This past weekend, MC and I planned a romantic weekend getaway to the western part of France (oh-la-la) which included visiting the quaint town of Strasbourg and a night in a Chateau (castle) near Colmar. Early Thursday morning, after a 2.5 hour TGV train ride, we arrived in Strasbourg, a gorgeous/confused little town. Strasbourg has been annexed by quite a few times since the 1600’s. First it was annexed by France, then Germany, then Alsace/Lorraine declared itself to be an independent republic, but was annexed by France again in a few days, Germany, France (after WWI), then Germany (during WWII), and finally France. This might explain a lot of the little things that we noticed.
Many of the menus here are written in both French and German. A popular local dish is called Choucroute which is essentially sauerkraut and potatoes. The buildings are also a mix between Germanic (think a white house, with bold dark brown outlines) and French styles (think balconies, pots of plants, more romantic). In the Place de la République, there is a statue of a mother holding her two dying sons: one who fought for Germany and one who fought for France. MC and I spent the entire day sipping coffee, eating pastries, walking around and exploring. Since it’s winter and rather cold (not Evanston cold), we had to keep running inside stores to warm up when our fingers and toes started to freeze. I now understand how easy it is to get frostbite.
Day 2 – We took the train down to Colmar to check into our romantic Chateau. We started our charming night cozying in the Jacuzzi and de-toxing in the steam room. After, we spent the rest of the time sitting by the crackling fireplace nibbling on dessert, and drinking delicious white wine in the salon. After getting appropriately “happy,” we decided to call it a night.
Day 3 – Wine tasting in Alsace! First thing in the morning, we walked to the 2 closest vineyards. Typical Alsatian wines are white and include: Gewurztraminer, Rieslings, and Cremant – the region’s sparkling wine. Because MC and I were drinking first thing in the morning without breakfast, we started trapzing through these little towns a little too “happy.” I am convinced that my French becomes much more fluent and bolder when I’m a bit tipsy! Bien sur. I can’t wait to pop open the bottle of Gewurztraminer Vendange Tardive (a much sweeter wine) we bought; it’ll be perfect with some stinky French cheese and a French movie. Date night with MC!
A couple things to note:
1) Almost all vineyards are closed between noon and 2pm for lunch. Even if your guidebook says that a vineyard is open, don’t go. You’re likely interrupting the vineyard owner’s lunch and he will be very grouchy as he pours you wine (that is if he decides to even open the door for you).
2) Lunch ends at 2pm. Everyone goes back to work and restaurants shut down. Basically, eat from 12-2pm and wine taste from 2pm-5pm.
It was quite an adventure for us but we succeeded in using our French to make our way around eastern France. Overall, MC and I gave Strasbourg and Colmar a big thumbs up!