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GREAT RV TOURS>ROAD TRIP PLANNER - ALSACE REGION OF FRANCE
 

Road Trip Planner: The Alsace Region of France

 
Click here for our road trip planner -Alsace region of France
 

Discover the Alsatian wine trail of
north-eastern France

Before you leave: Read fellow travelers reviews of their Alsatian experiences. Get the truth. Then go.


Stretching from the Swiss border in the south and up to the German border in the north, Alsace, the smallest of France's 22 administrative regions, is cradled between the Rhine river and the Vosges mountain range. The mountains tower over both the wine road and the plain, providing the natural shelter that causes the temperate climate of the region.

Alsace enjoys a semi-continental climate, with hot summers and long, warm autumns. These are ideal for all - the agricultural producers of the region and the multitude of tourists alike.

Improbably beautiful, neat and tidy, the region is the stuff of which fairy-tales are made: gingerbread houses and buildings in medieval towns and villages bedecked in the summer with cascading flower arrangements, southern slopes contoured with grape vines and the irresistible smells of the region's delicacies permeating every village square.

The region's three main civic centers, linked by the famous Alsace Wine Route, are the cities of Strasbourg - the cultural, intellectual and financial center, Mulhouse, the industrial and business center and Colmar, the center for agriculture and the wine industry.

Changing hands periodically over the centuries, the region's inhabitants combine Germanic thoroughness and reliability with typical French love of life.

REGIONAL FOOD & WINE SPECIALTIES:

Choucrote Garnie, a dish consisting of sausages, ham and bacon served on a mountain of sauerkraut, is probably "the" regional dish that typifies Alsatian cooking. Backeoffe, a pork, lamb and beef casserole in wine sauce, is another. The list of regional delicacies is long, and is further assisted by over 25 Michelin rated restaurants in the area, all adding their imaginative alternatives to the mix.

Other regional dishes include tarte flambe, Kougelhopf cake and irresistible fruit tarts with custard and cream.

The elegant Alsatian white wines (from seven grape varieties: Riesling, Gewurztraminer, Sylvaner, Muscat, Pinot Blanc, Pinot Gris and Tokay) are quite distinctive from the sweeter German wines with whom they share the same bottle shape. Discovering them in the picturesque villages of the Wine Road is both an aesthetic and a gastronomic pleasure.

SPORTS & LEISURE:

Many types of sporting activities are available in the region - cycling, mountain biking, hiking, golf and in winter excellent cross-country and downhill skiing in the Vosges.

You can also take part in walking tours of vineyards, river and canal cruises, and hot-air ballooning.

WHEN TO GO:

February: Carnival parade in Hoerdt
March: Strasbourg International Film Festival
April to October: Sound and Light show, Strasbourg Cathedral
May: Fete de Pentecost, Wissembourg, with folklore parade, dancing, horse racing
May to October: Round of the night watchman at 10 p.m., Turckheim
July: International Music Festival of Colmar Streisselhochzeit; traditional Alsatian wedding in Seebach
August: Wine Festival in Colmar; Procession of floral floats in Selestat and Turckheim
September:
Bugatti Festival in Molsheim

Don't miss these Alsation road trip planner highlights:

WISSEMBOURG

Wissembourg is a small town situated on the River Lauter close to the border of France and Germany, in the northeastern Alsace.

The picturesque town is set in a landscape of rolling wheatfields, vineyards and orchards. Situated between vineyards, orchards and other crops, Wissembourg's economy is agricultural based.

Great to visit all year round, the town is alive with Alsatian folk music and traditions during the Pentecost festival.

LA PETITE PIERRE

Situated at what are basically the crossroads of antiquity, this UN-designated WORLD HERITAGE CITY draws its roots from the mists of time. The Celts and Romans were well aware of its strategic importance, and today the little town (pop. 700) is still partly surrounded by the ancient walls.

The choir of the church dedicated to Sainte-Croix has remarkable frescoes depicting different scenes of the 'Story of our Salvation'. The frescoes date back to the 15th century, and are amongst the oldest in eastern France.

SAVERNE

Lying at the point where the river Zorn and the Rhine-Marne Canal enter the Alsatian plain, Saverne - the Roman Tres Tabernae - was the central town of the Vosges region in the Middle Ages.

The town served as the residence of the bishops of Strasbourg from 1414 to 1789. The Chateau Rohan, the bishops' residence, was built in 1779 on the site of an earlier castle. It now houses a youth hostel, the town museums of archeology, art and history and the Louise Weiss exhibition rooms.

OBERNAI

Obernai is probably the typical Alsatian town. Situated at the foot of Mont Ste-Odile, this old imperial city that has preserved its picturesque charm. The market square with its plethora of 15th century buildings, the narrow lanes, old burghers' houses and the magnificent town hall all add to the attractive old world air.

RIBEAUVILLE

Located on the famous wine route, between the vineyards and mountains, halfway between Strasbourg and Mulhouse, Ribeauville is an attractive town some 5000 inhabitants.
The majestic ruins of the Three Castles of the Lords of Ribeaupierre, Ulrichsburg, Girsberg and Hohrappoltstein dominate the town and neighboring hills. In the town itself, the Grand-Rue and its picturesque neighboring streets are lined with 15th- to 18th-century buildings and Renaissance squares. The ancient walls, the streets, the old houses with their wooded beams seem part of a party-type atmosphere, just waiting for the first note of music.

In part surrounded by its ancient walls, many of the town's buildings are worth a visit. The two beautiful Gothic churches of St. Gregory and St. Augustine are specially worth mentioning.
First mentioned in the 8th century as Rathaldovilaire, the town passed from the Bishops of Basel to the Lords of Rappolstein, who were among the most famous noble of the region. The lord of Rappoltstein was the king or protector of the wandering minstrels of the land, who purchased his protection by paying him a tax.
The family became extinct in the 17th century, at which time the office of the King of the Pipers passed to the Counts of Zweibrucken-Birkenfeld.

RIQUEWIHR

Another beautiful village on the wine trail, just 4 kms from Ribeauville, the town of Riquewihr currently has 1228 inhabitants and is a member of the Association of the Most Beautiful Villages in France.

Originally the property of the Dukes of Wurtemburg, the town was converted to Protestantism in the 16th century. The town is still surrounded by its medieval fortifications and is dominated by the ancient castle, now a museum.

Many winegrowers offer tours of their cellars and tastings. Two Grands Crus are produced at Riquewihr: Sporen and Schoenenbourg, the vineyards of which can be seen from the Grands Crus Wine Trail.

One of the few towns not badly damaged during WWII, the admirably preserved town is a renowned tourist attraction. It is adorned with flowers all year round, and specially decorated at Christmastime.

KAYSERSBERG

Kaysersberg is considered on of the most beautiful cities on the wine route. The high fortress that dominates the city serves as a reminder of both its strategic importance and its warlike past.

Today, Kaysersberg with its medieval atmosphere is more appropriate as the perfect setting for an Alsatian festival.

Kaysersberg is considered to be one of the finest wine growing areas in Alsace. The first vines were brought here in the 16th century from Hungary, and wine production is still an important aspect of the town's economy today. Wine produced from the Tokay variety is a local specialty.

COLMAR

Founded in the 9th century and granted the status of a free imperial city by the Holy Roman Empire in 1226, Colmar was ceded to Germany after the Franco-Prussina war together with the rest of Alsace in 1871, and only returned to France after WWI. Today, Colmar is the Alsatian center of the wine industry and local agriculture.

The well preserved old city center houses several buildings in the German Gothic and early Renaissance styles. It also houses several churches, of which the Collegiale Saint-Martin is the most noteworthy from an architectural viewpoint.

Colmar was also the home town of sculptir Frederic-Auguste Barthodi - best known as the creator of the Statue of Liberty - and has a museum dedicated to a number of his works. The city has a sunny microclimate: it is the driest city in France, with an annual rainfall of only 550 mm, making it ideal for cultivating the grape varieties used to produce the Alsatian wines.


STRASBOURG

Strasbourg is the capital and principal city of the Alsace region of northeastern France. Located close to the border with Germany, it is the capital of the Bas-Rhin d?partement

Strasbourg is an important centre of manufacturing and engineering, as well as of road, rail and river communications.

Strasbourg is the seat of the Council of Europe and the European Court of Human Rights. Together with Brussels, it co-hosts a seat of the European Parliament.

Severely damaged during WWII, the city is chiefly known for its sandstone gothic cathedral and for its medieval cityscape of Rhineland black and white timber-framed buildings, particularly in the Petite-France district alongside the river Ill.

Strasbourg's historic center, the Grande Ile, was classified a World Heritage site by UNESCO in 1988, the first time this classification referred to a whole city center.

Besides the cathedral, Strasbourg houses several other medieval churches that have survived the many wars that have plagued the city: the part Romanesque, part Gothic Eglise Saint-Thomas with its Silbermann organ on which W. A. Mozart and Albert Schweitzer played, the gothic Eglise Saint-Pierre-le-Jeune protestant with its crypt dating back to the 5th century, the gothic Eglise Saint-Guillaume with its fine early-Renaissance stained glass, and the neo-gothic church Saint-Pierre le Vieux catholique which serves as a shrine for several 15th century altars that have been saved from destruction.

The German Renaissance endowed the city with some fine buildings - especially the current Chambre de Commerce et d'Industrie, as did the French Baroque and Classicism with several palaces, among which the Palais Rohan (now housing three museums) is the most spectacular. Other buildings of note are the Hotel du Prefet, the Hotel des Deux-Ponts and the city-hall Hotel de Ville. The opera house on
Place Broglie best represents French Neo-Classic architecture.

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