Melt Your Heart Monkeys and a Lord-of-the-Rings Castle in Alsace, France
Updated: Oct 15, 2020
I watched Aladdin over and over as a little kid. I loved Princess Jasmine and thought it was pretty awesome that she had a pet tiger. I even loved Abu. I thought Abu was a fabulous name for a monkey. I’ve always loved animals and really enjoy opportunities to be up close and personal with them. Come to find out, just across the border in France there is a place called Monkey Mountain where you can do just that!
Get up close and personal with the monkeys.
After a full-day at Europa Park riding roller coasters, we left Germany for a little piece of French nature. From our hotel in Ringsheim, we drove to La Montagne des Signes (about 1 hour drive) where we had heard you could get up close and personal with the primates.
It didn’t disappoint! I loved sitting with my sketchbook and trying to draw the monkeys, but man! They would not hold still.
Crazy Monkey Babies
I think teasing and instigating isn't just a baby human characteristic. The little toddler monkeys stole the show with their playful behavior. As we stood next to the railing, we couldn't help but laugh at their antics.
Suddenly, a little monkey would coming rushing in, out of nowhere, jump onto one of the older, sleeping monkeys to wake it up, and then run away as fast as it could! They'd pull each others ears, sneak up behind each other and push one another over, and throw sticks and leaves at each other. I don't know that the "parent monkeys" were all that amused, but hey, we were definitely entertained.
It was amazing how close you could get to the monkeys! There were caretakers patrolling the park, however, to make sure that you didn’t touch the monkeys. They told us, “they may come really close to you, but don’t touch them!”
These monkeys definitely weren’t afraid of humans and did get up close and personal.
Don't Forget to See the Castle, Too!
As we exited Monkey Mountain, we found ourselves right next to one of the largest castles in Europe--Château du Haut-Kœnigsbourg. It is massive! Since it was only 5 minutes from Monkey Mountain, we opted for an impromptu castle visit.
We learned that this castle dates back to the 12th century! It has been known as Koenigsburg (Royal Castle) since the year 1157. The castle was destroyed in 1462 by the Habsburgs and then rebuilt and enlarged. It was destroyed, pillaged, and abandoned again for over 200 years in the 1600s. A restoration project began in 1900 and the castle was fully restored by 1993 when it was classified a historical monument.
As a little bit of nerdy trivia, John Howe, the Conceptual Designer for ‘The Lord of the Rings’ trilogy, fell in love with this castle when he visited in the 1980s.
He used it as inspiration for the design of the ‘Citadel of Minas Tirith’.
Unfortunately, we couldn’t go inside the castle as it remains closed due to COVID-19.
I don’t know when the castle will re-open as their website says the closure is indefinite. There’s some pictures of the interior on their website. It’s still an incredible castle to hike around, though, and definitely worth seeing.
It’s only 55km south of Strasbourg, so if you’re going to be in Strasbourg, Colmar, or visiting Europa Park, then this is a great place to stop.
If you’re interested in hiking to this castle it’s about a 3hour hike details here.
Exploring the Alsace Countryside
The Alsace region of France is just gorgeous. The vineyards cascading up and down the mountain sides, the green fields stretched out in every direction, and the quaint French villages all make you feel like you’ve stepped back in time.
I loved driving through the countryside.
If you've got a day or two in Alsace, check out our other posts on a day trip in Colmar, Europa Park, and Strasbourg. Combine these day itineraries for a fun-filled 2-3 day weekend excursion!