Rhineland-Palatinate’s Secret Shoe Route Still Offers Gems
The Rhineland-Palatinate’s shoe-making route was never supposed to be a secret. Hordes of tourists and German nationals were supposed to visit every year — or at least that’s what the marketing people hoped.
Unfortunately, unlike the Romantic Road, the Shoe-makers road, or Deutsche Schuhstraße as it’s called in German, didn’t catch on. It launched with great fanfare in 1977, but the marketing blitz soon fizzled, leaving it abandoned and deleted from the guidebooks.
Rather than being a cause of sorrow, this presents a special opportunity for modern day visitors.
Now I know you are running all over the country this month trying to catch all of the wonderful fall festivals going on — and that will certainly wear out your shoes. What better souvenir than a custom-made pair of shoes ordered in off the old shoe-making road?
You see, even though the marketing geniuses walked away from promoting the shoe-makers route, the shopkeepers and craftsmen are still in existence. All you need to do to get a pair of shoes that will fit in a way you’ll never forget is drop by one of their stores.
Officially, the shoe-making route goes through the entire Südwestpfalz, starting in Waldfischbach-Burgalben and ending in the Hauenstein area. Some of the towns on the way include Clausen, Leimen, Merzalben, Rodalben, Pirmasens, Lemberg, Eppenbrunn, Fischbach, Rumbach, Erlenbach, and Lug. Most are tiny craft towns and villages of only a few hundred or a few thousand people located on highways B10 and B70.
The bulk of the currently operating shoemakers are in Pirmasens, which has its own Schuhstraße dedicated to shoe shops. You can easily find the shoe-maker you want here with a little researching.
It does help to speak some German, but at the end of the day, a foot is a foot and these people are in the business of making shoes to fit toes from any culture.
Whether you wander into Pirmasens or another town on the route, you will find shopkeepers more than ready to tailor something to fit or sell you something handcrafted and beautiful to wear home as a treasured souvenir that last longer than one from anywhere else in the world.
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