By Charmaine Hibbert
Alsace is located in the historical Northeastern region of France on the Rhine River plain and borders both Germany and Switzerland. It is a beautifully picturesque and charming place steeped in so much history. And for anyone who has read my reviews knows – apart from loving my spas of course – I am fascinated by history and architecture so when we bumped into a wonderful lady whilst out exploring the town I was blown away by the stories she told us.
If you have not visited Alsace I would advise you arrange a trip at some point in your life. It has alternated between German and French control over the centuries and it is these influences that give Alsace its character and charm.
After landing at the airport in Bale Mulhouse we are met by an enthusiastic taxi driver frantically waving a board with our names. At this point I can say I feel a tad special. After packing our luggage our driver transports us to Mulhouse to visit the Cité de l'Automobile. I know nothing about cars but I can appreciate their beauty. The Schlumpf collection is one of the most prestigious car collections in the world – a collection of 437 cars belonging to 97 different brands – admiring all those classic cars I think I’ve got a tad carried away by taking nearly 200 photos. Ooops! It’s a good thing I bought a bigger memory card for this trip! If you are a lover of cars, in fact even if like me you have no real clue about cars, the Cité de l'Automobile is certainly worth a visit.
We are back in the car and being taken back to the airport to pick up our hire car. After a frustrating hour of trying to work the sat nav we have finally arrived at the gates of our hotel and this looks anything but your ordinary hotel. The Chateau is just stunning, the entrance and the drive through the vineyard just takes your breath away.
Chateau D’Isenbourg is a magnificent sight to behold, circa 1800s and surrounded by vineyards. What I love about this charming hotel apart from the obvious architecture - the building is grand after all – is the fact that it is situated on the Alsatian wine trail and offers panoramic views of the Rhine Plain and the Black Forest. I could not have imagined for one minute that I would be looking at the Vosges foothills, the Rhine plain and the Black Forest off into the distance. I am lost for words and for anyone who knows me that’s quite some feat to keep me quiet.
The hotel boasts 41 rooms that fall under 6 different categories: the ‘Siegeberg Suite’, ‘Junior Suite’, ‘Deluxe’, ‘Superior’, ‘Traditional’ and ‘Standard’ room. I cannot speak for James but my room is amazing; traditional, spacious and elegantly decorated and I dive on my double bed as soon as the bellboy leaves the room! Walking to my window and seeing that view again just soothes my soul. All rooms offer fantastic views of the garden, the park, the vineyard or the Alsatian Plain – so what more could you want for a hotel view?
Walking out onto the terrace for our evening meal I just didn’t expect for the view to be so glorious from here. It literally stops me in my tracks. I think a nudge from James brings me back to the here and now. I have seen some views in my time but I must admit this has to be one of my favourites, especially whilst enjoying some amazing Alsatian cuisine. This is gastronomy at its best. I think it's best I just let myself get lost in the stunning views, great food and of course great local wine. I am not sure how I will feel going back to the hustle and bustle of London life after this but I quickly push that thought to the back of my mind.
Through the vineyards
Something I must not forget to mention is that the hotel produces its own wine - it doesn’t have a fantastic vineyard for nothing – so at dinner we just have to sample a bottle or two of the hotel’s own wine. I am quite fussy when it comes to wine I must admit, by no means am I a wine connoisseur, I just simply know what I like and don’t like, and these wines really do just dance on the taste buds. James is the wine expert between the two of us, so I trust his judgement and I’m so glad I did. If you take anything away from this review, please do sample the cuisine and locally produced wines. And please take time out to explore this small but gorgeous town.
We decided to take a drive through the countryside and just take in the sights before our tour of the vineyard at the Wine Cellar Bestheim in Westhalten, and looking out at the vast scenery it looks like every house has their very own vineyard. It really is an amazing sight to see. It has got me really excited about our tour. I never thought for a minute I would have such a great time learning about how wine is produced. Usually, talk of how wine is produced goes over my head but I am shocked at how I am hanging on to Mr Beuchot's every word. He is a charming man and is obviously passionate about wine and it gives me a new found respect for the industry.
I would highly recommend during the summer time to take a ride on the Train Gourmand du Vignoble (TGV) from Eguisheim to Rouffach by the vineyards and enjoy that beautiful landscape. You can taste wines and visit the city of Gueberschwihr and the magnificent church of Notre-Dame (in Rouffach). On this trip we have a hire car so we will miss out on taking the TGV, we could do the trip by car but I don’t think it would be the same but it is definitely something I want to do when I come back. And with Christmas around the corner you need to check out the Christmas market, it just looks like a magical atmosphere and after all Christmas is a magical time of year so what better time to visit this beautiful town and wonderful hotel.
Rue de Pfaffenheim
T: +33 3 89 78 58 50