Alsace is a region in northeastern France, just across the German border. Because of its location and the fact the region has been under the alternating control of France and Germany through the centuries, a unique mix of French and German cultures persists. We found that the locals definitely prefer to speak French, will speak German if necessary, and will grudgingly speak English if forced. The cuisine, unfortunately, has not been able to shake its strong German heritage. The work ethos appears to be all French, though, because almost all businesses in the smaller villages are closed from 12:00 to 2:00 every afternoon, just when tourists' euros are flowing most freely. Don't ever change, France!
We knew about this region through a combination of beautiful Pinterest pictures and the recommendation of our dear friend, Meghan. A true Francophile, Meghan said we just couldn't miss this place. She didn't steer us wrong and we loved it. Thanks, Meg!
We spent this day touring the villages of Turckheim, Kaysersberg, Ribeauvillé, Hunawihr, and Riquewihr. The latter two are often cited as two of France's most beautiful villages (as is Eguisheim, the town where we stayed), but we loved them all.
Ribeauvillé - This town was our favorite. It just felt right. It's so beautiful and idyllic that the animation team from Disney's Beauty and the Beast toured this town for inspiration. There's even a matching castle way up on the mountain behind the town. You can see it in the distance in the second and third pictures, below.
Riquewihr - We wanted to visit this town late in the day because it's very popular with tourists, so we tried to avoid the crowds. We had dinner at a restaurant called La Grenouille, the best part of which was our very sweet waitress.