” France seduces travellers with its unfalteringly familiar culture, woven around cafe terraces, village-square markets and lace-curtained bistros with their plat du jour chalked on the board. ” – Lonely Planet
I fancied visiting Alsace for three things – the pork-centric Alsatian cuisine, its most noted dry Riesling wines, and a strong German influence in this side of France.
A road trip to Alsace was indeed an ideal weekend getaway.
Due to its tumultuous past and its location between France and Germany, Alsace local culture is quite distinct. Alsatians feel extremely proud to be French, and yet from the local dialect to the traditional meals and iconic architecture, Alsace indeed displays its strong German heritage.
Not so far from where we were originally staying at Provence, we decided to go further to visit other known medieval towns in the region. Though we came too early for the lavander season, with which Provence is known for, it was still fascinating to see the grandeur of the Pope’s castle and the vineyards surrounding it, and the rustic, untouched beauty of a medieval town.
Avignon : City of the Popes
“Do you know this song, ‘On the bridge of Avignon’?” I was asked with this question several times as soon as we reached the centuries-old city in Provence. A children’s nursery song with very simple lyrics that’s so easy to follow, which is originally in French but got translated into English, still I cannot figure out what it is.
It was on its 100th year when I started watching Tour de France. Stage 15 was intense as I got fixated on the race between my favorite Columbian underdog Nairo Quintana and Team Sky’s lead Chris Froome. As they raced frantically hard against each other, my cheers for Quintana started to wane and then I become suspicious of Froome. “He must be on steroids!” I exclaimed. How can Froome be able to speed up in a snap in this death defying climb to reach the top of this mountain?
“Physically, the Ventoux is dreadful. Bald, it’s the spirit of Dry: Its climate (it is much more an essence of climate than a geographic place) makes it a damned terrain, a testing place for heroes, something like a higher hell.” – Roland Barthes, French philosopher and bicycle racing fan
On the way back home from Reims, we decided to stay in Dijon overnight. It was a Sunday so most shops are closed, but it’s still definitely worth a stopover.
We are more familiar with Dijon as another popular kind of mustard, thanks to Maille! Yet, Dijon is also one of the most appealing cities in France. This city is filled with refine Capetian, Gothic and Renaissance buildings, primarily because Dijon was the capital of the Dukes of Burgundy, which were powerful and influential during the 14th and 15th centuries. On top of that, these historical buildings were also kept intact and not heavily damaged during the world war. So it’s wonderful for strolling, while again for us, enjoying excellent French food and fine Burgundy wines!
Reims is a city in the Champagne-Ardenne region, north of France that is known for its cathedral as the historical coronation site for generations of French kings. Yet most of all, Reims, together with Eperney and Ay, is the main area of champagne production. Particularly this city is home to many largest champagne houses – les grandes marques as they call it, are simply the likes of Moët & Chandon. Last year, my husband and I traveled to Reims for a tour around champagne cellars, French gastronomy, and a few bottles of the most celebratory wine.