Exploring Bitche in Lorraine, France

By - August 31, 2011 (Updated: May 15, 2016)

Citadel of Bitche, Lorraine, France

Citadel of Bitche, Lorraine, France

While looking at a map, did you ever decide to go somewhere just because it had a funny name? It’s something Andrew and I love to do while on road-trips. So while planning the route for our weekend in Strasbourg, I couldn’t resist heading towards Bitche, 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.

Arriving in Bitche, the first thing we saw was a sign designating it as one of France’s Villes Fluerie.  This is France’s version of the Communities in Bloom, in which citizens and companies volunteer to create public garden spaces throughout the town, to compete in national and international competitions.

The second thing we saw, was a huge citadel, towering over the town. Gardens and fortifications – now Bitche was a destination for both of us.

As Andrew was driving, the car pointed suspiciously towards the citadel. Up we climbed until we found ourselves in the large parking lot. The sun was already broiling, as we stepped from the car, and I was wondering how we would survive clambering around the hill-top citadel in the heat.

Luckily, most of the tour of the Citadel of Bitche, took place inside the ramparts. An audio-guide led us from room to room in small groups while explaining the history of the siege of Bitche in 1870. In each room, videos of the main characters of the drama led us through the action. The acting was a bit melodramatic, but it certainly brought the history of the citadel to life and taught us about an event in French history we had never before encountered.

When we finally emerged from the depths of the citadel, we decided to brave the sun and stroll along the tops of the ramparts. The view of the surrounding countryside was lovely and it was easy to see why this citadel was such a strategic stronghold.

Citadel of Bitche, Lorraine, France

View from the Citadel of Bitche

After a bite in the cafe, and a cool drink, we descended from the citadel towards the Jardin Pour La Paix (The Garden for Peace). The Garden for Peace has been blooming in Bitche for 8 years.

Jardin Pour La Paix, Bitche, France

Exploring the Garden for Peace in Bitche

This garden is made up of 10 concept gardens, including garden architecture, sculptures,  trees, flowers, and vegetables, with varying themes. It’s a whimsical garden full of colour and you are urged to explore the different installations.

Jardin Pour La Paix, Bitche, France

The Whimsical Garden

Jardin Pour La Paix, Bitche, France

Pull up a chair

Bitche’s garden heritage is in excellent standing. It is located in the heart of the Parc Naturel Régional des Vosges du Nord, which is classified by UNESCO as part of the Word Network of Biosphere reserves. Bitche has also achieved 4 blooms in the Ville Fleurie program, which is the top ranking, in France. They have also won the Grand Prix National de Fleurissement in 2007 and the Trophee Fleur d’Or in 2010, making it the perfect place for a garden-lover to visit.

Pretty in Pink - Flowers in the Garden for Peace

Pretty in Pink – Flowers in the Garden for Peace

Flowers and Bees in Bitche

Flowers and Bees in Bitche

Bitche is an easy two and a half hour drive from Brussels and is a lovely place to take a day-trip or to begin a tour of the Alsace-Lorraine region of France.

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Bitche, France

Yes, I finally got my photo of the Bitche sign.

Have you gone somewhere just because of the name? Leave your crazy place name destinations in the comments below.

Love castles, palaces, and ruins like in this article? Us too! Don’t miss the full listing of Castles we’ve visited in Europe and beyond.

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Alison Cornford-Matheson is a Canadian freelance writer and travel photographer and the founder of She is the author of The Foodie Guide to Brussels: Local Tips for Restaurants, Shops, Hotels, and Activities. Alison landed in Belgium in 2005 and, over the years, has become passionate about slow and sustainable travel, in Europe and beyond. She loves to discover hidden gems - be they museums, shops, restaurants, castles, gardens or landscapes, and share them through her words and photos. She has visited 45 countries and is currently slow travelling through North America in an RV, with her husband, Andrew, and two well-travelled cats. You can also follow her work on Google+
- 6 days ago


  1. Comment by simon

    simon August 31, 2011 at 15:57

    In Austria last year we kept passing signs for a village called Wank. Made me laugh every time.
    Austria also has a town called F*cking, and tourists keep stealing the sign.

    • Comment by Alison

      Alison August 31, 2011 at 16:11

      I had heard about F*ucking but not Wank… that’s great! Canada has some good ones too, particularly in Newfoundland where you can find Conception Bay and Dildo 🙂

  2. Comment by Ana

    Ana August 31, 2011 at 20:17

    What a lovely place!
    I love this idea of going to a place because of the name. We drove all the way to Barrie from Toronto for lunch one just because the name sounded interesting. And we’re planning a road trip for this weekend to places like Turkey and Matador in Texas. It’s all in the name!
    BTW, I had to have my picture taken next to a sign in Condom (France)

    • Comment by Alison

      Alison September 1, 2011 at 09:25

      Oh you know I’m going to have to look up where that is as I’m in France this weekend 🙂 You just never know what you’re going to find!

  3. Comment by Jeff

    Jeff September 1, 2011 at 22:09

    At the risk of sounding like Cheech & Chong, those are some bitching pictures, dude. …or do I write “bitcheing” ?

    Anyway, hats off to you both for diverting for the name alone. The scenery turned out a great bonus.


    • Comment by Alison

      Alison September 2, 2011 at 09:11

      Thanks Jeff! Let it be inspiration for you guys… There are lots of crazy place names in Nova Scotia. We drove to Meat Cove for that very reason 🙂

  4. Comment by Sue

    Sue September 2, 2011 at 15:02

    Al, I love the shot of you… I need a copy!


    • Comment by Alison

      Alison September 6, 2011 at 10:52

      Haha, ok 🙂

  5. Comment by Unexpected Traveller

    Unexpected Traveller September 3, 2011 at 11:24

    I haven’t diverted because of a place name, but a photo was obligatory when I encountered the town of Silly in Belgium (

    To be honest, that could easily be an adjective especially in Belgium.

    • Comment by Alison

      Alison September 6, 2011 at 10:53

      Yes! I had forgotten about Silly. There are so many good ones in this country 🙂

  6. Comment by Angela

    Angela September 22, 2011 at 10:35

    Lovely photos, I’ve been to Lorraine a couple of times, strange region, completey different from the neighboring Alsace. My mom has lived in Lorraine almost twenty years as her parents moved there to work when she was 5. She and one of her sisters moved back to Italy but the rest of brothers and another sister stayed in France, so now I have half family in Lorraine. I liked the cities of Metz and Saarbrucken, maybe less Forbach, but I haven’t explored it properly. Fascinating region, gives me the impression that hides its culture and we need to be on the lookout to discover it!

    • Comment by Alison

      Alison September 22, 2011 at 12:03

      It think you’re right. It definitely takes a bit of exploring to uncover. We haven’t spent much time there yet but it is definitely on my list of places to go back to 🙂

  7. Pingback: Exploring Bitche in Lorraine, France | Travel Europe with Best Travel Content Europe

  8. Comment by John P

    John P October 6, 2011 at 13:48

    I visited Bitches on the way home to the UK from Venice and discovered the GI’s who liberated the town in December 1944, have an organisation called “Sons of Bitches” (100th Inf Div)

    • Comment by Alison

      Alison October 6, 2011 at 14:33

      That’s fantastic 🙂 Thanks for sharing John!

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