Postcard from Alsace: Wine, Wisteria, and Storks

30 Apr

30 April 2019.

It is always time for wine in France’s Alsace Region, but only for a short time in the spring do the storks roost here to rear their young. Until we arrived we had no idea about this annual migration nor did we know how revered the storks, or cigognes blanches, are.  They are symbols of happiness and faithfulness bringing fertility and good luck. There is a fun read here from the Seattle Times a few years ago.

Ric captured a close up of this nest with both parents present. They were clicking away at each other, their method of communicating. The nest is perched atop a steeple. Note the supports. The towns build and maintain platforms to support the huge nests.

The storks feature prominently in town art,

We have had a full itinerary, one day taking a tour of a small portion of the Route des Vins d’Alsace visiting three family-run wineries, and another day exploring the beautiful and tiny villages, spotting storks, and enjoying the seasonal decorations that adorn every house, shop, and square. Wisteria drapes from walls, roofs, and trees, enhanced by bunnies, eggs, and other signs of the just-past Easter holiday. The air is fragrant with lilac.

The wisteria is at its peak while the tulips have just faded.

A day hike through the vineyards got us away from the hordes and tourist buses in Colmar, which has been our base for five nights. There has also been plenty of time to enjoy the local cuisine.

Flammekueche or tarte flambée, depending on your language choice. Think of it as Alsatian pizza. It is FABULOUS.

As usual, we are car-free. I can imagine why a car would be helpful in this region as public transportation is a bit thin. With the help of a taxi driver named Isa, we have managed quite well. Three times Isa took us to villages that were difficult to reach by bus. We feel like we have our own personal driver in Colmar. Three taxis were far more economical than renting a car for 4-5 days.

For now, I will let our pictures do the talking. Between us, we took far too many in four days: almost 500! Watch for a post (soon!) over at Project Easy Hiker as well about our backroads walk from Riqewihr to Ribeauville along with our visit at the Centre de Reintroduction which has helped in stork recovery.

One of the more brightly colored buildings, this one in tiny Riquewihr. Can you see the bunnies in the window boxes?

The decorations would be tacky on one house, kitschy on two, but when every building has them, it is a theme.

Even this restaurant in Turckheim was bedecked. This is where we had the tarte flambée along with seasonal white asparagus, another specialty of the region.

In Alsace, they use some very old wine barrels such as these beautifully decorated ones from a bygone era.

An eye test chart in an Alsatian winery. The real test for me was pronouncing the names.

Even in the overast that predominated our days in Colmar, the buildings are charming. No wonder this area is called “La Petit Venise.”



16 Responses to “Postcard from Alsace: Wine, Wisteria, and Storks”

  1. Sarah Wyckoff April 30, 2019 at 12:05 #

    I’m so happy to read and see the pictures! The one of you with the wisteria is divine in particular. It’s also enormously gratifying to see how people support, quite literally, their native wildlife.


    • Laurel April 30, 2019 at 21:47 #

      Thanks for reading, Sarah! The story of the stork recovery is heartwarming and it is clear they are much loved.


  2. Audrey Crocker April 30, 2019 at 09:40 #

    Looks so pretty, wish i was there.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. chloe erkenbrecher April 30, 2019 at 07:56 #

    This has to be one of my favorite areas of France. Maarja, you are lucky to be going there in September as the vineyards will be so colorful and the houses should still have flowers all over them. The ‘flower towns’ in Alsace make the flower towns in the rest of France look anemic. You should be able to buy tarte flambee in TJ’s. I have found it there, but it’s not as good as it is at the source. You can make it yourself with pizza dough. Have a lovely trip.


    • Laurel April 30, 2019 at 21:51 #

      Hi Chloe! So nice you have some tips for Maarja. I think it is just as well that we only had one tarte flambee. We had not been eating cheese much the past few months but we are making up for it now!


  4. Marcia Kakiuchi April 30, 2019 at 07:53 #

    We drink a champagne from the Alsace Region that is one of our favorites. And those Wisteria hanging down are so gorgeous. The storks look like a cross between a seagull and a stork! What an unusual symbol revered in this area.

    As usual, the food looks delicious… send some over! Haha

    Liked by 1 person

    • Laurel April 30, 2019 at 21:53 #

      Now you have to come on a tour and drink your Crement d’Alsace at the source! I think a stork could take down a gull. They look like small pterodactyls when they fly overhead.


  5. Maarja April 30, 2019 at 06:56 #

    So pretty! We are heading that direction in early September so I’m wondering what the theme will be then!


    • Laurel April 30, 2019 at 21:54 #

      Let me know if you need a recommendation on a place to stay in Colmar. We liked our apartment. But as you will have a car, you might consider Ribeauville. We walked through and thought it quite enchanting and would stay there on a return trip. Baci!


      • Maarja May 3, 2019 at 08:06 #

        Yes please email me any suggestions on where to stay…I think also that Ribeauville sounds great.


  6. the #1 Itinerary April 30, 2019 at 02:12 #

    Great post 😃

    Liked by 1 person

    • jonnietootling April 30, 2019 at 15:04 #

      Actually I think the overcast day is helpful — those are VERY colorful buildings. Love the stork art.


      • Laurel April 30, 2019 at 21:55 #

        Thanks, Jonnie! Sometimes overcast helps with a certain depth in the photos.


    • Laurel April 30, 2019 at 21:55 #




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