Kleinvillars in the foresty backwaters of Baden-Wurtemberg is a town founded by refugees who fled persecution in their thousands, finding new homes across the world, in Britain, the Netherlands, America, and here in Germany.
The only difference with the other refugees who we've met on our journey so far is that these people came here from Piedmont in 1699 and are now indistinguishable from their German neighbours, bar their history.
As we stand around, looking up at the French inscriptions on the old timber-frame houses, an old man shuffles up on an electric bicycle. In a thick Schwaebish accent, he tells us that this is his house. We point out the French on his wall, 'Nothing I can do about it,' he says with a rakish smile.
Karl Blanc is an 87 year old former cattle farmer. His surname is pronounced with a hard Germanic K, but still spelled the French way of his forefathers. 379 refugees originally settled in Kleinvillars and nearby Grossvillars, both villages named after…
Hospitality is a funny game. After stopping at a roadside fruit and veg stand, we set up our Campingaz kitchen in Weissach town square. As C boils some eggs, a young man approaches. In broken German he asks us, 'Why you cook here? I have kitchen. Come.'
And before we really know what we're getting into, our new friend Ahmad has led us away from the square, up steep back roads to a sports hall that overlooks the town. 'I live here,' he says, ushering us past two bored security guards, who scarcely look up from their mobile phones.
Heckengau Sporthalle is home to around a hundred refugees, mostly from Syria, Lebanon and Afghanistan, packed into 'plastic' rooms that divide what used to be an indoor basketball court. The rooms are built for two or four, but Ahmad's second bunk is empty. He kicks some shoes under the bed and clears the table to prepare us some tea: our first taste of refugee hospitality.
There are no ceilings to this cell and we can see the …
Our journey along the storm-swollen Danube threads through castle-and-schnapps country into Austria. The further we cycle on this ride across the continent, the more we see how urgently Europe needs a plan, not only to cope with the influx of refugees from the Middle East and Africa, but to deal with widening social divisions that have little to do with migration.