Thursday, 31 January 2013

Further on the fairy-tale trail

Day 199 29.01.13 Colmar, Riquewihr and Ribeauville

Riquewihr high street view.After a poor night’s sleep we’re attempting a lie in when we get a knock on the window from some workmen asking us to move the van back so they can shove some cabling down a manhole cover we’re parked on top of.  Cue much bleary-eyed faffing to get dressed, the bed put away and the van shifted!

Once we’re moved and satisfied that the workmen aren’t going to need us to move the van again anytime soon we head into town.  We saw the main sights yesterday but I love this place so much I want to go and see them all again!  We enjoy a long walk around once again taking in all the drop dead gorgeous views making sure we walk down every little side street and explore every inch of Colmar.  We wander off the beaten path through Little Venice (so named because many of the waterfront houses can only be reached by boat) and discover where the richest people in Colmar live.  The riverside houses have to be seen to be believed, these Art Deco masterpieces seem custom-built to leave Chris and I brimming with jealousy.  If anybody wants to buy us a gift then the glorious number 7 Rue Bartholdi will do just fine, thanks!

Riquewihr high street, France.  Half timber houses and clock tower.We spot lots of hidden features in buildings we’d passed before as well as finding other wonderful sights.  I am completely head over heels for Colmar, I honestly cannot imagine how this stunning little town could be any more beautiful.  Wandering around its gorgeous streets transports us straight into the landscape of a film we both dearly love.  We’ve both watched Howl’s Moving Castle many a time and talked about how perfect the town appears to be and how lovely it would be to live there.  Well, it turns out people do and it’s called Colmar.  I cannot speak highly enough of this heavenly place.  It’s a hardship and a half to leave but we probably shouldn’t park for too long where we are and we really don’t fancy another night alongside the noisy main road anyway! 

Our next stop is Riquewihr, also claimed to be an influence in Howl’s Moving Castle.  On arrival we can’t find anywhere free to park short of ditching the van on the outskirts of town in a very muddy side of the road spot.  We put an hour’s worth of cash into the meter and head out to look around town.  Riquewihr consists of one main cobbled street and a handful of side streets all wrapped up in rampart walls.  Once more the buildings are colourful wooden fronted masterpieces in superb condition.  All around the window frames are intricately carved faces and figures.  Each shop, hotel and restaurant has a lovely metal hanging sign specific to its business.  Once again every view is just gorgeous.  Whilst much smaller than Colmar, there’s almost as much charm packed into this tiny space.  There isn’t a boring building here, everywhere has been meticulously cared for and made as attractive as it can be.  

Riquewihr's colourful half timber housesThe backdrop is equally lovely, with steep banks heading upwards at the end of each street all covered in row upon row of grape vines, up towards a thick covering of pine trees on the top of each hill.  

It really does feel like we’re in the middle of a fairytale world…well except for the fact it’s raining!  I’m so happy I came across the mini article about Colmar that led to me finding out about these gorgeous little villages.  This whole area seems to be full of the most idyllic little villages around.  It’s a shame it’s a nightmare to drive and park around here or we’d no doubt visit them all!

Riquewihr post office, FranceWe take our time to see all of Riquewihr and get back to the van just as the ticket runs out.  There doesn’t appear to be anyone around to check these things and we consider trying to get away with stopping overnight for free.   Almost immediately a ginormous motorhome rolls in and parks across 4 spaces which may well draw some attention so we opt to head off to nearby Ribeauville for the night.

By the time we arrive its getting dark and the rain is heavier so we head out to grab a baguette and then call it quits for the day.  We spot two storks on the way pottering around the local park.  From all the stork related paraphernalia we’ve spotted around here and local towns, I guess they’re pretty popular. 

We’ve seen so many wonderful views over the last two days that I’m worried we’ve peaked too soon.  Will we ever see anywhere so perfect or is it all downhill from here?!  We’ve been spoiled!


  1. The beauty of the towns you have just travelled through definitely makes up for the loss of your gas. They are stunning. Will have to try and get there this year.
    Keep it coming.
    All the best

  2. Thanks Bryce, good to hear from you. We've loved the last few places, they've been incredibly beautiful. If you do venture to that neck of the woods be sure to also check out Kayersberg. We didn't get chance but it looks very lovely! We're off to Obernai tomorrow and then Strasbourg on Sunday :-)