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Grand Est

The Grand Est region of France is made up of three historically distinct regions: Alsace, Lorraine and Champagne. The Grand Est is one of the most beautiful regions of France and a perfect place to visit while on a France vacation.


Champagne, France. An Appreciation.

When 86,000 acres produces 200 million bottles of bubbly, you might say you have a popular product. Champagne is all about luxury and celebration, a tradition that started in the 10th century when it became the official drink at the coronation of French King Hugh Capet.

And isn’t it impressive when your drink is so popular and well made they name it after the land? People are often amazed to learn Champagne (more specifically Champagne-Ardenne) is an actual place, not some fancy-sounding, made-up name where you pronounce the “ch” like an “sh” to seem sophisticated. 

The plaza outside of Notre Dame Cathedral in Reims, France.
The plaza outside of Notre Dame Cathedral in Reims, France.

The bubbly we know today is based on trial-and-error experiments by the monk Dom Perignon and many others.  Double fermentation creates those bubbles we love so well.  It also makes bottles explode until you know how to make them.  Every noticed how heavy a Champagne bottle is?  Especially that thick base.  You have to trap those bubbles.  And the cork is wired on.  That’s a lot of containment! 

Champagne is beloved and yet it is the result of grapes planted in an almost too-cold climate (by the Romans), that are almost unripe when picked, and which produces a thin example of red wine that can never match Burgundy.  What do do with this mess?  Let’s let it sit, said the growers a few centuries ago.  And lo and behold came the double fermentation.  The growers could not get rid of the bubbles…. but the British liked them.  And a business was born.   It represents what happens when luck meets taste meets grapes.

A simple map of the Champagne region in the Grand Est.
A simple map of the Champagne region in the Grand Est.

A very quick train ride, or even a drive, from Paris brings you to the lovely countryside of Champagne-Ardenne.  Whether you focus on Reims or Epernay (the world argues over which house is better in each town),  we can’t think of a more fun and delicious day trip.  Can you?

Visit the Champagne-Ardenne tourist office website for more information.

Our Top Tours Paris to Champagne

The region is only 45 minutes from Paris via high-speed rail. A day visit to the region is a delicious addition to any Paris vacation. We offer four different ways to visit from Paris.

Beautiful Alsace and Lorraine


Alsace

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 vineyards at the foot of the Vosges mountains in Alsace.
The vineyards at the foot of the Vosges mountains in Alsace.

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.

A simple map of the Alsace region of France.
A simple map of the Alsace region in the Grand Est.

The 75 mile Alsace wine route hugs the Vosges mountain foothills and is a popular tourist destination in summer and fall.

We offer two day trips from Paris to Alsace. Choose either a wine tour or an Alsace sightseeing day tour.

Strasbourg

In Grand Est 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.

The canal in the center of charming old Strasbourg in Alsace, France.
The canal in the center of charming old Strasbourg in Alsace, France.

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.  

We offer a great day trip from Paris to 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 of the Grand Est

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.

A map of the Lorraine, France region.
A map of the Lorraine, France region in the Grand Est.

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 Grand Est region, as is the charming city of Nancy.

Nancy, France

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.

A woman riding a bike in the town center of Nancy, France.
A woman riding a bike in the town center of Nancy, France.

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.

Metz

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.