France 35 - vines, vines as far as the eye can see

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June 10th 2012
Published: June 10th 2012
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We travelled a few miles up the road from Colmar to Camping Intercommunal de Riquewihr. This site was owned and run by three of the local villages who wished to encourage visitors to their area. It was situated just outside of the small tourist town of Riquewihr. All of these small french towns feel more German than French but one thing they have in common is that they are all organised to support visitors to their area. Visitors and the purchase of wine being the life blood of the community. We got to the site earlier than we expected but found a warm welcome. We were given plot 68 which turned out to be against the back fence of the site and had long grass which resembled our own meadow. Buttercups, clover and long grasses waved in the sunlight. Blue and black butterflies floated by. Our neighbours were Dutch to one side and German to the other. Our second job after hitching Suzy up to the electrics was to help our Dutch neighbours who were having problems with the towing bracket on their caravan. With our extensive tool kit the towing bracket was fixed. We were embarrased to hear that our Dutch friends spoke at least 5 languages between them. They had spent time in London and were fluent in English. They told us that they spent most of their holidays in this part of the world trying out and buying wine. They sat all afternoon with their rescued dog Cinnamon or in French Celon. They had picked her up in Spain during a previous holiday.

Our other good deed for the day was to help an older gentleman who was having trouble connecting to the internet. He was heading for the Pyrannees and Spain. WFI was free on this site for however long you wanted it although it did only work intermittently. Entente Cordiale was in evidence on the site as everyone seemed to talk to everyone else and helped when help was needed.

During the afternoon a local fete was being held. Music blared from the loudspeakers and football matches were being played. It sounded as if a good time was being had by all of the local community today. We just sat in the sun enjoying what turned out to be a lovely campsite. The toilets were old fashioned but clean and tidy, I was able to order bread and crossants for breakfast. The plots were large and there was plenty of room to bring the awning out and sit on our chairs. Poldark came out again.

On the Sunday after a late breakfast we headed out to the town of Riquewihr which was a couple of kilometres away. The hardest part of the walk was the lack of footpaths. We could see the fairy tale roofs in the distance, the petite train climbing the hillside amongst the vines and the pretty houses. I had left a stew on in the slow cooker for our return and wondered what it would turn out like this time. Hopefully I had got it right. The fields on the way were full of yellow vetch, a plant that looked like a cross between a large clover and the vetches, vines and roses filling the fields. It was very pleasant.

As we entered the town we noticed how busy it was. Heaving with visitors who had come into the town by bus. All of the cafes were busy as we had arrived around lunchtime. Riquewihr is pretty with all the houses multicoloured, some deep mauve, others crimson. A long cobbled street led past the local museum with its two tiered coach outside and upwards past the Hotel de Ville and an archway with a clock in its tower. The top of the town was ringed by ramparts and a gatehouse with portcullis. Lovely as it was I would have preferred to see it on a less busy day. The shops were heaving , some selling cakes, biscuits, pretzels and kugelhof - others selling everything to do with storks. Fridge magnets, stork toys, clothing for babies with stork motifs or I love Alsace emblazoned across the front. Caves offering degustations. Every other shop was selling wine naturally. .

We walked back along another road. This time stopping at a local wine producer where we saw our first French Passion site. On the door was a sign saying that the domaine welcomed motorhomers at no charge. They expected the motorhome owner to go and say hello and goodbye when they left and they looked forward to hearing where the motorhomer had come from and was intending to travel to. There was no obligation to buy anything from the domaine. We did however go in and sampled two wines, one a Pinot Noir 2011 which was dry and a Riesling 2010 which was even dryer. We purchased 6 bottles which we will enjoy once we get home. We did wonder whether we ought to join French Passion as it gives you another place to park apart from campsites and aires.

When we arrived home our English neighbours Peter and Vera invited us around for cheese,biscuits and coffee. Both came originally from Derbyshire so we had much in common with them and spent the night chatting pleasantly and comparing notes. Although they had travelled in a caravan longer than we had travelled in the motorhome.

The night was quiet and the only noise owls and nightingales. Peace, perfect peace.


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