Spring in France, Chapter 2 – Alsace

A bit worse for wear after a late night out in Paris, we made our train to Strasbourg and continued on our journey.  

The cathedral in Strasbourg is the most beautiful shade of pink.

The highlight of the cathedral is the astronomical clock that dates back to the 1800s, although I wouldn’t say it was worth the early train to get there and see the “show” at 12:30pm where the characters spring into action.  But maybe that’s the hungover me speaking…..
The highlight of Strasbourg for me was lunch at La Cloche à Fromage.  I mean have you ever seen such a presentation of cheese??  
We over-ordered per ush.
We picked up a rental car in Strasbourg and drove the 50 minutes south to Eguisheim where we checked into Le Hameau d’Eguisheim.  The B&B is located on site of the Pierre-Henri Ginglinger winery.
I’ve never b-lined so fast into bed for a nap in my life.  Revived, we made our way to dinner at Auberge Le Bouc Bleu.       

After our first glass of Crémant d’Alsace, we settled in for what might be my favorite meal of the trip.  Not only was the food outstanding, but the atmosphere and experience really contributed to the overall experience.  Le Bouc Bleu is run by a husband and wife team, she runs the front of house, he’s in the kitchen.  Every aspect of the meal showcases their love for their craft and genuine hospitality.  If you find yourself in Alsace you MUST pay them a visit, but do so quickly; by 2018 they plan to sell the restaurant and will be hosting and cooking for guests at a small B&B in the Vosges mountains.  We left completely stuffed and vowing to return to stay with them once they open.  
The daily menu was small, allowing us to taste almost everything between the two of us:  homemade foie gras, cod with gribiche sauce, duck breast with artichoke risotto, and roast rabbit.
He snuck in an order for the 3rd dessert choice on the menu so we could try all three:  apple crumble, meringue with fresh berries and cream and a molten chocolate cake with homemade ice cream.  What a keeper!
We spent the next 3 days exploring the region; little towns strung together along the Route des Vins anchored by bigger cities Strasbourg on the northern end and Colmar on the southern end.  We spent a full day wine tasting which I’ll save for a dedicated post.  
We spent 2 nights in Eguisheim then moved a bit north to Kanzel Hotel in Beblenheim.  It was nice to break it up and while we thought we would stick to the southern towns while in Eguisheim and the northern towns while in Beblenheim, we ended up driving back and forth all days, it’s only a matter of 20-30 minutes north to south.     

We sampled the traditional cuisine of the region including choucroute garnie and tarte flambée at Caveau Heuhaus.  The tarte flambée was delicious, the choucroute I can pass on next time 😉  

Sunset from our balcony at Kanzel

You can drive up the hill above Riquewihr for a gorgeous view from the top of the Grand Cru Schoenenbourg vineyard.
The town of Riquewihr was named one of the most beautiful towns in France, and while it was very pretty, it was also VERY touristy.  
The coolest thing in Riquewihr was Les Caves d’Affinage where they had so many different cheeses aging in a below-ground cave.

I have a new appreciation for Munster cheese; I sampled a tasting from young and fresh to ripe and aged after dinner at Le Sarment d’Or.  
The breakfast at Kanzel was quite a spread and so gorgeously presented!

My favorite town was Ribeavillé.  Slightly larger than Riquewihr, it also felt less touristy.
There are 3 chateau above the town of Ribeaville that you can hike up to, we didn’t climb all the way to the top but a 15 minute climb gives you gorgeous views over town.


Award for favorite lunch goes to La Cocotte de Grand-Mère in Colmar.  Each day they have a set menu, we enjoyed a delicious goat cheese salad, duck confit, and chocolate mousse.  Make sure to call ahead to make a reservation!  

Colmar is slightly more bustling than the other towns.  The cathedral, food market, and “Petite Venise” are all worth seeing.  

We drove up into the Vosges mountains for a gorgeous view over the Vallée de Munster.  Sadly we didn’t stop at the Maison de Munster!

The gorgeous scenery, kind people, food, and wine all showcased Alsace as yes another special part of France.  My Francophile tendencies continue….
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