our drive through wine country ended in Colmar, just 45 miles south of where we’d started our day on the Route des Vins. we all were a little sad that this was the last stop on our journey before heading back toward Paris the next day, and a final night at an airport hotel and our flight home. but we were excited to see one more little fairytale village.
our home for the night would be in one of those little fairytale buildings. my eyes totally lit up when we drove up to Hostellerie le Maréchal, set back from the road with a cocktail-perfect patio/courtyard in front. the 4-story historic building was classic Alsace, painted green with shutters and rows of windows dotting the steeply-slanted roof. we discovered after a 4-floor ride in a tiny elevator and climbing 2 sets of windy, narrow stairs (with our gargantuan 10-day suitcases, of course) that our room was all the way up in that tippy-top row of windows. now we could officially add “quaint” to our list of hotel experiences for the trip! they appear to have a very fancy, much-lauded restaurant. we only took the breakfast in favor of exploring for other local flavor.
we spent most of the evening and next morning walking around, exploring “Little Venice” and beyond. the “little” in La Petite Venise is no joke. we were amused to see a boat canal tour take off with a boat full of tourists, only to realize that it turned around a mere 3 blocks later because that was as far as it could go before the bridge underpasses were too low and the water too high. hope they didn’t pay too much for that ride.
Miss Girl got to try one final version of ham and cheese: the much-touted (by Spy) tarte flambée, which is basically a a white pizza topped (in our case) with ham or sautéed onions. she wasn’t blown away, but i was in heaven. we lingered on the patio of a a nice little canal-side café over 2 of them and a bottle of Edelzwicker (i had decided that was all i was going to drink for the rest of our stay in case i couldn’t find any at home) until our maniac of a daughter had worn out her welcome with the other (childless) Friday-night patrons.
the next morning, we found a bustling market scene full of local wares, as well as one final cathedral — this one much more foreboding than the others had seemed, with its darker stone and an audacity of gargoyles (yes, really).
we picked up some sandwiches for the road and headed off for one last adventure . . . La Montagne des Singes.
driving back toward the castle at Haut-Koenigsbourg, we got an amazing backwards view of some of the wine country scenes we’d seen the previous day, which was pretty cool — and just as beautiful. Monkey Mountain is a preserve for Barbary macque monkeys, which are endangered. the preserve allows for research and bolstering population. the monkeys are released back into the wild in the Atlas Mountains in Morocco. it was truly amazing to see them roaming free, playing, napping — and eating. while most zoos and preserves tell you not to feed the animals, Montagne des Singes actually encourages it. when you enter the park, you’re given a handful of popcorn. you simply approach the monkeys with one piece at a time and they will literally just grab it out of your hand. and they’re actually really gentle! i was shocked. Miss Girl was delighted. it was truly a one-of-a-kind experience.
the drive back to Charles de Gaulle was long and uneventful, save for the amazing-to-me sight of all the giant white wind turbines rising out of the rolling green farmland. of course i’ve seen them on TV, but they are just huge and graceful and commanding in real life — a force to be respected, and i was in awe. i wish we’d stopped to take a picture, but it was getting late and getting to the hotel seemed more pressing.
and with that, our tour de France was complete. seriously, best. vacation. ever. i would love to go back and try to see less, stay in fewer hotels and just be a little more relaxed. but for this trip, we did what we had to do and i wouldn’t have done a single thing differently. i think it was an amazing experience for Miss Girl and me from the perspective of seeing a new place and culture. and it was an amazing experience for our whole family from the standpoint of traveling together and spending that much time together over 9 or 10 days. i think we learned as much about our own little family as we did about the wonderful places we visited.
now. what the heck am i supposed to write about with all this off my plate? happy Friday, everyone!