The thing with living in France means that somehow you can get sucked into holidaying somewhere else that isn’t France simply because it’s now home!
So, after some discussion with the OH we have decided that until we have visited every department of France we will not holiday anywhere else. We’ve covered quite a few already but still have lots to do and we decided to start with an Alsace road trip. We deliberately avoided going in the main tourist season and instead opted for early September – the week of La Rentrée actually – the time when kids are back to school and summer holidays are over for the French on the whole. We figured the weather would still be good but it wouldn’t be so packed. We were right… the weather was perfect and although there were still lots of visitors to the main hot spots it wasn’t that bad at all so I’d thoroughly recommend a September visit!
I tried to get a hotel booking in Colmar, it’s a good base to explore the region and one of the key tourist destinations but none of the hotels in my price range offered parking so I opted for Riquewihr instead – about 10 minutes’ drive from Colmar. Well – luck must have really been on my side that day because Riquewihr is stunning, the hotel was cheaper than anything I could get in Colmar, it was just a few minutes’ walk from the main town and I decided, after I visited Colmar that Riquewihr was a great choice. Several of my Facebook friends had recommended Riquewihr and I’m really grateful for that as I might not have considered it; I thought that as it is one of the most visited small towns in the region it would be prohibitively expensive – not so.
The journey from Calais is about 620km, and to spice it up the car decided to play up by stopping dead every time we accelerated hard, not a great start to an Alsace road trip. Fortunately the first time it happened we were on the auto route in Champagne and were able to pull over to the side safely. We later found out that Kia, the manufacturers, had (in some models) painted the fuel tank with a substance that flaked after time – so we had a blocked fuel filter. This was not much fun but eventually we arrived and booked into the Hotel de Riquewihr.
It’s just on the edge of the old town so a little bit quieter than being in the centre, an easy walk to everything, friendly and immaculately clean. Only downside was no facilities in the room for tea and coffee and no fridge which I was informed by the receptionist was “normale”. Not for us tea drinking Brits it ain’t – we got it sorted by buying a cheap kettle at the local supermarket!
The town is surrounded by vineyards and at this time of year great big juicy bunches of green and purple grapes hang temptingly and are a tantalising reminder of the region’s famous produce – Alsace wine. The Vosges mountains tower over the area, you can see chateaux nestling on the slopes from almost everywhere – a stunning and very beautiful place.
That first night we wandered up to the walled town and were blown away by how beautiful it is, it was too dark to do any real sightseeing but it was clear that Riquewihr was a great choice.
It was going to be hard to beat after that first day but the next day we were off to see Chateau du Haut Koenisbourg and visit Ribeauvillé nearby and had high hopes…