We drove from Dijon to Colmar by way of lunch in Rougemont and passed by the bleak, chilly sights of the tiny, medieval Alsatian villages directly into Colmar on the Sunday before Easter.

The half-timber buildings in pastel colors, flower boxes, and adorned shop windows were a stark and welcomed contrast. This place is like an authentic French–Germanic fairy land. We had come here before with Alex for my 50th birthday in the fall of 2007, so we already knew that it would be charming. Although it seemed a bit more commercial, it was still lovely and bursting with springtime decoration with an emphasis on the Easter Bunny, colored eggs, chicks, and tulips. Our apartment, called The Rokst, was comfortable and charming, and close to an underground parking lot. (we only park in these now). The next day was time for a Choucroute lunch at Chez Hansi: sauerkraut infused with Alsatian wine, juniper berries, black peppercorns, herbs, slices of smoked pork, many sausages and lots of mustard on the side. All this eating took place with a backdrop of murals depicting adorable Alsatian children drawn by the famous early twentieth century illustrator-author of children’s books.

Colmar Ribeauville

Colmar Ribeauville

Colmar Ribeauville

Colmar Ribeauville

Colmar Ribeauville

Colmar Ribeauville

Colmar Kaysersberg

Colmar Kaysersberg

Colmar Kaysersberg

Colmar Kaysersberg

Colmar Haut Koenigsbourg 2

Colmar Haut Koenigsbourg 2

Colmar Haut Koenigsbourg 2

Colmar Haut Koenigsbourg 2

Colmar

Colmar

Colmar

Colmar

Colmar

Colmar

Colmar

Colmar

It looks, feels and tastes decidedly Germanic, but the language and customs feel French to me. I believe that the cutsie happiness in every window, storefront, and window box is a reaction to the complex and often tragic history of Alsace. It has changed hands, during the 19th and 20th centuries, four times between France and Germany, first to the Germans in the Franco – Prussian war of 1870. It was back to the French after the first WW as part of reparations. The Nazis took it in 1940 during WW2, when the Germans were particularly harsh. And then finally French again in 1945 as part of the national boundary adjustments after the war. Being of Alsatian heritage, I was taken by the broad-shouldered blond people. They appear more northern European than the sleek, smaller, dark- haired French. I look like I belong.

We ventured out of Colmar to the surrounding villages. Each is more idyllic than the next, especially with Easter coming. By chance, we found a restaurant for lunch on the main road in Ribeauville. Its unassuming periwinkle façade with yellow spring decorations belied the incredible cuisine. We were not opting for a gourmet lunch that day, but we certainly got one. It was the best meal that we ate in Europe to date.

From there we visited the Chateau du Haut-Koenigsbourg. Traversing the mountainside road with the view of the blue – purple hills seemed timeless. One could imagine the castle guards looking out for invading marauders. Despite its size and many servants, it is clear that the royals who lived here had a life that was isolated, damp, dark and stinky. The antler lights and wall stencils look like they would fit right in Driftwood, which would fit into one small wing. Castle life is the dream of little girls, but this girl likes the warmth of wood below my feet.