5 REASONS TO VISIT ALSACE LORRAINE
The Vosges Mountains The Vosges is a range of mountains, mostly famous for the Battle of the Vosges that took place during the French Revolutionary war. The area is home to the Château du Haut-Koenigsbourg, a medieval castle that has been destroyed and rebuilt several times since the 12th century. It is rich with ancient history and offers some of the most amazing views of the Alsace region. The Vosges Mountains are also home to Mont St. Odile, a spiritual shrine named after Saint Odile, a Patron Saint of Alsace. Visitors come to meditate, worship and just experience the traditions carried on by the nuns and other worshippers for centuries.
Strasbourg Located close to the border with Germany, it is the official seat of the European Parliament. Political, economical and cultural capital of Alsace, Strasbourg embodies what this region is all about. Offering a mix of history, culture and heritage, a visit to Strasbourg is a must for any tourist. Cycle over to Grande Ile, the Strasbourg city center and a UNESCO World Heritage site, get drawn into the medieval atmosphere of the city and don’t forget to visit its famous Gothic cathedral.
Colmar Located at the bottom of the Vosges Mountains, Colmar is a charming medieval town with a well-preserved city center. It is the home town of sculptor Frederic-Auguste Bartholdi (known for the Statue of Liberty). Colmar is on the wine route of Alsace. Make sure you take some time to wander around the streets of the city with its German Gothic and early Renaissance style buildings.
Wine and Vineyards Alsace has been a wine region since the middle ages, growing grapes and producing fine wines. Cycle the Alsatian wine route, enjoy the beauty of the vineyards and make sure you sample some of the best white wines Alsace has to offer.
Festivals There are many festivals in Alsace Lorraine. From the numerous Foire aux Vins (Wine fairs) in Colmar and Strasbourg to the Fete des Vendanges – Festival of Grape harvest - in late October, Wine is celebrated year round and throughout the region. The international influences can be experienced through various music festivals. From jazz to multicultural music in Strasbourg and Colmar in particular, Alsace is home to many musical events: Festival International de Musique in June, Festival Musica in late September, Jazz d’Or in October, Festival des musique métisses in Colmar in May… Every month there is a festival of some sort so you can experience the cultural spirit of the region!
ALSATIAN GASTRONOMY AND WINE
The Alsatian cuisine is very similar to the German one. The Alsatian sauerkraut, better known as Choucroute, is world famous. It consists of fermented cabbage with a combination of pork meats. The Quiche Lorraine is also quite famous. It is a salted pie with ham, cream and eggs. It appeared at the end of the XVI century and came from the German word "Kuchen" which means Cake.
You will also be able to sample a few cheese specialties such as the Munster and the Géromé. Both are smelly but good!
Alsatian wines are famous; the white ones have a distinctive flavor due to the continental climate. With seven varieties of wine to choose from, including six white and one red, there is certainly something to please every wine drinker here. Among the Alsatian white wines of quality you probably know the Riesling, Gewurztraminer, Alsatian Pinot Gris.... Make sure to take the time to cycle on the Alsace wine route and taste some of the best wines!
ALSACE LORRAINE GEOGRAPHY
Alsace Lorraine is located on the East side of France
, at the border with Germany.
Spread on the plain of the Rhine River and on the oriental side of the Vosges mountain range, Alsace offers diversified landscapes. Some old cities include: Obernai, Riquewihr, Kaysersberg, Colmar. Lorraine is the occidental part of the ancient Lotharingie which has given its name to the region.
Shared between Lorraine (west) and Alsace (east), les Vosges are an old mountain range covered with pines and beech forests. It is a region with numerous lakes testifying to the presence of ancient glaciers. Les Vosges are also rich in thermal spas with such as Vittel, Plombieres, and Contrexville.
ALSACE LORRAINE HISTORY
The History of Alsace is quite chaotic as the region was successively part of France and Germany
. After the partitioned empire of Charlemagne in the 800s, Alsace became part of Lotharingia and later part of the German duchy of Alemannia. It then remained German for 800 years. In 1648, with the "Thirty Years War", Alsace was placed under the French sovereignty. But after the Franco-Prussian War (1870-1871), Alsace and Lorraine were incorporated into the German Empire which was when the term Alsace-Lorraine was used for the first time to name this region.
In 1919, after World War I, Alsace-Lorraine was returned to France by the terms of the Treaty of Versailles. But during World War II, after France’s capitulation, the territory was ceded to Germany again. It is only after Germany's defeat in 1945 that France regained Alsace-Lorraine. What a story!!
In Alsace and Lorraine, the French language is dominant. The Alsatian dialect, close to the German language, is still spoken but its use is decreasing. Because of the past, the culture of this region contains both French and German elements, which makes it a unique place to visit.