Our awesome three-week adventure in France is filled with great memories. Here are a few stories from our recent visit.

1. Two-Wheeled Adventure in Alsace

In the north of France, near the German border, in the region known as Alsace, there is a little town called Eguisheim. A medieval village with a rich history, it is now famous for wine production. A walk through the town reveals a plethora of visual treasures.
Every doorway, window and stairway is decorated with flowering baskets, often with evidence of the wine industry.
The cobblestone roads lead you in a circular pattern throughout the town. Photographed in an expressionist style.
The window baskets are tended by the friendly residents.
The homes are largely of the ‘half timber’ style, dating back to the 1500s. The second floor often hung out over the main floor because the taxes were based on the area of the main floor. Underneath the overhangs, symbols and emblems are used to indicate the profession of the owner.
The ancient walls, cobblestones and curious windows are a photographer’s delight.
One day, we rented e-bikes to explore the region. With lots of hills to climb, we were glad for the electrical assist. Above the village of Eguisheim, infinite rows of grapes cover the hillsides, soaking up the warm morning sun.
We stopped often to enjoy the views.
Small towns, always with the spire of the church, dotted our travels. The towns we encountered were simply residential. Looking forward to a croissant and espresso, we were denied. The only activity we encountered was the hard work of tending to the grapes.
Evidence of the wine industry was everywhere we looked.
One of the many picturesque towns we rode through.
We loved our two wheeled exploration through vineyards, forests, villages and even a convent until we hit a bump in the road. While trying to make room for the cars on the narrow road, Joan lost her balance and smashed into a fence, cutting her head and badly bruising her thigh. She insisted, however, on riding back and refused offers to get a ride, knowing that her bruised leg needed to keep moving. Here she carries on, bruised but not beaten. As we say in the family, she’s “strong like bull”!
We made it back to our apartment, attended to Joan’s injuries, and then did what Alsacians do: we sampled some local wines.
As the day ended, a short walk up into the vineyards revealed the twinkling lights of Eguisheim.

2. Discovering the Light

Most of us visit the old churches when we travel to Europe. After a while, for me at least, they all seem the same. Unless you discover the light within. Notice the stork’s nest on top of the church steeple.
The light shining through the stained glass windows was creating beautiful rainbow patterns on the floor and pews. Ah, this was something different!
Moving closer, I was captivated by the beautiful rainbows adding a new dimension to the sanctuary.
Turning around, the light was also playing with the windows at the back of the church.
Experimenting and playing with my camera, colours and lines became the subject.
A kaleidoscope.
Thankful that the light within the sanctuary was revealed to me this day.

3. Spinning a Yarn

As we wandered through the Old Town of Lyon, we found this gritty road. Always willing to wander down obscure pathways, we had no idea that we would soon find treasure.
A the top of the street, Joan spied a shop with colourful fabrics in the window. It was filled with beautiful silk fabrics. We browsed for a few moments and noticed interesting stuff in the back room. The operator, busy on the telephone, waved at us to “Go have a look”. We found a loom room with all the accessories as it might have been 200 years ago! This image shows a shuttle with a bobbin of silk thread, which is being woven into the fabric at the top of the image.
We were gobsmacked by what we had stumbled upon and my camera went into hyper mode. Having no idea how long we’d be able to explore here, I wanted to capture as much as I could. This gear is part of a 200 year old loom.
Next to the loom was a spinning wheel. This was no Cinderella movie!
A cupboard was in the room with fabrics on the shelf. Spying the old style wavy glass, I had to get a shot.
A set of tools hung on the wall. No power tools here. This was a place for real crafters.
On a table one side of the room was this old book. Looking like a Bible from the middle ages, with a thick leather cover and a binding that was aged, it had instructions and patterns for different weaves.
Looking at one of the pages of this very delicate, old book, Joan realized the instructions for the woven pattern on the left were written in hand (in French of course) on the right side.
A work in progress. The loom was no museum piece, it was still in daily operation. Here, the silk threads are stretched across, ready to be woven into fabric.
The rich colours on the loom are a treat for this photographer’s eye.
By this time, the operator was off the phone and came to chat with us. Although his English was minimal, he did confirm that the 200 year old loom was in daily operation and that every fabric they sold was produced right here, by hand. He was kind enough to allow me to photograph him.
An old machine, also still in use, is this one that uses threads from each of the 8 bobbins and combines them to make colourful cord. That’s Joan’s hand on the right operating the crank.
In the front part of the store, where the finished fabrics were on display, my camera was busy creating impressionist views of the amazing colours.
With such vibrant colours on display, it was hard to stop.
We left the store that day thankful for the generosity of the operator and for the chance to see the creation by hand of such beautiful silk fabrics. Who would have guessed that this inconspicuous little store would hold so much treasure?
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