Stork sighting at the écomusée

Trip Start Aug 02, 2012
Trip End Aug 02, 2013

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Where I stayed
Kubota Lodge Hachimantai
Read my review - 4/5 stars
What I did
Écomusée d'Alsace

Flag of France  , Alsace,
Monday, August 20, 2012

After a short drive from Masevaux, we arrived at the Écomusée d'Alsace. The écomusée is a large outdoor museum that they have set up like a town to show how Alsatians lived in the 19th and early 20th century. All of the buildings were actually used at some point and as they were no longer needed, they were given to the museum to house their collection and set up the town. We figured we would need most of the day for perusing and we got there at 11 am. The map they gave us was quite large and the list of different demonstrations going on throughout the day was also quite extensive.

We headed straight away for the stork feeding, but had missed it by a few minutes. We did catch the tail end of some interesting facts. Storks usually migrate at the end of August, sometime after the 15th. We were glad that they had delayed their departure so that we could see them! For the first 3 years of their life, they are not fixed in one place so do not necessarily return to their home town every year. During these 3 years, they are looking for their mate. After they have found their mate and decided where they would like to settle, they return to the same nest every year. In the sixties, Alsace only had 9 pairs of storks, now it has about 500 pairs of storks because of their efforts to reintroduce them and make the area more stork friendly again.

We looked at the map and decided on a plan of attack so that we didn’t miss any of the buildings or the live presentations/interactive workshops we wanted to attend. We started off by going up a neat old building with a really interesting ceiling that had been restored.  The view of the stork nest below was great because you could see how flat they make them.  It also put us eye level with the stork across the road which made photos easier!  We went to the building that they had set up the mill for making oil. There was no demo going on at that time, but we could see the huge press and all the different tools they would use to make the oil, mostly canola. 

We visited the schoolroom which was very interesting because of the amount of times that Alsace changed hands between the Germans and French. They had a timeline with which language would have been taught at the time (sometimes both). It must have been strange for parents who spoke German to have their children go to school in French. It would have also been very strange for the students who had done all their schooling in German up until a certain point only to have to do it in French the following year. I imagine there would have been a fair bit of confusion on everyone’s part!

We stopped for lunch in the shade and as we were finishing up, they herded the geese by and talked about their use on the farm (for eggs, but they would let them set some in the spring). We then wandered over to the stables where they were harnessing up the horses for the cart. The farm had lots of animals – bees, black pigs, cows, horses, oxen, donkeys, goats, sheep all in various buildings or pens throughout the museum.

Anoop thought he should try his hand at woodcarving so we stopped by the woodworking building for him to have a go. When the winegrowers were storing their wine in the large, wooden barrels, they would carve the piece that acted as the plug, often quite elaborately. The lady set Anoop up with a piece of wood, a mallet and two small chisels to see how they would have started the carving. They gave him a fish pattern to work from (I guess it is an easier shape for most people to tackle!). He started off by chiseling out the outline of his fish and then the eyes. After, he chiseled away the rest of the area outside of the fish and made some waves. They shop closed their demo area at 2:30 so he didn’t have too much time. I wandered around taking more pictures while he puttered away. The merry-go-round had all sorts of neat vehicles on it and the kids seemed to be enjoying their ride. After ½ hour, he had a mostly recognizable fish shape despite a few mishaps. He has decided that he isn’t giving up his day job to become an Alsatian wood carver.

We wandered back down the street towards the square where they had harnessed up a team of horses and an ox to show which animals would have been used by who back then. We headed over to the butter making demo but it was really crowded and hot so we left soon after. Before heading off we sampled some of the "petit lait", which tasted like extra skim milk since all the fat has been removed in the cheese making process. We then headed over to the potter’s house where we hid out from the downpour that opened up while watching a short film on ceramic making. Once the downpour had mostly stopped, we went to the archery area where Anoop had a go. He hit the target once, the hay bales behind the target once, and sent the third arrow into the bushes beside the hay bales. After watching another tourist try it out and copying his form a bit, he didn’t manage to put any of the next three arrows into the target. He decided he needs much more arm strength to be able to shoot properly, and perhaps better aim!

The last thing we did was head over to the farming area where all the old equipment was stored.  We listened to the guide explain about the evolution of threshing grain from when it was all done by hand and by many people to the first machine that only needed one person to operate. It was also a good time to hang out under a big roof as the thunder and lightning was directly overhead. After it had passed, we headed back to the car and drove up to Colmar.
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mom on

Loved the storks-reminded me of the children's book, the Wheel on the School. Also loved the Rue de Chevres. My kind of street.

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