Story and photos by Cheryl Koller
Did you ever decide to go somewhere just because it had a funny name? While planning the route for our Harley ride, I couldn’t resist heading towards Bitche, France simply so I could take my photo beside the sign. Little did I know, Bitche is a lot more than a town with a fun name!
On a hill in the middle of this French town stands the Citadel, overlooking homes, shops and restaurants. It is easy to see why this citadel was such a strategic stronghold. When arriving in town, the sight of the very large Citadel of Bitche was kind of an eerie sight for me personally. I am not a history buff, but I was excited to learn the history of this beautiful town.
We took a stroll around the grounds and then opted to take their audio-guided tour, which led us through the history of the siege of Bitche in 1870. We were treated to a multimedia tour through the extensive fortification.
We were given wireless headsets, which provided us with English dialogue and a dramatic reenactment of the battle to take Bitche. I won’t go into all of the history that we were exposed to since I believe that is something everyone should experience for themselves. Nevertheless, we were happy to learn about an event in French history that we had never before encountered.
Citadel’s General Information
The Citadel is open Monday through Saturday between March and October 13. During July and August, it’s also open on Sundays. Visitors can also wander through the town’s “Garden for Peace” which is open during the warmer months.
Admission to the Citadel of Bitche is €10 for adults; €8 for students and children ages 7 – 18 years (free for children under age 7); €30 for a family ticket (two adults and two children); and €44 for a family ticket (two adults and 4 children). There is a supplemental charge of €2.50 to visit the Garden for Peace. Alternatively, you can just visit the garden for €5 per adult.
Located Near U.S. Military Community
Because Bitche is located so close to our U.S. military communities in Kaiserslautern and Baumholder, Americans might want to take a day to explore this region of significance in European history. During the visit, you will also note a plaque paying tribute to members of the US 100th Infantry Division who liberated the town during World War II in March of 1945.
The Drive to Bitche
As we always do when we ride the bike, we took Jill (our GPS) off autobahn and just rode on the back roads from our village in Hutschenhausen. I would recommend doing this even if you are going by car, just to see the beautiful countryside.
Also consider taking a side trip to visit one of the Maginot Line sites, which also feature interactive displays, when in the Bitche area. The remnants of these World War II concrete fortifications, conceived by French Minister of Defense Andre Maginot, offer a unique glimpse into the French government planning in the years between World Wars I and II.
Bitche is near the northeastern border of France with Germany, east of Metz and north of Strasbourg. There are many historical military installations in the region, which are the main attractions for visitors, but be sure also to explore the gardens and nearby countryside for a peaceful contrast. I recommend visiting their website for exact dates, times and pricing, as these can sometimes change without notice.
How to Get There
Author’s Profile: Cheryl Koller is a native of Georgia. She is a DOD spouse, mom of 4 daughters (2 adults, 2 teens), thrill-seeker, avid traveler, and lover of food and wine. She is a self-proclaimed Freedom-Prenuer and Blogger currently living in Ramstein with her family.