When you mention France, everyone thinks of Paris. Most people have at least heard of Nice or Bordeaux. But how about Colmar or Riquewihr?
These are just two of the towns located in France’s Alsace Valley, which lies just across the Rhine River from Germany. Rumor has it that the town in Disney’s Beauty and the Beast was modeled after Riquewihr, and all of the towns look EXACTLY like what you would expect based on that information. Timber framed houses with decorative shutters and flower boxes are scattered all over this valley, which is also home to a 170 kilometer long Route de Vins d’Alsace — aka Alsace Wine Route. Bike lanes and separate bike paths follow the entire way, which makes it a perfect destination for riding around gently rolling vine-covered hills … and tasting local wines.
Kicking off My Weekend in Alsace
The adventure started with breakfast: a croissant and pain au chocolat, of course. Ok, fine, maybe a couple of croissants.
Then it was time to hit the Wine Road to taste local varietals such as Riesling, Pinot blanc, Gewurztraminer, and Sylvaner.
The bike routes were very clearly labeled so I picked a bike path at random and headed out. Scenery was as you expect for a wine route — lots of vineyards. I stopped at a couple of wineries for tastings, and everyone was super friendly and told me they do not see many Americans coming through. Important note for my fellow English-speakers: Most people along this route speak French and German, so my high school French and Google translate were the key to success.
You know what is another key to success? Having watched a YouTube one time on how to change a flat tire on your bike.
So yes, as the drizzle began to fall and I got chilled to the bone, I got my very first flat tire (on a rear wheel, no less — for the non-cyclists in the crowd, just know that this makes everything harder). But, fueled by my late morning wine tastings and the cozy cafe that happened to be right where I blew the tire, I fumbled through and got it sorted out.
(Pro- tip: practice changing a tire at home or at your local bike shop so when it happens you are prepared!)
My reward: warm carrot ginger soup, followed by a salmon and cheese tart. Although the portions seem smaller than we would get back in the States, every dish was the perfect amount of food.
Back to Base
Heading back into Colmar for the evening, I wandered through the Easter Market. Dozens of stalls were set out with crafts and snacks, and a variety of farm animals were also scattered about for children to pet.
Then I spotted the macarons. When in France, right?
When dinnertime rolled around, I popped into a local wistub (a traditional local wine bar and restaurant). Being close to Germany, pork populated the menu in large proportions, so I went with a traditional pork knuckle and tarte l’oignon.
White asparagus is a spring specialty grown in the area, so of course had to try that as well.
I enjoyed more tiny glasses of local Pinot Blanc (apparently this shape of glass is better for the fruity aromas) and followed those up with a creme brûlée. Again, when in France, am I right?
This trip combined everything that I love — bikes, food and wine. C’était parfait.
Anyone else had any epic food adventures in France? Anybody go by bike? —Cara