the Germanic region of France. It is a region lying on the west bank of
the river Rhine, between the Rhine and the Vosges mountains. To the
north and east it shares a border with Germany; to the south with
German-speaking Switzerland, and to the west with Lorraine and Franche Comté
Historically speaking, Alsace was part
German-speaking area of central Europe, and to this day a large
proportion of the population, of all generations, speak or understand
Alsacian, a dialectal form of German closely resembling the German
spoken in Switzerland.
In the last two
centuries, Alsace has passed from Germany to France and back , and back
again; consequently, it is a region that was not part of France at the
time of the makings of the modern-day nation, and has held on to a
number of institutional differences, particularly concerning religious
affairs. For example, Good Friday is a public holiday in Alsace, but
not in the rest of France; and in Alsace, priests are paid by the state.
In terms of heritage and
culture, Alsace is
definitely germanic. With its villages of brightly-painted steep-roofed
half-timbered houses, Alsace stands apart from any other region of
France. The region's capital, Strasbourg, has all the feel of a central
European city. In economic terms, Alsace is part of the
valley corridor, historically the most important trading route in
Europe; consequently its economic activity has always
much on its germanic neighbours as on links with other parts of France,
and as a result the region has long been one of the most propserous in
Alsace is made up of just
two departments, the Lower Rhine, or Bas Rhin
and the Upper Rhine, or Haut
(68), capital Colmar
The biggest city in the Haut Rhin department is however Mulhouse
Both of these departments are comprised of a rich fertile plain in the
east - the flat lands of the Rhine valley - and the Vosges mountains in
itself is one of the many fine cities of France; its historic
centre, with its magnificent gothic cathedral, is among the most
visited in France, and the Petit France quarter, on the banks of the
river Ill, is particularly worth a visit. Among the highlights of the
city's year is the annual Christmas Market, held around the cathedral,
an event that attracts visitors from all over France and neighbouring
countries. Generally speaking, Strasbourg attracts a large number of
international visitors, being the one of the two seats of the European
is a major manufacturing centre; but with the French national
railway museum and the Cité de l'Automobile, an impressive car museum
with the world's largest collection of Bugattis, and also the large
Ecomusée d'Alsace open-air museum, this part of southern Alsace has
plenty to offer the tourist.
is famous for its beer (for example, Kronenbourg), its sauerkraut
(choucroute in French), and its white wines, which belong to the German
wine tradition, Riesling, Sylvaner or Gewurtztraminer being the most
Access: By TGV train
from Paris gare de l'Est or from Lyon. By motorway from UK /
Holland via Nancy and/or Luxembourg, from Germany via Kehl. The
region's main international airport is Basel-Mulhouse
served by several airlines including BA, Swiss, Lufthansa and Easyjet.
Strasbourg airport is smaller.
tourist attractions in
Alsace tourism site
A typical traditional Alsace village.
Below: Alsace vineyard in winter
- Strasbourg. Site,
historic centre, cathedral, Petit France, riverboat tours, the European
the best preserved historic city centre in Alsace, with its half
timbered houses. The Isenheim altar, a remarkable mediaeval paining.
- Mulhouse: The French
national railway museum; the car museum.
- La Route des Vins:
the Alsace wine trail, discovering the vineyards and wine villages such
Open-Air Museum - Ecomusée
d'Alsace, near Colmar. France's biggest open-air museum, on a par with
castle. Legendary hilltop castle in the Vosges, near Strasbourg.
- Kintzheim - the
Eagle Park (Volerie des aigles), a centre for the conservation of
eagles and birds of prey.
- Chemin de Fer du Dollar:
Dollar valley historic railway, with steam engines - southern Vosges.
- Neuf Brisach: seventeenth-century
city, fortified by Vauban.
- Vosges mountains;
hiking, mountain-bike trails, nature trails, skiing in winter.
And just outside the region:
the Black forest
(Schwarzwald), and city of Freiburg
the historic city of Basel
(Bâle), with its world-class art gallery.