Picture-Book Countryside, Recipe Book Gastronomy...
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 flambée (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.
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 Cathedral. Entrance is free although a small donation is desirable.
The 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 Gerardmer. This friendly ski resort is situated over-looking the town in the valley below, and affords beautiful views of the lake. The ski resort is very suitable for beginners and intermediates.
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 and Etap hotels. Rooms have TVs and ensuites.
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.
Text and Images Copyright © Lise Griffiths, 2012
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