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European Traditions in Linens and Housewares

Our discoveries along the byways of France and Beyond

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Epinal, France – Capital of the Vosges

Epinal, Ville Fleurie, Headwaters of the beautiful Moselle

My husband was transferred to Epinal in the Vosges during the winter but I was unable to join him until the end of May. The first view of the city I had was a wonderful welcome. The Moselle river flowing north through the center of town was all decked out with flowers covering the railings of the bridges spanning the river. Flags representing cities and towns of the region were flying on both banks. The gardeners of the city had been busy planting and arranging the flower beds in the parks and people were out walking and visiting with each other while enjoying the arrangements. Our apartment was placed between the river and a city square with balconies on both sides and we could sit out and enjoy being there. Our first meal was on the balcony and while eating, a large group of hot air ballooners floated by, each in turn raising their champagne glasses and wishing us a “bon appetite”.

The following morning I was able to stroll through the city meeting the green grocer, the people in the cheese shop, the butcher, the bakers, the chocolate makers, and while I could not speak the language all gave me a warm welcome and assisted me both with my purchases and my vocabulary. In the afternoon I meandered my way across the river, past the church built in the 9th century and up the hill to the park which has the ruins of an old castle. The castle had been there to protect the town from invaders coming from both the river and the mountains in the east. Further along the path is a zoo, a children’s play ground and many benches for people to sit and visit.

That evening my husband and I went down the street a bit to the Spina Grill. The owner, Mr. Lucien Sonntag (known locally as Lulu), welcomed us and, as best he could, helped me with my first lesson on how to order food at a restaurant. His big smile encouraged me as I brutally mangled grammar and pronunciation and I was rewarded for my efforts with a marvelous meal of steak au poivre with a chocolate sundae for desert. We accepted his recommendation for a wine and were delighted with his choice.

This warm, kind and friendly experience was repeated on a nearly daily basis all the while we lived in Epinal and throughout what was once called Gaul.

A new port for the Canal of the East replaces a dingy warehouse area. The port now hosts boats and pleasure craft from all over Europe as they travel from the Mediterranean to the North Sea. But; much is the same, and the area retains a small town charm.
We returned to Epinal recently and renewed acquaintances. We found many changes, including a new museum of L’Imagerie, adjacent to the facility famous for its color lithography dating from the 1700’s. More information can be found at www.imagerie-epinal.com. To see selections from their catalog go to our e-store.

Kathryn Severance

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