So, we got to the hotel, Le Relais du Ried, at about 4:00. It had a very small parking lot with narrow spaces. We checked in and dropped our bags off in our tiny room. It had most of what we needed. The bed was fairly comfortable, though we would have liked one more pillow each. Free wifi was included and there was a TV, though we didn’t turn it on. The bathroom was surprisingly large compared to the room. The shower had just a curtain around it and was very much a no frills affair. Supposedly, the hotel has a spa and a hammam, but they weren’t mentioned when we checked in and we didn’t have time to go looking for them.
After we unloaded everything, we headed into Colmar, which is only about ten minutes away. As we were backing out of the tiny lot, Bill bumped into a step and put a small dent in my bumper. I probably wouldn’t have noticed, but he was upset.
The area outside of Colmar is very rural, with cornfields everywhere and lots of cute little neighborhoods. Even though we were maybe twenty or thirty minutes into France, it was definitely different than Germany. It always amazes me how things change at borders. The landscapes are the same, but the languages and signage changes. We entered France near Marckolsheim, which has the distinction of being the one French town my mother-in-law got to see last time we lived here. I got Bill to go over the border so we could have lunch on our way back from Oberstaufen (on that trip, we saw five countries in a single day and actually got trapped in Italy).
We parked the car in a garage near a Monoprix. I was immediately nervous because the garage was going to close at 9:00 and I thought we might want to stay later. The city was also very crowded, though quaint and cute, too. We walked around a bit and I took photos, surprised by just how many people were in Colmar. After just 30 minutes or so, everything sort of closed up. It was very sudden. One minute, the stores were open and there were street musicians and people milling around. The next, things were closing. We passed a sax player peddling his wares near Colmar’s huge cathedral. He was playing a lot of cheesy 80s hits. I noticed that the French seemed to enjoy 80s music, but this guy was egregiously cheesy. He was playing songs like “I’m Still Standing” by Elton John and “Without You” by Nilsson. He was a good player; it was just his arrangements that were a little sappy. I probably should have bought a CD anyway.
I told Bill we needed to move the car before we found dinner because I was afraid the car would get locked in the garage. So we ended up finding a large parking lot with free parking near a movie theater. That was another thing I noticed in France. More free parking there than in Germany! Sadly, my car got dive bombed by a bunch of pigeons. No wonder they were so frequently listed on the menus in Colmar restaurants.
Many of the nicer looking restaurants were full, so Bill and I, along with a number of other people, were hunting for a place to eat dinner. We went into one place called La Taverne. It was totally empty at 7:00pm. We sat down and were presented English menus with some rather funny translations in them. There was a young guy who was a waiter and an older woman. Neither spoke English, though the guy’s skills were better than the woman’s were. As we were waiting for them to come talk to us, we could hear them in the kitchen clucking like chickens and having what sounded like a good time.
I ended up ordering a rib steak with mustard sauce. Bill had salmon with sauerkraut, which also came with some kind of sauce. And we had a bottle of Bordeaux. As I was about to take a sip, the waiter and waitress both came over to me and seemed rather concerned. The man pantomimed pregnancy and questioned “Baby?” I was immediately horrified, though I later realized they weren’t trying to be rude. It turns out they were concerned that I had ordered steak, though I asked them to cook it to medium. Apparently, in France and Belgium, pregnant women don’t eat beef rare, though they don’t necessarily eschew alcohol. I got it rare anyway and was too flummoxed to send it back. It was also swimming in sauce. I ate about half of it and gave up, though we did have dessert. I had chocolate cake with custard creme and Bill had coconut sorbet. Both were good.
As more people were filing in for dinner, I watched the waiter turn one group out rather rudely. Another group appeared to be Swiss or Dutch (I thought they were Dutch but heard them say Switzerland). They asked for menus in English, so they were probably from The Netherlands.
The food at La Taverne wasn’t that great and the service definitely could have been better. But as time went on, the place filled up. It was almost full by the time we left at about 9:00. Good thing we moved the car out of the garage!
Bill checks out the English menu advertising a “slab” of salmon…
When we got back to the hotel, it was packed because a lot of people were eating at the restaurant. We ended up having to park the car down the street, which annoyed me, since we were also staying in the hotel. By the time we walked to the hotel, a spot closer was open, so Bill went back and moved the car. Then I had trouble sleeping because I was perturbed about the guy asking me if I was expecting a baby… even though I realized that at least I must still look young enough to conceive.
Ah well. At least I got some nice photos in the city. It was a bit too hectic for me on that particular day, but it really is a pretty town. If we go back, we will have to make reservations at a nicer restaurant in Colmar. A lot of the places were serving foie gras, though. Not my favorite thing.