We spent several days driving around and touring the small towns and villages that make up the Alsace and the Alsace’s Route de Vin. As with Colmar, these are filled with half-timbered buildings, shops, charm, and restaurants and cafes. One of the first villages we visited was Eguisheim.
Of course we had a city walk, but we were completely done with those. After parking in the tourist parking lot we walked into and on the funky tourist train. This drove us through the village with narration in English. After making our way through the village it took us into the vineyards on the hillsides above the village. This offered a unique view of the village and the Alsace.
After getting back into the village we settled in for some tarte flambees, wine and cider. We spent some time shopping and watching the storks nest on the rooftops. After a stop in a winery to try out their offerings we were off.
Our next stop was Kaysersberg which was beautiful. We loved this village. Like Eguisheim it has a tourist parking lot. We walked into town and shopped, checked out the half-timbered buildings, and found somewhere to eat.
When we got towards the center of town I went into a pottery store to get a little souvenir, because I fell in love with a piece of pottery at dinner the night before and wanted to take it so badly! I looked around and found a piece and went to pay. The clerk had a round of “guess where our customer is from” he started out thinking I was Dutch, moved on to German, and was actually surprised when I said American in French! We can’t hide from our genes – mine are some mix of German, Irish, and maybe even Dutch.
We also visited Riquewihr – another half-timbered postcard worthy village. The other fun thing about driving around the Alsace when we were there was seeing signs of the Tour de France that had passed through the region the week before we were there. We saw displays of bikes in town squares and roundabouts, and yellow jerseys on town halls and even the fortress in the area – Haut Koenigsburg.
One of our favorite dinners was in Niedermorschwihr. Whew, I am only typing that town name once! We ate at the Caveau Morakopf in this town. You may wonder how we found this. Well, I didn’t find it; my parents found it 30 years ago. We ate there as a family and had their veal fondue that night. It was so good when the server came to clear it up my 10 year old brother rubbed his stomach and said “it’s good” in German. 30 years later I found my way there again. We had the veal fondue again – and it was still stomach rubbing good! A nice salad, cheesy potatoes, and three dipping sauces for the veal came with the meal. We have no idea what the three sauces were, but they were good!
You may have noticed I mentioned Haut Koenigsburg and didn’t write about it. There’s a reason for that. It is not worth it. You drive uphill to this place, have to park half a mile or more downhill from it, hike up to it, and when you walk through it all it is is an empty fortress. It wasn’t worth the walk or the price of admission. Don’t bother to go there.
We were busy in the Alsace, but made sure we spread our time out over six days. This let us travel around at a leisurely pace, and we were able to relax a bit on vacation too. Which would we go back to again – Normandy or the Alsace? We’d pick Normandy. We loved both, but Normandy appealed to us much more than the Alsace.
As you can see from the photos of this region and Colmar, nothing beats the charm and beauty of these towns, cities, and villages in the Alsace. We would take pictures all day long of half-timbered buildings, flowers bursting out everywhere, delicious food (and wine and cider), and real old-world charm. We go to Disney a lot (maybe too much) but it is important to maintain a balance between the escapism and perfection Disney provides and the authenticity, adventure, and charm the real-world offers. We certainly have been fortunate to have a good mix of that this year with our Disney trips and our trips to Utah’s State Parks and Europe — and Seattle (more on that later!).