Unlike most of our other trips, I did practically no research before we arrived in Colmar, France. I just happened to stumble upon the village of Eguisheim while reading reviews for our Airbnb. A quick google search for “Eguisheim” confirmed that it had been voted one of “France’s 10 most enchanting towns” by the Huffington Post and the “2013 Village préféré des Français” (favorite French village). It was only a 15 minute drive from Colmar so visiting the charming village of Eguisheim, France was a no brainer!
History of Eguisheim
Eguisheim was where the famous Alsace wine industry began. Its climate is perfect for winegrowing and Alsatian vineyards wrap around the village. Eguisheim was fortified in 1257 and its narrow cobblestone streets create a small, concentric maze of residences, restaurants, shops, and historical sites. In between your “ooohhing” and “ahhhing” on the extreme cuteness, snack on a pastry and buy a souvenir!
Pope Léon IX was said to have been born in this region so don’t miss the statue honoring the Pope found in the village’s main square – Place du Château.
The colors of Eguisheim
- Up until the 16th century the houses in Eguisheim were dully colored; the timbers were protected with soot and whitewash was cheaper than expensive pigments.
- In the 17th century, windows were enlarged and ornate wood carvings were added to the facades. The pastel homes indicated the wealthiest owners.
- During the 19th century & 20th centuries, it became fashionable to cover the exterior of the homes with cement hiding the lovely woodwork.
- In more recent decades, the cement has been chipped away to reveal the original timbers and the buildings have been painted in cheerful colors.
The storks of Eguisheim
While walking through both Colmar and Eguisheim, we noticed huge bird nests atop both churches and castles. And the wrought iron baskets holding the nests clearly meant humans were asking these birds to sit atop these beautiful buildings, but why? Another handy google search led us to the answer. In the 1970’s storks nearly became extinct in Alsace due to human development. As few as 10 mating pairs were left. Conservationist groups have slowly increased the numbers and today there are a steady 600 mating pairs of storks. There’s a good article and video on National Geographic if you’re interested!
Beat the tour buses and get there early!
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