Thursday, June 15, 2017

Alsace Region, France

After our first night in Bacharach, Germany, we drove 2.5 hours south to my favorite region of Alsace, France, where Grandma Connelly's mother's family is from. Because our family tree has deep roots here, I wanted our kids to appreciate this part of their heritage in the land bordering France and Germany. And thus, we spent two nights among the vineyards and fairytale villages of Alsace-Lorraine with our home base in Riquewihr.
Check out Lorelei's tres magnifique music video of France by clicking HERE.

I've marked a few of our favorite villages on this map, with Riquewihr and Kaysersberg ranking tops on our list.
I first visited this area by train to Strasbourg en route to Zurich with Mark in college, and we missed it all! I had no idea at the time that these little villages around the urban, concrete-creep of Strasbourg existed (they're inaccessible by train), until I went back a couple years later on a car trip from Paris (a very long, nearly 8 hour drive!), and discovered these adorable villages tucked into the Route des Vins - the wine road, with its crucifix shrines and barrel-marked vineyards - weaving through the Vosges hillsides. It is the quintessence of quaint!
On my last visit I stayed about a mile outside of Riquewihr in Mittelwihr - this was the lovely Hotel Mandelberg, backing up to the vineyard with little roads and walking paths leading to the nearby villages:
And on this visit, our adorable apartment was right inside of Riquewihr proper, just down this short alley off the main road on the second floor above that rounded, double aubergine door: La Maison du Vigneron. Our host Isabelle took great care in getting us settled in, showing us how to jangle all the charming old door handles and keys just so.
Our alley: Rue des Cordiers.

 This was our very own backyard overlooking the vineyards! It is such a treat to have a yard in a medieval walled village - a great place to unwind, play cards, hopscotch and sip riesling.
 Our neighbors.
Enjoying some local riesling with a view of the vineyard. Divine.
 The kids enjoyed their room and living area, just off the kitchen and bath. (Although they did get spooked when we left them alone for an evening stroll through the village when they heard footsteps - our neighbors upstairs - and hid under the sofa bed - poor kids!)
The view from our front window:

We spent the first day settling in and exploring Riquewihr - sampling eclairs, eating crepes, shopping for souvenir magnets and taking pictures galore!

Crepes! (A family tradition)


 After a bit, this is how Mark felt about pictures. Grumpy.
Then it was off to bustling Colmar for an Alsatian Folk Evening of music and dance!

 Gryffin found his zen.

Petite Venice of Colmar.
I loved their colorful folk dress.

These two sweet ladies tried to get Gryffy and Lorelei to dance, but they flat refused - darn!
 After Colmar, we drove to Turckheim to see the night watchman, but it was all in French, and the kids were jet-lagged and exhausted.

So we snuck out early, and took a mysterious and winding drive in the dark on gravel, vineyard roads back to Riquewihr. It felt like Frog and Toad's driving adventures! And of course, we embellished the experience with tales of ghosts and zombies in the car.

The kids and Mark slept snugly that night, but my insomnia mixed with jet lag kicked in, and the bells of the village clock taunted me all night... one o'clock, two o'clock, three...
Another form of this region's infamous medieval torture.
On our second day, we simply enjoyed more of Riquewihr and took in a couple more villages, including Eguisheim...

... Beblenheim (a short stroll just beyond Riquewihr)...

... and my favorite, Kaysersberg. It's just dripping with cuteness at every bend!

... and I love these hanging lanterns above the alleyways.
After two nights, it was time to depart for the Alps. But not without leaving our hearts behind. Au revoir, Alsace!

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