The Black Forest covers hills of birch and pine along 100 miles (161km) of southwest Germany's border with France. It's renowned as a popular holiday destination in Germany, featuring picturesque fairytale villages, spa-bath resorts, hiking trails and ski resorts.
The first famous holidaymaker to enjoy rest and recuperation in the Black Forest was the Roman Emperor Caracalla who stopped to sample the natural spring waters in what is now the town of Baden-Baden, around 2,000 years ago. Since then, the Black Forest has been a chosen destination for the rich and famous, with anyone who is anyone revelling in the forest's natural beauty, from Napoleon to Mark Twain.
In medieval times, the local people developed the traditional skills of woodcarving, glass-blowing, and jewellery- and clock-making, and these art forms are still cultivated today, much to the delight of tourists. The amazing variety of clocks in the Black Forest is particularly famous, as are its local food delicacies such as Black Forest ham and cherry cake.
The most central town in the Black Forest is Freudenstadt, serving as the starting point for hundreds of miles of hiking and ski-trails through nearby hills. Most visitors prefer to find accommodation in guest lodges in the small villages sprinkled throughout the region, exploring by car, foot or bicycle.