Thursday, June 12, 2014

Where to Take Your Parents in Alsace-Lorraine

Where to Take Your Parents in Alsace-Lorraine
Colmar, France
In typical PorterBall fashion, we packed a lot into my parent's last trip. After trying out Swiss life, we swung through the Alsace-Lorraine region of France on our way back to Berlin. I wanted to give the P's a taste of French life - even if it was German flavored.

The Alsace-Lorraine region (or Reichsland Elsaß-Lothringen if you're feeling especially Germ-y) has been tossed back and forth between Germany and France several times. Though it currently is in France (and has been since 1922), this mishmash of cultures has resulted in some of the best of both sides.
  • Must Eat: Flàmmeküeche - basically a very thin crust pizza, typically with lardons (bacon), white onions and a cream-based sauce.
  • Must drink: Wine, of course! But Germany's influence means you won't get sniffed at for ordering a beer. Sadly, I could have neither. Another apfelshorle s'il vous plaît.
  • Must see: Serious cuteness. Hubsch. Mignon. No matter how you pronounce it, this region is filled with towns straight outta a Disney set.

Riquewihr

My cousin recommended a stop in Riquewihr on our way to Strasbourg. She said it was touristy, but adorable.

It was.

We loved it.

French vineyard

Where to Take Your Parents in Alsace-Lorraine


Where to Take Your Parents in Alsace-Lorraine

Riquewihr France

Where to Take Your Parents in Alsace-Lorraine

This place is ridiculous. From the toy train that takes you through the tiny center which is safely located within medieval walls to the overwhelming aroma of wisteria that seems to cloak the entire region, the place is a fairy tale. Buy a giant meringue (2 euro) and peruse the tourist trappings. There is the usual mix of postcards, wine shops and knick-knacks, but we were dawn to the storks. 

Surely our impending special delivery was the reason for our interest, but the stork is actually an emblematic bird of Alsace. Many of the awkward creatures have made their home in the area so check town skylines for nests. Mementos of the baby-bringer can be purchased at almost any shop, but an ornament is the item that caught our eye. In an especially sentimental moment we had my parents sign the back for the kid and I can't wait to put it on our tree this Christmas.
Riquewihr France

Where to Take Your Parents in Alsace-Lorraine

Colmar

This is straight cheating as we didn't actually take my parents here. On our Belgium Beer Run we made a stop in Colmar on our way back to Berlin. It was one of the few times we rented a car so we chose the smaller of the two well-known cities (the other being Strasbourg - details below) as we figured it was our best shot of seeing it.

We rented a cheap hotel for about 30 euros a night (complete with charming hobo), drank glass after glass of 1 euro wine in the city center and ate one of the most perfect quiches ever created. The place is covered in criss-crossing canals and dangerously crooked buildings. It seems to be held up by charm and pretzel-shuttered window alone. We were enchanted. Parents would be too.

Where to Take Your Parents in Alsace-Lorraine

Rathaus Colmar France

Pretzel shutters in Alsace-Lorraine

Colmar France

Colmar France

Strasbourg

I thought there was no way this city could compare to the charm of its little sister, Colmar. I was wrong. 

Despite its size (760,000in the metropolitan area - making it the 9th largest in France), it doesn't lose its appeal but simply has more of the things you love. More canals. More precariously leaning buildings. And a lot more cathedral.
Where to Take Your Parents in Alsace-Lorraine
Notre Dame of Strasbourg Cathedral

Where to Take Your Parents in Alsace-Lorraine

Bridge Strasbourg France

Where to Take Your Parents in Alsace-Lorraine
Grande Île (Grand Island)

Strasbourg France

Where to Take Your Parents in Alsace-Lorraine
Stairwell at our AirBnb
We rented a cheap and surprisingly cute apartment on AirBnB for Strasbourg and I loved almost everything about it from its beautifully worn stone stairs to its friendly and helpful operator to the view of Notre Dame of Strasbourg Cathedral from our windows.


Where to Take Your Parents in Alsace-Lorraine

We were impressed by the city's cosmopolitan feel while somehow retaining its age-old allure. Nothing about the city was trying too hard. It just was lovely.

It's also important as the seat of the Council of Europe (with its European Court of Human Rights, European Directorate for the Quality of Medicines and European Audiovisual Observatory), Eurocorps, and European Parliament and the European Ombudsman of the European Union. The city is also the seat of the Central Commission for Navigation on the Rhine and the International Institute of Human Rights.

Where to Take Your Parents in Alsace-Lorraine
Mother Alsace and her fallen sons - both German and French
That's not to say that there wasn't anything youthful or playful. As the home of the University of Strasbourg - currently the second largest in France - there is enough nightlife and hipster shops to keep us satisfied had my parents not been around.

Where to Take Your Parents in Alsace-Lorraine

Where to Take Your Parents in Alsace-Lorraine
Showing our mature side at Rue de la Rape. We're gonna be parents!

Cathedral Strasbourg France
Rose Window Strasbourg France
Interior of Strasbourg Cathedral


Cathedral Strasbourg France

This leg of our dragging-my-parents-throughout-Europe-whether-they-like-it-or-not went swimmingly. It helps that they are exceptionally good sports about it. 

But it is truly easy to be pleased in the Alsace-Lorraine. The place is downright delightful, endearing, attractive and far too easy to fall in love with. With its one foot in France, one foot in Germany approach we were wondering if they are in need of Kita teachers. Moving away from Berlin usually feels unimaginable, but we could almost picture ourselves here. Almost.



5 comments:

Frau Dietz (Eating Wiesbaden) said...

Oh wow it all looks so beautiful - I had no idea! I have been longing to go to Strasbourg the whole time I've lived here - it's not exactly far - but I've only ever thought about the food, never the scenery. Well, now I want to go even more. Dammit.

natalye said...

This region is where my step-father-in-law is from, and they go back every year. Maybe one year we will have to convince them to bring us with.... looks like an absolute dream!

ebe porter said...

Glad you enjoyed Frau Dietz & Natalye. It was just all sorts of lovely. Go! Go for the food and the family and the sites.

Dana @ Wanted Adventure said...

Oh wow!! This area looks so gorgeous. It was always on my list to visit here, especially because I found out I have some long-lost part of my family tree that was from the region, but after seeing this photos it just got bumped up on the list :D Thanks for sharing!

ebe porter said...

Obviously, I highly recommend Dana. It is picturesque beyond belief and connecting with family roots always adds to the poignancy of a trip.

We're Back in Berlin Ja!

We're Back in Berlin Ja!
ebe & ian at Yak-toberfest 2008