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The Sunday Times


France’s favourite village

The citoyens have voted. And the winner is... surprisingly German

Anthony Peregrine Published: 15 September 2013

You’re not long in Eguisheim, in Alsace, before you learn three things. First, it was the birthplace of the 11th-century Pope Léon IX — the one who insisted on celibacy for priests. His real name was Bruno. This is, admittedly, not that interesting.

Second, the village (pronounced “Eggiss-hyme”) ladles out abundant fine wines from vineyards running down to its gates. Etiquette requires that these be tasted throughout sunny afternoons in medieval courtyards. This is more like it.

Third, for both these reasons and several others, Eguisheim (pop: 1,600) is now France’s favourite village. Plaques and banners across the street announce the fact. It bagged the title on a popular summer television programme, Le Village Préféré des Français 2013. This is astonishing.

A generation ago, it would have been unthinkable for an alsacien village to top such a French poll, not when there were pretty places in Provence and Brittany. Alsacienswere