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Food Restaurant

A Michelin-star restaurant in Alsace: La Merise

After a 30-minute drive from Strasbourg, we arrive in Laubach, a tiny village with a population of only 300. In the middle of the Alsatian countryside, this is where Cédric and Christelle Deckert have chosen to establish their gourmet restaurant (2 Michelin stars) – La Merise.

Nestled in a peaceful and pastoral environment, this building in the traditional Alsatian style is surrounded by an orchard, an herb garden, and several beehives.

The decoration is classic and subtle, with a harmonious combination of high-quality materials. The atmosphere is both calming and bright.

We happily follow the instructions and advice from the kind and attentive staff, as well as the sommelier, who is the guardian of a wine cellar containing over 5000 bottles.

The cuisine at La Merise aims for authenticity, precision, and most importantly, intelligibility. The latter pursuit becomes obvious as soon as we read the descriptions on the menu, which are all clear and easily understandable.

Each dish is carefully and skillfully prepared, with ingredients picked out by the chef for each season, which he then showcases and sublimates. The presentations are tasteful, elegant, and graphic. Every dish in the Menu Découverte (Discovery Menu) are served at an agreeable pace, allowing us to fully enjoy the experience.

The chef subtly reinterprets French classics, as well as dishes from his childhood, by incorporating a wide range of influences. The flavors are clear-cut, without any garish blends. As a result, everything is balanced to perfection.

Having quickly become one of the places to go for fine dining in Alsace, La Merise has gone from one distinction to the next since it first opened in 2016. The restaurant was awarded its first Michelin star in 2018, and a second star in 2021. It recently also became a member of the prestigious restaurant association les Grandes Tables du Monde.

We particularly enjoyed how every ingredient was cooked with such precision, and the sauces were silky and flavorful. Another highlight was the bold and inventive combinations, the balance of seasonings, and the sweet nostalgia of the desserts. From the Menu Découverte, we’d especially like to mention the enticing and delicately scented red mullet with Madras curry (which instantly transported us to a spice market in southern India), blending with the freshness of the coconut soup; the melt-in-your-mouth texture of the roast pigeon breast, and the subtle and full-bodied flavor of the reduced jus with ginger.

La Merise
📍7 rue d’Eschbach, 67580 Laubach

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Day trip

A day trip from Strasbourg: Colmar

Explore Colmar, a day trip less than an hour away from Strasbourg. This beautiful town, whose heritage spans from the Middle Ages to the 19th century, is one of the most prized gems of Alsace.

Colmar is easy to reach from Strasbourg, either by car or by train. More than 40 trains shuttle between the two cities every day, taking around 40 minutes each way. We decide to take the train, as much for the sake of the environment as to avoid having to worry about traffic and parking.

A flock of pigeons standing neatly in a row outside the train station is our welcoming committee upon our arrival in Colmar. Could this be a nod to the town’s old Roman name – Colombarium – the place where doves nest?

The Petite Venise (Little Venice) district and the pedestrian streets in the old town are about a 15-minute walk from the train station, passing by the Cour d’Appel (Court of Appeals) and through the parc du Château d’Eau (with a beautiful old water tower).

We start by exploring Colmar’s main must-see sights

• The picture-postcard neighborhood of la Petite Venise certainly owes its name to the rows of half-timbered houses lining the river Lauch. The buildings remind us of a gingerbread village. If you truly want to imagine yourself in the Venice, you can book a sightseeing tour in a shallow boat.

• Quai de la Poissonnerie: the fishermen of Colmar used to live in these colorful half-timbered houses along the quay.

Maison Pfister: this house, which once belonged to a prominent merchant, is a 16th-century treasure. It’s one of Colmar’s most iconic buildings, and the first example of Renaissance architecture in the city.

• Maison Adolph: the oldest house in town.

St. Martin’s church, which was built between 1235 and 1365, is one of Alsace’s major works of Gothic architecture.

• The Koïfhus (the old customs house) is Colmar’s oldest public building.

• The market halls (marché couvert) date back to 1865. The building, which combines brickwork and cast-iron framework, contains twenty-odd stalls offering fresh and local produce.

The charming and colorful city center is the ideal place to wander around, and it’s very easy to get from sight to sight on foot. Getting lost in the web of side streets in the old town is the perfect way to take in the atmosphere and fully enjoy the spirit of Colmar.

Colmar is also home to several museums, such as the Unterlinden Museum and the Bartholdi Museum:

• The Unterlinden Museum, which was inaugurated in 1853, is located in a former Dominican monastery. The museum collection includes paintings and sculptures dating from the Middle Ages to the 21st century, such as the famous Issenheim altarpiece (le retable d’Issenheim), as well as works by Picasso, Monet, or even Dubuffet.

• The Bartholdi Museum is dedicated to the man behind the Statue of Liberty, Auguste Bartholdi, who was born in Colmar. As an homage to Bartholdi, a scaled-down replica of the famous New York statue has been placed in a roundabout just north of Colmar (about a 10-minute drive from the center of town).

 

Colmar has served as inspiration to artists around the world. For instance, Hayao Miyazaki, the iconic Japanese director behind Studio Ghibli, was inspired by the architecture of the houses of Colmar when he created his animated feature film Howl’s Moving Castle (2004). 

It’s no coincidence that Colmar is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Alsace. Its position at the heart of the world-famous Route des Vins (the wine road) makes it even more attractive, since the picturesque villages of the area, like Kaysersberg and Riquewihr, are less than 15 km away.

Categories
Day trip

A day trip from Strasbourg: Mittelbergheim

A day trip less than 100 km from Strasbourg, through the vineyards of Mittelbergheim.

After having visited Kaysersberg and Riquewihr, two iconic villages along la Route des Vins d’Alsace (the Alsace Wine Route), we wanted to explore more of the region’s vineyards.

Mittelbergheim is a charming little winegrowing village located on a beautiful hillside, around 30 kilometers from Strasbourg.

The starting point for our hike is a tiny parking lot called parking du Zotzenberg (free of charge) at the top of the village, which leads straight out to the vines above.

After entering the vineyards, we take a left at the fork in the road and follow the paved path running through the landscape. The two towers of the Château d’Andlau appear in the background.

At the end of the path, we turn right and go a little further uphill, then right again. This part of the walk offers an incredible view of Mittelbergheim and its two church towers.

After passing the picnic area and the Rippelsholz boules pitch, we take a right.

Halfway downhill, a small path to the right leads us to a spectacular viewpoint: the paved pathway, running like a ribbon through the vineyards, the Château d’Andlau in the distance, and the plains of Alsace in the background. Like a little piece of Tuscany in Alsace… The calm and peaceful atmosphere lets you daydream while you gaze at the view.

Once we’ve taken it all in, we retrace our steps and walk back down the hill to the parking lot.

This 2 km paved hiking path is easily accessible, no matter your age. The exceptionally beautiful landscape will lead to many stops – perfect for photography lovers.

Discovering this panorama, with its golden vines and fields as far as the eye can see, bathed in the warm light of an autumn afternoon, was one of our favorite moments of this year.

After leaving the parking du Zotzenberg, we take the time to explore Mittelbergheim’s Renaissance-style houses and do a tasting in one of the village wineries.

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Food Restaurant

A Michelin-star restaurant in Alsace: Auberge de l’Ill

L’Auberge de l’Ill is a two-star Michelin restaurant nestled in the heart of an Alsatian village near Colmar and the Route des Vins, less than an hour’s drive from Strasbourg. Trying to pronounce “Illhaeusern” (Illhoyzern) is a journey in itself.

As soon as we arrive, we are shown to our table in the elegant and subtly decorated pièce alsacienne (Alsatian room), where we eagerly await our four-course symphony. A full wall of marquetry work, depicting a landscape from the Ried area, with bulrushes, reeds, storks, and herons, echoes the scenery of the nearby river meadow.

The waitstaff are attentive and discreet, with everyone collaborating smoothly in a well-choreographed dance.

Everything is elegantly plated and presented. The restaurant’s delicate, generous, and flavorful cuisine is imbued with the culinary tradition carried by the Haeberlin family through 150 years. Our meal is balanced and subtle. We take the time to savor every mouthful, every note of flavor. The score is played to perfection by chef Marc Haeberlin and his team.

We particularly appreciated the many little kindnesses from the team and carefully planned details throughout the meal, the inspiration drawn from local delicacies, and the Haeberlin family history, which is their great pride. As for the food, we loved trying their beurre Bordier, the famous butter from Saint-Malo, as well as the freshly baked bread, the pan-seared seabass in a mussel nage (which made Stéphanie like bouchot mussels!), and the richness of the chocolate dessert with Piedmont hazelnuts and Tahitian vanilla ice cream.

L’Auberge de l’Ill
📍2 rue de Collonges au Mont d’Or, 68970 Illhaeusern

Categories
Day trip

A day trip from Strasbourg: Kaysersberg & Riquewihr

A day trip less than 100 km from Strasbourg, exploring 2 iconic villages along the Alsace Wine Route (Route des Vins d’Alsace).

As we leave Strasbourg on a hazy autumn morning, the sun is barely peeking through the layer of low-hanging clouds. But in an instant the fog clears, as though someone has drawn back a heavy curtain.

After barely an hour’s drive, the rolling hills and golden vineyards of the Alsace Wine Route stretch out before us, leading us to Kaysersberg.

The P5 parking lot (about 1€ per hour) is located right outside the historical center of town.

Ambling through the streets of this picturesque little village with its colorful half-timbered houses is like walking into a different time. Kaysersberg was named “France’s favorite village of 2017” for a reason!

The local restaurants, confectioneries, cheesemongers, bakeries, tea rooms, delicatessens, artisan shops and workshops (glassware, pottery, textile) and Alsatian wine-tasting cellars all aim to show off the best of the region’s culture and gastronomy.

Don’t miss: the church (12th-15th century) and its wooden altarpiece, the fortified bridge from 1514 and the old houses along the river Weiss, the Badhus (Bath House) from 1600, and the Castle.

From the historic town center, by the Badhus, there is a path and a stairway leading up to the 13th-century castle. Our tip: once you reach the castle, continue up the stairs, then turn right. There, you’ll find an incredible view of the castle, with the vineyards, and the rooftops of Kaysersberg below. Once you’ve taken it all in, you can enjoy a walk through the vines back down to the village or go back the way you came.

After Kaysersberg, we continue our road trip along the Alsace Wine Route, the legendary asphalt strip winding through vineyards and villages, to Riquewihr.

Several parking lots (3-5€ for a few hours) are easy to find as you arrive in town. Just like in Kaysersberg, the historical town center of Riquewihr directly overlooks the vineyards.  Riquewihr is smaller, but just as charming and colorful.

The archway under the town hall marks the entrance to the old town. As we slowly climb the hill up to the fortified city walls, the smell of nougat, local cookies (bredele) and coconut macaroons wafts out of tiny shops. Art lovers can have a look around one of the galleries, and wine enthusiasts can enjoy a tasting in one of the local cellars. On either side of the high street little side streets beckon, waiting to be explored. We’re left with the lovely feeling of walking around a postcard.

We take in the views and atmosphere of the Wine Route one last time before returning to Strasbourg, by driving through other well-known villages and famous vineyards, such as Hunawihr, Ribeauvillé, and Bergheim.

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Food Restaurant

An Alsatian restaurant in Strasbourg: Le Saint-Sépulcre

Alsatian adages written in chalk on the walls here and there brighten up the interior of this traditional Winstub, where a few modern touches have been sparingly added to the decor. We ordered one of the many tempting regional specialties on the menu. While we were waiting for our ham en croûte, we leafed through a few of the books about Alsace that are displayed above the benches. The ham was juicy, while the crust was just as it should be – crisp on the outside and soft on the inside. The regional classic truly lived up to our expectations.

Le Saint-Sépulcre
📍 15 Rue des Orfèvres, Strasbourg