Brennender Berg - Burning Mountain

We heard about the abundant Dutweiler coal mines, the iron and alum plants, and even about a burning mountain, and made preparations to see this nearby wonder….We entered a gorge and found ourselves in the vicinity of the burning mountain. We were enveloped by a strong sulphur smell; one side of the cave was almost glowing, and covered with reddish, white-roasted rock. Dense steam arose from the crevices and we could feel the hot ground even through the thick soles of our shoes.
              ––– Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, who visited the Brennender Berg in 1770.

The fire from a smouldering coal seam has died down somewhat in the intervening 200 years but there is still some heat and occasional smoke.


obelix, menhir,


It was apparent from comments that some visitors to this blog were not so well acquainted with menhirs. Well, here is a picture of one and how to get it delivered to your door.



Les crocs

One of many safety posters warning about the many dangers in the mine.

Update: Two things might need explanation: the crocodile's head is a shearer, and the French says “Its crocs show no mercy”.


coal mine

Pit props

Much of this blog is devoted to the abundant forests in Saarland and Lorraine. This is why many of the forests are there.



The person responsible for all the fine Baroque buildings in Blieskastel was Marianne von der Leyen. In 1773, her husband gave her this house and the lake as a Christmas present. It is now a hotel and restaurant with fine views overlooking the water.


fountain, obelisk, snake

Napoleon's Fountain

As French troops were occupying the east of the Rhine after 1792, the citizens of Blieskastel were inspired with revolutionary zeal to construct an obelisk with a snake around it in honour of the new French ruler. The inscription reads: A NAPOLEON premier Empereur des Francais. Le Canton de Bliescastel le 28e floréal an XII. That date is May 18, 1804 when Napoleon was declared Emperor.


roses, garden

Roses in the Orangerie

The gardens once belonged to a 17th century Baroque castle. Only the façade of the ballroom remains of the castle, but there are plenty of other fine Baroque buildings in Blieskastel.




A 4,000 year old menhir close to the town of Blieskastel


Ramblers' stone
Walkers from 26 countries all over Europe participated in the year 2000-2001 in a series of events to highlight the importance of walking throughout Europe. The Euro Rally was organised by the European Ramblers Association and aimed to unite walkers throughout Europe, highlighting the enormous potential of walking as a healthy, environmentally – friendly and economically-beneficial activity.This event culminated in a symposium in the European Parliament in Strasbourg, to raise the profile of walking, bringing it to the attention of Brussels policy makers, and gaining support and action on important walking issues.
            —— EURORANDO 2011

The stone is within 90km rambling distance of Strasbourg.



White flower balls

I have no idea what these plants are called. They look to me like a cross between a thistle and a dandelion.

Update: Mystery solved: they are globe thistles.


roundabout, pottery factory,  flowers

Picture postcard roundabout

In Sarreguemines, a town that is proud of its pottery and its flowers.




This is a bottle kiln design, imported from England in the 1860s to make pottery. Originally, there were about 30 of these kilns in Sarreguemines, but by the turn of the 20th century the design passed out of use and this is the only one remaining in Continental Europe. They continued to use bottle kilns in the Potteries area of England until the 1960s. So, more can be found there.


canal, saar,


A 63km long canal, built at the end of the 19th century to bring Prussian coal to France and French iron ore to Prussia. Its commercial use has long past, and now it is used exclusively for leisure boats. Between Sarralbe and Sarreguemines, the canal and the River Saar itself flow parallel to one another in the green and woody Saar Valley.



L'usine Solvay

Soda ash plant. This plant looks relatively new, but the site seems to be older, perhaps dating back to the 1860s when the Belgian Ernest Solvay first discovered how to make soda ash.



Making hay ...

... while the sun shines. It was a Sunday, but almost every corn field seemed to have a harvester beavering away.



Pink houses on the Saar

Actually the same houses as in 2009-07-23 from the other side.




Yet another pond in Lorraine. I am not sure whether this was part of the Maginot Line system, or whether the villagers just decided that, if everyone else has a fishing pond, we want one, too.