Day 16: Strasbourg to Chatenois - Grampies Tour de France - CycleBlaze

April 11, 2018

Day 16: Strasbourg to Chatenois

One of the best cycling days ever.

Even though we had hoped and predicted that the Alsace Wine Route would be a highlight of the trip,  we must not have really absorbed all the available information.  That must be because we were a little surprised, though pleasantly, to find that straight out of Strasbourg we were on a named cycle route, the route of the Canal de la Bruche. This was beautiful, completely off road, and also part of Eurovelo 5.

Euovelo 5, the Via Francigena, runs from Canterbury to Rome, and picks up the Wine Route on its way. 

The Canal de la Bruche took us all the way out to Soultz-les-Bains, which is where the Wine Route would begin for us.  We had a perfectly sunny day which helped enhance the beauty of the route, but anytime you have water lined by plane trees its going to be beautiful. On this one, we were already picking up some interesting buildings and at least one nearby town, but this was just the merest taste of what was to come. 

We love official routes
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This is also on the way from Canterbury to Rome (EV 5)
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EV5 and the Wine Route!
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Here we go! Straight down that green line.
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A beautiful path
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Interesting trailside buildings. This must be a former lock house.
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Barry BartlettHi Steve and Dodie,
Your tip for taking the Canal de Bruche and the Wine Route has been great. We are loving it here. Riding along the canal was a real highlight of our day. The signage was excellent . Loving your journal.
All the best,
Barry and Mary Ellen
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1 year ago
Steve Miller/GrampiesThe wine route still stands as one of the highlights of our trip so far.
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1 year ago
This is really swan nesting time
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The stork is the acknowledged symbol of Alsace. It was endangered in the 1980's but since being protected it has made a comeback.
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We passed a few villages before reaching the actual Wine Route, and each time Dodie checked to see if I wanted to go in and find a bakery. But I was holding out for Molsheim, a larger centre where I was sure a search for a bakery would be successful. However as soon as we hit Soultz we also hit a bakery, directly on the path.  While we had started out wearing quite a few layers of clothes, by this point the sun had warmed everything and the terrace seating by the path was just great.

Dodie bought a bunch of salads and sandwiches for later but we needn't have worried. This absolutely was not the only bakery we were going to run into during the day! These bakeries  were pretty stunning. Have a look at some of the choices:

One of each?
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Michel Fleurancetoo perfect ....
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1 year ago
Steve Miller/GrampiesTo Michel FleuranceAh yes, sometimes you have argued in favour of ugly baking, like with the brioche avec praline rose. Maybe right.
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1 year ago

Turning now to the Wine Route in earnest we were nevertheless ready to blow by Molsheim, since now we did not need a bakery. But we spotted a crowd of people on the way to the town centre and decided to go see what the excitement was. It turned out to be nothing other than the elementary school letting out (the kids were getting a half day off) and all the parents had turned out to pick them up. Once we had gone this far, we threaded our way through the crowd and proceeded to "downtown", 1 block.  Here we began to get an idea of just how attractive these towns were going to be. There were lots of Alsation style buildings and narrow streets. So I began a day of taking lots of photos, like this:

Typical building in Molsheim
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Molsheim central square
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Though I appreciated Molsheim, I was still able to whine "Yeah, but where are the hills and vines?" I was definitely about to find out!

 The path continued level for a bit and then zap!, it headed for the hills and vines. Actually it seemed to have climbed a ridge, for we descended on the other side to Rosheim. Rosheim was maybe the first really flat out Wine Village, but it was followed in very short order by Bischoffsheim and Obernai. Each one was just as lovely as the last, with Alsatian houses, impressive churches, and towers. It was all really just as advertised. More than advertised, actually, and we were blown away by the beauty of these towns.

Flat path for a bit more
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Up into the vines
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Up on the ridge.
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Rosheim
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Rosheim
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Rosheim
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Rosheim through the gate
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Bischoffsheim
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Bischoffsheim
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Entering Obernai
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This and next five shots are in Obernai
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Good news, reader, we are starting to tire of shooting all these lovely towns.
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Just outside the walls of Obernai a mother and little girl on bikes were behind us. We heard the mother remarking about the Canadian flag on my bike, so we stopped to talk for a bit. The family lives here, but the mother and father had met in Ottawa! Though one is from Frankfurt and one from Paris, they settled here to be midway between both families. Dodie dug out a Canada license plate for the little girl, Sophie, and fixed it to her bike with zip ties. We are guessing she is going to be very proud of it!

Outside the walls of Obernai
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Sophie
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Our map designated  Gertwiller the village of gingerbread and we were very interested to find what that was all about. In the town we soon came on one "house of gingebread". We took a quick turn into town to see what else there might be, but soon turned back to the first house, judging it would be more than entertaining enough. 

The outside had lots of gingerbread decoration, and the interior was just as fun, with many gingerbread related products. I am calling this gingerbread, but the French seems to be "spice cake".  To us this is actually "lebkuchen", which is best known as coming from Nurnburg.  I asked one of the clerks about these distinctions, and whether this spice cake was a truly local tradition or whether it was a German spinoff. She told me that this stuff was native to here, and that the original form was the flat "gingerbread cookie". There had been six bakers in town making these, mainly for the Dec. 6 "St. Nicholas" day, which was bigger here than Christmas. Then, the bakers would inscribe messages by request on the cookies, like "Je t'aime". Today the town has two gingerbread bakers, "Lips", where we were, and "Gingerbread Palace", which we had missed.  As you see in the photo, Lips has the flat cookies but also loafs (with flavours like whole ginger, and apple) as well as "Lebkuchen" style soft cake in chocolate or white coating.  We bought some of each!

While in the store we attracted some attention from other patrons. One couple were vacationing from Normandy, where they live in Pont L'Eveque. The man said his parents were there at the time of the D-Day landings, and the while thing seemed very vivid in his mind. This is understandable, because although few if any are living today who were adult participants in the events of 1939-45, they have often passed on their memories to their children. Dodie is certainly in that category. In this case the man insisted that the Canadians had liberated Normandy, and in particular had arrived in gliders and taken the Pegasus Bridge. We could not shake him in that belief, though we know for sure that Pegasus was a British operation.

Gertwiller, but we did not check out the whole town.
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One of two gingerbread bakers
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Fanciful decoration
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A link between Hansel and Gretl and gingerbread
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Two gingerbread styles, there are others!
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Alsace souvenirs in the shop include these witches
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These casseroles are used in traditional Alsace dishes, and particularly "Langhopf" though we are not quite sure what that is.
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Too bad we can not carry one of these stork snow globes to Montreal
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The super cuteness of Alsace houses is not lost on souvenir makers.
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As we continued to pass through village after village we gave up on trying to photograph them. Except, here is one image - quite evocative - of the buildings clustered around the church.

Dambach La Ville
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The town where we had found a place to stay, Chatenois, was hyper-cute like the others.  And our hotel, named for the family - Dontenville - was built in 1742. It's a "new" addition, replacing a former slaughterhouse. Inside it is pleasingly rustic.

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The maps shows even denser clusters of villages coming up. We expect tomorrow to be a repeat of today. We know we are passing through this amazing region rather quickly, but as always we are promising ourselves that we we will be back!

Today's ride: 73 km (45 miles)
Total: 881 km (547 miles)

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Stewart Brady https://www.bredele.alsace/recette-langhopf/

S&D,
A spicy brioche apparently.

Stewart Brady

Bury UK
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1 year ago
Sue PriceSo Dodie looks like those hills are nothing! How wonderful!
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1 year ago
Laurie MarczakType your comment here
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1 year ago
Steve Miller/GrampiesTo Laurie MarczakThink you may have forgotten to actually "Type your comment here"
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1 year ago
Laurie MarczakHarumph. Clearly I had a finger malfunction of some kind! Followed by a brain malfunction because I no longer recall what my comment would have been, so let’s roll with “hi mom and dad!”.

Sure looks like you’re having fun on this one, we need to train up the little monsters and make the Great European family bike ride actually happen....
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1 year ago
Steve Miller/GrampiesTo Laurie MarczakYes, as we ride we are constantly assessing which bits are the safest and most interesting, and then trying out scenarios of who could fly in and cycle when and where. When we get back, we will have to all think harder about it.

There is certainly a lot of support and protected path on the eastern Mosel coming into Koblenz, also from Koblenz south on the Rhine, and the northern part of the Alsace Wine Route. Those kids could learn to like Riesling ...
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1 year ago
Steve Miller/GrampiesTo Sue PriceYou know, it's still a workout but the hills are now possible to cycle on. Prior to that it was a matter of dismounting and pushing up. Dodie claims to have actually walked 1/3 of the Camino, pushing her bike!
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1 year ago