The Tauber Valley is a popular cycling area with two more or less parallel routes.
Down here in the valley itself is the “classic” route which is mostly flat, or slightly downhill, except for a few places down near Wertheim where the valley gets narrow so you have to go up and down a bit through the woods, but nothing excessive.
Up in the hills there is also a “sportive” route with lots of ups and downs for you young folks who like that sort of thing.
Both these routes start at Rothenburg (where I have never been) and end at Wertheim. The classic route, down in the valley, in just over 100 km long, and the sportive route is 160 km.
Back in 2004 I cycled the lower two-thirds of the classic route, from Weikersheim to Wertheim, a distance of about sixty km. The scenery is pleasant but not spectacular, as the bicycle route follows the river through villages called Elpersheim, Markelsheim and Igersheim. (Yes, they all end in -heim, meaning home.)
Bad Mergentheim, 12 km downstream from Weikersheim, is a spa which has a full program of concerts and other events to keep its guests entertained while they are “taking the waters.”
One nice side effect of these concerts is that they provide work and income for struggling young opera singers, and keep them from drifting off permanently into the German country music scene.
(What’s so bad about a place like Bad Mergentheim? The answer is here.)
The Tauber Valley isn’t entirely dependent on tourism for its income. In several towns along the way the bicycle route passes through modern industrial areas, with clean, quiet factories that make things like solar paneling to put on your roof.
This company, Palux, makes kitchen equipment for restaurants. They have been in business since 1929, and employ 250 people here at their main factory in Bad Mergentheim – Edelfingen.
Unlike Palux, which was founded right here in the Tauber Valley, Sonoco is an American company which describes itself as “a global manufacturer of industrial and consumer packaging solutions.” They have more than 300 manufacturing and sales locations in 32 countries, including nine in Germany. At this modern factory in Lauda-Königshofen in the Tauber Valley they make paperboard tubes for food packaging.
Thirty-three kilometers downstream from Weikersheim is the attractive old town of Tauberbischofsheim. The first photo shows part of the former moat around the town walls.
The name Tauberbischofsheim means “Tauber Bishop’s Home” — not to be confused with Tauberrettersheim, which is further up the valley.
Tauberbischofsheim is the one town in the Tauber Valley that most Germans have heard of, because it is mentioned on the news every time there is a big fencing tournament anywhere in the world.
The local “Fecht-Club Tauberbischofsheim e.V.” describes itself as “the world’s most successful fencing club.” As of 2004, more than half the members of the German Olympic Fencing Team (eight out of fourteen) were members of this club, and this is also where the German Olympic Fencing Team is trained.
Above Wertheim there is a large castle which is at least partly in ruins. This is what it looks like from the cycling route on the way in to town.
After cycling sixty kilometers down the Tauber River, I would have preferred to have a nicer place to look at where it flows into the Main. As I wrote at the time: “Maybe I’m just being silly or naive about this, but it seems to me that the confluence of two rivers is a point of geographical significance and should not be defaced by having a big slanting concrete highway bridge built right across it.”
From here I continued on down the Main River (pronounced more or less like the English word mine, not main) from Wertheim to Aschaffenburg, but I’ll save that for another post.
My photos in this post are from 2004. I revised the text in 2019.