It is easy to decide to have a weekend in Alsace but not easy to choose where to go as there are so many pleasant places there.
On our way to the hotel we stopped in Kaysersberg to have a walk but also to have a drink. It was a grey day but not raining, so it was better to go around without an umbrella.
We had an Alsatian "five o'clock" and each time we enter a tearoom in Alsace I am surprised by the size of cake or pie pieces. They are... huge ! So we enjoyed a huge blueberry pie piece with whipped cream for one and a huge apple and almonds pie piece for the other, with generous warm drinks. After this good break, we were ready to walk again.
In spite of several visits to Kaysersberg, we had never noticed rue des Forgerons (Blacksmith street). There is no blacksmith there but a potter shop and this narrow street is typical.
As there were only a few tourists around on this Saturday of April, we managed to look at houses quietly. The atmosphere was very peaceful and we could only hear the noise of the river (la Weiss). I also read on the bridge that it was built in 1514, so a very old one
We were told we should come to visit the local Christmas market next time. Maybe.
Spring started here with a sunny day, so we decided to go to the Vosges mountains to have a walk and breathe fresh air.
I checked webcams before leaving and the road was clear, no snow around.
We noticed the mist far away, and it was not possible to see the mountains till we arrived quite near.
When we started going up to Le Donon, there was a bit of snow in ditches. We remembered our children would have asked us to stop to walk in it, never mind if they had to walk with wet socks afterwards ! No problem to park the car and we started walking on a path nearby. The sky was so blue and the air so pleasant. And, in spite of other people walking too, it was very calm. Blackbirds were singing and moving near us without being frightened.
We went up till snow stopped us. My shoes were not good for that, especially as it was icy. So we turned back and finished our walk in the restaurant nearby with a hot drink and blueberry pie, sitting in the sun.
This trip to the Vosges mountains made my day. A good start for the new spring.
The first Sunday of March is Grandmother's Day in France. We started celebrating grandmothers nearly 30 years ago. I think it was the idea of a brand of coffee at first.
This day is not as busy as Mother's Day (the last Sunday of May this year), but we hear about it on television, on the radio and in newspapers.
For me, today is a special day. It is the first time a grandchild gives me a present.Our granddaughter was born 5 months ago and she came this morning with this drawing (on the picture) she made with the help of her mother. Such a nice idea !
Thanks to her, the last five months have been busy and different from the years before. It is pleasant to discover this baby, to look after her and to enjoy what she starts doing.
It is good to be a grandmother.
We went to Ypres to see the Menin Gate Memorial, but we really enjoyed walking around the old center of this town situated in West Flanders.
First the architecture of the buildings is so different from here. And the work done after the war to rebuild the town is very impressing.
We admired the Cloth Hall but didn't climb up the belfry. St Martin's cathedral is also beautiful.
It was market day and we had a look around. Of course, it was similar to our French markets. The atmosphere was cheerful and there were a few things we were interested in. Then we had lunch on Grote Markt square, i.e. we didn't leave the market square.
It is difficult to imagine that poison gas was used for the first time in this area in 1915. This gas was called Mustard gas, then also known as Yperite from the name of the town.
We spent the whole day in Ypres, visiting the Memorial and the town. It was a good time.
Nearly one year after writing this, I found this text in Rye and Battle Observer and decided to place the link after my own article.
It explains so much about the pilgrimage of British people to Ypres.
Ypres is a pleasant town to visit but, above all, it is famous because of the Menin Gate Memorial to Missing.
It is dedicated to the British and Commonwealth soldiers killed around Ypres during WW1 and who haven't got a known grave.
The Menin Gate Memorial is near the main square of Ypres, just a very short walk to reach it.
From the narrow street ending near it, you are already impressed by the size of the monument, a big arch, nearly white, nothing to compare with the architecture of the old town near it.
When you walk under it, you discover all the names engraved on the stone on the walls, and more in the stairs on each side, and more again on the top of these staircases.
More than 54 000 names are written, the names of soldiers who died before August 15th, 1917.
You see family names you know and hear people saying the same, you try to find if any name rings a bell, you look at nationalities...
The Menin Gate Memorial to Missing makes you stay calm and makes you think about all these men who died to save our freedom.
People come from all the world to pay tribute to them and some bring flowers or cards, some send flowers to the Memorial. Notes are moving either dedicated to one person or to all of them.
6 days out of 7, the Last Post is played in the evening at 8 o'clock on the dot at the Menin Memorial Gate to Missing, the traditional salute to the fallen.
We haven't been there this time and went back to France earlier in the evening, but next time we'll stay in town and attend this ceremony.