Wednesday, August 07, 2013

Ribeauville and Clos St. Vincent, France





While on holiday last month, we finally got to France.  It was a trip I'd been excited about, because I'm a closet Francophile, and because of the great experience I had working with a French hospital in Afghanistan.  We spent so much time there, that we almost felt like part of the staff.  

In France, we visited Ribeauvill√©, in the foothills of the Vosges Mountains.  It was picturesque, to say the least.  South of Strasbourg, it was only about 3 hours from home.   While there, we stayed at Le Clos Saint Vincent, a lovely hotel-restaurant situated in the middle of vineyards.  It was by far the best experience we have had in a hotel for years.  The staff was warm and friendly, and really made us feel welcome.  They were exceptionally tolerant of my abhorrent French abilities as well.  We stayed in a very comfortable family suite, with a child's bed and small terrace, right next to the indoor pool (to Isabella's delight).  

We took breakfast and supper there in the hotel, enjoying exceptional French cuisine three nights in a row.  Emmanuel, the host took excellent care of us, ensuring that we made the most of trying local wines that fit perfectly with the meals.  Typical French cooking was a bit much for Isabella, and the menu didn't have a kids section, but the Chef prepared her meals to order.  Still, we couldn't get her to try the escargot. She's a sharp one, that girl.

We spent about 3 days there, enjoying the scenery, the indoor pool, and the surrounding towns.  The family friendly highlight was Montagne des Singes, or Monkey Mountain, a wildlife preserve that keeps and rehabilitates Barbary Macaques, a type of monkey found in the mountains of North Africa.  An 800 meter walking trail allows one to get right up close to the monkeys, and feed them popcorn (provided by the staff). It was fascinating to see, and the trail provided information in French and German about the species, and quizzed you along the way to see if you were paying attention.  Lots of fun, and a neat chance to see other simians up close in a very unique environment.  A must-see if you ever visit.  far

The weekend went far too fast, but it was a great way to cap off a solid month of traveling that included Belgium, Germany, Denmark, Sweden and Norway.  We can't wait to go back.

A few of the other photos from that delightful weekend are below...