After nearly a week of Paris, the congestion, endless lines to get into iconic sites and gypsies at every corner, it was a relief to finally make our way to the Gare de L’Est for our 2 hour train ride to Strasbourg in France’s Alsace region.
Although Strasbourg is a busy modern city, with a busy river port and renowned university, it’s got an almost painfully beautiful and charming historic center around the cathedral - the Grand Ile and Petit France - listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site since 1988. With the historic center an ideal place to explore all day on foot, we could only allocate 2-3 hours before collecting our car - we made the most of it anyway.
From there, we headed to Europcar, picked up our Opel and made our way to our B&B in Freland, a small town along Alsace’s scenic Route des Vins.
Our B&B, La Haute Grange:
Approaching from Kaysersberg, our B&B, called “La Haute Grange”, was picture perfect. Perched on the side of the mountain, away from the village of Freland, this home-away-from-home was nestled amongst verdant trees and lush Alsace countryside. From the urban street sounds of Paris, the contrast of bird sounds and softly falling rain at “La Haute Grange” could not have been greater. One couldn’t help but breathe in tranquility and calm along with the sweet country air, a respite for the soul. Our hosts, Margaret and Philippe Kalk, were there to welcome us the moment we walked in, and the warmth and charm of their beautiful B&B did the rest: polished floor boards, white washed walls, exposed beams on the ceiling, and richly textured soft furnishings added to the comfort and ambience immeasurably. Showing us to our very spacious room and en suite bathroom, we couldn’t imagine staying anywhere else in Alsace.
Speaking of contrasts, the graciousness of the likes of our wonderful hosts, Margaret and Philippe did not extend to the restaurant that we patronized this evening in a nearby town named Kaysersberg. Named Winstub Le Chambard, this restaurant/bistro was part of the 4-star Le Chambard Hotel & Spa.
Let me start off by saying that our first dinner experience in Alsace, thanks to this restaurant, was a dissappointment. Firstly, we were given no help with the menu from the waiting staff, despite the fact that they had English speakers on duty in the front desk that night (the front desk was situated right outside the restaurant). With our limited French, Peter and I struggled with our meal decision and ended up grossly over-ordering. We realized our mistake when the meal arrived and felt extremely annoyed that our waiters had not bothered to advise us on our meal choices. While the food was very good, the exorbitant amount that we had to pay for a meal that we had only half eaten left us feeling cheated. Sorry guys, but when you claim to have 4-star standards, you’d better have the service and hospitality to back it up.
Dining Tip for Kaysersberg: Virtually every restaurant in Kaysersberg offers the same traditional delicacies, so skip Le Chambard, especially if your French is not up to scratch. Instead, enjoy the same Alsace cuisine for less money and twice the local hospitality at the more rustic restaurants on the streets of Kaysersberg.
What is “Winstub”?
Typically Alsatian and literally meaning “room where one can get wine”, Winstub refers to a bistro where one can dine on local delicacies and traditional meals. They are more reasonable in price than more fine dining restaurants.
Posted by Victoria Ugarte on 8th May, 2012 | Trackbacks Categories: France Tags:
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