The Alsace region may look German, it may even sound German, but its heart is most passionately French. Having changed hands between France and Germany many times over the course of its history, this narrow strip of north-eastern France, the smallest region in the country, sits adjacent to Germany and Switzerland and has a great many French and Germanic influences – which can be noticed in Alsatian cuisine, dialect, architecture and culture. Carefully inserted between the Rhine and the Vosges Mountains, the spectacular borders of flowing river, picturesque lakes and green, mountainous forests encircle a landscape amply speckled with picturesque villages, churches and castles.
The Romans established Alsace as a centre for winemaking in 58 BC, and it has been ever since. The cold, dry winters give this area the perfect terroir for wine making. Today renowned for its notable whites – especially dry Rieslings – Alsace is blanketed in lush, stunning stretches of vineyard. Alsace is also the main beer producing region of France, home to world famous breweries including Heineken and Kronenbourg.
The local cuisine has a heavy Germanic influence, so make sure to sample the local delicacy flammekeuche, also known as tarte flambée, with your Riesling or lager. It consists of thinly rolled bread dough traditionally topped with crème frâiche, sliced onions and lardons.
Some of the main appeals to visitors in the region are the seemingly undiscovered natural beauty of this wine country along with its unusual cuisine and picturesque villages, while the long, hot summers and good value for money don’t make Alsace any less popular.
From the capital of Strasbourg to Colmar, Mulhouse or any of the other quaint villages scattered across the region, make sure to lap up the culture here and explore all its nooks and crannies. Colmar in particular stands out in the region because it has a particularly sunny micro-climate, making it dry and perfect for Alsatian wine. A popular pastime with travellers is the Alsatian Wine Route, a medieval trek through some of Alsace’s more beautiful grape-filled areas and authentically charming villages.
Parts of Alsace are rugged and mountainous; and some of the more scenic peaks to explore include Massif du Donon and Grand Ballon, if you are looking for a natural ramble and a glance at a side of France you don’t get to see too often. The national park of Parc Naturel des Vosges du Nord is also a beautiful spot for a picnic and a place for experienced and casual trekkers to get to grips with nature.
Renting holiday accommodation in Alsace
As a predominately rural region, Alsace is a very safe and out of the way place to spend some quality time with a loved one or the family – and what better way to get away from it all than in your very own holiday rental?
Whether you prefer a chalet in any of the attractive villages, bigger towns, rural countryside or lakeside chalets; renting a holiday home allows you to experience Alsatian authenticity without needing to share it with strangers. And after a trip to a local food market, why not come home and cook up some local delicacies in your very own kitchen?