Dear Mrs. DeLosh, I made it to France at last and I remembered a little of the French you taught me! It was actually quite useful the first night of our visit to Alsace. Dick had ‘reserved’ a room at a bed and breakfast in Eguisheim. It was apparent from the email exchange that the owner didn’t speak English and it became even more apparent when we arrived and the reservation was nonexistent. “We look forward to our visit” evidently didn’t translate to oui nous voulons vraiment une réservation! After a tense exchange in French and English and review of email messages, the conclusion was that we were without a room. C’est la vie.
We drove into the center of town and quickly found a small hotel. The person in charge at the hotel didn’t speak English either. I was able to request a room in French and with some pointing and written numbers, we were set up with lodging. Whew! We ended up with a nice room and the reasonable rate included a delicious French continental breakfast. We often have croissants at home, but we agreed that the French croissants are way better. And Brie for breakfast? Oh yes!
Since the forecast for Saturday was rainy, we chose to visit Colmar first and go to the Unterlinden Museum. The museum is a collection of art and history of Colmar and Alsace from Medieval and Renaissance times to art from the 18th century forward to the present. It’s a nicely laid out museum and I liked that it had a local focus. It’s located in a former convent so the building itself is a piece of history. We spent the rest of the day doing a self-guided walking tour and wandering through some shops and churches. Voltaire lived in Colmar for awhile and Auguste Bartholdi, creator of the Statue of Liberty, was a native. The city of Colmar is very colorful with pastel half timber houses and LOTS of flowers. It looks almost unreal as if no one actually lives in these houses — kind of like a movie set. When we stopped to listen to the bells of St. Martin, I had a moment where I felt like I was waking from a dream only to realize that it was all real. I was really in France experiencing it all first hand — not from pictures or books! Since we like to try the local specialties when we travel, we finished up our visit with tarte flambé at a cozy restaurant.
Eguisheim is a quaint lovely village in Vin D’Alsace. The main streets are concentric circles with little side streets connecting them. It was voted the most beautiful village in France one year. There are many wineries in this town and the surrounding towns. The entire area around the villages is completely covered with vineyards and some big corn fields. It’s an amazing site. Sunday was a great weather day to walk around Eguisheim and enjoy the sights and tastes. We visited at least six wineries and tasted several wines at each. We learned a lot about the wine varieties in this region during our tastings. Alsace is known for white wines like Pinot Gris, Riesling and Pinot Blanc. We stocked up!
Side note for my mother: we found the source of Munster cheese! I still don’t like it very much. 🙂
There are several castles in this area, though some are just ruins. You can see them up on the hills all around Alsace. We had a great view of the Trois Chateaux from our hotel room and we also hiked a short trail to see it up close. The biggest castle we saw was Haut Koenignsbourg, which was restored in the early 1900’s by Wilhelm II when Alsace was part of his German empire. We had a great tour guide, who obviously appreciated the unusual history of this castle. The route home was a long, scenic drive through the northern part of Alsace and then through Luxembourg and Belgium. We got a little lost crossing the border from France to Germany to Luxembourg, but we finally hit the right direction! We stopped in Luxembourg City for a quick dinner and made a note to go back for a day trip sometime soon.