We’ve saved one of the prettiest Les Plus Beaux Villages for last. Eguisheim is set in the heart of the Alsace wine region, an area of some 170 kilometres set at the foothills of the Vosges forest, devoted to making amongst the best reislings, gewurztraminers, pinot gris, muscat and pinot noir France has to offer. So successful in their ventures, the vintners of this area have been granted protected AOC Alsase apllelation status.
Eguisheim is one of the few villages we’ve seen that does not have a strategic, military or other defensive history. It was established sheerly for the purposes of habitation for the wealthy vintners of the area. As such, it’s been built with asthetics in mind. And it’s oh so very, very pretty.
Built in a circular layout, its gorgeous half timbered cottages are a riot of colour from their rendered infills to overflowing flower boxes which adorn each cottage.
Doors are circular, very reminiscent of the hobbity Shire with the date of build and stone mason’s details carved into their frames.
Eguisheim is very well aware of its appeal – it’s well serviced by hotels and restaurants, many of which offer regional specialities. The flammenkuchen features heavily, and its onion, bacon and cream scent carries happily in the air. Also a speciality here is the kugelhoph, a yeasted enriched dough baked into a domed babka tin. These were further enriched with dried fruit. Their buttery scent was quite enough to drive you mad. Even through the glass…
Knowing we are crossing into Germany tomorrow, I’ve loaded the fridge with an almighty shop from a French marche. I’ve found in the past that the Aldi and Lidl’s, so prevalent in Germany, have been be a little disappointing once you’ve been spolit on French produce. We’re so stocked that I’d have trouble sneaking another wafer thin mint into the fridge. Luckily macaroons, also a local speciality, can take refuge in a cupboard.
We lap the village on its delightfully circular path, taking in all the sights. The joy is in the detail here: dates that go back to the 1500 and 1600s, bunnies in a window box,
an unexpected stork’s nest on high.
I do my best to photograph it all, but I think this tiny yellow cottage, with its whimsical corner setting, is by far my favourite.
There was a very sweet little ginger kitten in residence too, very pleased to get a pat. I really would have liked to kittynap him. Sorry, I was far too busy getting kitty pats and failed to get a photo. Remiss of me, I know.
Late afternoon sees us settle for drinks in the main square, which offers people and dog watching at its best. Mr Grumpy Pants cracks a smile at last. A poodle with a glittering headdress can take the credit on that.
We’re staying on a vineyard, barely at village edge. Our vineyard had been in the same family for 11 generations, since 1625. Isn’t that extraordinary? Chris stocks up on their grand cru reisling, gewurztraminer and the pinot blanc. I take the opportunity to kick back and watch the vineyard team clean out the vehicle used the the days harvest.
It takes them over an hour – it’s meticulous work.
We’ve had an utterly lovely day. I’d highly recommend a stop in Eguisheim: I guarantee you won’t be disappointed. Les Plus Beaux Villages delivers yet again.
We have regional treats for dinner, a savoury torte: pork fillet, wrapped in mushrooms and onion , encased in the butteriest of puff pastries. With a perfectly crisp garden salad it proves an excellent choice.