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Day 2 Alsace: Exploring the Route des Vins - 9 May

What an amazing part of the world we are currently in.  Alsace is known for its geranium filled medieval villages, crisp dry wines, and its earthy choucrute (sauerkraut) garnished dishes. Nestled between the Rhine and Vosges mountains, it’s got German influences in their cuisine, architecture and tastes, not to mention the plentiful portions of their meals. The Alsace countryside in the Spring is a symphony of greens, punctuated by lakes and the occasional castle, with hundreds of acres of vineyards spread wide over a sweeping landscape. 

After a good night’s sleep and the best breakfast I’ve had in years at our B&B, our host, Maggie recommended that we explore the smaller towns along the Route des Vins as opposed to the major cities . "They're far more interesting.", she said. Respecting the advice of a local, Peter and I followed her recommendation religiously. We were not disappointed.

Here are the villages and towns that we explored over the course of the day, one more picturesque than the next:

Kaysersberg: A picturesque medieval town with Renaissance influences, Kaysersberg is the birth place of Dr. Albert Schweitzer (awarded to Nobel Peace Prize in 1952) and a favorite with the tourists. It has a famous Christmas market every year.

Riquewihr: This is an admirably well preserved medieval and Renaissance city, complete with fortifications, houses and courtyards that date back to the 13th, 15th and 17th centuries.  It is also the homes of Grand Cru Schoenenbourg and Sporen, if you’re into your wines. Watch your head as the storks fly by. The city is famous for its stork nests over the city roofs.

Hunawihr: Classed as one of the “most beautiful cities in France” and known as the capital of the white stork, its 16th century church and fortified churchyard gives you a panoramic view of the Alsace countryside and vineyards. Features a butterfly farm and stork reintroduction centre.

Ribeauville: Another popular tourist center, it’s dominated by 3 castles (Girsberg, St. Ulrich and Osterberg) and surrounded by 3 Grand Cru vineyards (Geisberg, Kirchberg, Osterberg). Old towers with stork nests, remains of fortifications and Renaissance fountains are features of this historic town.

Bergheim: This is a medieval town located at the foot of Altenberg and Kantzleberg. The surrounding walls of the 14th century ramparts have remained well-preserved, along with beautiful flower decked Alsace homes.

I'm also happy to report a far more agreeable dinner experience at Kaysersberg at local restaurant, La Porte Haute. As the weather was balmy, we sat on the outside seating of the restaurant. Enjoying a traditional dinner, we watched the locals stroll by at a leisurely pace: Peter had a chicken cooked in Riesling and I relished a beautifully prepared Beef Cordon Bleu. While our French did not improve over the last 24 hours and our waiter was not fluent in English, he could not have been more helpful and gracious. Our bill was a reasonable 45 Euros, which included a beer each.

Posted by Victoria Ugarte on 9th May, 2012 | Trackbacks
Categories: France

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