Off the Beaten Path: Rodemack, France
France is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the world, and with its endless lavender fields in Provence, glamorous Riviera resorts, Parisian landmarks, and legendary fine cuisine, it's not hard to see why. The country has a lot to offer and this naturally draws huge tourist crowds. However, if the prospect of huge crowds and hectic cities is not particularly appealing to you, why not step off the beaten path and into the tranquil backcountry? There are many other beautiful, picturesque, and interesting places you can explore. One of them is Rodemack. Ever heard of it?
The small medieval village of Rodemack is located in the North-Eastern part of the Lorraine region. The area is known as “the land of the three frontiers” because Lorraine is the only region in France to have three international borders - with Luxembourg, Germany, and Belgium. Because of its location, the village has been fought over, exchanged, and occupied various times by several countries, but in 1769 it officially became French.
9 Things to See and Do in Rodemack
You won't need more than a couple of hours to explore this little gem. If you are into history or photography, you will love its quiet streets, the ramparts, the castle and the colorful window shutters.
Although off the beaten path, Rodemack is by no means unknown - this charming community receives a decent amount of visitors, but it is the kind of place that is visited mainly by French tourists rather than foreign ones.
Rodemack is listed as one of France's 153 most beautiful villages.
1. Gate of SierckClick thumbnail to view full-size
To enter the walled village, you go through the fortified gate of Sierck, flanked by two towers. This gate was reconstructed in 1989 because the original one, built in the 14th century, was torn down during the Second World War by the American troops, who liberated Rodemack, to accommodate their tanks.
The entrance is free, and there is also a free parking lot near the gate.
2. "Gate of Sierck" Square and St. Nicolas ChurchClick thumbnail to view full-size
As soon as you enter the historic part, you will see the "Gate of Sierck" square with its fresh water fountain and the Neo-Baroque church of St. Nicolas. You will also be greeted by colorful window shutters and beautiful floral displays.
3. Explore the Quaint StreetsClick thumbnail to view full-size
As you stroll through the quaint streets, lined with picturesque old houses, you will get a glimpse of what life once was. You will notice, however, that not all of the buildings are from the medieval era. Because throughout its history Rodemack has been destroyed and rebuilt many times, there is a mixture of 19th-century French country homes and buildings dating back to the 14th century.
Across the street from the tourist office, there is a big house, built in 1560, that used to serve as a residence for the representatives of the Lords who governed the region. People call it the “small castle” and some say that its entrance was mentioned by Victor Hugo in one of his poems.
Another charming aspect of this little commune, along with the cobalt blue shutters and the flowers, is the beautiful wrought-iron signs hanging over shops and businesses to advertise what is sold inside. These medieval-style signs feature images rather than words because during the medieval period most people were illiterate.
4. "Fontaine" SquareClick thumbnail to view full-size
Right in the heart of the village is the “Fontaine” square. There you will find an old public washhouse, which was in service until 1960. The water that feeds the washhouse comes from one of the numerous creeks that run at the foot of the fortress.
5. Check out the Castle’s Remains and the Citadel’s ParkClick thumbnail to view full-size
One of the most prominent historical structures in the commune is the remains of a 12th-century castle. What is actually left of the old feudal castle, built by the first lord of Rodemack, Arnoux I, are a couple of small buildings and the House of the Officers. This house was restored in the beginning of the 20th century, but the building is privately owned and tourists are not allowed inside. However, the citadel’s park surrounding the “castle” is open to the public during the weekends, and the entry is free.
6. Walk the RampartsClick thumbnail to view full-size
Rodemack is enclosed by almost 700 m of ramparts, built in the 14th century by its residents to protect themselves. After exploring the historic streets and the castle, climb up to the ramparts (near the gate of Sierck) and walk the wall for a bird's-eye view of the place. There is no admission fee.
Because Rodemack is built like a fortress, it is often called the "Little Carcassonne of Lorraine", referring to the famous walled city of Carcassonne, in the south of France.
7. Visit the Medieval GardenClick thumbnail to view full-size
Enclosed between the fortification wall and the creek of Faulbach lies a dormant medieval garden. The garden is divided into four parts: one contains medicinal plants like thyme (used for cough relief) and vervain (an excellent remedy for healing wounds); another part grows herbs for cooking (parsley, sage, dill etc.); a third part of the garden is dedicated to vegetables; and the last one is planted with flowers.
The admission to the garden is also free.
8. The Chapel of Notre Dame
At the other end of the village you will find the small chapel of Notre Dame. It was built in 1658 by the people that once lived there to thank the Virgin Mary for the end of the Thirty Years War. There is not much to see inside, but you get a nice view of the castle and the main street from there.
9. Attend an EventClick thumbnail to view full-size
- Wine market in April - Every year, in April, winemakers from the villages classified as the most beautiful in France gather in Rodemack for a wine market. The market usually takes place in the cellars of the House of the Officers and the citadel's park. Besides the winemakers, there are also local producers that offer great homemade products such as honey, bread, oil, foie gras, and traditional sweets.
- Flower market in May.
- Medieval Fair in June – This is a two-day event that attracts a lot of visitors from the area. During the fair, all participants dress in traditional costumes and the streets of the village fill with knights, troubadours, fire-eaters, and acrobats that keep the people entertained. The admission fee is 10 € (2-day pass is 15 €) and finding a parking spot can be tough.
- Medieval Christmas market in December.
The Best Time to Visit Rodemack
Late spring, summer, and early fall is the best time to visit Rodemack if you want to enjoy its colorful streets, the medieval garden and the beautiful nature in the region. The winter is usually rainy and the citadel’s park is closed during that time (from September to May).
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