France Grand Est – Alsace Lorraine
From mountain, to hillsides, plains and the river Rhine
The “Route des Cretes” at 3000ft extends over the ridge of the Vosges mountain. Lakes and spas around Gerardmer offer therapy, tranquility and winter sports. Other local spas have become famous because of their bottled water products such Vittel and Contrexeville.
Not far from the Rhine river is the Wine Road, which links Marlenheim to Thann and passes through scenic vineyard countryside populated by quaint villages of timbered houses with beautiful colored flowers at each window, Each village has its own charm, just pick and choose among them to spend at least one enchanted night: Ribeauville, Riquewihr, Eguisheim, or Obernai.
Gastronomy and Wines
Food is one of the major attractions of this region. “Saucisses de Strasbourg” decorating an “Alsatian Choucroute” (sauerkraut), a”Coq au Riesling” (capon cooked in white wine), Munster cheese, and a “Kouglof” (cake with raisins and almonds) are some of the many wonderful Alsatian delicacies that will tempt you. Other specialties are the “Quiche Lorraine”, the “madeleines” de Commercy, the “bergamotes” de Nancy, the “dragées” de Verdun.
Beers from Alsace are a match for their German cousins, and quality local wines such as Rieslings, Gewurztraminers, Muscats, Pinots Blancs, and Sylvanners all proliferate..
Strasbourg means ‘the city of roads’, and it is indeed at the meeting point of various civilizations. Founded in Roman times, it is now the seat of several European institutions, including the European Parliament. The Cathedral Notre Dame is magnificent with its facade and 465 feet spire. “La petite France” part of the old town was the home of fishermen, millers and tanners during the middle ages. The Christmas market with its aroma of hot wine and spices has become an annual tradition for many visitors.
Colmar is absolutely charming with its many elaborately decorated historic houses. The old quarters is called “Little Venice”, and it is a perfect hub from which to visit the region for a few days. Also, don’t miss the the Unterlinden Museum, and the 16th c Retable d’Issenheim altarpiece in the museum chapel.
Mulhouse is a prosperous industrial city with interesting venues for those who like industrial sites. Crossed by the River Ill and the Rhone to Rhine Canal Mulhouse, it offers 2 excellent Museums: The automobile Schlumpf collection starting from the 1878 steam Jacquot car, and the French Museum of Railroads.
Nancy was formerly the capital of the Duchy of Lorraine. The last duke of Burgundy, Charles le Temeraire (Charles the Bold) died while laying siege to the city. He had wanted to add Lorraine to his domains as it was strategically located between his other possessions of Burgundy and Flanders. Nancy experienced growth and a flowering of Baroque culture and architecture during the tenure of Stanislas Leszczynski, the father-in-law of King Louis XV and ex-king of Poland who assumed the Duchy in the early 18th century. Don’t miss the grandiose and harmonious Place Stanislas with its magnificent wrought iron gates. The School of Nancy was a world renowned center for the new movement of Art Nouveau at the turn of the 20th century.
Verdun commands a strategic location dominating the River Meuse and this led to one of the bloodiest battles in all of history during World War I. In February 1916 Germany attempted to hasten the end of the war by delivering a hammer blow to the French army. The battle lasted for 6 months and ended in a stalemate, with over 400,000 casualties on each side.