Is it too early to teach “geo-political history” to your 3 and 7-year old kids?
On the way to Freiburg, Germany we scheduled a stop at Schengen; a day following a kid-friendly one-day visit to Luxembourg City. After all Schengen was only a 40-kilometer (35-minute) drive. And it was where the whole idea of a “European Union without borders” was born. You know, the one that lets us travel from Spain to Poland and back, crisscrossing many other countries in the Schengen area, without the need to show passports?
Yup, it was here, in this wine-growing village, where the Schengen agreement was signed aboard a ship on a river where 3 countries meet in 1985. A buoy marks that point on the river. So, is it worth a stop and a strut?
SCHENGEN: FAMILY-FRIENDLY ONE-DAY ITINERARY . . . WITH KIDS
First stop: Go to the “Centre Européen” (the European Information Center) with a small museum that, of course, lets you interactively experience the history of the Schengen agreement and everything you need to know, it seems, about a borderless Europe. This museum is FREE!
It’s fun too for the kids and the family, with its interactive modules, and especially a small area for the little ones with activities where they can create and stamp their own “Schengen Passport”. Groups and schools (for children between 8 and 12) can also apparently arrange for a tour catered specifically for youngsters.
The center is where you can also obtain tons of informational materials about Schengen and the EU, like maps, brochures and even a kid-friendly book called “Discover Europe“–all available in multiple languages. You can even request several maps and copies for your own school; just request it from the receptionist.
From the same place, request a self-guided tour booklet called “Excursion of Schengen“. It is a guide for a walking tour that goes around the village and gives you a higher vantage point to observe the vineyards overlooking the historic Moselle river while proving bits of history about the following places of interest:
- Centre Européen” (the European Information Center)
- A Pontoon where the Tourist Information Center is located
- Columns of Nations
- Berln Wall
- Alley of Limes
- Promenade “Esplanade”
- Monument of the Schengen Agreement
- Winery Lucien Gloden
- Winery Paul Legill
- Winery Domaine Henri Ruppert
- Markus Tower
- a former treadmill
- Sandstone Crucifix with Sundial
- Metal Sculpture
- “Kockhaus” (Congree and Conference Center
- Europlatz (Europe Suare) with memorial stone
- Salvator Mundi parish church
- Castle of Schengen
In actuality, this is no more than a half-day trip. But you can stretch it to a full day if you really want to just chill and take in the beauty and tranquility of the surrounding wine regions of Luxembourg, Germany and France.
Have some rest and recreation at the nearby Krautergarten or some freeplay at Schlosspark. A rental bicycle from the tourist office can go a long way. Or a walk along the quiet river. Perhaps enjoying white Moselle wine, if time and the children would permit?
Schengen could have given us a chance to slow down and take a deep breath and take in the beauty and tranquility of this small dot on the face of the earth. And yet, we had to move on after a couple of hours because we had to be in Freiburg at a certain time tonight for a date with a friend whom we had not seen in a while.
So, on the 26th day (in total) of our camping road trip this summer. . . we had to move onward and southward!