Our tiny apartment does not have wifi (or phone coverage) so, after breakfast, in order to keep you posted we took the laptop to one of the nearby squares where I could access free wifi…but it was so slow, so not many photos downloaded. After our daily Expresso coffee, we dropped the laptop back off at our apartment, picked up the leftover pasta from last night and headed off for our day in the vineyards.
It was a really spectacular day weather-wise, first for about a week. Probably around 20’c and clear blue skies. We caught the local bus that headed out to a series of small villages about a 30min drive out of Colmar (where we are staying). You have got to love the local bus that does not take a direct route, but wanders around the back streets and through heaps of vineyards. Our stop was the furthest village, Ribeauville.
This area is the heart of the Alsace wine area, fields of vines everywhere even into the small villages. The very helpful man in the tourist information centre, not only provided us with the information we wanted, but also mentioned that the vineyards around here were established during Medieval times at the same time as the villages were established. What that meant is that while all the grapes are grown outside the town, all the wineries where the wine is actually produced are actually in the centre of the towns, so would have once been behind the city walls. Gotta protect that valuable wine!
Anyway, as it was getting close to lunchtime and there was a beautiful little park just near where the bus stopped, we thought we would begin our touring with some food. So we had our little picnic of leftover pasta under some plane trees, along with a number of other ‘cheap’ tourists and some locals.
Then it was time to wander through the old town. Ribeauville is a good size village and one of around 7-8 villages all within a small area. Each village is separated by vineyards that run up the hills, with the villages in the crevices at the bottom of the hills. The towns seem to all date back to 12 century at least and each have their ‘old town’ areas. This one was typical of the others, with a central main street wending its way up the hill, eventually ending in a castle ruin at the top of the hill. The street is lined with medieval, renaissance and 17th/18th century buildings. This is a key tourism area, so everything is in good nick. This Alsace area is a lot more like the northern parts of Europe with brightly painted houses.
We had the map from the tourist office that provided the guided walk through the town, so we were able to see various points of interest…churches, the old town hall, the houses that were owned by nobles or by various craftsmen.
It did not take too long to walk to the other end of town at which point we headed off on our walk through the vineyards to the next village. This was probably only about 3km away, although a few good inclines to slow us down a bit, as did the continuous photo taking as around each bend there was something else to photograph. We were walking on the old roads between the villages (one lane only) which are now only for walkers, cyclists and local wine growers. Most of the walk is through vineyards, with one section through a bit of a forest. There are also great views of the surrounding villages and nearby hills. The fields are busy at the moment as it is grape picking time, so heaps of people hand picking the fruit.
The next village was similarly quaint as the last one, although this one had a fortified church at the top of the hill. Then it was probably another 4km walk to the last village, which turned out to be very similar again (how much quaintness can one take…and frankly they all looked the same). This last one was a particularly busy one with tourists, so we did our best to avoid the crowds and found a bar to have a glass of champagne (and here you can actually call it that, because it is champagne) and waited for our local bus to take us back to Colmar and another home cooked dinner of vegies.