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Haut Koenigsbourg, Ribeauvillé, Back Roads

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We had very easy flights yesterday, and even slept for a few hours. We hit traffic driving down to Alsace, so didn't arrive in La Vancelle until after 5. The village is up a forested road outside Selestat, very peaceful. Houses climb up the mountainside, there's a well-regarded Michelin one-star, a hairdresser, and the usual collection of bored pre-teens hanging out. Our apartment is lovely and comfortable, in a restored 1920's house with the owners downstairs. We had picked up a few groceries from the little supermarket in the Frankfort airport (in Terminal 1, the far end of the C section's ground floor) so had cheeses, bread, and wine for dinner. We ate on our little gazebo, then poured ourselves into bed.

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On Monday, we headed down the hill into Liepvre. It's a small town with a few small factories and a tiny Monday market with what Jean-Paul, our landlord, told us was a good chicken stand. We picked up a small chicken, then some vegetables and fruit from another stand. At a boulangerie we got a seeded baguette and a slice of cherrry clafoutis and one of berry tart. We dropped off the groceries, then headed to the nearby Haut Koenigsbourg, the heavily-restored chateau on a neighboring hill. It's a 12-th century castle that was completely rebuilt by the German emperor Wilhelm II (Alsace was owned by Germany from 1871–1918). Such a massive rebuilding and reconstruction feels very Disney-esque, since every corner has been redone. It was fairly crowded, and there were many tourists dragging their children around. We heard mostly French and German being spoken, some British-accented English, and only one other American. In any case, we enjoyed the visit.

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We headed down the hill, and turned onto the Wine Route, the road that runs through the major wine-producing villages. There were tasting houses around every turn, some quite large, a few just a little stand in front of the vines.

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We stopped in Kintzheim, a pretty town with a few restaurants. We got an outside table at the Auberge Saint-Martin. We were rather daunted by the portion sizes we saw on neighboring tables, and so ordered just tarte flambees and some reisling. I love tarte flambee, with a light crisp crust and rich topping of onions, cream and flecks of ham. Larry got one with girolles, mushrooms. Both were delicious. I am always amazed seeing French businessmen devouring the huge 3-course lunches with wine, then going back to work. I'd be only good for a nap after one of those meals.

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We then headed into Ribeauvillé, looking up at the three chateaus on the hillsides above town. and found parking. The town was full of tourists, including a busload of very posh-looking British teens milling around aimlessly. Once you walked off the main street there are lovely half-timbered houses, quiet streets, and more wine merchants. We did some tasting, and bought a bottle of reisling.

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We had seen on the map a small road that headed up through the hills to the west of Liepvre, so drove up, and up, and then down through the forests. We ended up at St Marie-des-Mines, an old silver-mining town. Attractive and everyday-looking, nestled against the Vosges mountains. By now it was after five, so we headed home. Dinner was our little chicken, bread, some sauteed zucchini, and the yummy tarts.

Comments (5)

We went to Alsace in November, 1989 I think. It was very quiet, almost nothing open in the wine villages. And at Haut Konigsburg, the only person there was the caretaker, who unlocked the doors and told us to explore as much as we liked. It was cold, dark, and a little bit spooky.

I wish we had gone in summer!


sandrac:

This all looks so lovely, Amy. I have a good friend who is from Strasbourg, and everything I've heard about this region makes it sound fascinating.

Tourmama:

I see you have already found my favorites -- tarte flambee and the local reisling!

Our visit to Haut Konigburg a few years ago in early September was much more tranquil than yours - and it does look very much like a fairy tale castle!

Thanks for checking in.

Judy

What a great start to your trip! Very picturesque.

mindy:

I loved reading your post this morning! Looking forward to the rest!! I'm so glad you're having such a wonderful time.

xoxo

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