The smell of burning wood wafting through the air, hot mulled wine being sold along the narrow cobblestoned French streets with a haunting fog rolling through the hilly vineyards in the distance – the three small Christmas villages in the Alsace region of France felt like a dream. We ended the last week of 2018 on a road trip with a fellow newlywed couple we met in Strasbourg, and though it rained most of the day, it was romantic, nostalgic and so very French. The Alsace region of France sits along the eastern border of Germany, flowing alongside with the Rhine river. We spent the day, strolling under umbrellas, nibbling on cheesy “bretzels”, wine tasting the very best Alsatian wines, and marveling at all of the colorful, twinkly and traditional Christmas decor.
We visited three tiny French villages:
Most of them looked identical with their narrow streets, vineyard-covered hills in the distance and wooden Christmas stalls selling vin chaud and bretzels. My favorite village happened to be the biggest village with a variety of artisan shops and Christmas booths selling handmade crafts and ornaments and a striking river rapidly flowing through the town. Kayserberg looks like a countryside village that might have inspired the painter Bob Ross, with the various pastel-colored houses, timbered roofs, and wooden shutters. The mountains sloped down all around us, with the eeriest and most magnificent fog creeping through and the only sound being the water rapids roaring underneath the stone bridges.
What made the villages come truly alive, thought was the Christmas energy and spirit that poured through the towns. Classical holiday music hung in the air, the smell of strong cheeses and wine wafted along through and the pastry and patisserie shops brightened up the streets with their gingerbread houses and traditional Christmas cakes and pies in the windows. It all felt so old, almost ancient and mideveil. Like something in a storybook or dream that I had always imagined of but never actually witnessed in-person.
I’m so thankful to our friends who invited us along on their road trip, for without a car it is impossible to reach these isolated towns that cling to the nearby vineyards. What a wonderful trip to end 2018 on.
Happy New Year my friends!
December 30, 2018