Alsace: A Unique Corner of France

Picture-Book Countryside, Recipe Book Gastronomy...



Alsace is a region in France which, along with its main city Strasbourg, boasts some of the most compelling WW2 history in Europe. Alsace is also a fantastic location for delicious food and restaruants, shopping and with the Vosges mountains close at hand, some gorgeous scenery and great affordable skiing too.
Colmar canal, colourful beamed Alsatian buildings. Photo taken from a bridge
A much-disputed location throughout history, Alsace is a corner of France riddled with opportunities for historical sight-seeing, including the macabre Natzweiler-Struthof WW2 Nazi concentration camp. This location  possesses a wealth of great restaurants featuring local dishes such as the delicious tarte flambĂ©e (a kind of thin pizza base with fromage blanc and sliced onions). The postcard villages and towns have wonderful shopping, especially for gifts, arts and crafts. Food lovers and shoppers alike will not get bored easily.


Strasbourg


The main city of Alsace and the seat of the European Parliament, University City Strasbourg is a political and educational European hub of activity. The European parliament was sited here deliberately to symbolise peace due to the many previous Franco-German disputes about its territory. With great road links to other European cities, the word ‘Strasbourg’ loosely means ‘city of roads.’

The picturesque town centre is well worth spending much of your time in and around. There are many great restaurants and lots of tourist shops selling various Alsatian trinkets, however for a less expensive experience of Strasbourg those who are prepared to get a little lost amongst the attractive little streets will find many eating and shopping treasures. One of the main points of focus is the fabulous pink sandstone Cathedral. Entrance is free although a small donation is desirable.

The Vosges


Vosges mountains, AlsaceThe beautiful low rolling Vosges Mountains are a joy to experience in both winter and summer. The skiing here is very affordable, expect to pay no more than £30 per person for the day including equipment rental. Although the skiing here lacks the drama of the Alps, there are some excellent varied runs, including a fantastic 4km run at GerardmerThis friendly ski resort with  a total of 40km of runs is situated over-looking the town in the valley, and affords beautiful views of the lake. The ski resort is very suitable for beginners and intermediates and the town of Gerardmer itself is a pretty little place with great varied boutique shops and a cute little bowling alley and ice rink a short walk around the lake. When the lake is frozen in winter there is skating on this also, and during summer it is a popular swimming spot. 

Another couple of pretty little towns in the area are Plombieres Les Bains with its lovely restaurants and stone buildings, and Munster with its lovely gift shops, local cheese, and famous stalks nesting high up on the buildings in the centre of the town. These birds have become lovable and renowned since their refusal to follow nature's norms of flying South for the winter, and remain here year-round. 

Hotel Suggestions


Le Grand Hotel Du Hohwald is an excellent midrange hotel in a beautiful mountain setting. It is found in a village called Le Hohwald, near the towns of Selestat and Colmar. It is great value and very stylish. The breakfast is an added cost at 15 euros each but fully worth it due to the variety and quality. The hotel also has a pool, hot tub and sauna. There is a restaurant at the hotel, and a restaurant down the street less than five minutes’ walk away. Both serve traditional Alsatian dishes. The website for Le Grand Hotel Du Hohwald is: http://www.monalisahotels.com/hohwald/en/www-hotel-lehohwald-com

Good options for very cheap but reliably clean 2-star hotel rooms across France are Ibis hotels - the budget range start from around £25 per night. All rooms have TVs and ensuite toilets and showers.

If skiing at Gerardmer or visiting this area, a cheap Ibis Budget hotel is available at nearby town Remiremont - around 20 minutes away by car.

Colmar



Colourful beamed buildings, excellent boutique shopping and a canal running through the centre are some of the many features making this little town very much worth a visit. Follow signs for ‘Petite Venice’ and you will find yourself transported right into a postcard. The canal water is clean, the buildings beautiful and the eating and drinking opportunities are in abundance. 

Eat at a traditional 'Winstub' restaurant and during winter a good chocolat chaud or vin chaud goes down a treat!



French Patisserie - gold and white chocolate mousse 






















Text and Images Copyright © Lise Griffiths, 2012
All Rights Reserved


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