To me, riding the Euro-tunnel is like riding a lift to another dimension. You enter a capsule and the doors close to what seems like a lifetime of work, school runs and English weather… and less than an hour later you’re in another world, of fun, fine wines and foodie heaven. Life had metamorphosised and the holiday had officially begun.
Our first night of a three-week road trip was booked in Luxembourg.
France Road-Trip – Day 1
Driving through Belgium was especially hard for me, watching little towns pass us by – it’s not really a country we’ve explored much and the temptation to stop and look around was hard to resist. But the minute we made it to Luxembourg I conceded we’d made the right choice and Richard could take his finger off the auto-lock.
Despite the fact we’d checked into the weirdest hotel in a Leisure Centre (can’t believe I left my badminton racket at home), a nearby Portuguese restaurant slackened my frown lines and hanger-pangs with a large Sangria and some cheesy morsels of fried heaven. Hello Europe and how nice to be on holiday.
Luxembourg didn’t disappoint and fascinated me more-so after spending the last hour of our journey reading ‘interesting facts about Luxembourg‘ lists. I was intrigued by its tax breaks and 45% foreign commuter work-force and wondered how this would show itself in what we saw of the city as tourists. We definitely witnessed a testimony to the fact it is ‘one of the safest cities in the world‘ and were also very happy to stock up on tax-free alcohol and fuel for the rest of our trip, but thankfully ‘Euthanasia and assisted suicide are legal in Luxembourg‘ did not get in our way of a great one-night stopover. I was quietly relieved we’d not decided to do our 3-week route in reverse though – I can imagine this last fact might’ve been an appealing proposition to Richard by day 21.
So we tumbled into bed after a clean and tidy night on the old cobbles with some of Europes most handsome residents and expensive pizza, needing a good kip for a morning of sightseeing.
Luxembourg is beautiful and I wrote about it here if you’re interested – no point repeating myself. But I will say, if you are planning a European road-trip yourself and want an easy pleasant stop-off, we definitely recommend Luxembourg. And the Leisure Centre Hotel wasn’t half-bad either (although the net in the middle of the room got a bit annoying).
France Road-Trip – Day 2
To say we were excited to get to Colmar was a bit of an understatement, it was the part of our road trip that we were both looking forward to the most and the one I’d spent the most time looking at photos of on Instagram. However, our Airbnb accommodation wasn’t available until 4pm. So, we plotted a route and decided on an impromptu stop for a late lunch at a place called Nancy.
Nancy is a bit fancy, it turned out. Although our kebab lunch was not. We were too late for plat-du-jour at all the Bistro’s and it was heartbreaking to watch all these pavement-patron’s tuck into Boef Bourgignon and Steak Frites. Still, it was worth the pit-stop just to see Nancy’s fancy-pants square.
To those in the know, (or just people who read Wikipedia) Nancy is home to several excellent examples of Art Nouveau buildings across the city, a design which I particularly love in architecture. We did pass some fantastic homes in the car on our drive into the centre, but we knew we were racing against time for the mid-day luncheon window so we didn’t stop to take them in properly. I genuinly thought there’d be more examples in the centre but alas… However, finding our way to the square and entering by one of the golden gates, my disappointment subsided and I abdicated my Nouveau-setback to this giant right-angled beauty – Stanislas Square. It’s quite incredible, and understandably UNESCO rated. It’s altogether polished, jaw-droppingly French, gilded to the max and ultimately rather fancy – we were glad we stumbled across this hidden gem of France and maybe one day we’ll return for longer. For now though, Alsace was calling…
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