August 18, 2013
Viva la (Alsace) France!
Viva la France! The Alsace region of France*, that is; a region deeply steeped in German tradition. In fact, bordering on Germany, this area has actually been part of Germany at times over the past two centuries. This was the case as recently as WWII when the Alsace region was under German occupation, enduring the ravages of war, and seeing many of its citizen’s heavily invested in the French Resistance. Various statues and plaques in the area now silently commemorate the brave deeds performed by these heroes, many who lost their lives to the cause. (I can not help but think of that infamous scene in Caslablanca where Resistance leader Victor Laszlo impulsively leads an inspiring, impromptu rendition of La Marseillaise, the French National Anthem*, in defiance of the Nazi Germany’s presence at Rick’s Café.) It is in this part of France, in the historic village of Thann, where I recently had the privilege of spending a few enjoyable days.
With my hubby working each day, I was afforded the opportunity to leisurely explore this quaint town. Thann’s main street is peppered with sidewalk cafes, serving Alsace dishes like Tarte Flambé -a delicious, very flat “pizza” (No crepes around these parts!) accompanied by wines from the local vineyards. There are also several bakeries displaying their tasty wares in their storefront windows, each offering Alsace favorites of large, chewy bretzels (pretzels) and Kugelhopf (A sort of an almond Bundt cake that I, personally, found pretty, but a little on the dry side.). In many ways, Thann is a throwback to a simpler time. It is here where homemakers walk into town daily, shopping baskets in hand, headed for the village grocer, procuring ingredients for that day’s meals, and a place where many stores still close for lunchtime while school children come home for their hearty noon meal. Numerous old Tudor-style structures run the length of the main street with the imposing 16th century Gothic edifice, the impressive Collegiate Church of St. Thiébaut dominating the town’s center. (Legend ties the building’s construction to the 1160 death of Bishop St. Thiebaut, and his thumb. It seems that with the removal of the bishop’s ring upon his death, his thumb came off!!! AND, sounding like a bad Hitchcock film, the bishop’s servant kept this digit in his walking stick! What does that have to do with the building of Thann’s cathedral, you say? It’s a long story… You may read the rest of the legend at the link listed below, if you wish. *) The steep Rangen vineyard provides a fitting backdrop to this hamlet, as the, River Thur sleepily runs through town, with colorful flowers everywhere, including hanging from window boxes, and “bridge boxes”.
In addition to delighting in the charms of Thann, when time allowed, Dale and I also enjoyed dining in Riquewihr, Colmar, and Mulhouse (The h is silent, and rhymes with moose), each with its individual beauty and magic. Riquewihr, looking like a village straight out of Disney’s classic Beauty and the Beast, complete with a live Alsace mascot, a three-foot tall stork, strolling the streets. Colmar boasting a bustling town square with two massive cathedrals, a Bartholdi Museum (the sculptor who created the Statue of Liberty), and a tranquil canal flowing throughout. Meals in both Riquewihr and Colmar concluded at sidewalk cafes, where we dined on the local Tarte Flambé. (We had several Tarte Flambés on this trip, all being delicious, but Colmar’s La Krutenau’s was the best!) Mulhouse afforded us “a penthouse view” (Thank you Green Acres.) from atop the revolving Restaurant de la Tour de l’Europe. We were not only treated to Charlie and the Chocolate Factory-like panoramic views, and a wonderful gourmet meal, but a wonderfully fitting conclusion to a most memorable week in France. :o)
Merci Beaucoup and Au Revoir, Alsace France!
(Translation: Thank you very much and Good-bye)
Thanks for reading! :o)
Photos at bottom.
Although I attempt to post my blog weekly on Sunday, or Monday, I will be taking a break. Talk to you again on September 9, if not before! :o)
A great big thank you to my list of loyal blog “followers”! :o)
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*Clip from Casablanca–http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6WujNMG-xiI
* More details of the bishop’s thumb legend and Thann-
*More information about France’s Alsace region- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alsace
Statue in Thann and a plaque in Colmar, commemorating the heroes of the French Resistance movement
Cathedral- Collegiate Church of St. Thiébaut
Grapes in the Rangen Vineyard, taken last fall
Riquewihr photo at bottom of post
Enjoying a Tarte Flambé in Riquewihr
Mulhouse view-Looking like the village in “Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory”