(October 2016) During my time in Alsace I was kindly invited to stay with my Great Aunt at her house near Saverne. When I wasn’t visiting wineries, we had a chance to talk and she told me some of the family history.
She grew up in both Alsace and Ulm, Germany, just over the border. I was surprised to learn that Alsace has changed governance five times in the last 150 years – being traded back and forth between France and Germany. She told me she learned not only to speak both French and German, but also the local dialect called Alsatian.
|Old Alsatian House in Saverne|
A Visit to the Ruins of Chateau Le Grand Geroldseck
During her free time she helps restore old castles as part of a volunteer program around France. She took me to visit Chateau Le Grand Geroldseck, an amazing ruin from the 12th century that they are starting to put back together stone by stone. We hiked through the forest to arrive at the old chateau and found a group of volunteers pulling weeds from around the huge stones that had fallen from the castle walls. It was a beautiful peaceful place, high on a hill, and was known as a center for courtly love.
See great Youtube video about this castle here.
|My Aunt Helping to Renovate the Chateau Le Grand Geroldseck|
A Visit to the Palace of Rohan
Later in the afternoon we drove to Saverne to visit the Palace of Rohan, a large palace that was the former house of the Bishops of Strasbourg. It is a huge stately place started in 1728, which looks like a small darker version of Versailles. Today it houses a museum and hostel, and has a large garden that sweeps down to the canal circling the city. Saverne, located in northern Alsace, is known as the city of unicorns, because apparently a unicorn horn was found in one of the castles nearby.
|The Imposing Facade of Palace Rohan in Saverne, Alsace|
Amazing Dinner at Restaurant Staeffele
After wandering around the charming town of Saverne, we headed to the Restaurant Staeffele where we had made dinner reservations for 7:30. It ended up being one of the best meals I had in France during this three-month period. The service was warm, friendly, and professional; the setting was elegant with white table clothes and flowers; the wine list was affordable; and the food was absolutely stunning in the beauty of its presentation and taste. We ordered the 3-course dinner menu that came with around 6 amuse-bouches. This restaurant was much better than several of the 1 star Michelin restaurants I have visited on this trip. Not sure why they don’t have their star yet.
|Fish Dish at Restaurant Staeffele in Saverne, Alsace|