On Sunday morning, I told Bill I really wanted to visit Kaysersberg, which is rumored to be a beautiful town as well as the birthplace of Albert Schweizer. I also wanted to go to Montagne des Signes, which is basically Alsace’s version of Monkey Hill.
As many readers may know, Germany has Affenberg-Salem, which is a place where visitors can feed free roaming monkeys popcorn. Bill and I went to Monkey Hill last year and had a great time, so I wanted to see the French version. Montagne des Singes is in Kintzheim, which is in the opposite direction of Kaysersberg. Since there are specific opening hours for Montagne des Singes, I was thinking maybe we could visit the pretty town of Schweitzer’s birth later in the afternoon. Bill was up for it, so off we went.
I didn’t realize that Kintzheim also has an eagle park, which mostly gets good ratings on Google and Trip Advisor. It didn’t open until 1:30pm, so we decided to see the monkeys, have lunch, and then maybe go see the eagle park. We managed to make one plan work out. Oh well. We can always visit Alsace again. Below are some photos I took at Montage des Singes, which doesn’t take a lot of time to visit, but really is a lot of fun, especially if you have kids.
This park is only open from March until November. We usually visit Alsace during the off season, so this was the first time we were in the area when it was working and we were staying longer than a night. I’m glad we stopped in for a visit, although I probably don’t need to visit the monkey park again. One other thing to know– during the tourist season, a lot of places on the Alsatian wine route are open on Sundays. That means you can go shopping if you want to. During our previous visits, we’ve been during the short off season, when it’s more like being in Germany on Sunday.
Kintzheim is also a very pretty town.
Montagne des Singes has a very large, free parking lot. There’s also a snack bar, free toilets, and a playground for kids.
Map of the complex.
Entrance into the park. It costs 9 euros per adult, while children from ages 5 to 15 cost 5,50 euros. Children under five get in free of charge. I saw a lot of people with very little kids with them, having a ball. Like Monkey Hill in Affenberg-Salem, Montagne des Signes has Barbary Macque monkeys. In many ways, this park is very much like the one in Germany, except it seemed smaller and lacked a lake.
At various times during the day, they have demonstrations. We heard one in German. Quite a number of the young people working there were trilingual– French, English, and German speakers.
Same signs that are at Monkey Hill… Incidentally, my German friend explains that this park was founded and is owned by the same guy who founded the one in Affenberg-Salem, Baron Gilbert de Turckheim. There is also another park in France and one in England.
Off we go to pick up our very small handfuls of popcorn.
Some of the monkeys were very charming and flat out posed for the cameras.
Bill feeds one of the residents. It’s like giving candy to an exceptionally calm toddler.
I got a kick out of this monkey… I like to hang around this way, too. Especially when I’m naked.
These two monkeys by the exit were taking advantage of all of the people who rationed their popcorn and had leftovers. If you wanted to, you could go through the park again. It doesn’t take very long. I think our visit was only about an hour.
More monkey pictures appear at the end of this post.
After we visited the monkey park, we decided to have lunch in Kintzheim. There are several restaurants there. We chose to dine at Hotel Restaurant Jenny, not just because Jenny is my name. They had a rather extensive menu posted outside of their terrace, but when we sat down, we were given a very limited menu. However, all of the dishes we saw yesterday looked good and we had no complaints about what we ordered.
I talked Bill into Riesling. We shared a split.
A sign bearing my name.
I went with the asparagus with Black Forest ham and dried ham.
It came with two sauces. One was Hollandaise with lots of dill. The other, I couldn’t tell you the name of, although it tasted fine. Both were mildly flavored. I preferred the Hollandaise, although it wasn’t like any I’d had before. It was more like mayonnaise. I don’t like drowning my food in a lot of condiments, so this kind of went to waste.
I was especially pleased with the dried ham, though. It was very good.
Bill had jambonneau with cheese sauce. Basically, it was like a pork knuckle that had been boiled instead of roasted or baked. The inside of it was very moist and tender, although the outside was less appetizing. I think Bill and I both like our pork knuckles with cracklins.
I couldn’t resist dessert. I saw a bunch of really enticing ones coming out to the terrace. I went with a chocolate Charlotte, with is basically chocolate mousse surrounded by ladyfingers. It was served with vanilla sauce, whipped cream, and toasted almonds. I liked it because it wasn’t too much.
While we were waiting for lunch, I looked up the eagle park and was rather put off by some of the negative reviews of the place. While most people seem to think it’s a great place to see eagles, I was reminded that these magnificent birds of prey are basically kept on short leashes until it’s time for them to perform. I understand that this is how it’s done with these types of shows, but figured it might be depressing. So we skipped it and headed back to the apartment, so the boys could have a break.
Besides… the clouds were starting to roll in… If we had gone to the eagle park, we would have been caught in the rain. By the time we got back to nearby Ribeauville, there was a steady downpour.
Pretty Bergheim, which is very close to Ribeauville and quite attractive. There’s a lot to do in Alsace, which makes it a great place to go for a quick weekend out of the Stuttgart area. It’s only a couple of hours away, yet you could come back several times and not do the same things twice.
We took it easy for the rest of the afternoon and enjoyed the bottle of sparkling wine our host, Yannick, left for us. Although this time, we rented one of his tiny studio apartments, we didn’t really want for anything, except a little peace and quiet. There was a group of German ladies at the wine house who were very nice, but kind of loud. However, they didn’t stay up until an unreasonable hour and were very nice about Zane and Arran, so I can’t complain too much.
As I mentioned in an earlier post, Yannick’s wine house would be really great if you had a family reunion or a big group and wanted to rent the whole thing. It’s very convenient and he’s a great landlord. In fact, he just texted me from the hospital, where his poor wife has been since Friday, trying to have a baby! I’m sending them birthing vibes!
For dinner, we decided to eat at Chez Martine. We ate there the first time we visited Ribeauville and I remembered how good the Quiche Lorraine was. And even though I also had quiche on Saturday, I say one can’t have too much quiche in one’s life. It turned out to be an excellent decision. Our waitress was absolutely charming and sweet and the food was outstanding. Bill had Chez Martine’s version of the dish I’d had on Friday at Restaurant du Mouton and it was vastly superior.
Last night’s wine. Bill decided to try something different. This grape didn’t thrill me because I like my whites crisp and this tasted a little flat. But it was a change from Riesling, so that wasn’t a bad thing.
Bill had potato pancakes with smoked salmon and a salad. His potato pancakes weren’t burnt like one of mine was when we ate at Hotel du Mouton. I love that they serve the dressing on the side, too. That dressing is a delightfully light and creamy Dijon mustard based creation.
That Quiche Lorraine was outstanding. It was priced at about five euros more than what we were charged at Brasserie de La Poste next door, but it was also vastly superior in quality. It was perfectly seasoned, generously proportioned, and piping hot. I think Chez Martine serves the best quiche in Ribeauville.
For dessert, we split a piece of cheesecake. It was very simple, not too heavy, and not too sweet. And we also had espresso. Total bill came to a little over sixty euros.
The dogs were surprisingly well behaved this time, although Zane did let out an ear splitting yelp when Bill took him out to pee at 5:00am. But it was just one yelp and this time, no one yelled at Bill in French. We had a quick breakfast and cleared out of the apartment at 9:30am. Yannick’s key box system makes it very easy to check in and out. As I mentioned before, he was busy with his family this time, so we didn’t get to see him.
As long as we’re living in the Stuttgart area, I have no doubt we’ll be back. Alsace is so easy and pleasant to visit. I still can’t believe we really didn’t explore it the first time we lived in Germany. I know we have to visit one more time, if only so I can finally see Kaysersberg.
One more Black Forest photo on the way home. We took a different route that was less confusing, but slightly less scenic.
Below are some photos of the monkeys I took with my digital camera.
Another touching family moment. One thing I did notice over Montagne des Signes is that it was less structured. When we visited the one in Germany, we got a long spiel about the rules. This time, the spiel was shorter and the overall experience seemed to be both more laid back and less crowded. I’d say it’s worth a visit if you like animal parks, especially if you have small children.