Things rarely go to plan when travelling at Christmas time, do they? Particularly in a country that takes its jours fériés very seriously and when a dependency on fluffy, white snow is vital to the holiday activities. The choice to go to the Alsace region in France, which runs along the German border, seemed to me to be a brilliant idea: French language for me, German food and beer for Michael, Christmas markets galore and the beautiful Vosges mountains in the background, ripe for skiing because it ALWAYS snows when you expect it to right? Bien sûr!
Sitting inside our hotel, having a carpet picnic on Christmas day as the heavens opened up with hot (well, about 12°C) rain did put a slight dampner on the festive spirit. We spent six very tense days in beautiful Alsatian villages praying that the temperatures would drop so we could get in one day of skiing…and on our second last day it did. Thankfully our Christmas village of Kaysersberg was particularly lovely, albeit in the rain – it even had it’s own castle!
Realistically Alsace won’t be on my travel list again any time soon – a fan of France I definitely am but a fan of sauerkraut and aspic? Not so much! Once again I was struck by how much variety there is in this amazing country’s landscape and culture…but give me a Périgueux duck dinner any day, I say 😉
The Alsace good:
- Five separate Christmas Markets in beautiful Colmar.
- Château du Haut–Koenigsbourg – incredible castle on an impossible cliff.
- Speaking French again – my skills were truly merdique but it felt nice to be able to chat to people.
- Eguisheim and Kaysersberg – beaux villages too cute to believe.
- Ice skating and skiing – I sucked far less than I thought I would.
- Moricettes – amazing pretzel bread rolls that I have never seen before. So yum!
The Alsace bad:
- Weather stress
- Christmas tree liqueur – tastes like Pinoclean
- Freiburg across the border in Germany – not a particularly exciting day trip
- Kougelhopf cakes – they’ve got nothing on cannelés
- So many sausages and potatoes…so much stodginess!
- Finding out that the mushroom we once found growing in our dungeon ex-flat in London is actually a specialty in France…we had at least five on our Christmas Eve boeuf! Whaaaa?
Happy New Year everyone and keep smiling no matter the weather!