On a mild, sunny day in early Autumn, I began my road trip around the Alsace region of France. Could any place be more charming? The vineyards stretch over gently rolling hills and the journey is dotted with picture-perfect villages, their wood-frame buildings straight out of a fairytale. Each one had its one unique vibe but all were equally wonderful.
My first stop was Riquewihr. It has a lively main street dotted with sidewalk seating. My husband and I shared a croque monsieur and in my eagerness to eat this delectable item, I received a third degree burn on the roof of my mouth. Beware of hot cheese! This little town has a wonderful cheese cave which you must visit, Les Caves d'Affinage de Riquewihr.
My next stop was to be my base village of Kaysersberg. A sleepy and extraordinarily charming place, you could not dream up a more perfect place to go for a morning stroll while savoring a croissant. Life moves at a slow pace here so that you can appreciate just how idyllic a place you're in.
Flowers grow in abundance in window boxes and planters. The wood-framed houses are painted in vibrant colors and the shutters ornamental. Rather than having been modeled after by fairy tales, this place must be where storybooks were dreamed up, the dark tales a necessity to break up the sheer perfection.
The next stop was Colmar, the largest of the towns I was to visit. I feared it would lack the allure of the tiny villages because how can you possibly compete? I was pleasantly surprised by another absolutely lovely place. While Colmar was certainly bustling in a way that Kaysersberg was not, it was still lined with flowers. While it felt more lived in and less fairy-tale, every shop and every restaurant was oozing with charm.
The next stop was the delightful little village of Eguisheim (and yes, I am running out of adjectives to describe these places–idyllic, charming, perfect, magical, wonderful). Eguisheim is a regular winner of "Most Charming Village in France" and it is immediately easy to see why. Picture-perfect alleys wind through colorful houses with window boxes overflowing with blooms. Wine tasting rooms dot the entire village, showcasing the local vineyard's finest. A stork's nest rests atop the roof of the perfect little church in the perfect little square. I sat down in Les vins d'Alsace Paul Schneider at a rustic long wooden table and sampled their lovely dry Rieslings and Gewürztraminer. Afterwards I took a stroll up a lane toward the hilltop vineyards. From there, I looked down upon this wonderful place amid the green grapes.
The next stop was <insert charming synonym of your choosing> Ribeauvillé. Luckily for me there was a festival going on so not only was the street bustling with activity, but there was joy in the air and medieval costumes in the medieval streets. Pennants tossed about in the wind above the street as though waving to passerbys. The atmosphere was a perfect blend of French and German. I sat down to enjoy a beer and plate of spaetzle and watched the parade march down the street. The merriment was positively contagious and I was quickly infected by the jubilation
Go to Alsace for the wine, but go for so much more. Go to fall in love. Fall in love with the cobblestone streets. Fall in love with the fairytale buildings. Fall in love with the pace of life, which always leaves time for a lengthy cappuccino and a nice, dry riesling in the evening. Fall in love with your traveling companion. Go to Alsace to slow down, to appreciate the little things and most importantly to remember that fairy tales are, in fact, real.