11.07.2015 - 19.08.2015 30 °C
There are many lovely villages to explore .. many of them define themselves as 'the most picturesque town in Alsace'. Indeed, they are all picturesque with beautiful colourful old buildings adorned with magnificent splashes of vibrate flowers, part of the Alsace wine trail surrounded by peaceful vineyards. However, each is different and has its unique feel.
This is only a brief review of the few that we visited.
Unfortunately there was not a lot for Olivia to do in Andlau, so our first excursion was to a lovely nearby swimming lake at Benfeld, which we visited several times. It was fun to be surrounded by French families enjoying their summer holidays.
Another major requirement was food. Andlau did have a small supermarket, but we decided to travel to Barr for our bigger shopping expeditions. We found a wonderful wholefoods organic supermarket which suited us perfectly. Olivia had another win as we also found a great toy shop to buy a few activities for her to play with at home.
We had passed through the neighbouring village of Mittelbergheim on our way to Barr. It looked lovely and worth exploring. It has lovely interesting houses which open onto large courtyards. Surrounded by vineyards it is indeed picturesque, but has another aspect to its winegrowing as it is the only village which is allowed to grow and produce the Zotzenberg grand cru wine. As with all of the villages, we enjoyed an enjoyable and relaxed lunch at a lovely restaurant tucked in one of the large courtyards.
We specifically visited Ribeauvillé to enjoy the 'Vin et Gastronomie' festival. We anticipated a lovely lunch with food and good wine, however it was more a tasting with small serves only of wine and food from local restaurants. We were looking for something a little more substantial, so went exploring the village. This was definitely one of the more 'tourist' villages we visited and we had a great time wandering through the (some very narrow) streets.
We did stop by the festival after lunch and enjoyed a quiet drink, and some unexpected, fun traditional music and dance. From my non-existent knowledge of Alsatian folk music and dance, it did appear to me to have a strong German influence. I thoroughly enjoyed it.
Thought to be symbols of happiness and faithfulness and bring fertility and good luck Storks have been part of Alsace for centuries. When numbers fell in 1970s, a successful program was started to repopulate. Today you see storks nesting on chimneys and rooftops, and in trees .. this one in Ribeauvillé.
Our visit to Dambach-La-Ville was also for a special reason ... a lovely wine tasting at the Ruhlmann Dirringer vineyard which has been in this family for four generations. A friend had suggested this vineyard to Aaron with the proviso ... "If you visit bring some back for me" (which we did). We enjoyed sampling four of their wonderful wines in a uniquely decorated room, and met the winegrower and his wife. We left with five cases between us. Very enjoyable.
And of course, we also had a wonderful lunch in the village, and a visit to the local playground.
I forgot to mention previously that we arrived in Andlau on 11 July, and were excited that we could celebrate Bastille Day, the French National Day celebrated on 14 July, in France. We expected a big local celebration. On the evening before Aaron, Rikke and Chas were enjoying an relaxed drink on the balcony when they were presented with a wonderful fireworks display. Thinking this was the 'dress rehearsal' for the big event, we excitedly ventured forth into town the next evening only to find ... nothing!!! We had missed it all. Apparently it is not uncommon for the celebration to occur on the evening of the 13th. So, we held our own celebration with champas in the town square.
And lastly a special visit to Strasbourg ... but more on that adventure in my next blog.