Spring is the perfect time to enjoy a detour to some of the most fabulous cities and towns in France.
Spring in Alsace
Alsace in the north east of France is a land of pine-clad forests, the Vosges Mountains and fairy-tale-like hamlets. Eguiseheim is the birthplace of wine making in Alsace and its pointy roofed buildings, dripping with colourful flower displays make it officially one of the most beautiful villages in France. If you happen to be there at Easter you’ll see that all the houses are decorated with baskets, colourful eggs and chicks! And don’t forget to look for storks – they nest on the rooftops of Turckheim!
The old town of Colmar, the capital of Alsatian wine, is a must-see if you’re in Alsace. A place of history, culture, gastronomy and utterly picturesque. Half-timbered houses, Renaissance buildings and Gothic churches line the cobble stone streets. This is the perfect place to visit a Winstub – an Alsatian wine bar. Brenner (1 rue Turenne) serves a traditional menu and has a charming terrace which opens in spring and overlooks the canal known locally as Little Venice, where you can also take a boat ride.
Spring in Saint Emilion
In spring the leaves sprout in the vineyards that surround Saint Emilion and the town starts to come to life after its winter slumber. The cultural landscape and vineyards of the area have UNESCO World Heritage Site status, and it’s no wonder more than a million tourists visit each year. In spring though, the town is tranquil, and its maze of wiggly stone streets are peaceful. Quaint squares, flower-laden terraces and medieval houses vie for your attention. Climb the 118 steps of the Roman Tour du Roy for magnificent views over the city and sit then watch the world go by with a glass of local wine from a terraced café to create magical memories.
Don’t miss the chance to sample a sublime Saint Emilion macaron. The little delicacies are made to a secret recipe created in 1620 and the recipe has been passed down through the generations (9 Rue Guadet). They’re very moreish!
Beaune in Spring
Beaune is the wine capital of Burgundy – unofficially! It’s a small town and easy to get around and there’s plenty to see and do. The number one attraction in the town and an absolute must-see is the Musée de l’Hotel-Dieu, also known as the Hospices de Beaune. Built in 1442, the spring sun reflecting off the famous glazed tile roof is a mesmerising sight. There are fabulous works of art and an ancient interior complete with hospital beds showing what this in-its-day state of the art hospital looked like, simply stunning.
The cuisine of Burgundy is world famous and in Beaune you’ll find restaurants that are so good, you won’t want to leave. A short walk from the Musée de l’Hotel Dieu is the small and authentic bistro Ma Cuisine (Passage Saint-Hélène). The locals love it for its traditional dishes and a seriously impressive wine list which features a stunning 850 different bottles. Book a table in advance if you can because Ma Cuisine is very popular, and you don’t want to miss the chance to experience classic Burgundian cooking at its best (and that monumental wine list!).
Champagne in Spring
Epernay is known as the capital of Champagne the drink, and Reims, the capital of Champagne the region. They’re less than 30 km apart and both of them make for fascinating visits.
UNESCO heritage sites abound in Reims, perhaps the most well-known is the iconic Cathedral of Notre Dame. 25 Kings were crowned in the Cathedral, one of the most famous being Charles VII in 1429, accompanied by Joan of Arc. This is a great little city for a wander and see the sights, from the remains of Roman life to Champagne cellars galore. Enjoy an indulgent lunch at the Café du Palais, a 4th generation family run restaurant that has been pleasing the punters since 1930. Dishes pair perfectly with bubbles of course. 3 course menu €39.00 includes a glass of Champagne. 14, Place Myron Herrick
When you go to Epernay you have to take a stroll down the world-famous Avenue de Champagne and ogle at the famous names and beautiful buildings of the Champagne domaines that line this long road. Take a tour with greeters.com, an initiative in which local people, passionate about the area where they live, share their local knowledge with visitors, it’s free of charge and you’ll get a real insider’s view of effervescent Epernay.