Posts Tagged ‘Grandes Etapes Françaises’

Cycling in France!

Day 5 of 365days2play’s Honeymoon in Luxembourg, Germany & France

Most Singaporeans, when they tell you that they’ve been holidaying in France, actually mean that they’ve been holidaying in Paris. And that’s usually because most Singaporeans do a London-Paris type of trip, and already these 2 mega cities would have taken up at least 5 days each of the holiday that there’s hardly any time for the countryside!

I had such a dilemma as well when planning my Honeymoon. Would it be London and Paris? Or London and then Paris+French Countryside? Or Paris and then London+English Countryside? There are quite a number of variations but one thing I knew I definitely didn’t want to do, at least not for the entire trip, was to have to use the public trains. It’s actually not that cheap to take the Eurorail around Europe, unless you limit yourself to a few stops. And it’s almost impossible to see the countryside if you don’t drive. But I wanted to see some countryside, so in the end we decided to drive around France, and stick only to France or else we’d have to spend another bomb on the train from Paris to London!

Thank god we did a self-drive tour, even though we had to contend with driving on the right side of the road. For one, we’d never have been able to stay at the lovely Chateaus dotted all over the French countryside. We even got the chance to do a spot of cycling in the vineyard behind our Chateau D’Isenbourg!

Chateau d'Isenbourg grounds (10)

The grand Chateau d’Isenbourg of the Small Luxury Hotel of the World and Grandes Etapes Françaises groups.

Cycling around Chateau d'Isenbourg (2)

Rent a bike for free from the hotel. They will gladly give you a code to unlock the bikes.

Cycling around Chateau d'Isenbourg (12)

Rows and rows of grapevines. No grapes yet cuz it’s still spring. Chateau d’Isenbourg is in the distance.

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Les Tommeries Restaurant

Day 5 of 365days2play’s Honeymoon in Luxembourg, Germany & France

As part of our stay at the Chateau D’Isenbourg, we were treated to a sumptuous feast at the hotel’s resident restaurant, the Les Tommeries. Les Tommeries is lovely, with numerous grand arched windows to enjoy the view of the vineyards just beyond. In the Summer, you can also partake in your meals on the al-fresco verandah, which must surely be an exciting thing to do. Scroll down to see pictures of the verandah and vineyard.

Chateau D'Isenbourg Les Tommeries Restaurant (7)

In a Louis XV style, its crystal chandeliers and stone flooring somehow brings me back to a bygone era.

Chateau D'Isenbourg Les Tommeries Restaurant - Amuse Bouche  (2)

Amuse Bouche

We were treated to a lovely palate pleaser in the form of a foie gras pate. I love pates and a foie gras pate is obviously even more delectable. The little block of pate smooth and rich tasting. I could have eaten the whole thing easily but I decided to limit myself to only half as it is very satiating! Don’t want to be too full for my mains!

Chateau D'Isenbourg Les Tommeries Restaurant - Salmon marinated in soy and sesame, crisp white cabbage wasabi cream 22 Euros

Salmon marinated in soy and sesame, crisp white cabbage wasabi cream 22 Euros

The Partner scored a homerun with this fantastic salmon starter. The chef must have taken pains to lay out each sliver of salmon in this eye-catching geometric shape. The Asian-inspired marinade was a welcome change from European flavours and I think I must have enjoyed this starter more than the Partner!

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Chateau D’Isenbourg, France

Day 5 of 365days2play’s Honeymoon in Luxembourg, Germany & France

One of the most memorable hotels I stayed at during my honeymoon trip through France was the Chateau D’Isenbourg. Although I stayed at a fair number of chateaus during the trip, Chateau D’Isenbourg struck me as being the most ornate and regal looking one. We got the most exquisite looking room and it was as spacious as could be.

Chateau D'Isenbourg (3)

Built on the foundation of 12th & 14th Century cellars, the Château d’Isenbourg is soaked in the turbulent history of Dagobert and Charlemagne, whose names still echo here. Located on the Alsatian wine trail, in the heart of the vineyards, several kilometres from Colmar, it dominates the old town of Rouffach, offering a magnificent panoramic view of the Vosges foothills, the Rhine Plain and the Black Forest in the distance.

Chateau D'Isenbourg (8)

Wouldn’t you just love to stay in a room like this? I love how the dark blue curtains blends so well with the warm orangey yellows of the walls. I feel like royalty staying in this room! Even the design of the chairs adds to the grandeur of the room, plus the ornate looking writing desk. I think if the bed hadn’t been there, and if I’d told you that this was the sitting room of someone from the British Monarchy, you might have just believed it, right?

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Gourmet de l’Ile – Strasbourg

Day 3 of 365days2play’s Honeymoon in Luxembourg, Germany & France

Restaurant Gourmet de l'Ile - (2)

Day 3 – We were generously invited to dinner during our stay at Château de l’Ile & Spa in the Strasbourg/Ostwald region. Château de l’Ile has 2 restaurants. The Restaurant "Winstub de l’Ile " has all the charm of an Alsace brasserie with its typical welcoming decor: traditional benches, solid rustic chairs, decorated ceiling, and tinted windows. You can enjoy regional dishes at this restaurant.

The other restaurant, which we eventually chose as our dining venue for the evening was Restaurant "Gourmet de l’Ile". It is decked out to look like a 19th century bourgeoisie house and serves fine dining French cuisine.

We perused the menu and concluded that the Tasting menu at 74 Euros was the most value for money, yes even though 74 Euros doesn’t sound cheap on its own. The starters were already above 20 euros while the main courses were above 30 euros, so it made very good sense to get the Tasting menu, even if we had to take 3 hours to finish the meal!

Restaurant Gourmet de l'Ile - Lentil soup with bacon

Lentil soup with bacon

As with all fine dining, you always get more than what you’ve ordered! There will be “surprises”, more “surprises”, “mouth washers” literally, and chocolates after desserts! Don’t be planning to go home early when you dine at a fine dining restaurant! This here was the appetiser of lentil puree soup with a stick of bacon in it. It was an amazing starter as the graininess of the lentils and smokiness of the bacon really gelled together very well, kick starting the whole meal.

Restaurant Gourmet de l'Ile - Pan-Fried Foie Gras, butter muesli, apple compote & Caramel (2)

Pan-Fried Foie Gras, butter muesli, apple compote & Caramel 27 Euros

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Château de l’Ile & Spa – Strasbourg

Day 3 of 365days2play’s Honeymoon in Luxembourg, Germany & France

After our train arrived at Strasbourg, we went to the Hertz car rental company to collect the car we had rented for our trip through the Alsace region, Burgundy and Lyon. Driving in a foreign country is always a slightly jittery affair although it has become much better a few years ago after we acquired our own GPS. There’s no way I would drive around holding paper maps anymore, it’s just too cumbersome when you know that a GPS can make life so easy.

The most jittery part about driving in France of course is that people drive on the right side of the road, ie the wrong side. I’ll admit that the 1st half an hour was quite harrowing, not helped by the fact that the French roads are not marked clearly like in Singapore or New Zealand. But you do get used to driving on the right side after a while and we were like a duck to water the next day. Interestingly, it’s quite easy to remember that you have to drive on the right. You remind yourself before you start each journey, the GPS unit can be programmed to remind you too. When you reach a turning junction, repeat the mantra “Drive on the right”!

Even though it is not cheap to rent a car, I really wanted to drive in France because I wanted to be able to visit the countryside easily. With trains, you’re mostly stuck with cities and towns. Also, I wanted to be able to stay in the chateaus or countryside manors in France, and there’s just no way that the chateaus (chateaux) are going to be in the middle of town.

façade

Lovely blue sky day at Chateau de L’Ile… picture courtesy of the hotel

Was very happy with the decision I made when we arrived at our first Chateau of our holiday in France. This 19th Century castle is ideally situated within a tree-lined bend in the Ill River, only 5 kilometres from Strasbourg, and 6 kilometres from the airport. With its half-timbered style and flowery balconies, it reflects traditional Alsatian architecture and is ideally suited for leisure or business tourism. Strasbourg by the way, is the capital and principal city of the Alsace region in eastern France and is the official seat of the European Parliament. Strasbourg is definitely a must visit city when you are in the Alsace region! More pictures on Strasbourg in my next post.

Château de l'Ile - Strasbourg (7)

Before we even got into the hotel itself, we were already mesmerised by the pretty flowering trees in the carpark!

Château de l'Ile - Strasbourg (50)

Nice touches like this always perks me up. Thank you Mr Bernard Urbain, I did have a very pleasant stay in Alsace.

Château de l'Ile - Strasbourg (47)

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