We fell in love with Eguisheim last year, one of the Les Plus Beaux Villages, just out of Colmar, in the gorgeous Alsace region. We vowed to return, if only to enjoy the lunch we missed out on last year. A bit of poor timing there!
Unlike many other Les Plus Beaux Villages, Eguisheim was not established as a strategic outpost. Neither military or political in nature, its establishment was ground in prosperity.
Known for being the birthplace of wine in the Alsace region, if you were a successful wine merchant in the 1500s or 1600s, or even into the 1700s, Eguisheim may well be where you bought a house to signal your success.
It’s utterly photogenic, regularly listed as one of France’s most beautiful villages. And if that wasn’t enough, it’s also the birthplace of a Pope, Leo IX, (1002 – 1054) a high ranking nobleman, who walked to Rome, stick in hand, to be enthroned as Pope. His likeness adorns the square’s fountain.
The town is laid out in a circular pattern, with cobblestoned laneways,
and rounded doorways belying a time when entryways were required to cater to bulk wine storage.
Eguisheim’s colourful half timbered houses are amongst the prettiest I’ve seen. The town is charm itself.
Having been dutiful tourists last year, touring all the key sights, this time around I feel perfectly justified in just walking the laneways, taking it all in, stopping to admire the storks’ nests perched high in the square.
And of course, undertaking the very important task of selecting a restaurant for lunch.
The Square is the place to be, and with an excellent local wine at the ready (Eguisheim is still an award winning wine region) we settle to Alsacian specialities. I have a paper thin flammenkuchen, called a tarte flambee here. Topped with fromage blanc, forest mushrooms, white onions, lardon and parsley butter, it’s a delight.
Himself goes regional in the extreme with an Alsacian potato tartine, enriched with local charcuterie and sauerkraut, topped with melted Munster cheese. I tried it – pretty much heaven on a cast iron platter. There’s a pretence at lightening it with a side salad, but that’s fooling no-one.
Post lunch, we stop only to pat a friendly kitty on the way our (note: cat only appears to have melted, not actually melted, much purring)
before hitting the road to drive a couple of hundred kilometres west, to our next Les Plus Beaux Village, Pesmes. Along the way, we reacquaint ourselves with France’s loveliness.
I really do love it here, the pace of life is different, the way of life is different. It’s a place I feel completely and utterly at peace.
Given our late arrival, Pesmes is an exploration for tomorrow. Meanwhile we’re in a peaceful green spot by the Ognon river. I intend on catching up with my last Cormoran Strike novel: I’m deeply grateful I’m free to read for hours on end again.
PS: I forgot to mention yesterday – I cracked a little swan secret. Picture white swans. Elegant? Serene? Snowy white feathers? Got it? Good. We’re on the same page then. Now think about how they keep those feathers quite that snowy white. Up until now, all I’ve seen is the occasional beak nibble on a wing feather, which, quite frankly, didn’t quite seem up to the task. But yesterday morning, all was revealed in an estuary of the Rhine. A group of white swans, seemingly nibbling underwater, head submerged, swans butts in air… suddenly completely flip, heads and top half submerged, undercarriage and feet in air, whence upon they waggle their feet madly, wriggling about in the water, washing their top half. Repeated inversions until one feels as clean as needed. Not terribly graceful, but very effective, and oh so very amusing to watch. Who knew! They were a bit too far way to do justice to a photo, but I promise it was exactly as described.