Tuesday, 24 September 2013

France 2013 - Alsace

And so, the second part part of our trip to France. We stayed in the village of Riquewihr, which is considered by many to be the most beautiful in the Alsace. I'm sure a lot of you, unless you have an interest in wine, won't have heard much about the region. It's in the east of the country, sharing a border with Germany. It was mentioned to us that its inhabitants sound like Germans speaking French; one bus driver actually couldn't even speak French. Historically Alsace was part of the German realm, and having been passed between France and Germany numerous times in recent centuries, there's a real mix of culture. Although it's part of France, the rural villages definitely maintain that Germanic, traditional feel when it comes to food and architecture.

Admittedly, I didn't know much about the place before we decided to go. My boyfriend, however, is a lover of wine, and Alsace is famous for its dry Rieslings, and sweet, floral Gewürztraminers. We were watching an episode of Raymond Blanc: The Very Hungry Frenchman, in which Raymond actually visits and cooks in Riquewihr, when Mark decided we had to go.

Riquewihr is absolutely stunning, and more than lived up to our expectations. It was the most relaxed and comfortable I think I've ever been. The holiday was basically spent walking the vineyards to visit neighbouring towns and take in the views; eating the most excellent food, a lot of which was cooked in our little gîte by Mark (we pushed the boat out and ate at La Table du Gourmet too - look it up!), and trying a LOT of wine. There was an incredible amount of wine tasting salons. Put it this way: our cases were much heavier on the return journey. I'm talking wheels splayed to breaking point!

Our first home cooked meal (note the Easy French Phrasebook I found in a drawer - it was at least 40 years old)
I don't want to write much more because I don't want to sound all soppy and gloating. When we next go back, hopefully when we have a car to drive, I'd like to see Strasbourg and Colmar, do all that touristy stuff, and hopefully see more of the wine route. I'd like to stay in the same gîte in Riquewihr, too. It feels like it's ours, somehow. (See- soppy!) Anyway, I'll just leave you with a few more snaps. I hope you like them. You'll notice that Riquewihr is indeed one of those favoured places of mine, in that it is full of colourful buildings. Illustrations imminent!

Wine tasting at Maison Zimmer 

The day we walked a 10 mile route to check out the neighbouring villages and came home quite burnt!
Storks are everywhere - people have purpose-built platforms on their roofs for them to nest on

Going home - it's always worth straying from train stations to get a decent sandwich for your journey

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