Kaysersberg: Le Chambard
Fifteen minutes from Colmar, Kaysersberg’s cobbled streets are lined by pastel-painted half-timbered houses. At Easter, the trees are festooned with hand-painted eggs, while December brings garlands of twinkling lights and a famous Christmas market. All year, kugelhopf (Alsatian brioche), flammeküche (bacon and onion tart) and choucroute are served in snug winstub taverns. Against incredible odds, it remains an honestly charming place where the clock seems to have stopped a century ago.
At the entrance to town, Le Chambard, a stout 1899 building with a steep red-tiled roof, doesn’t break with the gemütlich village decor until you step inside for a fast-forward to a 21st-century version of Alsace. The Nasti brothers bought the old inn in 2001 and have since made it one of the hottest destinations in eastern France. Olivier, who trained with Roellinger in Brittany and Marc Haeberlin at L’Auberge de l’Ill, does the cooking, while Emmanuel, an architect, designed the hotel’s makeover and as sommelier also runs the dining room with his wife Corinne.
The interior has been boldly redecorated—gold leaf, zebra stripes and a sleek bamboo-green front desk. The 32 stylishly decorated rooms offer views of the vineyard or the village, and an indoor pool, a spa and most importantly a superb restaurant have been added. “Nothing stands still,” says Emmanuel, “so the best way to protect the integrity of Alsatian tradition is to create a complimentary modernity… to prevent the classic from becoming kitsch. What won over the neighbors is my brother’s cooking,” he adds. “Now they’re proud to have a hotel-restaurant that’s modern and innovative while still respecting tradition.”
Hôtel Le Chambard 9-13 rue du Général de Gaulle, Kaysersberg, 03.89.47.10.17. Doubles from €157. website
Originally published in the June 2010 issue of France Today; updated in March 2012
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