europe quick trips
When coronavirus restrictions have you feeling loopy, a trip to the Saar River bend will straighten you out
By SLOBODAN LEKIC | Stars and Stripes | Published: February 11, 2021
The middle of this year’s German winter may be a good time to visit the horseshoe-shaped meander on the Saar River called the Saarschleife.
Normally, the area in Saarland near the bend in the river draws throngs of visitors. But until coronavirus restrictions are lifted, they’re staying home, so there’s no battling through crowds to take in the stunning vistas of the Saar, neighboring France and, on a clear day, Luxembourg.
German winter weather might also be a factor in keeping the hordes away. When I visited on a rainy day in February, my car was the only one in the large parking lot next to the tourist office in the village of Orscholz.
Undeterred, I headed out anyway, taking a trail through the woods that leads to a scenic overlook, because the popular tree-top walkway was closed.
The walkway is about 50 feet above the ground and is the only way to get to a tower that offers commanding views of the surrounding area. The path through the forest leads to an overlook that offers equally stunning views of the surrounding area.
An easy walk from the overlook, there is the small town of Mettlach. Its claim to fame is that it is home to the head office of the Germany’s famous ceramics maker, Villeroy & Boch.
The headquarters of the 250-year-old company are in an old abbey. Nearby, there’s a museum, which has in its collection some of the earliest Villeroy & Boch pieces, including originals by Pierre Joseph Boch that date from the 18th century.
Replicas of the flooring tiles for the Titanic, which were made by Villeroy & Boch, are also on display in the museum. (The originals went down with the ship.)
Bathroom fixtures, such as urinals, bidets, tubs and tiles also feature in the museum. Villeroy & Boch makes those, too.
But like the nearby outlet store, the museum was closed to visitors in early February because of the coronavirus.
One thing that was open was the 1,000-year-old burial chapel that was built to house the remains of St. Luitwinus, the patron saint of Mettlach. The surrounding park is a good place for a picnic, particularly if nearby restaurants have to remain closed because of virus restrictions.
Directions: From Kaiserslautern/Ramstein, follow the A6 to the A8 toward Luxembourg, then the B21 to Mettlach, and then signs to Saarschleife. From Baumholder, take the A62 to the A1 in the direction of Trier, then the B51 to Mettlach and follow signs to Saarschleife.
Times: When they’re not closed because of coronavirus restrictions, the treetop walkway is open from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., and the Villeroy & Boch museum is open Monday to Friday from 9 a.m.-6 p.m., and weekends from 9:30 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Prices: When open, the treetop route costs 10 euros per adult or 21.50 euros for a family ticket, and the Villeroy & Boch museum costs 3.50 euros per person. Entrance for children up to 6 years of age is free. The trails through the woods are free.
Information: The Mettlach tourist office website is tourist-info.mettlach.de