It was a foggy morning close to the Black Forest near Breisach, Germany where we had gotten up early to catch the bus to go into the southwest state of Baden-Wurttemberg, near Bavaria. Along the way, we saw many church steeples and stork nests, where on one steeple they actually had their own stork webcam. I have posted it here for you to view and see if there is any action of storks today.  The Black Forest gets its name from its dark, slightly sinister canopy of evergreen trees that are emerging from the forest floor. The Black Forest is also known as the Schwarzwald. It is home to half-timber houses, crumbling castles,  quaint little towns like Breisach, Germany and of course, the cuckoo clock. These are the cultural traditions in this neck of the woods and ones we all heard about as a child when fairy tales were read to us with our wide eyes and steady listening skills.

Black Forest, Germany (Schluvchsee)

The Black Forest, Germany (Schluvchsee)

Black Forest, Germany (Schluvchsee)

The Black Forest,  Breisach, Germany (Schluvchsee)

The Black Forest – Breisach, Germany

I had little knowledge of the area near Breisach, Germany but dreamed of tiny elves, black witches, and scary villages in my head before we began the trek up the mountain on the bus. I was on a Viking River Cruise down the Rhine River, where we had ported near Breisach, Germany and now we were on a bus for about an hour and a half winding up a mountain.

Black Forest Germany Map near Breisach, Germany

Black Forest Germany Map near Breisach, Germany

The main thing I can remember about the Black Forest was from my childhood. And that there were these two kids, Hansel and Gretel, living deep in the forest in a house made of cake. They had encountered the wicked witch of the West. Do you remember that childhood fairy tale? They were a brother-sister duo who outwitted the witch as told by the Brothers Grimm in 1812. I once received a leather bound fairy tale book almost just like this one as a child.

Black Forest, Germany (Schluvchsee), near Breisach, Germany

Black Forest, Breisach, Germany (Schluvchsee)

Entering the Black Forest, Germany

The thick fog began to surround us as we made our way up the winding paved road away from the flatlands of the farming community down below. The lush forest green landscape began to appear and soon became thicker and thicker as we made our way up the side of the mountain.

The tour guides of the Viking River Cruises had timed the bus arrival time to the mountain just right, as at 10 am sharp, the famous cuckoo clock building would be making its regular appearance by twirling and dancing with the sounds. The clock strikes ten. We had arrived at the Hofgut Sternen, a tiny Germany village. It was quite the spectacle as loads of bus-driven gawkers stood right out in front of the giant cuckoo building with gasps and finger pointing in awe as the last “coo” sound was made.

Black Forest, Germany (Schluvchsee), near Breisach, Germany

The Black Forest, Griesbach, Germany (Schluvchsee)

Breisach, Germany – Home of the Oldest Cuckoo Clock Makers

The Black Forrest is home to some of the oldest known cuckoo clock makers in the world, dating back to as late as 1638. Apparently being up in the mountains with an excess of wooded timber and cold winter months causes its inhabitants to find ways to occupy the mind and use the hands to create such amazing pieces of art. Inside the building, is, of course, hundreds of cuckoo clocks in a wide variety of styles and costs for your viewing and buying pleasure.

Black Forest, Germany (Schluvchsee), near Breisach, Germany

Cuckoo clocks in the Black Forest, Germany (Schluvchsee)

Breisach, Germany – Home of the Famous Black Forest Cake & Ham

So while the men are carving wood and working in the woodshop, apparently the women have been busy perfecting the perfect black forest cake with loads of layers of cream. This is THE place to get a piece of their famous black forest cream cake. I had heard of this type of cake for years, but never knew it came from this specific region of Germany. They also apparently love to cook ham, and so like in Champagne, France, where only grapes that are grown in that region can be called Champagne, they have hams here that can only be called Black Forest Ham if the pigs are raised in this area of Germany.

Black Forest Cake, near Breisach, Germany

Black Forest Cake, Schluvchsee, Germany

The Black Forest – Schluvchsee, Germany

In this tiny village of Schluvchsee, there is a glass shop, a cuckoo clock shop, a black forest cake baking store and a German hotel nearby. By making your way around the back of the property, you will find the entrance to the Black Forest.

Black Forest, near Breisach, Germany

Black Forest, Germany (Schluvchsee)

Black Forest, near Breisach, Germany

The Black Forest, Germany (Schluvchsee)

Not wanting to miss a thing, we made our way to the start of the trailhead where there were quite a few wooden bridges along the trail that led up to its two waterfalls not too deep in the forest. Due to the Black Forest’s height above sea level, the water of the nearby Schluchsee Lake is quite cold, thus this these fall’s water was quite cold in December. The Schluchsee Lake is only about a 40-minute drive from here. Schluchsee Lake is surrounded by hiking trails and the entire lake can be circumnavigated on footpaths.

Black Forest, Germany (Schluvchsee), near Breisach, Germany

Black Forest, Germany (Schluvchsee)

Black Forest, Germany (Schluvchsee)

Black Forest, Germany (Schluvchsee), near Breisach, Germany

Breisach, Germany – Christmas Villages of Schluvchsee

We then turned around and headed back to the Christmas village known as the “Wintermarkt in Schluvchsee.” It was here that we had some time to spend at these rustic outdoor Christmas markets (Wintermarkt) at the start of the trailhead. We were here quite early and so all of the vendors had not quite finished setting up, and therefore, unfortunately, I did not get a chance to see it in full bloom underneath the giant bridge, but a few of them were open and ready to take on the Christmas market onlookers, while others were setting up their wares for the day.I  especially enjoyed this trip taken from the Viking River Cruise ship TOR on my Rhine Getaway. I wrote an article about the best Christmas Markets that can be taken from the Rhine River on a Viking River Cruise that you might be interested in reading about.

Black Forest, Germany (Schluvchsee), near Breisach, Germany

Black Forest, Germany (Schluvchsee), near Breisach, Germany

Breisach, Germany – Home to a Christmas Market

This Christmas market is one not to miss since it has the added benefit of the cuckoo clock carving and black forest cake cooking demonstrations, as well as the actual forest. You do have to get up early to make this a half day excursion but I do recommend it.

Black Forest, Germany (Schluvchsee), near Breisach, Germany

Black Forest, Germany (Schluvchsee)

Breisach, Germany: Bollenhut Hat

Interesting note about the Black Forest:

The Black Forest is not only associated with Black Forest cake, Black Forest ham, and cuckoo clocks but also with the Bollenhut – a pompom hat which comes in 2 colors, red and black. It has 14 pompoms on top. The rule with the hat is that unmarried women wear a red hat until they are married, then they wear the black Bollenhut hat. Today it is only worn on holidays or special occasions.

Black Forest, Germany (Schluvchsee), near Breisach, Germany

Traditional clothing and the Bollenhut hat worn in the Black Forest, Germany (Schluvchsee), near Breisach, Germany

Black Forest, Germany (Schluvchsee), near Breisach, Germany

Black Forest, Germany (Schluvchsee)

Disclosure: My Rhine Getaway aboard the Viking River TOR ship was courtesy of Viking River Cruises, but the magic that ensued was all my own. Affiliate links are in this article.poi

Recommended Reading Related to Viking River Cruising:

What are Viking River Cruises like?

Highlights of a Danube River Christmas Markets Cruise

Basel Switzerland Christmas Markets

A Love Letter to Strasbourg, France for Christmas

Best Christmas Markets in Europe

Christmas Market Cruise – A Dream Come True

A Perfect Day Spent in Regensburg, Germany

The Black Forest, Germany’s Traditional Bollenhut Hat

Hansel and Gretel’s Black Forest near Breisach, Germany

My stay at a Swanky Library Hotel, Zurich, Switzerland at the end of a Viking River Cruise called the B2 Hotel + Spa

South of France Viking River Cruise articles:

Portraits of Southern France – Viking Tours

Les Baux, France and the Carrieres de Lumieres

Finding a Flea Market in South France

Let the Romance Begin in South France

15 Photos To Make You Pack Your Bags For Southern France

Viking Ocean Liner article:

Viking Star: Things to Know Before You Go

Nine Easy Reasons Why You Should Take a Viking Ocean Cruise