Filled to the brim and overflowing with tourists. Riquewihr was once called Winzerdorf (wine village) and served as a trading hub for Alsatian and German wine ( Riesling and other great wines produced here). It looks exactly as it did in the 16th Century. Riquewihr is a fabulous little medieval city situated between mountains and vineyards, but only 7 miles from Colmar and minutes from other famous Alsatian villages like Ribeauville, Hunawihr, Eguisheim and Kaysersberg.
Riquewihr is also classified among the “Most Beautiful Villages in France” because of the half-timbered houses dating back to the 15-18th centuries and the amazing Dolder Gate. …View image…By now, ex-Marine and I were trying very hard not to become blase with dates of 1100, 1291, 13th century, etc. In Chicago, anything older than 100 years is destroyed and as a result, all these medieval villages were nothing short of miraculous to us.
Walking down the main street at a snail’s pace, there were shops selling macaroons (the main cookie/biscuit here) and salespeople handing out samples. (We tasted a delicious, rich fudgy macaroon.) Many patisseries with a huge variety of scrumptious looking fruit tarts. Restaurants everywhere. How does a small town of less than 1,500 people manage to support so many restaurants?
The Thieves’ Tower (13-15th century) was used as a prison and had a torture chamber in it along with a Guard room. (The Guard room had a collection of torture instruments.) The Vine Grower’s House (16th century) had an old kitchen, furniture and cellar. This was on the Rue des Juifs (street of Jews), otherwise known as a Jewish ghetto. Once again, the Jewish people had a big presence all along this route and almost every little town had a Rue des Juifs (or Judengasse) where the Jews were forced to live in little enclaves, Ghettos.
The Maison Kiener, built in 1574, had a very unusual pediment depicting death getting hold of the founder of the house …View image…in a “danse macabre.”
There were alleyways and small courtyards leading off the main street…View image…, a small museum…vividly colored houses…just too much to see…
We slowly made our way through the basically one-street town, munching all the free samples, looking in the windows, dodging all the other tourists snapping furiously away with their digital cameras, until we exited Riquewihr via the other gate with its moat…
And now there was distillery after distillery making “eau de vie” – fruit brandy, beer and wine. It was interesting to hear that it takes more than 30 pounds/14 kilograms to make one bottle of fruit brandy.
Beer is another symbol of Alsace. There was a big micro-brewery (Holl) and most of the breweries also make a Christmas beer, available only in December (duh), a blend of the best malts. Strong and dense, the brewers also add special aromatic notes such as: cinnamon, coriander, ginger, honey, etc….
And one last big winery with tractors lined up, filled with loads of grapes, and waiting their turn to be unloaded. Riquewihr is the epi-center of the wine route and we’d have to be deaf, dumb and blind not to be aware without being told.
There it was (a few feet from the distillery), Hotel Le Riquewihr*** (e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org), right outside the city walls on the Route de Ribeauville, the town we pass through tomorrow. A gorgeous hotel with beautiful rooms and a huge bathtub. The only thing missing? Our suitcases! The extremely nice manager, Anne Bally, made a phone call for us to find out when our bags would arrive and to ask the transport company to get a move on. (There’s nothing worse than standing around in wet, smelly, clothes for hours.)