On our last full day on vacation we were hoping to see a World War I battle site, called Hartmannswillerkopf. The battle started exactly 100 years before the day we went looking for it. There is something special in those big anniversaries. December 30, 1914 saw the French and Germans fighting over a mountain top that afforded strategic views of the border at the time. The battle continued for over a year with few real advancements on either side. If you look up this battle field the images are impressive. We headed out hopeful for an exciting trip. And then we got on the roads and we saw all the snow. And then it kept snowing and we realized we would not be going up into any mountains that day. We ended up driving by this memorial site and fortified church. The kids had been in the car for about an hour and we were ready to get some wiggles out.
Pretty much every town in France has a memorial like this, in memory of the soldiers that fought and died in the two great wars.
Down a short alley and we were at the fortified church. There was the church, that dated back to the 11th century, and the protective wall around it that dated to the 15th century.
Here is one of the turrets on the wall.
The snow was hampering our sightseeing efforts, but it was beautiful.
Most of the graves were relatively new, and very well cared for.
These were the oldest graves in the cemetery. They were under a tree behind a fence.
“Ici repose Jean Georges Reichenecker ne le 5 Mars1795 decede le 15 Juin 1866 RIP”
We were the only people here and when the church bells started to ring it was a very peaceful time.
Here is the gate and the church tower.
In the alley from the church back to our car I loved the Christmas decorations that people had up, here are just a couple of examples.
The Mairies office was a beautiful blue.
We saw another sign for the Vieil Armand, another name for Hartmannswillerkopf. We decided to see how far we could get. We enjoy just driving around and exploring France, you never know what you will find in these small towns.
In this picture you can see the sign for where we were headed has a black line through it.
We drove for a little bit longer until we reached this sign. It says “Route Non Sablee Non Deneige” This road is not salted and snow is not removed. We decided this was as far as we needed to go.
This house, in the last village we drove through, was so beautiful.
I wish I could have gotten a closer look at this house. I am sure it has an amazing view on a good day as well.
This building was really interesting looking.
Here is the monument for this town.
Snow makes everything prettier.
This building was one of my favorites.
These windows were part of the Mairie’s office. I love the different lace on the windows and the green shutters.
Even though we didn’t make it all the way to the battlefield we still had fun and we felt like we learned something new, and had an adventure. When you are traveling with 4 children sometimes that is all you can hope for.
Maybe one day we will get to go back and see the battlefield itself. If you are ever in the Alsace region I would recommend it.