At certain points in your life, you can get a moment of reflection. For me, it was my 50th Birthday. As a self-confessed “Campervan Enthusiast”, I decided I wanted to go back to the Black Forest on a campervan adventure. And this time I was going to take my Dad. Like many of us, I hadn’t spent much time with my Dad over the past 30 years. We both have busy lives with work, friends and family. But on a campervan trip, there is time to talk, play cards, and watch the world go past. And, as both my Dad and I are hard of hearing, there were long periods of silence, mixed with loud voices debating what turning to take on the motorway!
We decided to go to the Black Forest in Germany to visit some old friends. We both did exchanges to Germany when we were at School, so both profess we speak a little German. I stayed with a wonderful family, called the Hirts, who ran a farm in Bad Durrheim. They are wonderful people and cared for me so well when I was on exchange. As you can imagine, I had an amazing time as a 16-year-old, away from home, driving tractors and drinking German beer.
Driving to the Black Forest in a Campervan
We booked a tunnel crossing for the campervan and decided to take the indirect route, to the Black Forest. We drove through Lille in North France, across Belgium, and into Luxembourg. Never having driven through Belgium before, we were surprised at how lush and rich the countryside was. The roads were typically European, fast, clean, and no potholes! We drove the campervan along the N4 motorway to Bastogne through mature woodlands, passing lush fields, with lots and lots of Cows.
Camping in Luxembourg
The road through Luxembourg took us through Wiltz and the Oesling region. It weaved through deep forests with steep climbs and hairpin after hairpin. This would be a perfect place to bring your bike and spend a few days climbing hills with pretty chocolate box houses and lots of Cows!
With a bit of googling of campsites, we identified Vianden as a beautiful medieval city with a castle and 2 campsites. We stayed at Camperpark Vianden was as good as the reviews promised. There were several campervans and motorhomes on the site when we arrived. We didn’t have a pitch booked but found a spot a short walk from the spotless toilets. There was a self-service payment machine, bright clean toilets, free showers, and somewhere to do your washing up. It’s a 5-minute walk into town to get something to eat at several picturesque places by the river. We ate in Café Du Pont, and the food was good enough.
If you are going to Viaden it’s because you want to see the castle. It’s stunning. The castle is one of four castles selected across Europe in the 1970s to be restored. After a 20-year well-funded project, the results are amazing. It is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and for good reason. Immaculate masonry, beautiful oak floors, and the exhibits are well laid out. If you like a bit of medieval history and a castle, this is for you. If you aren’t, there isn’t a lot else to do!
Freiberg in a Campervan
From Viaden we drove to the Black Forest to see some friends. We drove down the E25 to Strasbourg, then followed the E35 to Freiburg. Freiburg is a beautiful City that dates back to a market town in 1125. It has a big Gothic-style Minster cathedral surrounded by market stalls. It’s a big University town with thriving restaurants and nightlife. The people are friendly, the food is lovely and the beer is amazing. If you are thinking of visiting the Black Forest, Freiburg should be on your list of places to stop.
Camping in the Black Forest
From Freiburg, we drove to Titisee-Neustadt to find a camp by Lake Titisee (stop giggling please!). Titisee is a lake at the base of the Feldburg mountain. It is 1.3km sq of water with access for swimming, canoeing, and sailing. There is also a health spar and Tourist Center at the foot of the lake. But it’s best avoided as it’s full of tourists!
There are several campsites based around Lake Titisee but we stayed at Nature Camping Weiherhof. It’s a lovely little campsite that has a more relaxed feel to it. The restaurant and shop is a wood cabin, the pitches are by the lake and shaded by trees, the food is really good. I have camped in Titisee before, and the other campsites are a bit “industrial” and not as relaxed. I highly recommend the guys at Nature Camping, and their English is better than my German, which is quite a low bar to be fair!
From Titisee, it’s an hour’s drive to see our German Family who live in Bad Durrheim, a small village in the heart of the Black Forest. I hadn’t seen our friends for many years, so there were lots of hugs and stories exchanged. A campervan is ideal for this sort of trip as you can stay with friends without imposing yourself. We could join them for dinner, share a glass of wine, and retire to our own space for the night. We also had our own transport so could be independent during the day. Having shared stories, memories, and photos it was time to make our way home across Europe.
Recommendation on things to do in the Black Forest
The Black Forest is a large natural expanse of forest in Southern Germany covering 2,320 sq miles. It is bordered by the Rhine Valley and it is a great spot for walking, biking, and exploring. If you like walking in forested hills, the highest mountain in the Black Forest is Feldberg standing at 1,500 mts. However, because of its height, it is covered in ski tracks, so is much better suited for mountain bikers. The beauty of the Black Forest is found in the smaller villages in wooded valleys and rolling hills full of chocolate box houses. There are clearly marked walks set out all over the Black Forest. On one trip we walked out from Titisee and found a lovely cafe serving Black Forest Gateau and beer. Well, you would wouldn’t you!
Another activity we really enjoyed was the Coaster Carts at Hasenhorn Coaster Todnau. The cable car ride to the top takes a relaxing few minutes, and the ride down in the cart is a frantic few seconds! It’s lots of fun.
Camping in France – Troyes
Driving back to the UK from Germany can be done in a day, but that misses the point of a campervan like this. We were enjoying some time together, taking life at a slower pace and seeing Europe unfold in front of us. With a bit of a review of the map and a few Trip Adviser searches, we identified Troyes as a destination for our next stop. It’s convenient location in the center of France has made it a trading hub for centuries. That is according the Wikipedia. We just thought it looked nice on the pictures on Google!
We drove through Mulhouse, traveled cross country to Chaumont, and then on to Troyes. There is a campsite close to the City of Troyes, but it’s booked a long way in advance and the automated gates aren’t welcoming. So we found a campsite a few miles out called Les Terres Rouges Camping. They were very friendly and organised some bread and croissants for us for the morning. What’s not to like?
The next day we walked around the Troyes, which is a beautiful town, so Google was right. It is full of medieval-looking buildings that have all been lovingly renovated. They look amazing set in their cobbled streets full of cafes and restaurants. A lovely place to lose an afternoon.
The Drive back to the UK
The final drive back home on the efficient French toll roads was easy. We passed Reims, Saint Quentin, and Arras on our way to Calais. A short stop in the Hypermarket and the campervan was laden with wine and cheese ready for the Chunnel crossing.
Campervan Hire to Europe
If you fancy taking a trip this this and exploring Europe from the comfort of a campervan, give us a call. We are happy to hire our campervans out to go to Europe for short and longer adventures.