Soon Spring will be back! The music and noises made by Carnival succeeded in chasing away the cold spirits of the Winter even if there are still some viruses to get rid of. On a date variable from one year to another, Easter is the Spring Festival par excellence. In 2020, Easter is April 12. In Alsace, the season corresponds to the appearance of a mythical character: the Easter hare …
It’s time to make a trip to the Rhine Valley.
Some of my favourite events in Spring
Here is a selection of must-see events in the Upper Rhine Valley that will enrich your stay with us, at the Ramparts of Riquewihr vacation rentals.
Alsace – Whit Sunday & Monday Picnic at the Independent Winemaker
May 30 – June 01, 2020
Born in Alsace in 1995 at the initiative of the Independent Winegrowers of Alsace, the “Pique-nique Chez le Vigneron Indépendant®” has continued to increase its popularity. Over the years, the Vignerons Indépendants de France movement has extended the event to the national level. In Alsace, the Pique-nique Chez le Vigneron Indépendant® has become a must-attend event in our region that attracts nearly 20,000 people every year.
The principle is simple: you bring your picnic in the yard of the winemaker (and sometimes even in the vineyard, depending on the weather) and the wine is offered for tasting. It’s free. A superb moment of conviviality not to be missed!
See my former report with some good addresses.
Attention, places are limited, it is necessary to contact the winemakers and register.
Beblenheim, Gourmet Walk
The next gourmet walk of Beblenheim (neighboring village of Riquewihr) will take place on May 31, 2020. On a course of about 8 kilometers, the 16th Gourmet Walk of Beblenheim will let you discover this beautiful Alsatian village of 1000 inhabitants, its wine trails and its vineyard, all complemented by 6 gourmet stops.
At each stop you will taste a dish and a wine from the local production. Groups of walkers are created for departures every 1/4 of an hour between 10:00 and 13:15. Paths are accessible to strollers and dogs on leash are allowed.
EUR 38 / pers. It is a popular event taking place every year. Register a long time in advance. More info and registrations on their website (in French)
Blienschwiller – The Double Rendez-Vous of Flavors
May 8, 2020
Maybe you have heard about the principle of gourmet walks with happy guests, (sometimes several thousands!), walk through the vineyard. From spring to autumn, from north to south of Alsace, from step to step you can taste wines and enjoy bites or small dishes. Such events require significant logistics.
In Blienschwiller, at the Double Rendez-Vous of Flavours, they have decided to associate fine wines with delicate dishes.
The event takes place every year on May 8th.
So in Blienschwiller, they decided to choose gastronomy. No hiking in the vineyards. The 400 guests (be careful, not one more!) walk the streets of the village, an elegant tasting glass around the neck, from wine estate to winery. Each participating winemaker partners with a restaurateur who prepares delicate bites that will highlight the wines of the house.
Blienschwiller’s Double Rendezvous of Flavors is a high-profile event not to be missed. But beware, the number of participants is limited. Too bad for the latecomers!
Information: firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone: +33 (0) 6 51 01 33 01
Breitenbach (Haut-Rhin) – Transhumance of the Buchwald farm
May 16, 2020 from 10:00 am. Start at the lower farm in the valley: 131 Oberbreitenbach in Breitenbach (68)
There are some years now that I do not miss this beautiful day in the mountain above Munster (famous for its Munster cheese). A day of celebration for the 40 Vosges cows of the Buchwald farm led to the highland pastures by Suzi, the leading cow.
Good walkers are invited to accompany the flock to the sound of clarines to the heights. Be careful, the pace imposed by the cows is quite speedy. Imagine a little: it’s been several months that they are confined to the stable, they are eager to taste the good grass in altitude. Each cow is dressed for the occasion with a bell that resounds through the mountain. You will leave the village farm in the morning to the sound of the accordion. A break is planned at the farm inn (ferme auberge) Ried en route (folk music and horns of the Alps). This is where the least good walkers and late risers meet up 🙂
The transhumance ends at the Buchwald farmhouse at 1050m altitude around 2:00 pm. A “marcaire” meal (local farmer meal) is available at the sound of the accordion.
The meal is costing 19 € on reservation at +33 (0)3 89 77 37 08.
The Brotherhood Saint Etienne (Saint-Stefan) is a mythical institution in the world of Alsace wine and one of the oldest in France.
A few days ago, in its castle of Kientzheim, just next to Riquewihr and Colmar, the brotherhood announced its program for the next 12 months. All wine lovers are eager to learn more about it.
Dates of chapters at the Brotherhood’s castle in Kientzheim
- 20 June 2020 – solemn chapter “Lazare de Schwendi, From Tokay to Pinot Gris” by Sylvie Grucker
2020 Wine Tasting Workshops
- 14 May 2020 – Old vintages to discover
- 11 June 2020 – Unknown wines and terroirs through ages
“Combine them as a chef”: Alsatian food and wine
- 9 April 2020 – Spring / collectif Chef Art’East
- 28 May 2020 – Summer / Cercle des Arômes
Colmar – Easter Markets and Music Festival
Colmar celebrates the Spring – From Friday April 03 to Sunday April 19, 2020
- 2 Easter and Spring markets with 70 exhibitors give the opportunity to enjoy the first rays of sun in the enchanting setting of the city center. Dominican Square and Old Customs Square
Monday to Sunday, from 10:00 to 19:00
- 3 exhibitions-sales (including the Egg Salon decorated during the Easter weekend) expose to Koifhus (Old Customs) the most beautiful achievements of local craftsmen-creators.
- The “Festival Music and Culture” invites all audiences to 14 concerts of jazz and classical music where virtuosity and good humour will be on the program!
Dambach-la-Ville – «Stones & Wines of Granite»
DATE WILL BE UPDATE SOON FOR 2020
A few kilometers from Sélestat towards the Vosges, Dambach-la-Ville is for sure an active and picturesque wine village on the Alsace Wine Route. Thirty or so winemakers produce remarkable wines, the best of which come from the hills of the Vosges mountains, including the Frankstein grand cru with its granite terroir.
Every year, there are three days not to be missed in Dambach-la-Ville. The day of Stones & Wines of Granite (Pierres et Vins de Granit) takes place at the end of April.
Europa Park – Rust, Germany
Easter animation, from April 10 – 13 – www.europa-park.de
Europe’s most popular theme park is not even an hour away from our holiday apartments in Riquewihr and La Vancelle. In Spring, and especially on Easter, the children (but adults also haha!) are at the party at Europa Park. A flea jump on the other side of the Rhine, and presto, the wonders of the most beautiful amusement park are yours. The Easter Hare and Euromaus are waiting for the little ones with lots of chocolate surprises and many activities offered every day in the Easter village.
Gutach, Easter at the Ecomuseum of the Black Forest
Opening for the season 2019: March 29.
Easter special event: April 05-19, 2020, 11:00 – 16:00.
Around the symbols and customs of the biggest Christian holiday, visitors are treated to a colourful program with home-made demonstrations and family entertainment programs.
Schwarzwälder Freilichtmuseum Vogtsbauernhof, B33, 77793 Gutach
Mittelbergheim – Hinter’m Kallerladel – Open cellars
DATE WILL BE UPDATE SOON FOR 2020
Hinter’m Kallerladel … In Alsatian it means “behind the small shutter of the cellar …”
It’s been more than ten years since the winemakers of Mittelbergheim reveal to us, once a year in the spring, the secrets of their cellars. A unique opportunity for the wine lover of Alsace or just for the tourist who is aware of the event (you), to get acquainted with an Alsatian village with an exceptional architectural and wine heritage. Mittelbergheim is a member of the association Les Plus Beaux Villages de France, but remains discreet and unjustly ignored.
Ribeauvillé, Farmer’s Spring Market
Sunday, April 05, 2020, 10:00 – 18:00, Town Hall Square
Ribeauvillé is a lovely medieval city just 4 kilometres away from Riquewihr. Should the weather allow it, our guests who are staying with us at les Remparts de Riquewihr could make a beautiful walk through the vineyards to reach Ribeauvillé.
At the Farmer’s Spring market of Ribeauvillé, there are thirty stands of local products offered by exhibitors dressed like the traditional local farmers.
Many activities throughout the day: pony rides, miraculous fishing, farm animals, concert of the Municipal Harmony Vogesia (11:30 to 13:00), etc.
The competition for the best kougelhopf (traditional Alsatian pastry) will also be held as part of the farmers’ spring market.
Snack on site and of course all restaurants are open.
Riquewihr, flee market for old radio sets
Saturday, May 2, 2020, from 7:00 to 16:00.
This event devoted to radio and old equipment is organized by the History and Radio Collection Club in Riquewihr. It is the largest in France devoted to the theme of old radios and their technology based on lamps. It is an international rendezvous for all collectors.
Saturday and Sunday, June 13-14, 2020
This will be the 4th edition of the Knepfelfacht (Feast of the Quenelle).
It is a gourmet event with the participation of a dozen restaurateurs and as many winemakers in the city.
Culinary demonstration with great chefs from the region and elsewhere. In 2017 the godfather was Marc Haeberlin, the chef of the Auberge de l’Ill, a famous Michelin-star restaurant in Illhaeusern.
From Saturday 11:30 everybody can taste the different “knepfle”.
At 15:00, chefs contest
At 20:00, concert
Sunday from 11:00 aperitif and music with the Men’s Choir of Riquewihr and to follow, the discovery of “Knepfle” with food and wine pairing.
Sélestat, Printania: traditions and festivities of Easter
From Wednesday, April 1 to Wednesday April 15, 2020: Every day from 10:00 to 12:00 and from 14:00 to 18:00.
In a spring decor honoring the traditions of Easter, the City of Sélestat invites craftsmen and illustrators. DIY workshops, gardening tips, relaxation area and seasonal reading, friendly garden furniture, quizzes, quiz, small farm … Among the appointments and activities planned, I noted:
Sunday at 16:00: Tasting specialties of Easter time and small anecdotes
Thursday: tasting of the traditional green plant soup, that of Holy Thursday, also called in Alsace “green” Thursday.
Easter Monday at 16:00: egg hunt for children from 3 to 8 years.
A rally-quiz to do with the family when you want between April 10-22. Information to pick at the Sainte-Barbe vault …
And throughout the exhibition, games, mini-lotos, quizzes, a stand of the group “flowered houses” (Maisons Fleuries), some workshops and surprises.
Sainte-Marie-aux-Mines – Fashion & Fabrics Show
March 19-22, 2020 – CANCELLED
Salon Mode & Tissus of Sainte-Marie-aux-Mines
During the years, the Fashion and Fabrics exhibition has become a reference event in the confectionery market. With the meeting of some fifteen French manufacturers specialized in the production of high-end fabrics, Mode et Tissus is an unmissable event for individuals wishing to buy fabric by the meter. These same manufacturers count among their customers the most prestigious names in French haute couture.
Craftsmen, designers and merchants are associated with this event to offer customers a complete offer of all fashion accessories: hats, jewelery, handbags …
Schoppenwihr (Park of), Festival of Plants
May 2 – 3, 2020, 9:00 – 17:00.
The Plant Festival of Schoppenwihr (Fête des Plantes de Schoppenwihr) north of Colmar has become, over the years, a must-visit event for lovers of plants, flowers and gardens. Beginners or experienced visitors will benefit from the advice of dozens of nursery exhibitors, who will present for sale thousands of plants and seeds … Additional exhibitors traditionally complete the exhibition with products around the garden theme, its decoration and life in the countryside.
SLOW-UP Alsace, the vineyard and the wine route by bike, on foot or on a scooter but especially without a car!
June 7, 2020
I had to wait for the 4th edition of the Slow Up Alsace, June 5, 2016, to move to the act of participation. I imagined until then that it was necessary to be a crack of the bike, a follower of the half-marathon or trail in mountain to have fun on such an event. In the perspective of photos to be made for the blog (see my photos of the Slow-Up 2016 here), I saw myself already on the lookout, lurking in a ditch along the way, like a wildlife photographer watching for strange birds flying at full speed in front of my camera lens!
A few days later, I laugh at myself. But no ! It is a beautiful day open and accessible to all. Come !
Strasbourg, Easter Village
From Saturday 4 April 2020 to Monday 13 April 2020, daily from 10:00 to 19:00
This is the 8th Easter Village that will be held in Place Saint Thomas and will begin with the 18th Vide Grenier (more than 120 exhibitors expected), Saturday, April 4, 2020.
Craftsmen and local creators, animations for the children.
Snacks and refreshments.
Nature is awaking: in the vineyards and landscapes …
All over Alsace and the upper Rhine valley but also in the Vosges and Black Forest mountains vegetation is back to life. The long work of cutting back the vines is almost finished in the vineyards. Everywhere the first and tender new leaves are showing up. Trees are starting blossoming and the birds are now in a better mood and singing again …
Spring colors in the streets
The mood of the people is better also. Some sun and higher temperatures are attracting more people to the streets and even to the hiking paths. In the main street of Riquewihr, chairs and tables are back in the streets in front of the restaurants when the sun shines. Flowers are again available on open air markets and tinging the windows with colorful spots when Easter is getting nearer.
Spring in Alsace is not an easy season for the photographer … The vegetation is exploding: it is a festival of flowers and leaves everywhere! The asparagus tips show their nose. The activities also start again: flower festival, flea markets and local products … The terraces are taken by storm when the sun shines . In short, we do not know where to turn. And I, I run to the right and left to make images. Pictures to show you that spring is really a season in which you have to be in Alsace!
An afternoon through the vineyards around Riquewihr …
There it is! The Hikers are back! Had they even gone anyway? Alsace is a land of walks whatever the season. But in the spring, the weather lends itself to hiking: the temperatures are pleasant without being too hot. This is perfect for walking. Before tackling the mountain, the vineyard allows to warm up. Riquewihr, pearl of the Alsatian wines and vineyards, nestled in a valley close to the mountain and the forest, offers beautiful circular walks. Early morning and late afternoon provide the finest discoveries.
Here are some moments picked in late afternoon and, I hope, will make you want to get out …
Click on the pictures to enlarge …
My walk starts on the hillside of Schoenenbourg, the most renowned vineyards of Riquewihr. The view is spectacular in all seasons and in all weathers. The village is nestled in its ramparts. The Protestant church in the foreground counts the hours. Farther to the south, we see a small pass through which escape other vineyards towards Kientzheim. I like going over there. Climb the vines of Froehn and Oberberg, near the forest.
Click on the pictures to enlarge …
At the end of Riquewihr, on the road through the vineyards of Kientzheim we have a nice view to the north. Beyond the Schoenenbourg hillside can be seen from the Haut-Koenigsbourg. From the highest point, near the forest, only the towers of Riquewihr emerge from the valley. The evening moved slowly and the shadows lengthen.
I really need to be back at sunrise, when the rising sun from the Rhine and the Black Forest gently caresses the vines …
I invite our friends and guests who stay in one of our holiday apartments at Les Remparts de Riquewihr to take a picnic and do some walking around the village. In the silence of nature, there are wonderful discoveries to be done …
Alsace homeland of the Easter Bunny?
Easter is, apart from its Christian meaning, the celebration of Spring par excellence. In Alsace and the Upper Rhine valley Easter is the time when the Easter Bunny appears.
Have you ever seen that fast-running, long-eared mammal that resembles a large rabbit, having long hind legs and living typically in grassland or open woodland? It is the hare.
De Oschtahaas. In the local Alsatian dialect of my village, this is how the Easter Hare was called. The “Easter Bunny” indeed is a hare, not a rabbit. According to the legend, only good children received gifts of colored eggs in the nests that they made before Easter.
When we were kids, the house of our parents was just beside the farm of our grand-parents. There was a huge garden and an orchard. On Saturday before Easter we used to cross the road to go to the grocery and ask for material to build our nests. They had some great stuff, kind of wooden straw which was used in boxes to protected the packed items against shocks. Then each child was building its nests secretly, so that nobody could come and steel the eggs and chocolate the Easter Hare would bring. I remember that I was always worried about how the “Oschtahaas” would find my nests if they were hidden too carefully.
Some years later, my younger sister used to follow the same tradition with his cousin. They were 7 or 8 years old at that time and had their mind full of foolery or was it just imagination? They built the nests but also hided some traps in the garden, hoping to be able to capture the Easter Bunny!
The Easter Bunny or Easter Rabbit is a character depicted as a rabbit bringing Easter eggs. The Easter Bunny is sometimes depicted with clothes. In legend, the creature carries colored eggs in his basket, candy and sometimes also toys to the homes of children. Actually, in the original tradition, it is not a rabbit but a hare.
Almost 20 centuries ago, in Europe, Saxons used to hold a fertility celebration in honor of the Goddess Eastre, whose sacred animal was a hare. The hare is often associated with moon goddesses; the egg and the haer together represent the god and the goddess, respectively.
Pagan fertility festivals at the time of the Spring equinox were common. It was believed that at this time, male and female energies were balanced.
The Christian church found it easier to absorb those Pagan practices.
So that some 15 centuries later, in the end of the Middle Ages, the Easter Hare was first mentioned in a book by professor Georg Franck of Frankenau in 1682 in his (medical) treatise “De ovis paschalibus – about Easter Eyern”. He is referring to an Alsace and neighboring areas tradition of an Easter Hare bringing Easter Eggs. In his book he described the negative health consequences of excessive consumption of such eggs 🙂
Alsace has always been a German culture area before being integrated into France some 3 centuries ago. Georg Franck studied medicine and anatomy in Strasbourg where he received his M.D. in 1666.
The precise origin of the ancient custom of decorating eggs is not known, although evidently the blooming of many flowers in spring coincides with the use of the fertility symbol of eggs—and eggs boiled with some flowers change their color, bringing the spring into the homes.
German Protestants wanted to retain the Catholic custom of eating colored eggs for Easter, but did not want to introduce their children to the Catholic rite of fasting. Eggs were forbidden to Catholics during the fast of Lent, which was the reason for the abundance of eggs at Easter time.
The tradition of an egg-laying bunny then went to America in the 18th century. Alsatian and German immigrants in the Pennsylvania Dutch area told their children about the “Osterhase”. “Hase” means “hare”, not rabbit.
In those early years of the 21st Century, the tradition of the Osterhase – the Easter Bunny – is still very popular in Alsace. Florists, confectioners, chocolate makers are offering bunnies and colored eggs. Our Alsatian villages, especially Riquewihr, start their first decoration of the year with the Easter Bunny.
The “Lammele”, a typical Alsatian pastry for Easter
“Osterlammele” or “Oschterlammele”, “lamele” or “Lammele” means “little Easter lamb” in Alsatian. It is a traditional Alsatian pastry shaped as a lamb (a kind of sponge cake).
The Lammele is a typical Alsatian tradition. Ancient Catholic theologian Thomas Murner from Obernai already stated in 1519: At Easter the young man offered a Lammele to his fiancée. It was also offered to children at the return of the Mass of Easter Day. After Lent, this biscuit, rich in eggs whose consumption was forbidden during Lent, allowed to sell the accumulated stock before Easter. The lamb, sprinkled with icing sugar, was decorated with a paper flag in the colors of the Vatican flag (yellow and white) or Alsace (red and white).
Like the famous Kougelof the Lammele is traditionally cooked in a glazed clay mold. You’ll find the Lammele in all the Alsatian bakeries when Easter is approaching …
Every year our holiday apartments are getting an Easter decoration.
Spring is a beautiful time to stay in one of our holiday homes in Riquewihr, Alsace.