Aug 12, 2014

One for the Kids: Brebille


There comes a point in the travels of every culture-loving, tiny-village-seeking, castle-visiting, history-chasing parent that you must give up the desire to educate and enrich yourself and your children and just say, "Screw it. Let's just have some fun!"

And in Alsace, that moment comes at the end of our trip. The pièce de resistance of the entire trip, for the children at least, is on the very last day of our trip. No, we're not at THAT park, despite what this boy's T-shirt says, and despite the fact that we are greeted by a princess and a mouse mascot.


We're at Europa Park, the second-most visited theme park in all of Europe. By my estimation, it's much bigger and much better than Euro Disney in every possible way. But it's not necessarily different from Euro Disney in every possible way. Um, yeah, it's a little derivative at moments.  Look! It's the Pirates in Batavia!


On the other hand, at Disneyland, you're not going to find a genuine piece of the Berlin Wall. That leads to a twenty-minute discussion with the girls that I never thought I'd have at a theme park.

Despite the fact that Europa Park is technically in Germany, it's just over the French border, and the nearest, big population center is Strasbourg. Part of the fun of getting there is taking a ferry across the Rhine River and changing countries (with no border control: Thanks Schengen Area!). The center theme country at the park is even France.


But there are still clues that you're in Germany.

You can guess what country this water coaster represents.


And here, it's not just a small world, it's a small Russian world.


Thank goodness my friend has fabulous inner ear fluids. I'm the gal for the super-fast, super-steep drops, which she hates, but I get motion sick when I have to spin.

My friend takes one for the team at the Russian EuroMir coaster, in order to have an adult go with Pippa (who's tall enough to go, but not without adult accompaniment). Each disc of this coaster spins while it's going up and down the hills. I think my friend realizes the flaw in her plan -- that there will still be scary hills -- just as the coaster takes off. Too late, she screams as she pulls out of the platform backwards, "What am I doing here?"


This park was founded by the Mack family, who has been in the carnival/theme park business since the late 1700s. They've also designed many of the world's great roller coasters and this park was originally conceived and set up in 1975 as a showroom for them to sell roller coasters and park attractions. In 1982, they decided to make a Europe-themed park, foreshadowing, in their own way, the European Union. Needless to say, because of their history, the park is known for an incredible variety of really unusual, creative, wild roller coasters. They are breathtaking -- literally.

We get to the park as soon as we can, just after opening, and we literally close down the rides in a frenzy.
But there's more to do in Strasbourg area that's particularly fun for the kids. To the Butterfly Garden (Jardin des Papillons) near Colmar! And no, we do not do these on the same day. That would be suicidal. By coincidence, Pippa picks the right shirt to wear on butterfly day.

It's all about the butterflies here.


Well, it's almost all about the butterflies.
Do the kids enjoy the butterflies? Yes. And the horse-back riding we do, too. And even the cute villages. But when they tell us their favorite thing from the trip they are both unanimous and extremely enthusiastic: Europa Park.
THE CHEESE: Brebille

Brebille is a pasteurized sheeps' milk cheese. At first I think the cheese is called Papillon, which means "butterfly", but it turns out that it's one of the Papillon cheeses, by a group based in Ayveron. Actually, the name of the cheese is Brebille, a brebis cheese, made by Papillon.

It's a small cheese -- a little plug -- covered with a thin white mold. It's got a mild, salty flavor and is somewhere between soft and rubbery.


Lacking a roller-coaster-themed cheese, I'm happy I at least come upon a cheese with a butterfly connection.


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