As each year the Société d'Horticulture organized its Fête du Potimarron (Red kuri squash Fair) at the end of September.
We didn't grow any plant of the same family in our garden this year, so it was a good opportunity to go and buy a few, and to enjoy being near the castle of Lunéville.
At lunch time it was not so crowded and I managed to park not too far from the fair, thinking about the bag I would have to carry on the way back to the car.
What makes this Fête du Potimarron so pleasant is the fact that the people who sell the cucurbitaceae advise what to choose depending on what you want to do with it. So I asked for red kuri squash (potimarron) for soup and purée, butternut squash (butternut) for gratin and I didn't know what to have to make jam. In the end I bought a Sweet from Berry (Sucrine du Berry) and I could not resist and bought a Bleu de Hongrie pumpkin to taste (the colour of the peel skin attracted me and I was told it is very good.- the pale blue pumpkins on the left of the picture).
Now it is time to peel, cook and enjoy.
Each year we try to visit at least one place during the Journées Européennes du Patrimoine (European Heritage Days). So, on Saturday, we went to a garden in Lay-Saint-Christophe called Le Jardin d'Adoué.
This garden was created in the 1990s and is situated on a steep land on the highest part of the village. It is interesting to see how the owners managed to make flower beds, to plant bushes and trees to make a very pleasant area to have a walk around.
Visitors can also buy plants there and, for this special week end, other nurserymen were invited to give advices and to sell their plants.
I am sure the most difficult this year was to keep flowers blooming as our weather has been so changeable. But all was quite green.
I really like the sort of islands standing on the lawn with one tree, one or several bushes and one object (a bench, a statue, a seat...). Everyone can find a favourite.
There is even a pond with ducks and a metal decoration which was really successful.
A lot of people were leaving with pots, we only left with pictures of the flowers we liked a lot and with their names, of course.
Last year we found good wine in Riquewihr, so this year we decided to go back there to buy more for us and also to find the "medium dry" wine my English friend would like to taste.
Riquewihr is a pleasant town to visit because it is so typical, but there is also a big choice of wines. The idea for our day was to arrive to have lunch there and to do our shopping afterwards.
Before leaving home I tried to check what a "medium dry" wine would be in French but the explanation I got was satisfying only for champagne. So I was left with the idea I would have to ask when arriving at the cellar.
And the man there was so pleasant, he knew exactly what to propose : a Pinot Gris. I must say I had in mind I didn't like this wine, but it was a really good surprise, I like it. It is not as fruity as Gewurztraminer, but it is good.
As we were tasting the wines we were interested in, we were proposed to visit the place where they are made, just two houses away. It was nothing compared to big cellars in Champagne or Burgundy, but I found it was really interesting, a real place where you realize people are working and not organizing things only for tourists.
Some barrels were really old and the stairs to go there where quite steep !
These stairs made us think about the steep slope we had seen from the end of a narrow street of Riquewihr. We were told that, for these vineyards, no machine can be used. All the work before the crop is done by hand ! I wouldn't go there on a day the ground is icy.
Our visit in the cellar to choose wine was very interesting with all the explanations we got. We felt we knew more about what we were going to drink.
We were really reasonable with the tasting as we had the opportunity to choose between five sorts of wines (2 Pinot Gris, 3 Gewurztraminer) matching our request. There was no point in getting drunk so we took a sip of each and threw what was left in the special small bucket on the counter (thinking "what a waste!").
This place was the last one of our shopping walk as we didn't want to carry heaving things around. We could not resist in front of the gingerbread shop and also decided we could bring back home a few bottles of Alsatian beer.
Riquewihr is worth another visit next year to buy a few more bottles of wine.
After having lunch at La Schlucht, we drove further on la Route des Crêtes and headed towards le Grand Ballon to enjoy the view from the highest point of the Vosges, altitude : 1424 meters.
The previous times we had stopped there, we only had a drink in the restaurant near the road. This time we walked up the path to the top. It is not a difficult walk, and not a long one either, I would say about one kilometer.
The view from the parking place towards the mountains of Black Forest was good but, of course, the more you walk up to le Grand Ballon the better it is. You can admire Alsace stuck between the two ranges of mountains. The long Rhine River is there but, unless you know some landmarks, it is not possible to be sure where exactly.
When at the top, we discovered the monument dedicated to the WWI Diables Bleus and the radar used by Mulhouse-Basel airport. A pity it was a bit misty, we could not see the Alps, only the Jura mountains on the south-east side. We stayed there for a while, relaxing, and appreciating the view, the calm atmosphere and also lower temperatures than down in Lorraine on this day.
As the hottest day of the week was planned on Wednesday, we drove to the Vosges mountains to enjoy a trip on the Route des Crêtes and try to avoid the heat.
We stopped for our lunch at Col de la Schlucht (pronounce "schlurrt"), a pass at an altitude of 1139 meters. It is one of the main ways to go from Lorraine to Alsace, but we were driving on the perpendicular road to stay on the tops.
In summer people go hiking there or enjoy the long toboggan near the pistes. In winter it is a famous place for skiing. And it is always very crowded during winter holidays, a bit less in summer.
A big milestone shows the limit between the département called Vosges in Lorraine and the one called Haut-Rhin in Alsace. The first road was built around 1860 to welcome the French Emperor, Napoleon III. Before that, the road was more a private one going to a house where hunters used to meet.
From this milestone, by walking a bit down on the road towards Alsace, it is possible to see the highest mountains and more of the ski pistes.
But we wanted to driver further to try to get a bit of cooler air. So we left towards le Grand Ballon at the beginning of the afternoon.