While traveling to Porto, I had a layover in Baden-Baden, a small town on the border between France and Germany. If you have never heard about it then you are not the only one. Upon doing some research, it turned out that this gem has welcomed high-profile celebrities all throughout history: from Napoleon III and Victor Hugo to Barack Obama and Victoria Beckham. I was very curious to find out what attracted them to the town hidden in a valley: when I arrived there, Baden-Baden promptly stole my heart.
First of all, if you hear French in every corner of the town then don’t be surprised: it’s only 40 km away from Strasbourg. In fact, I had the impression that a lot of locals were bilingual. Since I had few hours to explore Baden-Baden, I decided to hurry to the city center and then enjoy some mountain view.
From the airport, I took the bus 285 to get to Banhof from where I took the bus 205 which passes through all the places that I wanted to visit. First thing I noticed was the vast amount of green that spread all over the town. Magnificent trees, colorful flowers, water trickling down the river: it was picture perfect.
It seemed like spring was the perfect season to stop by this charming town: the lush nature all around you, the warm feeling of sunlight on your skin, the faint smell of flowers and the cheerful chirping of the birds.
When I got to the center, I first thought of Montmartre. The town is located in a valley so some streets were steep. This only added to the picturesque beauty of the town. The roads were immaculately clean. In fact, I witnessed some city cleaners pick up every cigarette filter that they found, even those that were inserted in the far corners of a bus station. Having lived in Paris, where cleanliness is not given in public spaces, this impressed me immensely.
I did not walk around the town much: my goal was to reach Merkurberg and ride the funicular right to the top. And so that’s what I did. I hopped on the bus 205 again and reached Merkubergbahn. While riding the bus to the funicular station, I spotted some luxurious houses and villas and plenty of sports cars. I guess it’s not a destination that broke students would pick for their spring break.
Every 6 min, a new car comes and picks up people. The ticket for the ride costs 4 euros ( way up and way down) which is a price worth paying. The ride lasts about 5 to 8 minutes and the experience is very satisfying.
However, the real prize is the beautiful view that you get once you reach the top. It’s breathtaking. Nothing puts your life more in perspective than seeing the whole world from the high up.
Some people came up here to do some paragliding. I’ve always thought of it as a dangerous sport that only unconventional people would practice. But while sitting on the top of that mountain, I understood a small fraction of these people’s drive. It’s hard not to want to reach out for the freedom that spreads out right in front of you. That sharp feeling of release when you jump into nothingness and then up you go: the wind lifts you up, the air lets you glide and at that moment, there’s just you, the parachute and the view.
There’s a restaurant on the top which is very practical: you can enjoy some food while enjoying the view. Also, a lot of chairs are placed all over the mountain, so if you get tired while hiking, you can always take a break.
It seems like Baden-Baden was made for comfort. The views are easily accessible so it can welcome both elders and children. There’s a fair share amount of activities from sports to sightseeing so the whole family should be able to find something to do. Baden -Baden is the perfect place to spend relaxing vacations and it truly deserves its name as a spa town.