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Curves, cuisine, limestone cliffs: the Franconian Switzerland Nature Park not only delights gourmets and nature lovers, but is also an ideal area for bikers of all displacement classes.

Michael Schafer


The Guzzi California Evoluzione hums its song with a deep thump. The double bass plays the scale up and down. In the rearview mirror I can see Klaus on the yellow Centauro behind me every time I turn into the next bend. Now the road passes a small, dark forest, and then – all of a sudden Klaus is gone. Damn it, what is he doing? So turn around and see what happened. A breakdown or something worse? No. There the Centauro stands in the shade of the fir grove, and Klaus is just breaking his way out of the undergrowth back onto the street: “Man, the cold gets through your marrow and bone.” And probably also on your bladder. While Klaus fishes his jacket out of his pack sack and hides it against the cold wind, I warm my hands on the cylinder block. Klaus asked me just last week; whether I would like to go on a motorcycle tour in the Franconian Switzerland Nature Park. Between Bamberg in the west and Bayreuth in the east, the Franconian metropolis of Nuremberg in the south and the A 70 motorway as the northern border, the river valleys of Franconian Switzerland and the mountains of the Veldenstein Forest to the south offer a motorcycle landscape in which no rear tire would remain flat. Ingenious routes, fine food, Klaus left no sensory stimulus unaddressed. And finally, be it one of those brilliant weeks in May, when a holiday sweetened Thursday. Okay, it’s a deal. Made short work of it in the office, rescheduled a few appointments, lashed luggage to the motorcycle, and off we went to Upper Franconia. Instead of having to look for new accommodation every evening on a round tour, we rent a room in the middle of the 50 by 50 kilometer core region of the Franconian Switzerland Nature Park. The “Zum Bayerischen” inn in Ebermannstadt is just what we’re looking for. From here, every point of interest in the area can be reached in 45 minutes. And the house is practically right on the local B 470 motorcycle racing track, which leads straight into the Wiesenttal in wonderful, fast bends. The Wiesent – the name comes from the meadows that accompany the river in the valley floor; there are no shaggy wild cattle here – their beds have dug themselves 200 meters deep in the Franconian Jura limestone over the course of thousands of years. Rolling through this spring-colored and lush green, low mountain range framed by gray and white pinnacles and cracks on a motorcycle is better than going to the cinema. The panorama, alternating between gentle peaks and deep, canyon-like river valleys, complements the wind, slopes and the ingenious Guzzi acoustics to create a total work of art. In the first German Peasant Wars around 1430, Upper Franconia was visited quite often by raiding hordes from Nuremberg and Bayreuth. This is not only evident from the stately castles on the battlements of the limestone cliffs, such as Rabenstein and Rabeneck near Waischenfeld, but also the so-called St. Georg fortified church in Effeltrich, located in the south of the nature park between Forchheim and Erlangen. At some point the Effeltrich farmers no longer wanted to be exposed to the arbitrariness of the mercenaries and let themselves be robbed by them again and again and put an end to this hustle and bustle with the refuge castle. While I examine the rustic fortifications inside and out, Klaus lets the restorer of the baroque church altar entangle himself in intimate conversations about art and gold leaf inside the church. As hard as life in the Middle Ages must have been, the farmers in Effeltrich knew it well apparently also enjoying more peaceful times. Exactly opposite the fortified church is a linden tree, which is at least 800 years old, in whose flat, 20-meter-wide treetop there is still a dance floor for summer festivities. How would it have been at the dance back then, when the music was playing and the wind whispered romantically through the crown. For two days we could hardly get off the motorcycles. Bright sunshine, mild temperatures and brilliant routes: just the thing to let your senses wander and let your rest slip – or, as far as the California is concerned, the running boards. Unfortunately, on the third day, thick clouds come in and the initial coolness surrounds us again. But maybe that’s not so bad after all. Because today is Thursday and therefore a holiday. “If the weather is nice, the streets here would be as congested as in the city at rush hour,” says Uwe from Schnaittach, a town in the south, who we meet at a gas station with his Kawasaki ZXR 1100. Uwe’s description is underlined by Hans-Peter from Graefenberg. “Our Franconian Switzerland is beautiful,” admits the BMW R 1100 GS driver, “but often dangerous on weekends and public holidays. When the brightly leather-covered stokers from nearby Nuremberg practice their driving skills with us, you can almost only stay at home. ”Passage bans for motorbikes in a number of towns seem to confirm the not very considerate driving style of some bikers. Klaus has already wrapped himself up again and we are planning the rest of the route on the map. Small circular roads, which show up as thin yellow lines in many twists on the sheet, look promising. And shortly afterwards the two Guzzi actually enjoy a permanent incline. Almost deserted, the little streets stretch across Birkenreuth across the Wiesenttal in the direction of Waischenfeld. Yesterday it was still so warm that we took a break by the river in the valley of the Pegnitz, which flows east from here to the Wiesent, to cool off. Although it flows slowly, the Pegnitz turned out to be so cold that the anglers can jump the trout into the pan to warm themselves up. Today the thought of the ice-cold water makes me shiver even more. If it gets even fresher, we could also visit one of the many stalactite caves in the area, I suggest taking a short break. The rainwater seeping through the forest floor dissolves the Franconian Jura limestone like acid, only to deposit it elsewhere in grandiose stalactite caves. Ten of the around 100 known caves in Franconian Switzerland can also be entered by sneakers or helmet tourists, such as the Bing, Rosenmuller and Oswald caves in Wiesenttal, the Sophien cave on the Ailsbach or the famous Teufelshohle on the Puttlach. Klaus is still for cornering. “Only when it rains. Let’s go on, ”he replies at my suggestion. That’s why we’re here after all. But not only. Because if you are out and about in the region with open eyes, you will immediately discover what else Upper Franconia has to offer: A visit to one of the more than 300 small breweries is very tempting and definitely an alternative to a dreary day of driving. Practically every village brews its own barley juice here, thus launching the region into record-breaking levels: “In Upper Franconia there are more private breweries in one place than anywhere else in the world,” says Hilmar Reichhold, master brewer in Hochstahl, a small town for example twelve kilometers northeast of Ebermannstadt. “Brewing beer used to be a winter activity here when there was nothing to do in the fields, like building cuckoo clocks in the Black Forest or carving toys in the Harz Mountains.” were brought to the ice cellar in order to cool the brew and the fermenting beer to the ideal temperature and to make them last longer. Today, modern cooling and storage technology has also found its way into small private breweries, but Reichold beer and the other local varieties still differ enormously from the mass-branded goods from the supermarket. “In the large breweries, the beer is filtered to death before it is bottled and then gasified with carbonic acid,” explains the master brewer, “there is no other way of making the beer durable for a long time. Ours, on the other hand, is drunk after four or six weeks at the latest. That’s why we can brew a lot more for taste than for long storage life. «All theory is dry, and so I’m doing under Klaus ?? stern looks, to leave it with a glass for lunch, the practical test. From a light tan, slightly cloudy and with a creamy yellow crown, the Reicholder laughs in the glass. And I right after that. Anyone who brews such a delicious beer would do well, like Hilmar Reichold, to offer guest rooms for overnight stays. Klaus?? Arguments in favor of the tour come back to me. »Fine stretches, good food,« he had baited. And I was right. In addition to beer, another hearty Franconian specialty has now been added to the wooden table: meat platter, press-bag snack and cabbage sausage. We want to visit another brewery, namely Kathi ?? s, which is located in Heckenhof near Aufseb, very close to Hochstahl, on the road between Waischenfeld and Heiligenstadt. »This is the region’s motorcyclist meeting place. You have to go there, ”other motorcyclists had advised us. And the forecourt at Kathi ?? s really looks like a parking lot in Hockenheim at the Superbike World Championship. “That’s nothing at all,” the table neighbors tell us. “When it’s hot, you can’t move here in front of all the people.” For the bikers from the greater Nuremberg-Furth-Erlangen area, Kathi ?? s is something like the north pole of Franconian Switzerland, at the same time a proven destination and destination Turning point for their Sunday tours. In the late afternoon we leave the humming army camp and set off in the direction of Bayreuth. Bamberg, the alternative for our final evening, was almost too beautiful as a city for just a short detour, we had learned. We will therefore visit the cathedral with the Bamberg rider inside, the old town and the lively pub scene another time, with more time in our luggage. In Bayreuth, however, we want to feast and enjoy really Franconian again. The Wagner city, located on a high plateau, is not exactly an architectural paradise in its outskirts. But that shouldn’t bother us. From previous visits I still remember a few places that we might visit on the last evening of our tour. So quickly into town to our new inn, put the motorbikes in the courtyard, get out of the motorcycle gear and into fun. Klaus and I walk straight across the Hofgarten in the direction of Bayreuth’s central pedestrian zone. When it comes to keywords such as Franconian bratwurst, venison and the numerous local breweries represented here, my mouth is already watering. But when we arrive in the center, an almost pedestrian-free zone yawns towards us. It can’t be due to the weather; the thick clouds have given way to a brilliant sunset. But then what? At the first closed brewery restaurant I am not yet aware of anything; after all, every house has a day of rest at some point. Not even with the second. But when the third, fourth and fifth inns turned us down with the door closed, I asked Klaus: “What public holiday is it today?” “Ascension Day, why?” Because we are trying to go to an arch-Catholic city on one of the most important religious holidays To find an open inn, that’s why. Even the tried-and-tested “can’t be done, isn’t there” motto doesn’t help. The Lord gave it, the Lord took it – and today is his day. So we cross the Nuremberg sausages and the self-brewed from our menu and a little later toast to the curves, kitchens and limestone cliffs of Franconian Switzerland at Murgh Tandoori and Sabji Samosa in an Indian restaurant. But we’ll be back.

Book tip

The Unterwegs edition is growing. The volumes south and north have been joined by a third Germany book with seven sections in the new federal states by Jurgen Thurner / Christian Leber. In addition to the introductory report, the slightly changed look conveys all the necessary information about traveling by motorcycle in the usual form: map sketch, road book, details on quarters, meeting points and sights. All volumes are available for 29.80 marks each in bookshops or in the MOTORRAD shop.


In the north of Bavaria, Frankish Switzerland, with its wooded hills and small winding roads on the Pegnitz and Wiesent, offers an ideal area for motorcyclists.

Arrival: Surrounded by motorways, the area is ideally accessible. Coming from the north-east, the A9 to Bayreuth is recommended, from the north-west the A3, A70 and A73 between Bamberg and Erlangen lead to the destination area, and from the south the A3 and A9 motorways surrounding Nuremberg. Since it is perfectly developed for tourism, finding a room in the region is no problem. Evidence of rooms is available from the Frankische Schweiz tourist office, Oberes Tor 1, 91320 Ebermannstadt, phone 09194/8101, fax 9178, and from the Franconian tourism association, Am Plarrer 14, 90443 Nuremberg, phone 0911/264202, fax 270547. We have had good experience with the inn “Zum Bayerischen” in Ebermannstadt with nice rooms and moderate prices of 45 marks including breakfast for the single room Gastronomy: In Franconia you eat and drink heartily. The innumerable brewery inns are recommended, in which specialties such as meat platters, press-sack snacks or cabbage sausages are often offered alongside home-brewed beer. Worth seeing: impressive stalactite caves have formed in the limestone of the Franconian Jura. Of the around 100 known caves, ten can also be entered by tourists without mountaineering equipment: In Wiesenttal these are the Bing, Rosenmuller and Oswald caves, on Ailsbach it is the Sophienhohle and on the Puttlach the famous Teufelshohle. Also worth seeing are the many castles in the region, such as the castles Rabenstein and Rabeneck, which are located on the limestone cliffs, and the fortified church of St. Georg in Effeltrich. Castles and caves are shown in the general maps mentioned and are therefore easy to find. Motorbike meeting point: The region’s biker meeting point is Kathi ?? s brewery and is located on the road between Waischenfeld and Heiligenstadt in Heckenhof near Aufseb. There is a lot of activity there on nice weekends. Literature: Franconian Switzerland is treated in a stimulating and detailed manner in the “Southern Germany” volume of the Edition Unterwegs (see box). The Marco Polo general card is recommended for orientation. Either sheet 7 “Bayern Nord” of the large sheet version for 12.80 marks or sheets 14 and 17 of the small edition for 8.80 marks each. Time required: around three days Distance driven: around 400 kilometers

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