A “two dog night” in Riquewihr, France… part one

A few days ago, I was sitting in my “office” feeling distinctly cagey.  When Bill and I live in Europe, I get especially antsy if I don’t get a trip in every once in awhile.  Unfortunately, Max at Dog on Holiday advised us that he’s booked solid until early September.  What’s a wanderlusting blogger to do when the urge to skip town is so great?  Why, take the dogs along, of course!

Though Bill and I dearly love our dogs, Zane and Arran, we don’t usually take them with us when we travel. They are sweet dogs, but they’re hounds and they tend to get on scents and make a lot of noise.  Also, because they aren’t accustomed to going to restaurants and hotels, they don’t always behave in a way that is conducive to having them with us on trips.  Despite that, I really wanted to get out of town.  An added bonus was the new fence and gate our landlords wanted to put up on Saturday.  It would make it easier for them to get that work done if we weren’t around.

So I told Bill about my idea and he agreed.  We’d take a quick trip to Riquewihr, about which we’d heard so many wonderful things, and Zane and Arran would join us.  As it turns out, I made a great choice in Riquewihr.  Not only is it recognized as one of the most beautiful towns in France,  it’s also very dog friendly and not far from the Stuttgart area.  So, if it turned out our decision to travel with the dogs was a disaster, we could always come back home without too much trouble.

The drive to Riquewihr was mostly stunning.  We took B28 through the stately Black Forest and drove through the winding switchbacks that offered some beautiful views of the German countryside.  Then when we got to Strasbourg, we were confronted by a bunch of police officers.  No one asked to see passports, but there were plenty of weapons being brandished.  I later heard that Strasbourg was a bit walled off this weekend.  I was glad I hadn’t decided to go there; Strasbourg had been my initial planned destination.  We passed through Ribeauville, which also looks like a nice place to visit, though not as quaint or touristy as Riquewihr is.  More than once, I wanted to stop and take pictures on the side of the road.  In retrospect, I should have done just that.

It turned out I got the last room at the Best Western Le Schoenenbourg, a super pet friendly and convenient hotel.  I actually ended up booking a suite, because all of the regular rooms were occupied.  We arrived at the hotel about 90 minutes before the check in time of 1:00pm, but it was fine for us to park the car in the hotel lot and walk into town, which is maybe a five minute walk from the hotel.

Riquewihr is a beautifully preserved walled city with grape vines growing on a the surrounding hillsides.  It mostly looks as it did in the 16th century and was fortunately one of a few towns that wasn’t decimated during World War II.  Yesterday, the weather was hot and sunny and the place was teeming with tourists.  Zane and Arran behaved very well, but I was especially pleased and surprised by how accommodating the city was to dogs.  At least one shop owner set out a water bowl, of which my dogs were happy to take advantage.  The restaurants were all fine with the dogs joining us; in fact, every place we went to offered water for the dogs.  And even the hotel, noting that I had mentioned the dogs in my booking, set us up with a water bowl and treats for our boys.

I’ll write more about the hotel and restaurants in my next post.  For now, here are our first glimpses of beautiful Riquewihr.  It was much prettier and more charming than I expected.  Our main goal was a change of scenery, practice being guests for the dogs, and maybe a small load of wine, cheese, and macaroons.  We definitely scored on all accounts!

I thought this sign was pretty funny.  Clearly, people had been using someone’s patch of grass for a doggie toilet!  My dogs decided to just dump in the middle of town, right in front of everyone, including a Dutch family with two white blonde angelic kids we ran into again and again.

Bill and I were last in France back in October and May 2014.  Although we only live about two hours from the French and Swiss borders, we rarely venture over them.  After seeing how easy it was to visit Riquewihr yesterday, I think that is a trend that will change.  It really was easy to get to a completely different country with a different vibe.  On our last visit to France, we visited Colmar.  To be honest, although I thought Colmar was pretty and quaint, our trip was a bit weird.  Even still, I’ve often thought about going back there, though now that I’ve been to Riquewihr, I think we’ll stick to the smaller, cuter towns nearby.  I think we both really prefer them to the bigger cities.


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