We awoke to more rain on Saturday. I was kind of bummed out about that, since there are a couple of other little villages in the area I want to visit. I had designs on seeing Kaysersberg and Bergheim, both of which are reputed to be very charming places. Despite having visited Alsace several times since 2014, we still haven’t visited all of the cute towns. Of course, that just gives us a good reason to return to the area. On the other hand, time in Europe is precious and there are so many other places to see. We probably should have just manned up and gone.
Another activity I had considered was visiting the spa in Ribeauvillé. On the outskirts of town, there is a large resort hotel that has a spa and a casino. I read up on the Balneo before our visit, but like most French pools, the guys have to wear Speedos. Although Bill has been able to bring himself to go naked in German spas, he is still unwilling to don a maillot. So we didn’t go to the spa… I’ll keep working on him, though.
One thing we did do this time that we haven’t really done much of on previous visits is go shopping. Yep, we stayed in Ribeauvillé and spread around some euros. The town has a lot of cute little shops where it’s easy to part with money. We started by visiting what was advertised as an “art exhibition”. It was free of charge and set up in what appeared to be a very old church no longer in use. They had maybe a dozen or so abstract paintings set up, as well as lots of what looked like handmade crafts for sale. There were Christmas tree ornaments, purses, knitted ponchos and gloves, and lots of other items. We did end up buying a new ornament for one of our Christmas trees.
It wasn’t a big exhibition, but the inside of the little church was well worth looking at.
After we took in the “exhibition”, we walked further down the street and noticed a guy standing in a doorway offering cheese samples. I don’t actually like cheese that much, unless it’s melted and in something. Bill loves cheese, though, so we went into this place that had nothing but some sausages and huge cheese wheels. Bill only wanted about 100 grams, but he walked out with about $100 worth of cheesy comestibles. The two young people selling the cheese had trouble cutting small pieces and cut two big slabs of the stuff. Fortunately, Bill is easy going and had plenty of cash on hand. My guess is that his cheese loving buddies at work will get a treat this week because there is no way we can eat as much as he bought.
Bill says the cheese is very good… kind of like Gruyere, which I do happen to like in small quantities. Guess we’ll be making potatoes au gratin or something…
Once we were done with the cheese shop, it was getting close to lunchtime. A lot of businesses close for two hours starting at noon, which gives people the perfect opportunity to have a leisurely lunch. I have also noticed that every time we visit this town, at least a couple of restaurants are closed for a holiday. It’s almost like they take shifts. I noticed two places we visited last time were closed this time. And places that were closed last time were open this time.
I took another enchanting shot of Ribeauvillé… Next time, we will have to broaden our horizons.
Every time we’ve come to Ribeauvillé, we have passed a restaurant called La Flammerie. Our host told us it’s a very popular place, especially at night. Indeed, it’s always packed at lunch and dinner and we were lucky to score a table at lunchtime on Saturday. When we sat down, there were tables available, but they filled up very quickly.
Bill checks out the offerings and we both decide to try a local beer called Meteor, which they had on tap.
La Flammerie seems to specialize in “ham knuckles”, known in these parts as schweinshaxe. I was tempted to get one, since they seem to be prepared differently in France and they had a number of them listed on the menu. But then I realized that I can never finish pork knuckles. They usually end up being two or three meals for me. Then I considered having a “faux filet”, which is basically just a steak. But I can get steak anywhere… So I finally opted for more duck, since duck isn’t always easy to find. It was prepared with a pinot noir and honey sauce.
My duck tasted good, though if I’m honest, the pinot noir and honey sauce wasn’t very appetizing looking. My dish also came with sauerkraut and roasted potatoes. I’m not exactly sure what the little ramekin was full of. It looked like it could have been anything from fruit to kidneys. I didn’t want to risk it, since the restaurant was crowded. If it was something that made me feel nauseated, it would be hard to get to the bathroom! I have a feeling that ramekin was probably offal of some sort… How awful!
I must edit to add that my German friend, Susanne, checked out the menu for me and she says the contents of the ramekin were “Quetsche” (a type of local plum). I like plums, so I probably would have enjoyed them. Unfortunately, an unfortunate incident from our last trip to France is still fresh in my mind. While we were in Burgundy, Bill ordered what he thought was a type of sausage. It turned out he ordered pigs’ intestines, complete with the colon. Since I have a weaker stomach than he does, I decided it was better to be safe than sorry!
Bill had “roesti”, which is another local favorite. It’s basically Alsatian comfort food– roasted potatoes with cheese. His dish came with a salad and some bread.
Instead of dessert, we decided to have local digestives. I had Mirabelle, which is a spirit made with local plums. Bill had another local liqueur called Marc. It’s kind of like grappa.
The menu posted outside.
After a quick potty break at the apartment for us and the dogs, we continued our shopping spree. I decided to buy the blue suede cap, pictured below… It’s actually a German made product, but it came in handy because of all the rain.
Is it me? Damn, I am really blonde now… No bottles involved; just getting old. I like the cap, though I rarely wear head gear.
The picture speaks for itself.
We stopped inside this charming little shop where a guy was selling homemade liqueurs and wines. He didn’t speak English, but he and Bill were able to converse a bit in German. We bought some raspberry liqueur, creme de cassis, and a bottle of Cremant.
Our next stop was at a bottle shop… they were advertising a huge wine tasting. We didn’t end up going because the weather sucked and we didn’t want to be hungover for our drive back to Germany. However, we did buy a couple of nice reds.
This was a pretty cool little shop. It’s not very big, but there’s a little bit of everything offered there, from spirits to wine related gifts. The proprietor spoke very charmingly accented English, too. I was intrigued by a staircase that obviously once led to an upstairs but is now simply used for displaying stuff, since the top of the steps met with the ceiling.. I guess there must be another staircase in the building.
This bottle of dessert wine was priced at 345 euros! No wonder it was behind bars.
A good bet for wine lovers…
Last time we were in Ribeauvillé, we stopped at a winery for a tasting and walked out with six bottles to take home with us. This time, we went to Louis Sipp, which is a well-known winery in town. For five euros, you can try three wines. Or, if you make a purchase, they don’t charge for for the tasting. We tried six wines and left with six bottles. If we’d wanted to, we could have spent the day tasting wines. There are a number of places on the Alsatian Wine Route, but it would be just as easy to just walk around any of the little towns.
I can’t believe he was a teetotaler when we first met.
A group of French youths joined us while we tasted wines.
Finally, we stopped by a pottery store. I have my share of Polish pottery, which we bought when we lived in Germany back in 2007-09, as well as stuff we’ve found at AAFES. Alsace also has nice pottery. We stopped in one store that had many pieces crafted in Soufflenheim, a well-known pottery town just over the French border with Germany.
I bought a few pieces… as many as I could get away with before Bill objected. Unfortunately, we don’t have a lot of space in our current house for cookware. Otherwise, I think I might have picked up one of those casserole dishes.
We were pretty full from lunch, so we spent Saturday evening watching TV. Bill took the dogs out for an early evening stroll and I guess the dogs started baying again, because a guy staying in a building next to ours stuck his head out of his window and started berating Bill in French. Bill is a very mild mannered and non confrontational person. It’s probably a lucky thing that I wasn’t walking the dogs because I probably would have started yelling back at him in English, and I would have included some choice universal swear words that wouldn’t have needed any translation.
I get that it’s annoying when dogs bark, but ours don’t bark constantly. In fact, they usually only make noise for a minute or so. Moreover, we weren’t the only ones with dogs in the area. We heard lots of barking from other canines. If that guy actually lives in that place, he probably hears a lot of barking all the time, which might account for his unpleasant disposition. Yannick, the guy who owns the apartments where we stay, is very dog friendly and he told us that there have been times when all four of his apartments in the wine house (he has seven total, but the others are in a different building) have had dogs in attendance.
Anyway, yelling at people whose dogs occasionally bark is really not productive. We do the best we can not to let our dogs disturb others, but sometimes shit happens. They’re animals, and sometimes they are unpredictable. Fortunately, we didn’t have to take the boys out in the middle of the night on our last night in town. However, during yesterday’s morning stroll, someone driving a Porsche SUV that had been parked in the same lot where our car was, went screaming past Bill. And my sweet, easygoing husband screamed, “You fucking ASSHOLE!” at the guy, who was either the one who yelled at him or someone trying very hard to convince everyone else how big his penis is, and failing miserably.
Too bad we had to end our trip on that note… We did bring home some nice stuff, though, and hope that during our next visit, we will see and do more. Really, though, Ribeauvillé feels like another home by now. It’s great to go there on a long weekend and just have some different food and a change of scenery. Not only is a beautiful area with a different vibe, but it’s so easy to get there and doesn’t take all day to reach. We are able to make it in under three hours and a round trip uses about half a tank of gas.
Yannick, once again, reminded me to text or email next time we visit so he can be spared paying a commission to Booking.com and we’ll get a special rate. I don’t know when we’ll go back to Alsace, but I do know it makes for a convenient first stop into France. It could be sooner rather than later.
We drove home yesterday in the driving rain and I couldn’t help but notice that the rivers that flow through the Black Forest were very high and even flooding in some areas. I got a few shots during our drive.
Look carefully and you can see the brown water. If we were living in that area, I might be a little scared.
Anyway… I wish we could have done more exciting things on this trip, but it was great to get away for a few days. Next trip with the dogs, we’ll be sure to stay in a more rural locale. Luckily, there are plenty of places like that in Europe.