Phileas French

Travel Writer

Phileas French

Phileas French

Travel Writer | Exploring every country in the world, one adventure at a time

Wondrous Wollbach

There are relatively few places in the world that enjoy what’s officially called a tripoint, but one of them lies just down the road from the lovely village of Wollbach. The German hamlet’s proximity to Basel secures access to no less than three nations, France and Switzerland as well as Germany. The very fine hotel and restaurant in Wollbach, the Pfaffenkeller, sadly marked the last stop in my writing tour of the Black Forest for the Historic Hotels of Europe.

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Ambling through the lovely village, with many well-preserved historic buildings, is a great pleasure.  I stayed at a beautiful boutique hotel, the Pfaffenkeller, which also sports a gourmet restaurant, a huge garden with an orchard and chickens and, interestingly, a superb organic shop. It's one of the Historic Hotels of Europe, an organisation I am fortunate enough to write for.

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The produce that the Pfaffenkeller sells in the shop now retails at seven other outlets as well, including three shops just in the immediate area. Each of the shops cherry-picks a selection of products to sell. They have 250 products, including nearly 30 schnapps varieties, much to my delight.

Everything has been thought through to the last detail. They make their own pepper mix and also have an amazing pink salt, coloured by its unusually high iron content. An Aladdin’s cave like no other organic village shop I have ever been in, you can also buy vinaigrette, mustard, dried meats, wine, sparkling wine, cakes, chocolate mousse and pudding pots, jam, marmalade and chutney, and numerous other treats.

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The day that I arrived, they were preparing red cabbage and all the soups fresh in the hotel kitchen, with the scents flooding the house. It had been hunting season for a month, too, so rabbits and wild boar were on the menu. I was amused to hear that the wild boar like to live near humans and eat mice.

With a small menu card of the freshest homemade food, the Pfaffenkeller are religious about using absolutely no chemical products. They are high in the international rankings, one of the 120 best restaurants in South Germany. All the cosmetics in the rooms are certified organic as well, as are the fruit bowl and mineral water.

The shop started running five and a half years ago, prompted partly by the amount of fruit their 280 trees were yielding: cherries, apples and plums all flourish in Germany’s most temperate climatic zone. Their 24 chickens provide the breakfast eggs, and there are lots of herbs and spices, as well as tomatoes, zucchinis and peppers.

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Another thing that is profoundly important to the brilliant owners Claude and Georg in terms of their ethical standpoint is supporting a local company that employs 90% disabled people. Individuals from the company help them with the products in the shop. Apparently it’s extremely common for visitors to the restaurant or the shop to be so enchanted that they end up opting to spend the night at the hotel.

The village has 1800 lucky people living in it, and has been in existence since at least 767. There are some abandoned iron mines out in the surrounding Black Forest, and three ancient mills, including one, the Hofmühle, which is still working today. The best local museums include a space celebrating the work of the artist Max Böhlan and the Nebenau lime kiln. I spent a very happy morning simply walking up and down the streets of Wollbach, though, admiring the postcard-perfect doorways, church and sleepy cottages with animals outside. Just don’t do what I did and forget to buy some Pfaffenkeller Champagne apple schnapps before you leave this gorgeous rural spot.
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Comments 1

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