Alsace Wine Road and Colmar

Monday, May 31 – Kintzheim: The sun still isn’t out but we were refreshed after yesterday and determined to see the sights.

We started the day at the restored castle of Haut-Koenigsbourg which sits atop an enormous peak rising unaccountably from the valley floor. The castle was restored in the early 20th century by Kaiser Wilhelm as a reminder of Germany’s former greatness — not unlike Rockefeller’s motivation at Williamsburg.

Then we meandered down the Alsatian Wine Road which connects the series of villages on the eastern slopes of the Vosges mountains which produce vin d’Alsace. Each one would be a candidate for Disneyland but they’re saved by their obvious authenticity and their focus on the day-to-day production (and, of course, sale) of wine.

At lunchtime we stopped at Albert Schweitzer’s birthplace (Kayserberg) for it’s famous pretzel shop and stayed for lunch when we saw the signs for the asparagus specials:

We then arrived in Colmar to wander about and see Grunewald’s great Isenheim altarpiece (Unterlinden Museum) which I’d first seen 49 years ago while in Belfort during my first summer in France. It’s a lot larger than I remembered (12’ across) and has many panels in addition to the famous crucifixion scene. The museum also has a large number of fine 15th century religious paintings to complement the altarpiece. A wonderful afternoon.

After returning home, we walked up to Kintzheim for dinner.

They were featuring an asparagus tarte flambée, so we jumped in:

We felt obliged to try the other local specialty, Baeckeoffe, a stew-like mixture of various meats, vegetables and potatoes dropped off with the baker before Sunday services and retrieved afterwards. (Not really anything to write home about.)

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