Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Across the Northern Vosges Mountains

The train from Strasbourg back to Metz passes through some rugged, scenic country. The first part of the route runs near towns such as Schwindradzheim, Detwiller, and Saverne in the relatively flat countryside west of Strasbourg, where tilled fields anticipate the arrival of spring.

For much of the route the tracks parallel the Canal from the Marne to the Rhine. The railroad and the canal wind their way up and across the northern Vosges mountains, which form the border between Alsace and Lorraine.

The valley the train follows becomes wilder and narrower. Small villages occasionally dot the route, laid out linearly with the tracks, the road, and the canal. Some of the villages are unbelievably picturesque.

As the train and the canal near the summit of the Vosges, the valley becomes even narrower, with rock outcroppings looming near.

Eventually the valley ends, and the train and the canal bore through the mountains in separate tunnels that must be over a mile long. On the east side as you enter the tunnel you're in Alsace, and when you exit the tunnel on the west side you're in Lorraine. In a few minutes, the train stops in Sarrebourg and then continues toward Metz. Here's another picture of the sunset as we neared the end of the train ride.

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