The Vosges and Alsace-Lorraine must be taken together, as the tourist is constantly compelled to zigzag across the new frontier. Many of the most interesting points of departure for excursionizing in the Vosges lie in Alsace-Lorraine, while few travellers who have got so far as Gerardmer or St. Die will not be tempted to continue their journey, at least as far as the beautiful valleys of Munster and St. Marie-aux-Mines, both peopled by French people under German domination. Arrived at either of these places, the tourist will be at a loss which route to take of the many open to him. On the one hand are the austere sites of the Vosges, impenetrable forests darkening the rounded mountain tops, granite precipices silvered with perpetual cascades, awful ravines hardly less gloomy in the noonday sun than in wintry storms, and as a relief to these sombre features, the sunniest little homesteads perched on airy terraces of gold-green; crystal streams making vocal the flowery meadow and the mossy dell, and lovely little lakes shut in by rounded hills, made double in their mirror. In Alsace-Lorraine we find a wholly different landscape, and are at once reminded that we are in one of the fairest and most productive districts of Europe. All the vast Alsatian plain in September is a-bloom with fruit garden and orchard, vineyard and cornfield, whilst as a gracious framework, a romantic background to the picture, are the vineclad heights crested with ruined castles and fortresses worthy to be compared to Heidelberg and Ehrenbreitstein. We had made a leisurely journey from Gerardmer to St. Die, bishopric and chef-lieu of the department of the Vosges, without feeling sure of our next move. Fortunately a French acquaintance advised us to drive to St. Marie-aux-Mines, one of the most wonderful little spots in these regions, of which we had never before heard. A word or two, however, concerning St. Die itself, one of the most ancient monastic foundations in France. The town is pleasant enough, and the big hotel not bad, as French hotels go. But in the Vosges, the tourist gets somewhat spoiled in the matter of hotels. Wherever we go our hosts are so much interested in us, and make so much of us, that we feel aggrieved at sinking into mere numbers three or four. Many of these little inns offer homely accommodation, but the landlord and landlady themselves wait upon the guests, unless, which often happens, the host is cook, no piece of ill-fortune for the traveller! These good people have none of the false shame often conspicuous among the same class in England. At Remiremont, our hostess came bustling down at the last moment saying how she had hurried to change her dress in order to bid us good-bye. Here the son-in-law, a fine handsome fellow, was the cook, and when dinner was served he used to emerge from his kitchen and chat with the guests or play with his children in the cool evening hour. There is none of that differentiation of labour witnessed in England, and on the whole the stranger fares none the worse. With regard to French hotels generally the absence of competition in large towns strikes an English mind. At St. Die, as in many other places, there was at the time of my visit but one hotel, which had doubtless been handed down from generation to generation, simply because no rival aroused a spirit of emulation.

St. Die has a pleasant environment in the valley of the Meurthe, and may be made the centre of many excursions. Its picturesque old Romanesque cathedral of red sandstone, about which are grouped noble elms, grows upon the eye; more interesting and beautiful by far are the Gothic cloisters leading from within to the smaller church adjoining. These delicate arcades, in part restored, form a quadrangle. Greenery fills the open space, and wild antirrhinum and harebell brighten the grey walls. Springing from one side is an out-of-door pulpit carved in stone, a striking and suggestive object in the midst of the quiet scene. We should like to know what was preached from that stone pulpit, and what manner of man was the preacher. The bright green space, the delicate arcades of soft grey, the bits of foliage here and there, with the two silent churches blocking in all, make up an impressive scene.

We wanted the country, however, rather than the towns, so after a few days at St. Die, hired a carriage to take us to St. Marie-aux-Mines or Markirch, on the German side of the frontier, and not accessible from this side by rail. We enter Alsace, indeed, by a needle's eye, so narrow the pass in which St. Marie lies. Here a word of warning to the tourist. Be sure to examine your carriage and horses well before starting. We were provided for our difficult drive with what Spenser calls "two unequal beasts," namely, a trotting horse and a horse that could only canter, with a very uncomfortable carriage, the turnout costing over a pound - pretty well, that, for a three hours' drive. However, in spite of discomfort, we would not have missed the journey on any account. The site of this little cotton-spinning town is one of the most extraordinary in the world. We first traverse a fruitful, well cultivated plain, watered by the sluggish Meurthe, then begin to ascend a spur of the western chain of the Vosges, formerly dividing the two French departments of Vosges and Haut Rhin, now marking the boundaries of France and German Elsass. Down below, amid the hanging orchards, flower-gardens and hayfields, we were on French soil, but the flagstaff, just discernible on yonder green pinnacles, marks the line of demarcation between France and the conquered territory of the German empire. For the matter of that, the Prussian helmet makes the fact patent. As surely as we have set foot in the Reich, we see one of these gleaming casques, so hateful still in French eyes. They seem to spring from the ground like Jason's warriors from the dragon's teeth. This new frontier divided in olden times the dominions of Alsace and Lorraine, when it was the custom to say of many villages that the bread was kneaded in one country and baked in the other.

Nothing could be more lovely than the dim violet hills far away, and the virginal freshness of the pastoral scenery around. But only a stout-hearted pedestrian can properly enjoy this beautiful region. We had followed the example of another party of tourists in front of us, and accomplished a fair climb on foot, and when we had wound and wound our way up the lofty green mountain to the flagstaff before mentioned, we wanted to do the rest of our journey on foot also. But alike compassion for the beasts and energy had gone far enough, we were only too glad to reseat ourselves, and drive, or rather be whirled, down to St. Marie-aux-Mines in the vehicle. Do what we would there was no persuading our driver to slacken pace enough so as to admit of a full enjoyment of the prospect that unfolded before us.

The wonderful little town! Black pearl set in the richest casket! This commonplace, flourishing centre of cotton spinning, woollen, and cretonne manufacture, built in red brick, lies in the narrow, beautiful valley of the Liepvrette, as it is called from the babbling river of that name. But there is really no valley at all. The congeries of red-roofed houses, factory chimneys and church towers, Catholic and Protestant, is hemmed round by a narrow gorge, wedged in between the hills which are just parted so as to admit of such an intrusion, no more. The green convolutions of the mountain sides are literally folded round the town, a pile of green velvet spread fan-like in a draper's window has not softer, neater folds! As we enter it from the St. Die side we find just room for a carriage to wind along the little river and the narrow street. But at the other end the valley opens, and St. Marie-aux-mines spreads itself out. Here are factories, handsome country houses, and walks up-hill and down-hill in abundance. Just above the town, over the widening gorge, is a deliciously cool pine-wood which commands a vast prospect - the busy little town caught in the toils of the green hills; the fertile valley of the Meurthe as we gaze in the direction from which we have come; the no less fertile plains of Lorraine before us; close under and around us, many a dell and woodland covert with scattered homes of dalesfolk in sunny places and slanting hills covered with pines. It is curious to reflect that St. Marie-aux-Mines, mentioned as Markirch in ancient charts, did not become entirely French till the eighteenth century. Originally the inhabitants on the left bank of the Liepvrette were subjects of the Dukes of Lorraine, spoke French, and belonged to the Catholic persuasion, whilst those dwelling on the right bank of the river, adhered to the seigneury of Ribeaupaire, and formed a Protestant German-speaking community. Alsace, as everybody knows, was annexed to France by right - rather wrong - of conquest under Louis XIV., but it was not till a century later that Lorraine became a part of French territory, and the fusion of races, a task so slowly accomplished, has now to be undone, if, indeed, such undoing is possible!

The hotel here is a mere auberge adapted to the needs of the commis-voyageur, but our host and hostess are charming. As is the fashion in these parts, they serve their guests and take the greatest possible interest in their movements and comfort. We would willingly have spent some days at Marie-aux-Mines - no better headquarters for excursionizing in these regions! - but too much remained for us to do and to see in Alsace. We dared not loiter on the way.

Everywhere we find plenty of French tourists, many of them doing their holiday travel in the most economical fashion. We are in the habit of regarding the French as a stay-at-home nation, and it is easy to see how such a mistake arises. English people seldom travel in out-of-the-way France, and our neighbours seldom travel elsewhere. Thus holiday-makers of the two nations do not come in contact. Wherever we go we encounter bands of pedestrians or family parties thoroughly enjoying themselves. Nothing ruffles a French mind when bent on holiday-making. The good-nature, bonhomie, and accommodating spirit displayed under trying circumstances might be imitated by certain insular tourists with advantage.

From St. Marie-aux-Mines we journeyed to Gustave Dore's favourite resort, Barr, a close, unsavoury little town enough, but in the midst of bewitching scenery. "An ounce of sweet is worth a pound of sour," sings Spenser, and at Barr we get the sweet and the sour strangely mixed. The narrow streets smell of tanneries and less wholesome nuisances, not a breath of fresh pure air is to be had from one end of the town to the other. But our pretty, gracious landlady, an Alsacienne, and her husband, the master of the house and chef de cuisine as well, equally handsome and courteous, took so much pains to make us comfortable that we stayed on and on. Not a thousand bad smells could drive us away! Yet there is accommodation for the traveller among the vineyards outside the town, and also near the railway station, so Barr need not be avoided on account of its unsavouriness. No sooner are you beyond the dingy streets than all is beauty, pastoralness and romance. Every green peak is crested with ruined keep or tower, at the foot of the meeting hills lie peaceful little villages, each with its lofty church spire, whilst all the air is fragrant with pine-woods and newly turned hay.

These pine-woods and frowning ruins set like sentinels on every green hill or rocky eminence, recall many of Dore's happiest efforts. " Le pauvre garcon," our hostess said. "Comme il etait content chez nous!" I can fancy how Dore would enjoy the family life of our little old-fashioned hotel, how he would play with the children, chat with master and mistress, and make himself agreeable all round. One can also fancy how animated conversation would become if it chanced to take a patriotic turn. For people speak their thoughts in Alsace, - nowhere more freely. In season and out of season, the same sentiment comes to the surface. "Nous sommes plus Francais que les Francais." This is the universal expression of feeling that greeted our ears throughout our wanderings. Such, at least, was formerly the case. The men, women and children, rich and poor, learned and simple, gave utterance to the same expression of feeling. Barr is a town of between six and seven thousand souls, about twenty of whom are Prussians. A pleasant position, truly, for the twenty officials! And what we see at Barr is the case throughout the newly acquired German dominion. Alike the highest as well as the humblest functionary of the imperial government is completely shut off from intercourse with his French neighbours.

Barr lies near so much romantic scenery that the tourist in these parts had better try the little hotel amid the mines. For, in spite of the picturesque stork's nest close by, an excellent ordinary and the most delightful host and hostess in the world, I cannot recommend a sojourn in the heart of the town. The best plan of all were to halt here simply for the sake of the excursion to St. Odile - St. Odile leads nowhither - then hire a carriage, and make leisurely way across country by the Hohwald, and the Champ de Feu to Rothau, Oberlin's country, thence to Strasburg. In our own case, the fascinations of our hosts overcame our repugnance to Barr itself, so we stayed on, every day making long drives into the fresh, quiet, beautiful country. One of the sweet spots we discovered for the benefit of any English folks who may chance to stray in that region is the Hohwald, a ville giatura long in vogue with the inhabitants of Strasburg and neighbouring towns, but not mentioned in any English guide-book at the time of my visit.

We are reminded all the way of Rhineland. The same terraced vineyards, the same limestone crags, each with its feudal tower, the same fertility and richness everywhere. Our road winds for miles amid avenues of fruit-trees, laden with pear and plum, whilst on every side are stretches of flax and corn, tobacco and hemp. What plenty and fruitfulness are suggested at every turn! Well might Goethe extol "this magnificent Alsace." We soon reach Andlau, a picturesque, but, it must be confessed, somewhat dirty village, lying amid vineyards and chestnut woods, with mediaeval gables, archways, wells, dormers. All these are to be found at Andlau, also one of the finest churches in these parts. I followed the cure and sacristan as they took a path that wound high above the village and the little river amid the vineyards, and obtained a beautiful picture; hill and dale, clustered village and lofty spire, and imposingly, confronting us at every turn, the fine facade of the castle of Andlau, built of grey granite, and flanked at either end with massive towers. More picturesque, but less majestic are the neighbouring ruins of Spesburg, mere tumbling walls wreathed with greenery, and many another castled crag we see on our way. We are indeed in the land of old romance. Nothing imaginable more weird, fantastic and sombre, than these spectral castles and crumbling towers past counting! The wide landscape is peopled with these. They seem to rise as if by magic from the level landscape, and we fancy that they will disappear magically as they have come. And here again one wild visionary scene after another reminds us that we are in the land of Dore's most original inspiration. There are bits of broken pine-wood, jagged peaks and ghostly ruins that have been already made quite familiar to us in the pages of his Dante and Don Quixote.

The pretty rivulet Andlau accompanies us far on our way, and beautiful is the road; high above, beech-and pine-woods, and sloping down to the road green banks starred with large blue and white campanula, with, darkling amid the alders, the noisy little river.

The Hohwald is the creation of a woman; that is to say, the Hohwald of holiday-makers, tourists and tired brain-workers. "Can you imagine," wrote M. Edmond About, forty years ago, "an inn at the world's end that cost a hundred thousand francs in the building? I assure you the owner will soon have recouped her outlay. She had not a centime to begin with, this courageous lady, left a widow without resources, and a son to bring up. The happy thought occurred to her of a summer resort in the heart of these glorious woods, within easy reach of Strasburg." There are gardens and reception-rooms in common, and here as at Gerardmer croquet, music and the dance offer an extra attraction. It must be admitted that these big family hotels, in attractive country places with prices adapted to all travellers, have many advantages over our own seaside lodgings. People get much more for their money, better food, better accommodation, with agreeable society into the bargain, and a relief from the harass of housekeeping. The children, too, find companionship, to the great relief of parents and nursemaids.

The Hohwald proper is a tiny village numbering a few hundred souls, situated in the midst of magnificent forests at the foot of the famous Champ de Feu. This is a plateau on one of the loftiest summits of the Vosges, and very curious from a geological point of view. To explore it properly you must be a good pedestrian. Much, indeed, of the finest scenery of these regions is beyond reach of travellers who cannot walk five or six hours a day.

Any one, however, may drive to St. Odile, and St. Odile is the great excursion of Alsace. Who cares a straw for the saint and her story now? But all tourists must be grateful to the Bishop of Strasburg, who keeps a comfortable little inn at the top of the mountain, and, beyond the prohibition of meat on fast-days, smoking, noise and levity of manner on all days, makes you very comfortable for next to nothing.

The fact is, this noble plateau, commanding as splendid a natural panorama as any in Europe, at the time I write of the property of Monseigneur of Strasburg, was once a famous shrine and a convent of cloistered men and women vowed to sanctity and prayer. The convent was closed at the time of the French Revolution, and the entire property, convent, mountain and prospect, remained in the hands of private possessors till 1853, when the prelate of that day repurchased the whole, restored the conventual building, put in some lay brethren to cultivate the soil, and some lay sisters, who wear the garb of nuns, but have taken no vows upon them except of piety, to keep the little inn and make tourists comfortable. No arrangement could be better, and I advise any one in want of pure air, superb scenery, and complete quiet, to betake himself to St. Odile.

Here again I must intercalate. Since these lines were jotted down, many changes, and apparently none for the better, have taken place here. Intending tourists must take both M. Hallays' volume and Maurice Barres' Au Service d'Allemagne for recent accounts of this holiday resort. The splendid natural features remain intact.

The way from Barr lies through prosperous villages, enriched by manufactories, yet abounding in pastoral graces. There are English-like parks and fine chateaux of rich manufacturers; but contrasted with these nothing like abject poverty. The houses of working-folk are clean, each with its flower-garden, the children are neatly dressed, no squalor or look of discontent to be seen anywhere. Every hamlet has its beautiful spire, whilst the country is the fairest, richest conceivable; in the woods is seen every variety of fir and pine, mingled with the lighter foliage of chestnut and acacia, whilst every orchard has its walnut and mulberry trees, not to speak of pear and plum. One of the chief manufactures of these parts is that of paints and colours: there are also ribbon and cotton factories. Rich as is the country naturally, its chief wealth arises from these industries. In every village you hear the hum of machinery.

You may lessen the distance from Barr to St. Odile by one-half if you make the journey on foot, winding upwards amid the vine-clad hills, at every turn coming upon one of those grand old ruins, as plentiful here as in Rhineland, and quite as romantic and beautiful. The drive is a slow and toilsome ascent of three hours and a half. As soon as we quit the villages and climb the mountain road cut amid the pines, we are in a superb and solitary scene. No sound of millwheels or steam-hammers is heard here, only the summer breeze stirring the lofty pine branches, the hum of insects, and the trickling of mountain streams. The dark-leaved henbane is in brilliant yellow flower, and the purple foxglove in striking contrast; but the wealth of summer flowers is over.

Who would choose to live on Ararat? Yet it is something to reach a pinnacle from whence you may survey more than one kingdom. The prospect from St. Odile is one to gaze on for a day, and to make us dizzy in dreams ever after. From the umbrageous terrace in front of the convent - cool and breezy on this, one of the hottest days of a hot season - we see, as from a balloon, a wonderful bit of the world spread out like a map at our feet. The vast plain of Alsace, the valley of the Rhine, the Swiss mountains, the Black Forest, Bale, and Strasburg - all these we dominate from our airy pinnacle close, at it seems, under the blue vault of heaven. But though they were there, we did not see them: for the day, as so often happens on such occasions, was misty. We had none the less a novel and wonderful prospect. As we sit on this cool terrace, under the shady mulberry trees, and look far beyond the richly-wooded mountain we have scaled on our way, we gradually make out some details of the fast panorama, one feature after another becoming visible as stars shining faintly in a misty heaven. Villages and little towns past counting, each with its conspicuous spire, break the monotony of the enormous plain. Here and there, miles away, a curl of white vapour indicates the passage of some railway train, whilst in this upper stillness sweet sounds of church bells reach us from hamlets close underneath the convent. Nothing can be more solid, fresher, or more brilliant than the rich beech-and pine-woods running sheer from our airy eminence to the level world below, nothing more visionary, slumberous, or dimmer than that wide expanse teeming, as we know, with busy human life, yet flat and motionless as a picture.

On clear nights the electric lights of the railway station at Strasburg are seen from this point; but far more attractive than the prospects from St. Odile is its prehistoric wall. Before the wall, however, came the dinner, which deserves mention. It was Friday, so in company of priests, nuns, monks and divers pious pilgrims, with a sprinkling of fashionable ladies from Strasburg, and tourists generally, we sat down to a very fair menu for a fast-day, to wit: rice-soup, turnips and potatoes, eggs, perch, macaroni-cheese, custard pudding, gruyere cheese, and fair vin ordinaire. Two shillings was charged per head, and I must say people got their money's worth, for appetites seem keen in these parts. The mother-superior, a kindly old woman, evidently belonging to the working class, bustled about and shook hands with each of her guests. After dinner we were shown the bedrooms, which are very clean; for board and lodging you pay six francs a day, out of which, judging from the hunger of the company, the profit arising would be small except to clerical hotel-keepers. We must bear in mind that nuns work without pay, and that all the fish, game, dairy and garden produce the bishop gets for nothing. However, all tourists must be glad of such a hostelry, and the nuns are very obliging. One sister made us some afternoon tea very nicely (we always carry tea and teapot on these excursions), and everybody made us welcome. We found a delightful old Frenchman of Strasburg to conduct us to the Pagan Wall, as, for want of a better name, people designate this famous relic of prehistoric times. Fragments of stone fortifications similarly constructed have been found on other points of the Vosges not far from the promontory on which the convent stands, but none to be compared to this one in colossal proportions and completeness.

We dip deep down into the woods on quitting the convent gates, then climb for a little space and come suddenly upon the edge of the plateau, which the wall was evidently raised to defend. Never did a spot more easily lend itself to such rude defence by virtue of natural position, although where the construction begins the summit of the promontory is inaccessible from below. We are skirting dizzy precipices, feathered with light greenery and brightened with flowers, but awful notwithstanding, and in many places the stones have evidently been piled together rather for the sake of symmetry than from a sense of danger. The points thus protected were already impregnable. When we look more nearly we see that however much Nature may have aided these primitive constructors, the wall is mainly due to the agency of man. There is no doubt that in many places the stupendous masses of conglomerate have been hurled to their places by earthquake, but the entire girdle of stone, of pyramidal size and strength, shows much symmetrical arrangement and dexterity. The blocks have been selected according to size and shape, and in many places mortised together. We find no trace of cement, a fact disproving the hypothesis that the wall may have been of Roman origin. We must doubtless go much farther back, and associate these primitive builders with such relics of prehistoric times as the stones of Carnac and Lokmariaker. And not to seek so wide for analogies, do we not see here the handiwork of the same rude architects I have before alluded to in my Vosges travels, who flung a stone bridge across the forest gorge above Remiremont and raised in close proximity the stupendous monolith of Kirlinkin? The prehistoric stone monuments scattered about these regions are as yet new to the English archaeologist, and form one of the most interesting features of Vosges and Alsatian travel.

We may follow these lightly superimposed blocks of stone for miles, and the enceinte has been traced round the entire plateau, which was thus defended from enemies on all sides. As we continue our walk on the inner side of the wall we get lovely views of the dim violet hills, the vast golden plain, and, close underneath, luxuriant forests. Eagles are flying hither and thither, and except for an occasional tourist or two, the scene is perfectly solitary. An hour's walk brings us to the Menelstein, a vast and lofty platform of stone, ascended by a stair, both untouched by the hand of man. Never was a more formidable redoubt raised by engineering skill. Nature here helped her primitive builders well. From a terrace due to the natural formation of the rock, we obtain another of those grand and varied panoramas so numerous in this part of the world, but the beauty nearer at hand is more enticing. Nothing can exceed the freshness and charm of our homeward walk. We are now no longer following the wall, but free to enjoy the breezy, heather-scented plateau, and the broken, romantic outline of St. Odile, the Wartburg of Alsace, as the saint herself was its Holy Elizabeth, and with as romantic a story for those with a taste for such legends.

Here and there on the remoter wooded peaks are stately ruins of feudal castles, whilst all the way our path lies amid bright foliage of young forest trees, chestnut and oak, pine and acacia, and the ground is purple with heather. Blocks of the conglomerate used in the construction of the so-called Pagan Wall meet us at every turn, and as we gaze down the steep sides of the promontory we can trace its massive outline. A scene not soon to be forgotten! The still, solitary field of Carnac, with its avenues of monoliths, is not more impressive than these Cyclopean walls, thrown as a girdle round the green slopes of St. Odile.

We would fain have stayed here some time, but much more still remained to be seen and accomplished in Alsace. Rothau, the district known as the Ban de la Roche, where Oberlin laboured for sixty years, Thann, Wesserling, with a sojourn among French subjects of the German Empire at Mulhouse - all these things had to be done, and the bright summer days were drawing to an end.