Our Barge, Odysseus

Monday, July 26, 2010

The Colmar Embranchement - July 11-15

After the big, bad Rhine River, the canal to Colmar was a welcome calm. We spent the night in the small village of Kunheim, just 6 kilometers off the Rhine, then got up early to make the last 22 k into Colmar; it was Sunday, Don's birthday, and a true French Sunday lunch was called for.

Down the Colmar Canal. Picture by Tim.

Sunday lunch in France is an event. Most shops and businesses are closed and the French either gather at someones house for a table-groaning affair or take part in the three hour restaurant meal. We parked the boat in the Colmar marina about noon and asked the port captain for a restaurant recommendation. He not only recommended a place, he made us a reservation! Map in hand we set out for "La Soi," or as it came to be known, "House of Pig."
It is truly a family style restaurant up a small side street and we really didn't know what we were getting into when we ordered. It seemed reasonable to order a salad and then main course until the salad appeared. It was a meal in itself. By the time we had consumed all of the (really good) food we could, there was nothing else to do but nap. Besides, it was beastly hot again (in the 90's), so there was not much else to do. This was also our first "tarte flambe" of the trip. This Alsatian specialty is like a very thin crusted pizza but with no tomato sauce. Instead it is topped with cream and onions. The traditional comes with lardons (bacon bits) and cheese, and there are also varieties with extra cheese or mushrooms. The one we had at "La Soi" was excellent. It will be the tarte flambe to be measured against for the rest of our time in Alsace.

A "tarte flambe" on the street.

Colmar is in the very center of the Alsatian wine region. As a result, it is chock full of tourists. It's been prettified almost to Disneyfication but some areas, particularly "Little Venice," with it's small canals and streams,are very beautiful.

Tuesday we took a bus up into the nearby vineyards in the village of Turkheim, just at the mouth of the Munster Valley. The views of the small villages reminded us of last year in Champagne. We wished it was cool like that. The weather continued very hot.

Delicious wines in the making.

Wednesday was "Fete National," France's equivalent of our 4th of July. Colmar would have a huge celebration with music and fireworks on Tuesday night. Cathy Jo was feeling a little under the weather so Tim and I made our way into downtown Colmar. We endured a really bad cover band, drank waaay too much cheap beer and saw a really amazing fireworks display coordinated with ear crashing music. About 11:30 we weaved our way back to the boat.
Thursday we were on our way back out to the Rhine. We would have one more short section before we could enter the northern branch of the Canal Rhone au Rhine. We stopped again in the village of Kunheim where Tim took the bus back to Colmar. He was off to Switzerland and we were off to Strasbourg.

Odysseus in Kunheim.

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