In planning our 3 day return from Prague to Paris I wanted to make the driving distances close to equal with the third day possibly a little shorter to allow some flexibility. I avoided overnight stays in large cities to simplify parking and allow us to see some more interesting locations in the countryside. Like Dürrwangen, Puxe was not somewhere I had heard of but it came up in Booking.com as Maison d’hôtes Le Château de Puxe. The title lent it a style that seemed right for the last night of our grand tour and the photographs supported the impression that we would be staying in a château.
We slept a little late at Dürrwangen but were up soon after 7:00 am and eating breakfast by 8:00 am. The storm that had passed through during dinner last night was long gone but there was some lingering mist and low cloud. Soon after 9:00 am I was driving out of town, passing through picture postcard German villages as we made our way on country roads to the autobahn which we reached 30 minutes or so later. From there our speed, other than in occasional roadwork zones, was much faster and bypassed any habitation though we could still see villages in the distance surrounded by cultivation and patches of woodland. At times we passed through swathes of forest, much of it showing brilliant autumn colours as the clouds cleared and the day brightened.
Two hours into the trip we stopped for coffee at an autohof and changed drivers. We crossed the border into France near Saarbrücken around 12:30 pm and began thinking about lunch. At that point I tweaked the GPS to avoid tolls, which have to be paid in France but not in Germany (for cars), and that put us into towns and villages. We tried a café in the first village but it was closed and so was the nearby Lidl supermarket. Majella drove on thinking we might find something along the way.
The drive through northern France was similar in some ways to the drive through Germany but the villages seemed less well kept and more run down. Perhaps that reflects the differences in recent economic history. The countryside was undulating with some patches still under cultivation and others freshly ploughed. There were a few areas of rough scrub country that, surprisingly after centuries of human occupation, did not appear to have a commercial use.
As we approached our destination on the GPS we became a little concerned that we had seen no signs indicating the way to Puxe. We began to wonder if it existed but, as we entered the village of Jeandelize we spied a sign to Puxe which was just a few hundred metres away. The château was easy to find among a dozen or so houses but it took us a little while to raise anybody there. That was our error since check in time was 4:00 – 7:00 pm and we had arrived early at 2:30 pm. Eventually our host appeared and let us in.
The château appears to have once been a grand home with multiple wings, additional buildings, and a large area of land. The tower has a cross on top and is on a building surrounded by graves so we surmise that it was, or is, a church. One wing of the château is used as chambres d’hotes and the rest appears to be a reception space that may be used for weddings and similar events. The accommodation area has been very tastefully renovated and is very comfortable. We are in the Comte’s room with views to the surrounding park-like area so very pleased with our find.
Our host had invited us to take a stroll in the grounds so we did that before taking our bags upstairs for the major repacking exercise. We have both been enjoying the colours of the autumn leaves but Majella has mentioned several times that she would like to see more leaves actually falling. She was able to make that happen when she stood in the midst of a spread of fallen leaves. With that fun complete we dragged our suitcases out of the car for the first time since we left Switzerland 2 weeks ago and got them upstairs.
We managed our repacking easily enough. Our suitcases were able to accommodate what we have acquired along with what we brought and both weighed in under 20 kg. With that under control, Majella rested while I stepped back outside with my camera to enjoy the last of the afternoon light and build my daily step total to an acceptable level. I managed to capture a few interesting images and was taken by the road sign pointing to Brainville and Bouzonville in opposite directions. That seemed apt.
There is nowhere to eat in Puxe but our host suggested a restaurant in nearby Jarny and kindly made a reservation for us. We ate at Vivaldi, an Italian restaurant and pizzeria, once we had managed to find it. Although we had a card with a street address, neither the GPS in the car nor Maps could get us to it using the address. We had to search for the street and then drive its length. We each had pizza, probably not the most appropriate choice for our last night in France but tasty. Majella drank rosé and I had a glass of Nero d’Avola.