As you may remember, I finished the first draft of my second book, Where My Heart Belongs at the end of July and I’m patiently waiting for the report on it to come back from the RNA (Romantic Novelists’ Association). Since then, I’ve been having a break from all things writerly, giving me some time to reflect on what I hope to achieve during the next few months. More on that soon but for this post, I want to tell you about the research I did whilst on my holidays to Alsace this summer.
We were staying just outside Colmar, where my main character, Fran is originally from. We hadn’t been there for nearly twenty years but it was lovely on our first evening to find it pretty much the same.
The area around this canal is known as Petite Venise and is so picturesque, especially on a lovely sunny evening. The bridges are always full of people taking photos of the Hotel Romantik and there are lots of lovely restaurants to choose from around the canal and the surrounding old town.
My character, Fran, hardly visits the town at all, except to arrive and depart from the station and it got me thinking about including it in more detail somehow so I’m going to give that a bit of thought.
The next day, we visited the Jardin des Papillons which features in my book. According to my husband, we visited this Butterfly Garden the last time we were in Alsace too but I can’t remember it! It’s quite a bit smaller than I was thinking from the research I’d done beforehand and so I can’t imagine Fran and her friends staying there all day after all.
There was a lot to do in the local area though so
perhaps she’ll go on to the Montagne des Singes, which we visited the following day.
After the Butterfly Garden, we went to visit the fortified medieval church at Hunawihr which you may have seen in some of my pictures on my Facebook Author page before I left. This is the village where my character, Fran bumps into her former lover, Didier at the wedding of mutual friends. It is such a beautiful church and village that I feel tempted to move the action there, away from the Strasbourg area, where it’s set at the moment. I’m giving lots of thought to this while the manuscript is away. There is so much history here as well, which I know I could use to add depth to my story.
The church was just as beautiful on the inside and as we were alone, I took a quick photo to remind me for the future. What a lovely place to get married!
We did spend a wonderful day in Strasbourg later in the week, renewing our memories of our time spent there nearly twenty years ago. We ate a wonderful lunch sat next to the canal, enjoying Tarte Flambée, just as Fran does when she goes home.
Of course, we washed it down with a lovely glass of wine…or two 🙂 If you fancy having a go at making this yourself, I found a good recipe here.
We went back to the Château de Haut-Koenigsbourg for another of our days out. This is a medieval castle which you can see from all around the Colmar area because it is haut in every sense of the word. The castle was built in the 12th century and occupied a strategic position overseeing various trade routes until the end of the Thirty Years’ War in 1648 when it was reduced to ruins by the Swedes and then abandoned. It wasn’t until 1899 that Kaiser Wilhelm II of Germany decided to rebuild it to celebrate its return to German ownership and to turn it into a museum. It has been beautifully restored and is a wonderful place to visit. Sadly, the castle doesn’t feature in my book but I don’t need any excuse to visit a good castle!
The final day of our holiday was spent indulging my husband as it was his big birthday while we were away (you may remember I spent mine in Nashville earlier in the year!) This meant that we spent most of the day eating and drinking…so no change there!
I hope you’ve all enjoyed a wonderful summer, with at least some good weather wherever you are. Next week, please look out for my ‘Author Spotlight’ feature on indie author, Sam Russell and as always, if you have any comments for me, please do leave me a message below.
All photos © Copyright, Julie Stock.