Saturday, May 12, 2012

Touring the Wine Road

05/11, Friday
You may not know where in France we are now. After leaving Paris which is north central, we trained a little south and far east to Strasbourg, basicly near the German border. The train to Colmar took us a short distance further south, still near Germany. Ribeauvillé is a few miles west of Colmar.

Alsace is the furthest eastern department in France. In fact, it has been part of Germany on three occasions. The town names and surnames sound more German than French.

Christine is off to work already. Francois has set breakfast for us with several delicious Alsacean breads. We had asked to see France's home in Ribeauville. It was Christine's grandmother's home, part of the town wall with the front on the town street and the garden in the countryside. Francois has renovated most of the rooms, removing walls and updating the kitchen. It is a wonderful place and you can hear the rushing water from the river in the back and view the quaint town from the front. They also have a son, Jean, who lives in Paris. Cousin Jack is his godfather. Jean is a software engineer.

Again, Francois took time to show us around this town. Christine's family originated here. Her father was a tailor with a shop on the main street. Like most towns, it has a wall around it for protection, and a second wall for greater protection. I guess you could never be safe enough!

Then, we headed out alone to visit several other towns on The Wine Road. Everyone of the towns are quaint, colorful, picturesque, set with a backdrop of the Vosges Mountains, and very tidy. Francois attributes Alsace with the best of both cultures, French and German. Most people here speak Alsacean as well as French and German.

The highlight of our day is, what else, a castle in Haut Koenigsbourg. It is another example of how the nobility lived in the 14th-17th centuries. It has been completely renovated and is still in the process. The stonework is all red sandstone.

We had dinner in Ribeauville outdoors on the street. It is a quiet town this time of year...not many tourists. Our meals were traditional Alsacean food. Mom had lamb knuckles and I had veal cordon bleu, with spaetcles and veggies, and two wonderful deserts (yes, we are putting on some weight I'm afraid).

Most wines from Alsace are white or rosé...Muscat, Gewurtztraminer, Pinot Gris, Riesling, Sylvaner, Pinot Blanc, Pinot Noir (for rosé and red)...and they are a bit sweet for my taste. Mom likes them though. The Wine Road passes through many vineyards. The vines already show new growth. We drove on some very back roads (unpaved, used by the people who tend the grape vines), surrounded on all sides by vines.

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