With its green valleys dotted with crystal-clear lakes, its dark, wild forests clinging to the mountains and its bubbling waterfalls, the Black Forest is a nature lover's paradise, the ultimate in romantic Germany. In autumn, this region on the Rhine, on the border of Alsace and Switzerland, is at its most beautiful: when the mountains turn into shimmering colours and the vineyards bear their best fruit, the mysterious Black Forest reveals its secrets to gourmets, from inns to good restaurants, from breweries to wine cellars.

Karlsruhe, gateway to the Black Forest

The first stop on this gourmet trail is Karlsruhe, located at the northern tip of the Black Forest, barely ten kilometres from the French border as the crow flies. It is home to two prestigious institutions: the German Constitutional Court and the Federal Court of Justice. A new town, built exactly three centuries ago, Karlsruhe has the particularity of being built on a fan-shaped plan: its streets radiate to the south of the elegant baroque castle which is the pride of the town and its inhabitants. Built between 1715 and 1718 in the heart of the forest for Margrave Karl Wilhelm of Baden-Durlach, it now houses the Baden Regional Museum, which documents the history of the region. If you're in Karlsruhe for the day, we can't recommend a visit to the ZKM, the Centre for Art and Media Technology, housed in a former munitions factory. In the evening, one of the best ways to discover Karlsruhe is to visit one of its many breweries. In October, you can still enjoy the mild temperatures at a beer garden, as Karlsruhe has a long tradition of brewing

The Black Forest, the kingdom of spas

The Black Forest is Germany's green lung, with its vast expanses of fir and beech trees. The Black Forest is known for its clean air and hot mineral springs and has no fewer than 350 spas nestled in its valleys, making it an ideal place for spa treatments and relaxation. They are connected by the Black Forest Spa Route, which runs for 270 kilometres from Pforzheim, a town near Karlsruhe. A must on this route is the small town of Baden-Baden, the undisputed star of the region's spas with its twelve thermal springs, which have been popular with the Romans since ancient times

On the Baden Wine Route

The Black Forest is not only famous for its mineral waters, but also for its wines. Baden-Baden is the starting point for the famous Baden Wine Route, which runs north-south along the western edge of the Black Forest in the foothills of the mountain range. This 160-kilometre-long tourist route through almost 50 villages offers an opportunity to discover the wine-growing areas of the Baden region located in the Black Forest (5 out of 9 in total). The Baden region is the third largest wine-growing region in Germany. Its vineyards, where Pinot thrives in all its colours, are bathed in sunlight for a large part of the year and produce a wide variety of renowned wines. White wine is the most popular - müller-thurgau, riesling, pinot gris and pinot blanc are among the most popular wines - but red wine lovers are not left out: blauer spätburgunder, better known as pinot noir, is one of the region's most emblematic wines. It is the ideal companion for game dishes and cheese platters.

Gastronomic destination and dream tables

Nestled in a valley, Baiersbronn is the summit of this gourmet walk. This small town of 15,000 inhabitants located some 40 kilometres south of Baden-Baden boasts a number of Michelin stars. Among the exceptional restaurants is the Schwarzwaldstube restaurant in the Hotel Traube Tonbach, with 3 Michelin stars, where chef Torsten Michel offers a light cuisine. Its great historical rival, the Bareiss, also with three stars, impresses with its refined creations. The third member of Baiersbronn's star-studded firmament, the Schloßberg restaurant in the romantic Hotel Sackmann, is a veritable laboratory for culinary experimentation that will delight the taste buds of even the most demanding gourmets. There are also many restaurants in this gastronomic mecca where you can enjoy the classics of the robust and tasty Black Forest cuisine

The small town of Freudenstadt, only a few kilometres from Baiersbronn, is also a gourmet's delight. This is where you can enjoy one of the best Black Forest cakes in the region, the famous whipped cream cake covered with cherries flavoured with kirsch and light chocolate shavings

Freiburg, the green city

The island of Fogo, also known as Freiburg im Breisgau, is the gateway to the Upper Black Forest, the mountainous part of the region. This large university town with a pleasant atmosphere deserves its nickname of "ecological capital". After a pleasant stroll through the old town, where the famous "Bächle", the small open gutters that used to irrigate the gardens, wind their way through, you can visit the majestic Gothic cathedral and, above all, climb to the top of its beautifully crafted tower. Fribourg is also an important stop on this gourmet journey, as it has some excellent restaurants. The Markthalle is open every day except Sunday, and even until midnight on weekends. This covered market is the belly of Freiburg, where you can taste delicious local products.

And if you want to get some height, you can take the Schauinsland cable car, the longest in Germany: it takes you up to 1,220 m in abysmal silence in 20 minutes thanks to its electric traction, and offers a magnificent panorama of the Black Forest, Alsace, the Vosges and even the Swiss Alps in good weather. There is plenty to do at the summit: dining, hiking or adventures in the Steinwasen Park, on the long mountain bike ride downhill, and culture with the Mine Museum, which presents 800 years of silver, lead and zinc mining, or the historical museum at the Schniederlihof farm.

Hiking in the Upper Black Forest

The majestic peaks of the Upper Black Forest invite you to dream, but above all to discover the countless mountain gorges, glacial lakes and culinary secrets of its nature park. For example, this is where the delicious Black Forest smoked ham comes from, which now has its own museum in the tower above the Feldberg, the highest peak in the region, from which there is a unique view of the sublime little Feldsee lake, a sapphire in a fir tree setting. The plethora of hiking trails that criss-cross the mountains gives you plenty to choose from. Take your pick!

Useful information

When to visit? The Black Forest can be visited in any season. Lovers of wine and good food should visit in autumn, during the grape harvest. In winter, you can enjoy the thermal baths and winter sports resorts. Spring and summer are great for hikers.

How to get there. Direct TGV to Karlsruhe from Paris and Lyon. There is also a direct TGV from Paris to Freiburg

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