Hike from Leymen to Mariastein, from Landskron Castle to the Benedictine Monastery

by | Updated on 1/03/2023 | Uncategorized | 0 comments

view-chateau-landskron

I take you for a family walk, from Leymen to Mariastein, between Alsace and Switzerland, 15 kms from Saint-Louis and Basel, for a walk that satisfied both my desire for fresh air and my curiosity!

The Sundgau, the southernmost region of Alsace, is full of little known treasures. Leymen is no exception to the rule, especially when the village is associated in a route with its neighbor in the canton of Solothurn, Mariastein. The hike starts in Leymen, near a small chapel, on the same path as the Landskron castle trail.

Let’s go!

We first pass in front of an old quarry forbidden to the public but which is impressive, even seen from far. Then, we begin the (soft) rise towards the castle. After having passed to the edge of the forest, we skirt a meadow where the tower of Landskron is drawn, and we pass by a hamlet to continue our rise which intensifies a (very little). Here, the houses are charming, with the air of second homes! But it is the perched hut, in the middle of the meadows, that caught the eye of the kids the most. Of course!

Landskron Castle and its fascinating history

We finally arrive at the castle, which is a listed historical monument. For history fans, his is very interesting: take your time to read the panels in each part of the castle with dates, anecdotes, a general plan… You can also flash the QR-Codes! The ruins, very well maintained by the Franco-Swiss association Pro-Landskron, date from the 13th to the 18th century. The castle served as a residence for the Basel nobility, passed through many hands and ended up as a fortress and prison on the French side. A certain Vauban left his mark there. It is also said that a former nobleman from New Orleans, who had arrived at the court of Versailles, was too forceful with a young lady, causing her to be imprisoned for 21 years (gloups), until the Revolution. The Landskron will be plundered and bombed by the population after the Napoleonic invasions in the early 19th century.

Here, visitors land everywhere. There are many natural terraces that are great for a snack or a picnic. It is safe to walk around (keeping an eye on the children), even if one passage reserves you its share of adrenaline: the metal and spiral staircases which take you to the top of the tower, itself on a rock. The view is magnificent, you can really see all the surroundings and especially the Swiss countryside and the big city next door: Basel.

Mariastein and its unique rock chapel!

Here we go again! On the way down from the castle, you cross the border into Switzerland without noticing. The view is always so beautiful and the houses, often old farms, are very nicely renovated. On the other side of the hill, we finally see Mariastein, its vineyards and its Kloster (monastery), or “Abbaye de Notre-Dame-de-la-Pierre” in French. The story goes that a family built a chapel in the stone dedicated to Mary in the 15th century, to honor her after she saved their cowherd son from death. Another miracle would have occurred with a knight a few decades later. The legend was born. Today, the place is the object of numerous pilgrimages, in search of a miracle.

This is evidenced by the hundreds of plaques of thanks in all languages that cover the corridors leading to the sacred chapel. I thought it was beautiful! I had never seen one like it: it is integrated into the monastery but nestled in the rock, with a decoration made of dark wood and gilding, an altar made of stone, a superb statue of Mary and a very beautiful organ. The site is home to the Swiss Benedictine monks’ community and several other chapels.

It is the end of the walk…

After our visit in this timeless chapel, we went back to the Swiss countryside, between fields and forest, then back to the French side (note that the border here is only indicated by a “customs” sign. Not even dotted lines on the ground, I was disappointed 😉 ). In the forest, a “surprise” awaits us: a completely lost cabin (2nd adrenaline moment of the day!). We are going to see quickly what this small house looks like, because the big rock just behind is surmounted by the ruins of the former castle of Waldeck, destroyed in the 14th century, and then we leave quickly.

On the road, the sun sets and we make a last meeting, that of a tree with the tortuous trunk… It seems that it comes straight out of the universe of Harry Potter, not?

For this nice hike, allow a good 3 hours, time to stop at the castle and the Kloster, even a little more with the picnic option. In short, a great walk for all ages, combining adventure at a child’s level, nature and culture!

I liked

  • The length of the ride is suitable for everyone
  • Cultural stops along the route, for the whole family
  • Discover castle ruins and a unique chapel in the same walk
  • The bi-national route

I liked less

  • Unfortunately, I did not have time to explore all the facets of Mariastein, because otherwise we would have had to cross the forest in the dark…

My pictures of the hike from Leymen to Marienstein

Practical information

Itinerary

You will find on Visorando the route of the hike.

Departure and arrival

Chapel in Leymen, Rue du Landskron

Features

  • Distance : 6,6 km
  • Vertical drop : 217mètres
  • Duration: 3 hours

Access

By car

You have to count:

  • 47 km from Mulhouse (about 45 minutes)
  • 75 km from Colmar (about 1 hour)
  • 147 km from Strasbourg (about 1 hour and 40 minutes)
By public transport

Not obvious but you can always look on Fluo.

Clémence

Clémence

Clémence aime dénicher des bons plans pour sa petite famille mais pas que. Curieuse de tout, elle a toujours aimé vadrouiller en Alsace - et ailleurs - et partager ses expériences avec ses amis et tout ceux qui en avaient besoin. Elle est très fière de pouvoir contribuer aux aventures de Mon Week-End en Alsace !

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