As many have observed before me, the more one sees the world, the more there is to see. As a general rule, we try not to revisit too many places – this continent is amazing and we are becoming gluttons for travel (and travel-related eats, of course) – but we made an exception for Colmar and the Alsace region. To be fair, only 33% (25%, if you count the lad) of us had been there – Tim visited circa 2012 when he traveled this way for work – but he generously agreed to return so we could experience it together. Just under two hours drive away, it was an easy last minute weekend trip with some friends. A few Fridays ago, we all hit the road after work for a weekend of sun and vino.
We stayed in downtown Colmar but headed out on Saturday to visit some of the vineyards surrounding the town. First stop (while the littles slept away, apparently not too keen on indulging their parents’ drinking whims) was the Haut-Koenigsbourg Castle, perched atop a nearby hill. Built in the 12th century, its purpose was to watch over the wheat and wine routes – half of which task we were more than willing to take on. We grabbed a leisurely Alsace style lunch in a nearby town – despite the hot weather Tim yummed up baekhoffe (a lightly spiced stew he declared delicious) and I’d be lying if I pretended the tarte flambée was only for Adelaide.
There’s about 170km of wine trail throughout the Alsace region, spanning 67 villages across the east of France. It obviously produces a wide range of wine, but is particularly noted for its Riesling, Gewürztraminer and Pinot Noir, as well as my fave – the sparkling Crémant d’Alsace. Somewhat overwhelmed with choice, we opted to visit a winery recommended to us rather than try pot luck. While not entirely to my taste, there was absolutely nothing horrid about sitting in a cool, dark wine cellar among old bottles on a summer’s day in France. Actually – not quite true – it was slightly horrid only to be able to have a tiny tease of a taster due to the belly bulge you can see below.
The drive around the region was stunning. Rolling hills, vineyards, distant smudgy mountains? Yes please.
The following day we thought we’d best check out the town we were allegedly visiting. Colmar is a popular destination – it’s very picturesque with colourful wooden houses lining canals which give the town the moniker ‘Little Venice’. We wandered the streets, soaking in the atmosphere.
The sculptor who designed the Statue of Liberty – Frederic Bartholdi – hails from Colmar, and there’s a much smaller replica of the lady herself on a roundabout on the way into town (which prompted much giggling from our car). The town houses a museum dedicated to Bartholdi in its centre which showcases some of his other work and gives a history of the statue, located in the house in which he was born.
In order to maximise our weekend away we headed to a walled village a short drive from Colmar for Sunday lunch. Riquewihr is ‘Les Plus Beaux Villages de France’ – one of the most beautiful villages in France (based on a fairly tourist-focused application process, I gather) – but it was indeed stunning. Located on a hill flanked by vinyeards, the town centre is closed to traffic and, like Colmar, boasts cheerfully coloured buildings (and, of course, wine aplenty).
Given the Alsace area is so large, and we only visited a small portion of it, I hope we’ll be able to break our ‘no return’ rule on a technicality and make it back there in the future. Because really, with excellent food, wine and gorgeous scenery, what’s not to love? (The ferocious temper tantrum my girl had in the car on the way home is the answer to that question, but I’ll take that to mean she also wants to head back.)