That Trip…Troisième Jour: Les Plus Beaux Villages de France

We’re going away for a couple of days to stay in Eguisheim, so we spent the third morning packing our panniers. It’s a roughly 30 km ride; I say roughly because we tend to take wrong turns a lot. That’s probably because we’re working with paper maps after ages – no GPS! So we depend on the maps, the sun, the direction of the Vosges Mountains, and some landmarks along the way. Getting lost is fun, but the heat takes a toll on the legs and the spirit! I was so occupied by the packing that blogging took a back seat, and I’m having to post about two days together.

The day’s forecast was 34 degrees C! Is that why we travelled all the way from Jakarta to France – to soak up the sun??? Now we’re committed, and packed up on the panniers, so off we go!

This time we exited Scherwiller in the south easterly direction right away into the vineyards, passing through Chatenois, then Kintzheim, pausing only for a morning photo op.

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We were riding on the ancient Roman road, mixed with the Route de Vins, all of it steeped in history and present-day culture. As we entered Bergheim, we found a nice shady spot to take a break.

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Moving on, our first scheduled stop was the touristy town of Ribeauvillé. I’m tired of using the word ‘pretty’, but is there any way out?

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It was a welcome change to see lots of people milling about, shops open (gasp!), informal eating on the sidewalks. This region is famous for storks (les cignones), and we spotted a few in their nest.

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The lunch plan was to sample the regional speciality of Flammekueche; we simply chose the restaurant based on the aroma that tickled our noses and beckoned us inside. I used my very basic French to order one traditional dish with creme and onions and champignons sans lardons (bacon) to share. We were not disappointed.

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Followed up lunch with a welcome ice cream, and cooled off at the fountain before heading off towards the next pretty town of Riquewihr.
With some serious uphill climbs, we decided to forgo the detour to Hunawihr. Just then Souvik’s bicycle seat fell off, and we spent an hour getting it to fit back. Whew! Then promptly took a wrong turn into Zellenwiller. The crazy uphill made me pause and we wound around the village back on the main road.

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Struggled all the way to Riquewihr in the heat, but the walk into the village was so worth all the trouble. From Nick’s description, Riquewihr reminded me of a chawl, with ancient external toilets (from the days before plumbing), and what a chawl it is! Deservedly finding a place among the most beautiful villages of France.

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By this time it was quite late in the day, but the sun showed no sign of mellowing, and we had a hotel to check into, in Eguisheim. The ride was fairly uneventful, just a few stops for directions and water and groaning. Getting into Eguisheim, we realised we didn’t know the name of our hotel. Some frantic calls to Nick, and asking a few people, we managed to find the Hostellerie du Chateau behind the Grand Fountain, which is ironically the picture on the cover of the Eguisheim map!

And now for the best part – dinner. Amuse bouche of asparagus soufflé. Foie gras and salad with Riesling. Grilled fish with egg and a fishy salad on the side was Souvik’s main course. I was offered yummy grilled eggplant and other veggies, with a baked potato and cauliflower mash. Dessert was indecent – a mountain of cream topped with meringue, concealing a scoop of vanilla ice cream over strawberry sorbet. This was one meal we didn’t share (except for my foie gras), and licked each plate clean!

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3 thoughts on “That Trip…Troisième Jour: Les Plus Beaux Villages de France

  1. Bonjour Aarti,
    Comment vas-tu ? Ton tour d’Alsace est magnifique et sous un beau ciel bleu !. Tu as aimé la Flammekeuche ? ;-)). I’m so jealous. I hope that you found some french guys who discuss with you in French slowly ;-)). Your picts remind me so such nice moments there. Enjoy your trip and then you come back, please call me to have a coffee.
    Au revoir et à bientôt!

    • Bonjour Dorothée! Je vais bien. Et vous?
      I must thank you for teaching me some French, I was able to order the meal in the restaurant. The real test will be in Paris, from tomorrow.
      Bien sûr nous rencontrons pour le café après mon retour à Jakarta. We shall exchange notes about Alsace and Paris!

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