10.07.2015 - 22.07.2015 30 °C
I was very much looking forward to my first visit to France, specifically Andlau (our home base for our holiday), a little village in the Alsace region which is on France's eastern border with Germany and Switzerland.
Since early days Alsace has been an area of interest, being governed by different rulers throughout its history. Since the 17th century, the region has passed between German and French control numerous times, resulting in a mix of German and French cultures. This mix of influences is very evident, especially in the food with lots of sausage, potato, and sauerkraut. French is the official language, but German and Alsatian are also spoken in some parts. The area is predominantly Roman Catholic, and while driving through the villages it is not uncommon to see statues of Jesus on the cross, or Our Lady, along the roadside.
Alsace is an important wine-producing region, mostly white wines. This is also a major tourist attraction with The Route des Vins d'Alsace (wine route of Alsace), an (approximately) 170 km long road taking in the main wine producing areas of the region through 67 of the beautiful villages of the area. You can have much fun and enjoyment exploring any of these, mostly medieval, villages. Many are only a few kilometers from each other, but have their own uniqueness.
Andlau is one of these small villages located in the valley of the Andlau River in the foothills of the Vosges Mountains. It is a very old village, originally developed around the abbey founded in 880 AD by Sainte Richarde. The Andlau Abbey (Church of Saints Peter and Paul) dominates the village, and is a major attraction. More on it later.
The village is surrounded by vine-covered rolling hills and boasts a number of excellent wine producers. We couldn't visit the area and not ensure we sampled the local produce ... e.g. the Pinot Gris, Gewurztraminer, Riesling, Pinot Noir, Crémant d'Alsace ... all excellent, and extremely well priced. We also enjoyed a lovely wine tasting at the family run vineyard 'Ruhlmann-Dirringer'. Exceptional ... we left with 5 cases!! Chas and I were disappointed we won't be able to take some home with us.
We had a comfortable apartment looking out onto the Andlau river Our apartment . It was enjoyable to wander through the back streets and catch a glimpse of the life of the Andlaviens.. Andlau has a population around 1,800. It is very picturesque with authentically restored half-timbered houses lining the streets, and tubs of colourful flowers everywhere.
Thankfully Rikke, Aaron, Chas and I were all on the same page regarding what we wanted from our holiday .. relax, no rushing, no timelines, eating, drinking ....... wander the villages, explore some castles, taste the local food and wines. But what about Olivia. Luckily Rikke found a lovely lake nearby where the locals go for a swim. The lady at the entrance gate was thrilled when we said we were from Australia and Denmark. Chas and I (being oldies) even got in for free!! It's always fun acting like a local, and we enjoyed our picnic surrounded by lots of French families having a fun day out.
And importantly, no winter clothing. The weather was fantastic. No rain (apart from a couple of thunderstorms during the night), and temps from low to mid 30s, about 10degC warmer than Aarhus. At last ... summer!!