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Strasbourg - Illhauesern - Guemar - Ribeauville
April 20, 2001

A business trip to Böblingen, Germany offered me a unique opportunity to visit the home towns of my Muller and Weber ancestors.  Leaving Sindelfingen at 11:00 on friday afternoon, my friends and I drove to Strasbourg, France.  Mary (from IBM Atlanta) and Frederic (from IBM Toronto) spoke both French and German making the trip a lot smoother and enabled me to have a greater overall experience.

During our 3 hour stay in Strasbourg, we enjoyed a stroll to Le Petite France.  There we savored our first French meal.  I had sliced duckling in a wonderful sauce, shredded potatoes served as a small pancake patty, and diced carrots.  For dessert we each ordered different delicacies and shared.  I had a sampling of 3 different chocolate mouse presented as the petals of flowers. Absolutely fantastic.  We left our luncheon making our way back to our car with a quick stop at the Cathedral (le grand ange rose de Strasbourg) to check out the interior.  This cathedral was built in stages starting in 1277 - 1439.  On our way out the southern entrance of the Cathedral, we catch sight of an enormous astronomical clock.  The clock includes mechanical figures which represent Christ chasing away Death, the four Ages of Man, the Apostles.  Excited about our next impending stop, I hurried my companions back to the car.

Driving south for approximately 30 minutes we entered a valley as we neared Guémar and Illhauesern, the home towns of the Jacques Muller(1831-1892) and Rose Weber Muller(1829-1894) who left for Boston with their 4 daughters about 1872.  On the hills surrounding the 2 villages you spot many castles off in the distance, above the vineyards, making the view all the more picturesque.  Parking by the local church we explored the tiny town of Illhauesern.  Coincidentally the church lot was next to the famous 5 star restaurant of Auberge de l'Ill.  Dressed as travelers, we didn't expect to get a reservation so late on a friday afternoon.  So  we were pleasantly surprised when Frederic was able to secure a reservation for 7:00 dinner.  This left us with 2 1/2 hours to explore the area.

Walking through the town it was drizzling slightly with pockets of sunshine peaking through.  The homes were petite and picturesque.  We walked by the Zimmerman's wood working shop then paused to chat with the owners of Jacky Muller Fleurs.  (Through my trusty translators they told the owners that my ancestor Jacques Muller from Illhauesern, had also owned a florist shop after he immigrated to Boston).  Noelle Muller (the owner's wife) recommended that we go to Ribeauville to purchase wine from the area (Ribeauville is located on the other side of Guémar).  I made some small purchases for my children in her shop.  Noelle and I exchanged e-mail addresses so we can possibly determine if there is a relationship between the 2 families and my companions and I set off for Ribeauville.  Jacky and his wife kindly posed for a photo outside their shop. Scenes of Illhaeusern

We drove through Guémar which is much larger than Illhauesern, but didn't stop given our short time left.  I was surprised at how close the 2 villages were - less than 10 minutes walking distance.  Ribeauville was much larger than both villages and was geared for tourism.  What immediately caught our eye was a giant stork nest perched on the top of a steeple.  Fascinated we watched the bird in the nest to detect movement, as we were unsure if it was a statue or real.  Amazing to me it moved and was real.  Unfortunately the sun was setting making it impossible to take a photo of the unusual site. Strolling through the town for 1 1/2 hours enabled us to take many photos and do a bit of souvenir shopping and to pick up 3 bottles of wine to take home for my family. Scenes of Ribeauville

To top off the exciting day we returned to Illhauesern for our mouth watering dinner at the famous Auberge de l'Ill. Although dressed as travelers, we were shown to a lovely room in the back and seated by the windows overlooking the river l'Ill.  The flowers were in bloom and we watched other guests stroll the beautifully landscaped area.  In our dining area we felt the warmth from a lovely roaring fire.  A quick peak at the framed pictures on the side of the fireplace showed sketches of what the area looked like in 1855.  Although it is not clear how old the restaurant was, carved in the cement wall near the fireplace was the year 1730. For the next 3 hours we enjoyed our feast sharing in the delicacies that we each ordered.  The food was outstanding and we all had difficulty suppressing our ear-ear smiles at our enjoyment of the evening.  By 10:30 we had to leave for our 2 hour car ride back to Sindelfingen.

What a fantastic way to end our unplanned adventure back to my families ancestral home.