The Eco Museum in Alsace

It has rained all through the night, so this morning the ground is wet, but luckily the Eco Museum has an undercover entrance where we can do our yoga before it opens.

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We then spend the day walking around the museum, utterly charmed by it. Although the houses have been brought here from all corners of Alsace, much thought has been given as to the grouping of houses and the result is fantastic. All in all there are over 70 houses in different little hamlets, well documented and beautifully re-erected.

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Inside, one can visit different professions, from Blacksmith and Wagoner, potter, baker, cobbler and barber to the various farm buildings housing goats, donkeys, pigs and ducks. Many people, dressed in traditional clothing, go about the traditional professions or way of life: a family is cooking and having their lunch, a violin maker is making pegs in his workshop. We sample freshly distilled schnaps and bread straight from a huge wood fired oven, and jump onto a horse and cart that take us to the outskirts of the village into the fields and back. There are storks everywhere, ponderously crossing the paths and eying up little critters in the fields. I am envious of their ability to balance so graciously on one leg while bending their heads down to pick something up from the ground – my yoga-tree pose leaves much to be desired in this respect!

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For more photos of this chapter, click here


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Off to France

From Staufen, we make our way via Freiburg into France. We intended to go to a class or two and a Milonga in Freiburg, but the costs are prohibitive at 25 euros per person, so we restrict our extravagant outing to just the Milonga, still at 15 Euros each.

Southern Germany is a lot richer than the North, it seems. The Milonga unfortunately is nothing much to write home about. It’s not too bad, but it’s not very friendly either. Coming from Italy, where we were heartily welcomed wherever we went dancing, it’s a bit of a downer, so we don’t last too long before heading back to Emma, parked in a quiet, leafy road in a rich suburb of Freiburg.

The next morning, we make our way across the Rhein and into France, choosing a route that leads across a little bridge not really meant for heavy vehicles, and past a large EDF turbine and a nuclear power station. Just when we realise that the border control will of course know that we crossed a 3.5t bridge with a 7.5t lorry, we are in France – without having gone through any visible border at all!

We wend our way through little lanes to Ungersheim, a little town in Alsace which, in recent years, due to a documentary called ‘Qu-est-ce qu’on attend?‘, has become known as a Transition Town (do click this link, it’s got a lot of info about the village) with an ambitious programme. The driving force is the mayor, Jean-Claude Mensch, who kindly opens the town hall doors to us on a Saturday morning when we knock on a locked door. We are lucky to find him there. He’d just conducted a wedding ceremony for a gay couple, otherwise we would have had to wait until Monday. When he hears that we are from Totnes, the first Transition Town, Mensch generously donates his precious free time to explain the various projects to us, until he gets a phone call from his wife asking him to come home for lunch. He suggests we come back on Tuesday when he would have time to show us around his village. He gives us a number of recommendations as to what to do in the interim days, top of the list being the Eco museum not far from Ungersheim.

We arrive at the Eco museum to find a beautifully quiet and leafy car park. Rain sets in, so we light a fire, make some food and have an early night, listening to the nightingales as we drift off into dreamland.


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