In one final hurrah, Joern and I spent Monday night in France. He has a lot of customers lying along the French border, so it made it simpler to stay overnight. Of course, it is much more enjoyable when you get to stay overnight somewhere together, otherwise, you tend to spend your evening getting a quick dinner and then alone in your room.
So, we spent most of Monday along the French border, a beautiful area, bordered by the Black Forest on one side and the Rhine River and Vosges Mountain range on the other side.
It is also beautiful wine country. Okay, I know I can't drink now, but it still makes for beautiful landscape.
We made it over the border, the Rhine River, by driving over a bridge with a simple sign that says France (but in German, so actually, the sign says "Frankreich.") That's all. The open borders in the EU is really a lovely concept.
The area of France which borders Germany is called Alsace, or Elsäß in German. The region was disputed between the French and Germans for hundreds of years, and the area finally came under French control in 1945 following World War II. Driving over the border to France is really interesting. There is no transition. You drive onto the bridge in Germany, and when you drive off the bridge, there is no doubt that you're in France. But Alsace is incredibly charming, and when you look a little deeper, you can clearly see the German influences that still exist.
We stayed in a small town, Mulhouse. Driving along the border of the town, it appears an industrial town, as there is a large Peugot factory along the outskirts. We quickly learned that the center is quite the opposite. There is a charming center, with cute hotels, and a wonderful atmosphere.
We stayed in the Hotel de Bale. It was a charming hotel, with unbeatable rates.
After getting our stuff settled in the hotel room, we walked towards the town center. The town center is full of winding streets lined with shops and restaurants. The exact center, Place de la Reunion, was incredible! The town hall, or Hotel de Ville, an amazing, albeit slightly tacky, over the top pink building covered with Trompe-l'oeil painting.
It was so enjoyable to just stroll around the adorable town center,
to gawk at the Hotel de Ville and to admire the towering spires of the cathedral.
By the time we decided on one of the many restaurants, it was already dark. Our dinner was amazing! I had salad with warm goat-cheese, and Joern had a Flammkuechen, a traditional Alsactian pizza-like dish.
We sat outside, and were amazed that the later it got, the more the center filled with people. And what a spectacle for Germans, the restaurants were all full!!
On Tuesday morning, we had a lovely breakfast at the hotel, of croissants and bread with butter and jam. The hotel had a wonderful breakfast room.
After breakfast, we headed back to Germany for Joern's work day. He was finished by 4, and back over the border we went, this time to Geispolsheim to our grocery store. We love going to grocery stores in foreign countries, and we frequently visit this one grocery store.
We bought lots of great food, like goat cheese, quail eggs, baguette, croissants, Diet Coke with orange (!), mustard, pastries, and oh my gosh, lobster bisque! It was a wonderful few days, and I feel so lucky to be able to spend some of my vacation time with Joern. It really wrapped up my vacation in a special way!