As you can see from my note above, I was in love with the French countryside. It’s so beautiful & quaint. The food! Oh the food! I have never had bread so good.
But to get back to where I left off, our flight from Venice to Basel was uneventful, as was customs…or lack there of. Nobody even looked at a passport. We got a cab and made it to our hotel, which was very Swiss. The hotel was locked, but after I answered a number of questions to the man behind the intercom, we were let in where a key was waiting for us. Our bed started as two twins, but in the land of IKEA we were able to change it to a king.
In the morning we took the bus back to the airport to get our rental car. (NOTE: O.M.G. Basel’s bus system is ridiculous. Scott Walker would faint. But you could literally get everywhere on it!) We got to the airport with no problem (and crossed from Switzerland to France by going through an unassuming hallway…), got the rental car and with a little laughing and a few curt words, we were off!
Our first stop was Kaysersburg, a tiny town on the “Rout de vin”. This little section of the Alsace region is precious! There are a bunch of tiny towns all along this 75-mile-ish road. Everything had a German & French feel. We stumbled upon a place for lunch after the TomTom took us truly to “City Center” (i.e. a tiny alley that could barely fit our car.) Here, we sat outside and I had the best meal of the trip – a toasted baguette with a mixture of potatoes, cheese and bacon, topped with 3 rounds of goat cheese. Before leaving town, we climbed its big hill to old castle ruins and got pictures of the beautiful view.
Next up was Riquewihr. This town was bigger and had a lot more tourists. Still, we walked the whole town (uphill!) and stopped for local wine (muscat) and a crepe framboise.
The next stop was Ribeauville, where we found a room for the night. The prices were standard at Hotel de la Tour, but they let us look at multiple rooms and pick our favorite. Then we gave them Randy’s first name and they gave us a key. No last name, credit card, nothing… After getting our luggage in the room, we took off to explore one more regional town, Bergheim. Turns out this whole region is a day-tripping kind of place, so we ended up being the only ones in town. We took a walk through the residential parts of town and daydreamed what it would be like to live there. (Sidenote: Apologies to future kids. It was here that I figured out that making you learn French would be the way I would learn. So you will do it.)
We decided to go back to Riquewihr for dinner since that was busiest during the day, but even they were quiet. Found a place that was open and not too German. (Sorry, no pig knuckle for me.) We didn’t have dessert, thinking we’d hit up a patisserie, but they were all closed (at 8 pm!) Instead, we retired to our room and watched Incredible Hulk in French.
The next morning we got up leisurely and had our first fantastic French breakfast – chocolat chaud, cappuccino, Quiche Lorraine and croissant de chocolat. (Related: yes, I was kicking and screaming when we left France…)
Before heading west, we went to Chateau Haut-Koenigsbourg. Though most of their descriptions were about the remodeling done by Germans before World War I, the castle was really neat to see and the views were epic.
After that, we plugged in “Epirnay – City Center” into the TomTom and took off down the mountain – at times, quite literally! We missed one turn because they wanted us to go down a dirt road. No thanks. We passed through farmland and beautiful countryside. I liked this part of the trip. Since we didn’t have any hard and fast plans, nor any big sites we HAD to see, we wandered around and saw stuff that we never would have had we been on a schedule.
Lunch in Epirnay ended up being at the only place still serving, but even a veggie sandwich was worth poetry when served on a French baguette. Our night was spent in Troyes; not the most exciting town on our visit, but we can check it off a list of places we’ve been. The hotel was ok. Dinner was icky (only bad meal of the trip.)
We got up really early that next morning due to all the noise in the hotel. We stopped at a patisserie where the lady was quite rude, but then had coffees in a bar. Hopped back in the car. Next stop, Paris!