Germany may not be everyone’s idea of a holiday venue in which you can be overwhelmed by magnificent scenery; for many people, it offers the Munich Beer Festival and Rhine cruises but little else. But spend a week in the beautiful Black Forest in the south-west corner of the country and you will want to return time and time again. This is the land of endless pine forests, lakes and picturesque villages where you can stop off for a coffee and delicious slice of Schwarzwaldkirschtorte, served with lashings of whipped cream. Life here is not rushed; everything seems to be accomplished without stress and the area seems to be devoid of any industry apart from the local small brewery which every small town seems to have. Shops selling cuckoo clocks and wood carvings abound, and restaurants offer tasty dishes such as schnitzels or trout at very reasonable prices.
I suffer from constant catarrh back home in north London but, within a few days of arriving in the heart of the Black Forest, my airways are miraculously clear. The refreshing and pure air of the region no doubt explains the presence of so many sanatoriums, where residents from Germany’s fume-filled cities come to recuperate. The area is a hiker’s paradise and nothing can beat a walk along the neat signposted paths of the forests after a shower of rain; the scent of fresh pine rising from the forest floor is, for me, the nearest thing to heaven. If you’re lucky, you can catch sight of deer lazing in the meadow at the forest edge. The roads are beautifully smooth and thoughtfully banked around curves, so a motoring holiday is a perfect way to explore the area.
On my last holiday I stayed at Freudenstadt, a small town which boasts the biggest market square in the country. All four sides of the square have arcades containing shops of all descriptions where you can find the perfect present for Aunt Maud. The numerous hotels and inns offer clean and comfortable accommodation at competitive rates and you will receive a “Kurkarte”, a pass which allows free travel on trains throughout the region. From here you can travel to Baden Baden and Strasbourg in a little over an hour or you can enjoy a two hour drive through the enchanting landscape and spend a day on the shores of Lake Constance which sits on the borders of Germany, Austria and Switzerland. For those who want to spend a day shopping in a city, Stuttgart and Freiburg are within easy reach. The Black Forest is an ideal holiday choice for all ages and you can enjoy it at your own pace. Your lungs will thank you for spending time in this beautiful corner of southern Germany.