Candes Saint-Martin, my favourite spot in La Touraine.

Thursday, 17 September 2009

A day of sightseeing and local cuisine - 1

On day 2 of our Alsace trip we decided to visit the nearby town of Colmar. On the internet site of the local tourist board I had acquired a detailed plan of the old town centre and an overview of the most important sights to see. I had also found a great fish restaurant for lunch – one of the three restaurants on our to-do list.

Starting out on the normally 40 minutes drive from Hipsheim to Colmar, we got lost … not because of ‘Mauricette’. She gave us the right instructions but we failed to interpret them correctly. It took us some time to figure out where we had taken the wrong turn and we lost almost 15 minutes before being on the right track again. And then, at 5 km from our destination, we got stuck in a gigantic traffic jam because of some road works further down the motorway.

By the time we reached Colmar it was well over 10.30 a.m.. Approaching the roundabout on the main avenue leading into town, we suddenly saw the Statue of Liberty emerging in front of us (see yesterday’s post). It wasn’t as large as the original – which, I admit, I have never seen in real life – but nevertheless very impressive. Why was it there? Well, Frédéric Auguste Bartholdi (August 2nd 1834 - Oct. 4th, 1904), the designer of the Statue of Liberty, was born in Colmar. The house where his family used to live is now a museum. And all over town you’ll find more of Bartholdi’s creations.

The original statue measures 46 meters (93 meter including the pedestal) and weighs 225 ton. France offered it to the US as a token of friendship on the occasion of the first centennial of the independence of the United States of America. Bartholdi has always claimed that the face of the statue was modelled after his own mother’s face. The statue was originally destined to be a lighthouse on the northern entrance of the Suez Canal. Egypt had no money to pay for it though and France decided to give it to the US.

Little tourist train

The old town of
Colmar turned out to be even more interesting and lovely than we had expected. Here too, tourists were omnipresent and the little trains driving them around showing the main sites were doing great business. However, one of the streets – la Petite rue des Tanneurs – was completely deserted.

alking through it was like going back in time. I almost expected to see a horse drawn carriage coming towards us with the hooves of the horses and the wheels of the carriage clattering and clanging on the old cobble stones.

La Petite rue des Tanneurs

The ‘Little Venice’ district, with its flowery canal, was a mere 100 meters down the road. We walked along the water edge shooting photos and watching the flat-bottomed tourist boats float by. Our restaurant – Les Trois Poissons – was just on the other side of the little canal. As it was still too early to have lunch we ventured on.

On the corner of the ‘rue des Poissonniers’ we were attracted by the delicious smell of what you could call the local pizza, ‘La Tarte Flambée’. On a thin crunchy crust lies a topping of cream cheese, sliced onion, little ‘lardons’ (finely cut pieces of lean bacon) and some gruyere cheese. The ‘Tarte’ is backed in a hot oven until the cheese has melted and the bacon is nice and crisp. Many people on the nearby waterside terrace were having one of these ‘Tartes’ with the local Colmar beer. Being good tourists and feeling slightly hungry, we followed their example and sat down at one of the tables. We decided that we would skip starters at the restaurant and share a ‘Tarte Flambée’ there and then.

Tarte Flambée

We had a great time, sitting there, relaxing and enjoying the ‘Tarte’ and the ‘
Colmar’ beer (which turned out to be very good), while watching the crowds walk by.

(to be continued)



Jean said...

I remember eating these tarts when we were in Alsace. They were delicious. We enjoyed the petit train, too, although I can't remember where. It wasn't Colmar. Wherever it was, some of the streets were so narrow the train just fitted between the shops and houses.

ladybird said...

Jean, I 'threw' in the photo of the tourist train especially for you. I tried to get a better shot, but failed on all accounts. Maybe your trainride was in Riquewihr, where it even takes you up into the vineyards? Martine