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France

Route des Vins d'Alsace

One of our favourite forms of sightseeing

sunny 25 °C
View A Truck Trip, Still With No Name, But With Lots of Destinations on sagbucks's travel map.

Day 2 Friday 26 May 2017
Freyming to Xonrupt - Longemer / 230 km

  • Fine, sunny & cloudless blue sky - no really! We are so lucky.
  • Despite earplugs and eye blinds we are woken early by the persistent squawking of a crow or two. There must be a nest or a meeting perch just outside our velux window. Each type of bird has its moment of glory during the dawn chorus - it would seem the crow has its turn first. What a nasty bird, and how ugly its call.
  • Jean Pierre, the B & B owner and as we discover trained masseur, ( he is a big strong man with large hands! ) has already been to the local bakery. We enjoy delicious fresh rolls & croissants at breakfast.
  • It would be music to the ears of many a classic rally navigator - JP kindly allows us to make our picnic lunch direct from his breakfast table. No surreptitious food pilfering is necessary in this establishment. What a star!
  • We leave Freyming around 9. It's evidently white asparagus season - roadside stalls are selling this tasty vegetable along our route.
  • AG has planned today's journey. For the first 70 km we travel along a minor motorway until we reach the start of the Route des Vins d'Alsace. Wine routes - one of our favourite kind of sightseeing. This route des vins meanders some 120 km along the eastern foothills of the Vosges, a range of small mountains or rather big hills.
  • We are not alone - today is the start of the Ascension weekend and France is having a 4 day break. There's a lot of leisure activity going on. The roads are busy with motorcyclists, cyclists and cars alike, but the infrastructure can cope and we experience no traffic jams.
  • We're not driving the whole route, just a short section which leads us through typical Alsacien villages & towns such as Obernai, Mittelbergheim and Dambach la Ville. All offer great examples of half timbered houses, flower boxes full of flowering geraniums and quaint public fountains. And vineyards.
  • The name of tonight's destination, Xonrupt Longemer is obviously of Alsacien origin. Alsatian / elsaessisch is an alemannic dialect of German, similar to that spoken in nearby German regions and Switzerland. But it has no written form & Interpretative spelling on menus etc is a rather ad hoc affair. Apparently pronunciation varies greatly.
  • Language & politics do not necessarily respect the same geographical borders. This is true the world over. Although we are in France, true locals of this area also speak an Alsacien dialect. When SG overhears some local women conversing in the street, she understands not a word despite being pretty conversant in both French and German. Really names are linguistically very interesting in this part of the world. Earlier today for example we stopped for fuel at "Aire de Katzenkopf". The first two words being obviously French and the latter having firm German roots.
  • We pass within 30 km of Strasbourg. It is the capital of Alsace and a fairly significant centre of various European institutions: European Parliament, Council of Europe, & the European Court of Human Rights. Given Alsace's frequent & enforced change of ownership, it is not surprising that after World War 2, it became the symbol of hope for future Franco German relations and of pan European projects.
  • We have booked a table at L'Hors du temps in a nearby town called Gerardmer. We are looking forward to sampling some Alsacien wine with our meal. We have noted that the Sylvaner grape is grown around such wine villages as Mittelbergheim - of grand cru quality. But the region also produces fine Riesling, Pinot Gris and Gew├╝rztraminer wines. We will take advice.
  • We choose a bottle of Pinot Gris, which is a bit sweet for our palate. Not syrupy sweet, fruity sweet. But it goes well with AG's first course of Foie Gras.

If you happen to be in this part of world we recommend both our Chambres d' Hote ( L' Eden de Floridylle ) and the L'hors du temps restaurant. An appropriate name since we always seem to be out of time!

Local Asparagus for Sale by the Roadside

Local Asparagus for Sale by the Roadside

We're Driving This Today

We're Driving This Today

Vineyards as far as the eye can see - glorious

Vineyards as far as the eye can see - glorious

Our Truck stragically parked

Our Truck stragically parked

Some of our favourite scenery - Vineyards

Some of our favourite scenery - Vineyards

A Typical a Half Timbered Building in Alsacien Town

A Typical a Half Timbered Building in Alsacien Town

Alsacien building with Typical Half Timber Construction

Alsacien building with Typical Half Timber Construction

A Typical Public Fountain in Old Town Square

A Typical Public Fountain in Old Town Square

Our Meal for Tonight @ L'Hors du Temps

Our Meal for Tonight @ L'Hors du Temps

out of time!

Posted by sagbucks 09:13 Archived in France Comments (0)

Departure Day

sunny 23 °C
View A Truck Trip, Still With No Name, But With Lots of Destinations on sagbucks's travel map.

Day 1 Thursday 25 May 2017 Amersham / Freyming ( Lorraine, France )
517 km in Europe plus Amersham to Dover Mileage

  • Departure day dawns and it is a glorious early summer's morning. We know because we are up with the birds & on the road by 5.30 am heading down to Dover. We manage to catch an earlier ferry than anticipated. That's a bonus - every hour hanging around is wasted time and tiring for a the driver.
  • AG is determined to drive all the way. His decision is based on his firm belief that SG's driving ability is dismal. Neither worth the risk nor stress. SG has no say in the matter but benefits from better views as a passenger & so does not complain. She does however take her driving license, just in case.
  • At border control UK, we are asked why we went to Iran in 2014. We have visa stamps in our passport which tell the story. It caused us hassle and extra expense to travel to the USA last year. And now again our visit is flagged up. The British and American authorities really have a thing or two about Iran. And yet SG cannot recall that any recent terrorist attack has been linked directly to an Iranian citizen. Actually more Brits should go and see Iran for themselves and meet with its people. Dialogue between normal folk and not just politicians might be the key to future relationships.
  • The English Channel is like a millpond. Even SG does not bother with seasickness medication.
  • Deck 5, Green stairs, Bay 64 - remember it well. It's where we park the truck on the ferry. Just prior to arrival in Calais, AG heads down below deck while SG goes for a comfort stop ( such a polite American expression ) . But trying to find the truck and AG almost gives SG her first panic attack. Images of AG having to drive off the ferry without his navigator, still hopelessly lost in the bowels of the ferry, spring uncomfortably to mind. AG would not be impressed with his navigator losing the way so soon - albeit her own.

We had been one of the first trucks to park in the first line on deck. The number signs and smaller vehicles are now obliterated from view by HGV's, campervans and coaches.

  • As we drive through the ferry exit onto terra firma we get that delicious feeling of an imminent adventure. Our favourite type - a road adventure to far flung places.
  • It's a gorgeous day this side of the channel too.
  • AG has 507 km of French motorway driving today. It is also a long weekend in Europe. Near to Calais, traffic is heavy heading north to the UK. Not sure why. Fortunately we are on an easterly trajectory and it is still only Thursday. As is usually the case, our route in France is empty and clear. Almost a pleasure to drive. It would be difficult to feel the same about our English motorways, especially this Bank Holiday weekend.
  • We drive a familiar route until just after Reims. Familiar because every year we drive it once or twice to head to the French Alps. Skiing is a family passion.
  • After Reims we turn off our 'normal road' to head on the A4 towards Metz and beyond to our destination for the night - Freyming, a little town literally downhill from the German border and close to the city of Saarbrucken. Actually less of a physical border, more imaginary line.
  • There are no stops scheduled today, no sightseeing envisaged. SG is not sure why AG picked this little place to overnight - probably because in mileage terms it represents the end of his driving day. For sure we could never comfortably contemplate such mileage on UK roads.
  • On the motorway we begin to pass by historically notable names. Verdun, for ever associated with brutal trench warfare between the French and Germans during World War 1. It was only with the help of American forces that France was finally able to push back German troops in September 1918. During a 2 year period over 800000 soldiers were killed in and around Verdun.
  • The well marked route amongst the Verdun battlefields must surely be a similar pilgrimage as are the Normandy locations for the Brits. And to think that De Gaulle later withdrew from NATO after World War 2. Ungrateful or what?!
  • The next major city signposted is Metz, annexed by Germany in 1871 and not returned until the end of World War 1. Apparently it is a 'dignified city' with a Gothic Cathedral that was built between 1220 & 1522 ( major projects like cathedrals used to take centuries to finish ) which boasts some of the finest stained glass windows in France. AG obviously did not consider this to be a sufficiently enticing pull factor.
  • Our B & B for the night is owned by Jean Pierre, a man of French / Polish origin. His parents came from Poland after World War 2 to work in the nearby coal mines. He speaks French, German, English & Polish. His massage parlour downstairs is apparently closed Thursdays. Rooms are comfortable and en suite and there are shared kitchen facilities.

But we opt to dine out and Jean Pierre recommends us a local pizzeria - with a difference. L'Estaminet as the restaurant is called, specialises not only in pizza but also quiche & savoury tarts. The pastry bases are made in house and are deliciously thin and crispy. It turns out to be a little gem that is evidently well known in town. By the time we leave, it is full. During summer months ( and whoopee that includes end of May) customers eat outside in the covered garden. It is wonderful to be dining outdoors again.

  • Quiche Lorraine now takes on a new significance for SG. The folk of Lorraine may have thought up that most famous combination of cream, cheese onion and bacon, but quiche is actually a French variant of a German recipe dating back to the 16 century. It began as a bread dough crust filled with left over ingredients, the basis of which was eggs and cream.
  • Real men don't eat quiche. But SG does - one that is served with spinach and hard boiled eggs. AG chooses pizza, a very large one, which he manages to polish off.
  • It's been a long day and we retire early. Our room has a velux window which must be left open this warm balmy evening. We both decide to wear eye blinds which must look very attractive! SG also wears ear plugs to escape the inevitable dawn chorus. AG simply has to sleep on his good ear. It is surely the only advantage of being deaf in one ear.

We are sailing.... across the Channel

We are sailing.... across the Channel

A sign of the future - Tesla recharging at BP fuel station in France

A sign of the future - Tesla recharging at BP fuel station in France

L'Estaminet - a little gem in Freyming

L'Estaminet - a little gem in Freyming

AG enjoying a local beer at L'Estaminet

AG enjoying a local beer at L'Estaminet

Quiche Lorraine is speciality of the Lorraine region

Quiche Lorraine is speciality of the Lorraine region

Before Pizza is eaten at L'Estaminet

Before Pizza is eaten at L'Estaminet

After Pizza - a clean plate

After Pizza - a clean plate

Franco German border just uphill from our B & B

Franco German border just uphill from our B & B

SG is pleased with her luggage volume

SG is pleased with her luggage volume

Posted by sagbucks 07:20 Archived in France Comments (0)

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