When I think of a typical European village, I see multi colored half-timber houses, cobble stone streets, old shutters, and little shop windows. After travelling to a few European cities, I found myself craving this tiny storybook setting. I wanted to see fairytale Europe, and I figured France was a good place to start. After researching destinations, I came across two famous “villages,” Strasbourg and Colmar. While a Google Image search on these places will bring up loads of beautiful wanderlusty photos, further research showed that these were more cities than villages, and so were a little larger than I wanted. After looking at the surrounding villages, I found Turckheim, France and discovered that it was exactly the fairytale village I had been looking for.
Turckhiem is located a short ways from Strasbourg, France. It is packed full of beautifully colored half-timber houses, cobblestone streets, and is completely surrounded by a medieval wall. This place practically screams storybook village.
Turckheim is the perfect place to base yourself out of while exploring the Alsace region of France. You can easily explore Colmar or Strasbourg on a day trip, cross the border into Germany, and drive along the famous Les Route des Vin and Le Route des Cretes.
|Le Route des Cretes|
Not only is Turckheim a great base, it is also a lovely village on its own. Being in the center of wine and cheese country, the food cannot be beaten. There are also many nooks and crannies to explore while walking along the winding streets.
The town also has a charming tradition: the Night Watchman. Every night from May to October, the Night Watchman, a Turckheim native dressed to fit the part, strolls around the city, checking each of the doors in the medieval walls, and signing traditional Alsatian songs. It is free to accompany him, and, although the songs are all in French, he makes a point of teaching them to his followers so they can join in (He even let me hold the lantern once).
All in all, if you are looking for that perfect fairytale European village, be sure to add Turckhiem to your list. It is small, quaint, charming, and nearly tourist free, although I don't expect the latter to remain true for long.