Much thanks to the colleague who intro’d us to the most useful/fun day trip ever from Stuttgart.
First Stop – Outlets
In under 1.5 hours, just over the boarder into France from Stuttgart are the Style Outlets Roppenheim. Over 100 stores, most not in Southern Germany, with better deals at Max Mara, Le Creuset, and the usuals you find in the States too like Adidas and Timberline. Go early to be there when they open to get good parking and avoid the crowd. There is tons of playground space for kids and a few restaurants there too though we have never eaten at any. Mens dress shirts from the Paris brand Jerem are cheap also at less than 20-30 euro.
Second Stop – Pottery
Moving on to Soufflenheim. Just put the town in the GPS and you won’t have trouble finding it about 10 minutes down the road from the outlets. There are a few market parking areas with minimal spaces, street parking is the best bet and even during a festival, we still found spots. The town is very small and the shops are all together so park in one spot and walk the town or start at one end and drive shop to shop pulling over to the street parking along the way. Load up the car while you go.
There are traditional Alsace styles and more modern styles, cooking dishes and outdoor pottery. It is all handmade in the houses or shops attached to houses. Many potters workshops are open for visitors to walk or look in as well. The best part in France, even at shops like these – they all take credit cards!
There was a festival going on this weekend in the central market space with more modern potters too. It was good, but the shops were more fun to walk through than the trade fair space.
In Soufflenheim there are 2 restaurants. Both good. Our favorite to repeat is Restaurant Au Boeuf. The onion soup, meats, salads are all delicious including the homemade tarts for dessert. Note: there are not many vegetarian options. Also no tarte flambees here.
Third Stop – Fish
Auchan Haguenau, 7 Rue de Niederbronn, 67590 France
After walking through all the shops, in another 15 minutes you reach this mega grocery store, Auchan. The fresh wild salmon, veggies and fruit you just cannot get in Stuttgart, or if you can, here it is a fraction of the price and has more flavor. The veggies and fruits you bag and tag yourself through the weigh stations located throughout the area. If there is a line at the fish area, take a ticket and watch for your number or the person in front of you to be called. They will filet, remove skin, de-scale and prepare the fish in any way you like, but English is not common in this area of Alsace – it is German and French pretty much, so get the google translate and practice hand gestures to tell them what you want. They are very nice and do a beautiful job with the fish.
There is a second large store we have heard people like in the same area called Cora, but we have never been or seen it. The Auchan is a straight shot from Soufflenheim. It takes credit cards, and closes at 7:30 p.m.
On this particular trip we had limited time at the grocery store because we spent a longer time at the outlet and lunch in town but we made it to all three stops. Now that our friends have the lay of the land, they can hit up the key spots we all liked next time.
Having been to this area a few times, we had never stayed long enough for dinner. With 4 ladies, things take a bit longer and wine is needed more often by all throughout the day. Huge challenge finding dinner in this area in the summer as everyone is on vacation, or maybe they just do not open because dinner is done at home with family? Not sure, but every restaurant we put into the GPS that said it was open, was not.
We tried Betschdorf – another pottery town known for the blue and grey style about 15 minutes in another direction from Soufflenheim. Nothing there – no people, lights or anyone in sight at 8 p.m.
Continue driving – we spot cardboard white signs with sharpie that says Beer Fest This Way! Naturally, we follow them. They lead us to Forstfeld, to a muddy path through a mowed down corn field. Other cars like ours were driving it, so we did too. A little scary but we didn’t get stuck, and the guys who were supposed to be parking attendants didn’t look twice at our German plates and BMW sedan being there. We followed the people behind the tractors to the barn area where there was a live band on stage playing good German rock/pop fest music, and a table for tickets. In the end we did not end up staying because it was a bit expensive to get in and with one driver, one gluten free person and no food except for fries and sausage (a vegetarian was with us too), we opted to find something else for dinner. It was still cool though. The entire town was going there including kids.
And then we saw the lights.
Restaurant Buerestiebel, 32 Rue Principale, 67480 Forstfeld
The restaurants lights we noticed from a far through the dark small town on the way to the highway and it truly saved the day. There is parking in the back, and the decor is a bit wacky with a mannequin in the entry way. They told us a local older frequent customer gave it to them and they have had it ever since. The staff also accommodated us when we asked about taking things off or adding things to our meal. This place did have tarte flambee too and it was great. Again no English, only French and German but they were so nice and everything was perfect. We would definitely go again.