us over a very scenic mountain road and off on a direct route to Longwy.

By the time we reached Longwy, a thunder and lightning storm had arrived in earnest, and we got drenched just trying to navigate the main square for coffee and a Tourist Office. The coffee was disappointing and the Tourist Office didn't exist. The whole place looked depressed, and apparently their steel industry closed some time ago, which explains the look of the place. We were surprised there was no mention of this UNESCO site, and finally found the 'high town', complete with Museum, Tourist Office and fortifications. The rain had no intention of easing off, so we found a hotel on the high town square, which had a much more pleasant look than its neighbour (even in the rain). Dinner, once again, was a delicious experience at the only restaurant open in this small town.

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