Category Archives: Alsace

L’épicier Grand Cru – Cheese library of Strasbourg

You might plan to eat lots of “Tarte flambée” in Strasbourg, which I can definitely recommend, but if you want a truly unique experience, in a rather uncommon place – you have your lunch or snack at the L’épicier Grand Cru.

Strolling through the charming streets near the “little Paris” area in Strasbourg, we came across a shop that was decorated with lots of happy birthday snick snack and preparing to host a party.  Looking through the window we were drawn in by the cheese room in the back protected by a glass sliding door. What followed was something you cannot plan, but just “happens” whenever you allow yourself to dive in and just take things as they come.

Our adventure began with the very friendly staff giving us a short explanation (in English) of the different wines, meats and cheeses available as well as our options for how to combine them all into our very own lunch tasting.  The store also carries a large choice of teas, honey, traditionally made jams and marmalades, a very special, medieval cooked wine with pepper (you should definitely try this), snacks, spices and other assorted treats.

We asked for whatever they recommend, tried at least 5 wines and were happy when the surprise platter with local cheeses, dried fruits, nuts and spices with fresh bread arrived.  Each glass of wine increased the chances that I would begin singing in a short while. The cheeses on our platter included a Munster accompanied by cumin powder (even if you normally don’t touch cumin – you’ll love this), a local brie with jams, Roquefort, and was accompanied by salami, dried hams, salad, and fresh bread.  What a feast!

I really have to comment again that the Munster with cumin is a must.  The wines are all delicious, but you will need to find your own way regarding the taste that suits you best.

We also really enjoyed the “cheese library”. Literally set-up as a library, behind the sliding door, it was kept so nice and cold that you had to put your jacket on to go in.  Each cheese was carefully labeled and presented making this a small, but great cheese lovers paradise.

The service, modern décor, and variety of French foods from local providers (each with their own background story) are worth the investment of 2 hours of your Strasbourg visit.  Beware, you might spend a lot of money here, but you’ll love every cent you spend – I promise.

A magical journey through time – Cour du Corbeau Strasbourg

The Germanic name for Strasbourg, “the city of the roads”, captures the essence of a city that is worth the relatively short drive to get there.  Geographically closer to Zurich and Milano than to Paris, Strasbourg offers an diverse selection of monuments and sights within its complex maze of streets making it perfect for a weekend get away. Even though it hosts the Council of Europe, the European Court of Human Rights and the European Parliament it is metropolitan, without being in the least bit overwhelming. The chosen hotel, Cour du Corbeau fits perfectly into the Carrefour de l’Europe (crossroads of Europe).

Located only a short walking distance from the heart of the city (near to the cathedral and Place Kléber) the Cour de Corbeau invites you to feel the magic of past times. The hotel belongs to the MGallery Hotel Group (memorable hotels by Accor – whose ambassador is Kristin Scott Thomas).

Led by our navigation system, we arrived at the hotel only to find the entrance to the street blocked by an electronically controlled pole.  Luckily, a nice man asked us where we were going, directed me to drive up to the barrier, buzzed the hotel (explaining the situation in French) and magically the pole disappeared allowing us access to the hotel entrance.  Thierry, a valet came out right away and opened my door, making me feel like I was a celebrity.  After asking where we planned to park, he offered to manage the car for us directly, took the keys, and drove off to I don’t know where leaving me with a trusting feeling that everything was in order.  The first impression of the Cour du Corbeau was magnificent. The décor was serene combining old with new, luxurious with Neo-Baroque. The welcome at the reception desk by Gregoire was very pleasant and included a surprise that we were upgraded to a junior suite. He informed us about breakfast and that the hotel didn’t have it’s own restaurant, but was happy to provide a 24 hour room service, delivered by a nearby restaurant. We asked for a recommendation for dinner in the town (a place where locals would dine) and were rewarded with an excellent choice, the Restaurant L’éveil des sens.

The hotel was renovated in 2009 after spending a number of years as a vacant building.  The “before and after” pictures in the hotel were marvelous and really highlighted the accomplishments of what the builders were able to manage.  The hotel features 57 rooms, including 19 suites. The rooms are simple, with wooden floors and a post and beam construction that exposed much of the original structure – a wonderful blend of old and new. The bathrooms contain natural stone floors and romantically styled sinks in the form of a shell.  The lighting in the room played up the violet hues and taupe colored fabrics giving everything a warm feeling while still being chic and simple, not the usual overwhelming feeling of many historical places. In short, the suite was beautiful and contained the additional surprise of a complimentary bottle of white wine (from the region Alsace) as well as a somewhat hidden door (or at least not very obvious) that led to a long, wooden porch running along the inner courtyard of the building.  Simply charming!

The staff was discrete and very attentive, and the turn down service even left a rose on our bed, as it was women’s day.  There was also a hand-written weather prediction for the following day and breakfast info placed by the night stand.  The towels in the bathroom were even replaced with fresh ones, something I really appreciate, but wouldn’t have expected at a four star hotel.

I read another review that stated the breakfast is “not to be missed” and judging by the little tables in the gallery I am sure would make an exquisite start to any day. We chose to walk across the canal into town to have fresh pain au chocolat from the local Boulangerie, which was definitely worth every minute of the wait. Before leaving the area we stopped at “Les mains dans la farine” the Boulangerie in 16, rue du 22-Novembre to load up on supplies.  The selection was excellent and we ended up with bread and pastries for a whole week.

Check out at 12:00h is very generous at the Cour du Corbeau, which allowed even more time for a stroll through the town before leaving.  The receptionist Carol was so lovely, and Anne Gerber, the manager of the hotel was also very attentive and didn’t mind helping guests with information, check in and out.

With bags in hand we called for our car which was retrieved by Sebastién, who placed a bottle of water in the center console along with a note on how to exit the area through the one way streets and around the Pl. de Austerliz and wishing us a pleasant journey home. This last little surprise was perfect and really impressed me.  Many times it is the small things that make an experience special and this was a perfect example.  All in all it was just a lovely stay at the hotel.