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

Friday, 11 September 2009

Picnic shopping in Saverne

After our luscious birthday lunch at ‘Le Soldat de l’An II’ in Phalsbourg, we braved the heavy rain and made our way to Saverne. Also called the gateway to the Alsace, Saverne is the first major town when you’re entering the region from the north.

The drive down the ‘Col the Saverne’, a natural mountain pass in the ‘Vosges du Nord’ massif, is quite impressive, especially when you’re in the passenger seat of the car, with no steering wheel to hold on to. The road meanders down from the 461m hill top towards the valley and the Canal de la Marne au Rhin. I will post about canals later, as they were prominently present during our whole stay in the Alsace-Lorraine region.

By the time we got to Saverne, the rain had almost stopped and we were able to do our picnic dinner shopping without having to take an umbrella. But first I wanted to take a photo of the Unicorn statue. I’ve already mentioned it in another post here, but had not yet taken or posted a picture of it. The mythical animal elegantly sits on its pedestal overlooking the lock on the Canal.

On the other side of the Canal is a Traiteur-Charcutier selling the most appetizing hams, smoked sausages and cheeses. We bought two thick slices of ‘jambon blanc’, a ‘presskopf’ (pâté-like sausage, but with bigger chunks of meat and some chopped parsley in it), a slice of Brie and Comté (cheese). We put these delicatessens in the little cool box that we keep in the car, before continuing our shopping.

Our car was parked in front of the Château de Rohan, which used to belong to the Cardinal de Rohan. He became notorious for the ‘Affaire du Collier’. The story goes that the Cardinal was enamoured with Queen Marie-Antoinette, who wasn’t the least bit interested in him. In an attempt to gain her attention and sympathy, he fell into the hands of a gang of intriguers led by the infamous charlatan Cagliostro. De Rohan was let to believe that his attentions to the Queen were welcomed, and that she approved his arrangements for her to receive the famous diamond necklace. The whole affair turned out to be a big scam of which the Cardinal became the dupe. Although he was acquitted of the charges against him during a trial in 1786, he was deprived of his office as grand almoner and sent into exile to the abbey of Chaise-Dieu. Interesting coincidence: the Cardinal was a descendant of the Prince de Rohan, who once owned the Donjon the Montbazon in the Loire Valley.

In 'La Délicathèque', a gourmet shop further up the road from the castle, we bought three bottles of Saint Nicolas de Bourgueil wine from the Loire Valley (Alsace wines don’t really agree with me, remember!). I highly recommend this shop as it carries a vast assortment of goodies from all over France. After buying a ‘baguette’ in a local bakery, we stopped for a refreshing glass of ‘Licorne’ beer at the sidewalk terrace of ‘Chez l’Ami Fritz’, a typical Alsace tavern. While sipping our beer, it started to rain again, but the large parasols that covered most of the terrace prevented us from getting wet.

It was almost 3.30 p.m. when we left Saverne, taking the scenic ‘Route des vins’ to yet another picturesque town, known for its Alsace Wines: Obernai.



Jean said...

Wow, judging by the sky in your picture of the canal, you certainly did have interesting weather.
We had the same when we spent a week in Alsace in spring, a few years ago. We still had a great time, though.

ladybird said...

Jean, The weather didn't manage to spoil the good time we had ... And the sun came out eventually! Martine