Alsace is 275 miles east of Paris, almost to Germany, which it was once part of. It became French when Louis XIV took it in the 1640’s. Germany then took it back twice, from 1870-1918, and during World War 2.
Alsace is all about medieval half-timbered houses, rolling hills and fairy tale landscapes. Hikers love it. But don’t forget the food and wine, as with any French region.
The local favorite is choucroute, which is sauerkraut served with sausages, smoked ham, and potatoes. You’ll drink Gewurtztraminer or Tokay (one of 7 wine varietals in the area) or a good Alsatian beer with your hearty meal.
The 75 mile Alsation wine route hugs the Vosges mountain foothills and is a popular tourist destination in summer and fall.
In Alsace and so European
Strasbourg celebrated it’s 2000th birthday more than 30 years ago. So yes, it’s truly an historic city. The Romans founded it, mindful of the useful trade routes possible along the Rhine. Successive civilizations have followed in the Roman’s footsteps, most especially under Napoleon, who commissioned the still-standing bridge over the Rhine to Germany. The city’s medieval architecture, walkable streets and plazas make it a natural for yearly Christmas markets, a tradition for hundreds of years.
With a 90 minute high speed train connection from Paris, it’s easy to visit any time of year. The Strasbourg tourist office is located at: 17, Place de la Cathédrale, 67082 Strasbourg.
Strasbourg – Places to See
- Musee d”art Moderne et Contemporain – Modern Art Museum
- Place de la Republique and its historic buildings built during the German period (1871-1918)
- The city’s half-timbered houses and canals
- Palais Rohan
- Orangerie Park
The Lorraine Region
The Lorraine region of France has been a major crossroads of Europe for centuries. The region is replete with charming small towns and villages and is an idyllic setting for an off-the-beaten-path French vacation.
The blue-hued Vosges mountains rise in the distance over the green fields and vast countryside of Lorraine. There are many lakes, varying from the deep glacier lakes of the upper Vosges to the shallow pools of the Sarrebourg and the Saulnois departments. For bird watchers, the Lindre is a unique bird sanctuary on one of the major migration routes for many species of aquatic birds.
The world renowned spas and health resorts of Vittel, Bains-Les-Bains, Contrexeville, Amneville, and Plombieres, are all located in Lorraine.
Sailing, windsurfing and motor boats are all welcome in Lorraine. With 700 kms of navigable waterways, including the Marne-Rhine Canal and the Moselle, enthusiasts come from all over the world to enjoy cruising from lock to lock.
Metz is a good base for exploring the region. as is the charming city of Nancy.
Nancy is the capital city of the Lorraine region of France, an area, like Alsace, traded back and forth between Germany and France many times over the centuries. Thanks to the new high-speed TGV train, it is exactly half way between Paris and Strasbourg, a one and half hour ride by rail. The city itself has a little over 100,000 people, with about 400,000 in the surrounding areas. It was once known as an art center that rivaled Paris, thanks to a strong Art Nouveau movement there. The Musee de L’Ecole de Nancy commemorates this history.
Nancy is famed for a UNESCO World Heritage site: the Place Stanislas, built by an exiled Polish Duke in the mid 18th century. By night, the Place is beautifully illuminated. In October, Nancy hosts a Jazz Festival, with inexpensive tickets and much street fare. The old town area is lovely for strolling, featuring many Art Nouveau buildings, galleries and wine bars.
City of Light
Metz is a city with a wealth of natural and architectural heritage.
Metz was an important center of the Roman Empire and maintains numerous highlights from this era. Visit the city’s wonderful museums for a taste of this history or visit Saint-Pierre-aux-Nonnains, the oldest church in France, which dates back to the 4th century A.D.
Metz – Places to See
- Saint-Etienne Cathedral
- Saint Stephens Cathedral
- Museums in the Cour d’Or
- River walks along the Moselle and the Seille rivers
- Place de la Comedie, Place d’Armes, and Place Saint-Thiebault.