Warning: after viewing these pics, you'll definitely want to visit the French countryside. If you've ever wondered what France is like outside the city of Paris and away from the Riviera region, this post is for you. I hope you'll indulge me and check out all of the pics I've included here; the region is absolutely beautiful.
This was the view outside my window in Muenster, France. And yes, it really was this idyllic.
The view of the street from the courtyard of my hotel - I love the patina of age on everything from the buildings to the fence.
A view of the courtyard of our hotel - the gardens were simple yet beautiful.
Yes, Muenster is a sleepy little town. I took this pic around 5-6 pm and the street/town were both pretty deserted.
As we walked around and explored, our bus driver, Hans, explained that schoolchildren leave their backpacks attached to the school fence when the year is over and plant flower there to signify that they've moved on to another level. I thought this was an adorable tradition.
More scenes from our walk around the town...
Something as simple as ivy allowed to grow along one wall of an old building made me realize how beautiful this little town in the mountains was.
Here's Widener in Colmar - notice that the architecture is beginning to have a distinctly Bavarian or Germanic feel as we travel north.
Colmar was much more of a tourist destination. I got the distinct feeling that tourism was basically its only industry. There were small crowds of people visiting, and I heard lots of different languages being spoken. It never felt crowded though. Perhaps, Colmar has made its place in the French economy as a 'travel stop' for tour buses. That was the general feeling of the area though it didn't detract from the quaintness of the place.
Widener and Settle traipsing through Colmar in search of a bathroom. Let's just say that the cheese we'd all had for breakfast that morning was weighing heavily on all of us. I don't want to talk about the bathroom experience in the middle of the street. I just don't want to talk about it, okay? Hahaha!
There was a little train that wound its way through the streets of Colmar and pointed out all of the places of note. We didn't have time to ride the train, but I really would have liked to do so.
Here I am posing with some lovely flowers at our meeting spot in Colmar. Didn't mean to flash so much leg there, oops!
The town square proper was absolutely beautiful. Doesn't this look like a postcard?
Here's a shot of my hotel room in Muenster. It was a bit worn and shabby, but it was clean and safe. I didn't love the accommodations, but I did love the area where the hotel was located.
After we checked into our hotel and had dinner, several of us headed to the local tavern to watch the World Cup. Here are Michelle and Stephanie (mom and daughter) who traveled with us.
And here I am posing with Widener and our bus driver, Hans. Looks like one of the guys at the bar didn't want to have his picture taken. Oh well... Settle and Hans spent most of the evening teaching me how to say naughty phrases in Dutch and German. I still have them saved phonetically in my phone for future reference. ;)
As lovely as these empty streets were in the early evening, it was a bit eerie walking back to the hotel on them after 2 am.
Here's the entrance to our hotel in Muenster. It was old and homey and simply wonderful.
This family home across the street from our hotel was my absolute favorite. Hans, the bus driver, estimated that it would sell for roughly 600 thousand euros. That's WAYYYY out of my price range. In fact, he explained that very few large family homes existed anymore because of the price, upkeep, and taxes. Almost all former single family dwellings have been split into apartments because it makes them much more cost-effective for the average person.
When in Bavaria, beer is an absolute necessity. I don't like beer, but I thought it wise to have one while I was in Colmar.
Selfie shot in the gardens before getting back on the bus (see that big bus in the background?)
Small business in the French countryside -a boulangerie is a butcher shop while a patisserie is a bakery.
Can you tell I'm in love with the gardens and that wrought iron fence?
Because the town was so small, we ate dinner and breakfast the following morning at the hotel where we stayed. It was furnished in gorgeous antiques and served food on real antique china.
This was by far the best breakfast of our entire trip - lots of fresh fruit, pastries, cereal, eggs, juice, real hot chocolate, etc.
Check out our lovely grown-up table - Stephanie, Michelle, Eva, Tracy, and Taylor. (slightly blurry I see - oops.)
Good morning sunshines! (Otis, Wyrick, and Simic)
Yeah, some of us are morning people - Edmunds, Jordan, Bolton, and Vaughn.
Our kiddos on the trip seem to be happy morning people too - Johnson, Dunn, Kessler, Penn, Jernigan, Rush, and Manley.
The ever cool Potter and Warner were in a good mood this morning. Aren't the kiddos being good sports about me snapping pics? I really appreciated that the entire trip.
I posed for another selfie next to the fabulous morning light of my window to my room. Old girl is looking pretty well rested here for being out past 2 am the night before. ;)
And here we are on the bus hamming it up - my seatmate Settle and I with Higdon and Manley behind us.
At first, Colmar was pretty deserted in the morning once you left the main square.
The guys and I grabbed sandwiches at a local patisserie; I settled on a drink and sandwiche nicoisse - basically a tuna fish sandwich with eggs, tomato, and cheese on a long baguette. Their tuna is made with olive oil instead of with mayo though; at 6 euro, it was an amazing lunch. I couldn't finish it all, so Settle & Widener tried a bite too and declared it was better than their sandwiches. Score!
So picturesque...I loved the light and the buildings and the flowers and the water...
Several kiddos obliged and posed for a pic for me.
While we waited at our rendezvous point, several kids went down to the water to sit and relax. here are Dunn and Key.
The boys followed suit - Rush, Johnson, and Manley.
As we left Colmar, here's a shot of the countryside from the bus window. Not a bad shot for a moving vehicle, eh?
And yes, more beer, wine, and coke at the very next meal. It's Europe, people.
I'll be back next week with more pics and stories from our European adventure. Y'all want to go with me next time? :)