Trip in Alsace and Czech Republic

Christmas Markets, French pastries, homemade chips...

Happy New Year!

New Year = new ideas

 

During winter time when our coffee place is closed, I like to travel and my favourite destinations are Alsace in France and the beautiful town of Cesky Krumlov in the Czech Republic.

Alsace is a cultural and historical region in eastern France, on the west bank of the upper Rhine next to Germany and Switzerland and Cesky Krumlov is a district situated within the South Bohemian Region of the Czech Republic.

These places are beautiful and great for food inspiration too…

It’s a fantastic experience to drive my car from Skåne-Tranås in the south of Sweden to Cesky-Krumlov in the south of the Czech Republic. In as little as an Hour I arrive in Trelleborg the southernmost point of Sweden and an important ferry port where I take the ferry to reach (Lübeck or Rostock), in the North of Germany.

Travelling by car permits me to stop Wherever and Whenever I want, and to bring my golden retriever Molly. She’s always happy to follow me, but she’s not so happy on the way back home because my car is usually full of goods from France and she has less space to stretch herself out.

A stop first in Alsace a Cultural and Historical region in eastern France, on the west bank of the upper Rhine next to Germany and Switzerland. I have been to Alsace many times since I was a child, because my mother is from Strasbourg which is the capital and largest city of the Grand Est region of France. I always loved the atmosphere in Alsace, especially during Christmas. It is simply amazing, and for me, that’s the number 1 place in the world to visit during Christmas period. There is nothing better than childhood nostalgia.

One of my favourite activities when I’m there is to drive through the Vosges, which are a range of low mountains in Alsace, to visit the small wine and cheese producers. I believe in supporting these small local producers rather than mass produced goods. I then move on to discover the amazing Christmas markets in the Alsace villages.

Here is a list of my favourite Christmas Markets in Alsace:

Éguisheim, Sélestat, Obernai, Riquewihr, Kaysersberg, Colmar and Strasbourg of course!

Each town in Alsace looks like it could be straight out of a fairy-tale, and I’m always amazed by the architecture and the Christmas decorations.

Strasbourg

 

Colmar

 

Kaysersberg

 

Mont Sainte-Odile – Vosges

 

And the food

France is definitely an amazing country for food lovers. I didn’t have a clue or I thought I didn’t about food when I started my coffeehouse. I didn’t know how to bake, or how to make bread or cook meals.

But the food culture is inside me, because I was surrounded with it since I was a child. I was raised by a wonderful grand-mother who always bought me the best produce, Bread from our hometown Bastia, fresh vegetables from Corsica, good meat and fish usually from Corsica too. She would treat me with a good pastry for dessert, or she would make a good Chestnut cake or Frappe. Eating at her place, although I did not realize it at the time, set a precedence in me from a very young age to appreciate fine food and to forever develop my palate to how good food should be. Merci grandma Hélène!

 

Corsican Frappes

 

Grandma Hélène and me

 

The food in Alsace is a vast contrast from Corsica! and mostly the case for all the regions in France. Each region has its own food specialities. I rank Alsace among one of the best places for food!

Choucroute is the “National dish of Alsace”. It is a version of German sauerkraut fermented cabbage cooked in white wine, beer or cider and seasoned with juniper berries and black peppercorns. It is traditionally served with potatoes and other speciality meats.

BaeckeoffeFlammekueche or Tarte FlambéeChoucrouteSpätzlesKougelhopf, Pain d’épices (Gingerbread), are some of the delicacies that await you in Alsace.

Of course, it’s not for the calorie counters, however its food for the soul, proper winter comfort food.

The pastries are also amazing… One of my favourite places is Christian. They make beautiful and tasty pastries, that inspired me so much. Not just to bake but to write. Check them out here https://christian.fr/ (Right click and your transported into a world of pastries).

 

Christian – Strasbourg

 

Christian – Strasbourg

 

Alsacians wines are also well-known, and very popular. I love to visit the small producers selling their wine, talk to them about their work and they provide a vast amount of experience.

Wine is just fascinating. You can spend your whole life discovering the world of the wine.

Alsace wine or Alsatian wine (in French: Vin d’Alsace) is produced in the Alsace region in France and is primarily white wine.

 

Another place I love to spend time and is well worth a visit is Cesky Krumlov.

 

This is a stunningly beautiful town in Southern Bohemia, and the second most visited tourist attraction in Czech Republic after Prague. The historic centre of the town was inscribed on UNESCO’s World Heritage List in 1992. The first time I visited the town, I wasn’t disappointed, It’s absolutely superb, with beautiful old architecture.

I visit that little town every winter. And I love browsing markets there, finding beautiful old objects in cast iron, and tasting Czech food.

What I love the most when I am in East Europe, places like Czech Republic or Hungary for example (I travel often to Budapest too) is the authenticity of these countries. When you are there you feel the history, the heritage, the traditions, etc. Walk into any bar in the Czech Republic and you will find traditional music with locals consuming local beers and dancing up a storm. Locals can be wary when you meet them for the first time, but after a short time become simply great and warm when they get to know you. It happened to me many times to enter in a coffeehouse or restaurant and to not feel the warmth instantly.

But I’m not demanding: if the food is good and the place is great, I go back without any problem, and usually if the same people are working there, they recognise you and the more you visit the warmer the welcome becomes. Maybe it’s just because I’m a regular customer… But I want to convince myself it’s because they like me as I do them.

After more than a week in Cesky Krumlov I visited Prague for a few days, and fell in love (again!) with the city. For those of you who don’t know it Prague, capital city of the Czech Republic, is bisected by the Vltava River. Nicknamed “the City of a Hundred Spires,” it’s known for its Old Town Square, the heart of its historic core, with Colourful baroque buildings, Gothic churches and the medieval Astronomical Clock, which gives an animated hourly show. Completed in 1402, pedestrian Charles Bridge is lined with statues of Catholic saints.

Prague is like Cesky Krumlov on a bigger scale. I mean you see almost the same things and get the same vibes with the architecture, food and people. Except there is much more of everything!

So, in conclusion if you want a bit everything, Culture, History, great food, great wine and authentic people with a real Christmas spirit then I highly recommend you get yourself out there and here to our coffee shop in the warmer months.

 

A simple way to make tasty and crunchy chips in Cesky Krumlov Christmas Market:

Best Ever Homemade Chips!

 

 

The beautiful team I was travelling with

 

 

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