We have been enjoying a trip to Europe - hence the lack of blogging. We started out at Hull, took the ferry to Zeebrugge, and then spent time in Luxembourg and a week in Alsace, in eastern France.
Alsace produces the best wine in the world, and that was one of the reasons for going - many wines do not get exported to the UK and that includes some of the best ( and after the killjoys have slapped tax on it the price of the best stuff is astronomical in any case )
First stop was Luxembourg. We opted to stay just outside the city, in a small spa town called Mondorf-les-Bains, and found a very good value 'gourmet break' in the Hotel du Grand Chef, which is highly recommended. No air-con though...fortunately it wasn't too hot. The food was good, nothing very adventurous, classic French, but no problem there....one of the waiters looked exactly like Mr. Dead, from the Harry Enfield TV prog.
Time in Luxembourg was spend divided between culture and wine. Luxembourgeois wine is good stuff, though largely unknown, and the Moselle valley is attractive and well set up for wine tourists. The city itself is modern and has a new contemporary art museum, opened last year, which we thought was excellent - at the moment they have an exhibition which focuses on the links between art and science fiction, which is more than worth seeing.
We thern drove down to Alsace, to our gite in the village of Bergheim. Alsace is a strange place. Its French, yet it isn't. All the place names are Germanic, the food is certainly more akin to German than French (unfortunately...) and at one time many people spoke Alsatian, a High German dialect, but we heard only the owners of the gite (both over 70) use it. Its also both very pro-Europe, and right-wing. It was the most pro-Sarkozy region, and has a very strong National Front vote. There are a couple of interesting academic papers on this phenomenon - http://www.uwm.edu/Dept/21st/workingpapers/boswell.pdf and http://mondediplo.com/1998/05/07bihr.
We seem to have majored on Right-Wing Holiday Destinations this year! On the Sunday, the village had its local fete which highlighted the excellent gewurztraminer wine produced in the area, and they had a parade which was on the theme of famous Alsatians in history. One of them simply wouldn't be considered acceptable in the UK. The participants were 'blacked up' and one was dressed as a gorilla. We were almost expecting the free bananas.
But we enjoyed the trip. Lots of wine tasting and purchasing, a fair bit of culture - the Unterlinden museum in Colmar being a particular highlight - and some good food too. Much Alsatian food doesn't appeal - pardticularly choucroute - but we did find plenty of good places to eat. The culinary highlight was Le Table de Gourmets, in Riquewihr. http://www.jlbrendel.com/main.php?set_lng=en is the website.