5-6th April 2017
It froze again last night – visiting the showers in the misty morning the the solar panels on the wash-house were frozen over. A depressingly tepid shower decided us on moving on.
Todays journey should have been a 115 mile journey to a campsite just outside Strasbourg centre which would, according to satnav should take 4hrs. We followed the meanders of the Saar river with the morning mist still rising off it in the sunshine. Through
Mettlach, Merzig, and Saarlouis parallelling the autobahn in parts but deliberately staying off so as to enjoy the drive. Entered France before mid-day and were soon parallelling the Maginot line with its pill-boxes. The house style changed completely and the road surface deteriorated.
We made decent time to Strasbourg but the campsie was very close to the city centre and we didn’t feel like being in a city so decided to continue and scout out another location. This meant pulling in for a very late lunch at the roadside before moving on. The best bit was seeing Alsace storks in the fields and flying overhead, and, finally, and iconic view of one setting up nest on top of a chimney in one of the many Alsace wine villages we were now passing through.
A site close to the wine village of Riquewihr seemed to offer what we wanted so we aimed for that and made it by 4.30 which gave us time for the 1.5km walk up to the village to scout it out. Very old, very wine-touristy, full of wine caves advertising tasting sessions, tours and buying opportunities. The town was closing up when we got there, the mini-market was elusive and the wine in the quaint restaurants on the main street was a ridiculous €9 for a small glass so we found a little old hotel bar for a cold beer and re-assessment of plans before walking back to the campsite for dinner.
Thursday 6th April
Bit of a lie-in then pottered about deciding whether to stay or go. The location wasn’t great being on a main road but the shower facilities were excellent – these things are so important. The sun was shining but with a biting wind so we decided to stay and do a bike ride amongst the vineyards. Well wrapped against the wind we rode via Riquewihr – which neither looks nor sounds french to us – to pick up the route to Keyserberg. However instead of taking the marked cycle route (because we didn’t have a map) we took a vineyard/walking trail. It was lovely with great views but far better for walking than cycling because of the loose stones and uneven surface. We checked with a walker we were going the right way, and shortly after saw the cycleway below us. We joined it further on and after a long climb started a steep descent towards the village of Kayserberg.
In my view, nicer than Riquewihr with an enchanting old town decked out for easter. We found a little restaurant – Hotel Restaurant Hassenforder – and ordered local Riesling, a ‘Winegrowers Pie’ with a mountain of salad for Danny and a Tarte Flambe Forestiere for Kate. We didn’t know but Tarte Flambe is apparently a pizza-like local speciality with a pastry-type base rather than dough and with a type of cream on it as well as other toppings. Hugely filling.
We needed the 11 mile bike ride to enable us to move again. However before that there was the small matter of tracking down the Irish bar that was signposted – and had a fine array of whisky both Irish and Scotch and a decent selection of local old men propping up the bar in fine Irish style, as well as assorted rugby memorabilia. When we asked the proprietor “pourquoi?” he replied “je l’aime” which was fair enough.
Kayserberg, like all the villages we went through, does Easter in a big way. You don’t see so much in the bigger towns, but the villages deck their houses, shops and civic areas out with easter eggs, painted eggs, chickens, rabbits, storks and just about anything you can associate with easter. Very pretty.
Just time for a visit to the Intermarche to get stuff for dinner before cycling back – this time on the proper cycle path which was a lot easier. Lunchtime wine must have taken its toll as even with the bike’s electrical assistance Kate had to get off and push at one part.