Vive La France – Day 3

I awoke from a deep slumber today at noon.  I came downstairs and was offered coffee and juice, but declined breakfast since it was so close to lunch.  We all went and sat out on the deck and drank kir and pastis… one hell of a way to take the edge off of an afternoon.

Lunch was choucroute, a traditional dish of the region.  It is sauerkraut that is marinated in local wine and served with a variety of sausages and ham.

Elodie with choucroute.

I was so glad that I did not try to eat breakfast earlier!  It was a very hearty lunch, and the ham was out of this world.  And to top it all off:

Creme anglaise with local blackberries, whipped cream and meringue. I could also get used to this lunchtime dessert thing!

I must say that I adore the Gensbittel farm:

The barn holds four of Marie's horses.

After lunch, we set out to explore the local villages.

Typical Alsatian countryside.

My father being the big genealogy nut that he is, this necessarily included a lot of church hunting.

The church in Eteimbes.

I have to say, even after years of seeing church records and family trees, it was coming here and seeing my last name on a tombstone that really (and literally!) set it in stone that the family is from here.

Mangues! A grave in Eteimbes.

We checked out a few other small towns and villages around Eteimbes:

The churches are always the most impressive building in town.

Marie and her boyfriend Frederic.

Sculture of traditional Alsatian people.

Heidi and I by a river in Masevaux, in front of an old textile factory.

The street in Mausvaux was the idyllic French village scene.

After wrapping up our tour of some of the local sights, we arrived at the city of Mulhouse.  We did a bit of shopping; I bought a mint plant in a can.  It looks like a soda can, but you pop the top and add water and supposedly a mint plant will grow out.  Mint juleps anyone?  Mulhouse was pretty amazing.  It was nice to see a more modern side of France.

An outdoor mall in Mulhouse.

Fierce guard dogs.

A sculpture in Mulhouse. It kind of reminded me of a steampunk version of "The Thinker"

I swear, every church I see is bigger than the last.

While wandering back to the car, we stumbled across a park where people were salsa dancing to latin music while a crowd cheered on.  A few pounds kilos of peer pressure later, and Marie and Frederic were showing off their moves.

Salsa time.

While leaving the salsa dancing, Elodie said “I found you a French girlfriend for Holiday, come look!–” and pointed at a six-foot-tall blonde drag queen in high heels.  So don’t worry, Jane!

My sister Heidi is a realtor in Santa Cruz, so I made her pose in front of the local real estate office:

Heidi's new office?

We headed back to the house and had another fantastic dinner of tomatoes & cucumbers, charcruterie, bread, and gratin, along with a bottle of rose champagne.  I tried a piece of charcruterie that was like a big piece of salami with slices of tongue in it.  Yes, tongue. It was actually pretty good, if a bit chewy.  Who knew?

For dessert, we had a cheese plate with local cheeses including munster , morbier, leerdammer, barckass, chevre, and of course brie.  French cheese are mostly unpasteurized and thus taste much better than French cheeses you can buy in the United States.  I was surprised to actually find myself not revolted by goat cheese; it was a lot smoother and less pungent than any chevre I’ve had in America.

More conversation ensued, and well, that pretty much wraps up Day 3!  Tomorrow we have to be ready at 10:30AM for a “surprise”… hmm!

About the Author: Justin
A 34 year old Software Engineer in Seattle, WA with a love for coding, music, video games, and the great outdoors.
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