A weekend in Colmar, Alsace (France)

     One of the things I love about Switzerland is its close proximity to other worlds. In half an hour we’re in the Black Forest of Germany, in three hours in Italian Switzerland or Austria, or as this last weekend – in two hours we’re in the Alsace of France.
     The center pivots in the Rhine valley of the Alsace remind me of Africa. Funny, really. It’s not what people would usually associate with Africa. But most of the irrigation I’ve seen is on the big commercial farms we drive by on our way back and forth to the city of Lusaka, Zambia.
     What also remind me of Africa are the corn cribs on several fields. Storage for the harvested corn, they’re high, long narrow crates of metal grating that allow air to move freely through the cobs. I saw that in Africa first too.
     Interesting, how the developed world reminds me of the undeveloped world, not the other way around! It just goes to show that Africa has many sides to it, and in some ways is equal to the first world.
     I don’t even have any photos of the Alsace center pivots or corn cribs, because my first world digital SLR quit on me right then!

'Le Marche couvert de Colmar' (the covered market) was built in l863 and just reopened its doors after a major renovation.

'Le Marche couvert de Colmar' (the covered market) was built in l863 and just reopened its doors after a major renovation.

     There isn’t much in common between the farmer’s market in Colmar, France and the Sokeni Market in Kitwe, Zambia though. The historical covered Colmar farmer’s market has just opened its doors again after a major renovation. We all comment on the grandiose market and the few people – no trying to elbow my way through a throng of shoppers and hawkers here! I don’t miss the Kitwe sewer or garbage smells either. Walking through the spacious aisles I breathe in the tantalizing scent of French smoked sausages and fresh baked Gougelhopf (Alsace cake.
     At a vegetable and fruit stand I get an Idared apple, a variety my uncle grew in Switzerland years ago. Jacqueline stills her hunger with the large Pretzels we see at every bakery. Mike talks English at the Portugese stand where he buys a beer that conjures up holiday memories. Robert checks out the savoury cheeses at the Alsace Mountain Farmer’s stand beside the Vietnamese specialities shop.

Robert studies the inscription on a centuries old building in Riquewhir.

Robert studies the inscription on a centuries old building in Riquewhir.

     Sunday noon we stroll through the picturesque village of Riquewhir; its colourful twisted houses with ancient wooden beams forming the town walls. Standing under the arched entrance to the town, I wonder who has all passed through here over the centuries? It’s fun to follow the narrow cobblestone streets into large inner courts, or find the torture chamber in one of the towers.

We appreciate the warm of a fire along with a pot of tea at the 'salon de the' in Riquewhir.

We appreciate the warmth of a fire along with a pot of tea at the 'salon de the' in Riquewhir.

     We should have had lunch instead of tea at the ‘Salon de The’ in Riquewhir. It is a good idea to be hungry when the Alsace restaurants serve hot food – usually between noon and 2:00 p.m. (3:00 p.m. in the city) and from about 6:30 p.m. on. After trying two different villages and walking the chilly windy streets of Colmar again, we settle for a cold sandwich from a rare bakery that is open, and go home to cook spaghetti…

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