What to see in Alsace, France

Alsace

Alsace (France) – detailed information with photos, videos and map. Alsace travel guide for tourists, popular cities and attractions.

Alsace province (France).

Alsace is a historic region in northeastern France, on the border with Germany and Switzerland, between the Rhine and the Vosges Mountains. Historically, it is a German-speaking region with an interesting blend of French and Germanic, which manifests itself in literally everything: language, culture, cuisine and architecture. Alsace is a region of charming towns and villages, colorful half-timbered houses in the so-called “Alsatian” style and old Gothic churches, traditional farms and vineyards growing on the eastern slopes of the Vosges mountains.

The last administrative and territorial reform abolished the province of Alsace. This historic region is now part of the Grand Est region, which also includes Champagne, Ardennes and Lorraine. Alsace is divided into two departments: Lower Rhine and Upper Rhine. Strasbourg is the capital of the Lower Rhine, and Colmar the capital of the Upper Rhine.

Things to do (France):

The Louvre in the morning or evening. Tickets guaranteed!

51 €46 per person.

The Louvre in the morning or in the evening. Tickets guaranteed!

Two hours in the company of great masterpieces and without the tourist crowds on a mini-group tour

One Day in Paris

€285 per tour

One Day in Paris” sightseeing tour

Grand tour of the city for a full day – all the best things to see in the city.

Geography and climate

Alsace is bounded by the Vosges mountain range to the west and the Rhine valley to the east. The foothills of the Vosges mountains gradually give way to a plain with plenty of farmland.

In terms of topography, much of Alsace is hills interspersed with vineyards, fields and beech-oak forests. The climate of the region is temperate. It is characterized by relatively warm summers and cool winters. Rainfall ranges from 500 to 700 mm per year.

Vineyards of Alsace

Vineyards of Alsace

Tourist information

  1. The population is 1.9 million people. Interestingly enough, Alsace has one of the highest densities of rural population in France.
  2. Area – 8 280 km 2 .
  3. The language is French. Also widespread is a dialect of German called Alsatian.
  4. Currency is the euro.
  5. Visa is Schengen.
  6. Alsace is a predominantly rural and quiet region with low crime rates.

Best time to visit

Alsace is very popular during the Christmas season. Its old towns are famous for their fabulous atmosphere and numerous markets. Strasbourg, for example, has had a Christmas market since the 16th century.

The best time to visit Alsace is of course from May to September, as well as Christmas.

Traditional Alsatian half-timbered houses

Traditional half-timbered houses in the “Alsatian” style

History

In the 1st century B.C. the territory of Alsace was conquered by the legions of Julius Caesar and was deeply Romanized. In the 5th century A.D. the area was subjugated by the Alemans, who were later replaced by the Franks. Under the Merovingians, the lands were Christianized.

In the 9th century Alsace was incorporated into Lorraine and united with the Germanic territories of the Carolingians. From the fall of the Frankish kingdom until the 17th century, Alsace was part of the Holy Roman Empire.

Map of Alsace

A map of Alsace

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Las Lajas, the cathedral overlooking the canyon

French influence began to increase in the 16th century and reached its peak during the Thirty Years’ War, as a result of which France obtained an unofficial protectorate over Alsace and then established full control. At the same time, the region enjoyed considerable autonomy until the 18th century.

Egisheim

Egisheim .

Alsace was incorporated into Germany after the Franco-German war (1870-1871) and was part of it until the end of World War I. Then under the Treaty of Versailles this region returned to France. During World War II Alsace was again annexed by Germany.

How to get there

Alsace has two airports: EuroAirport (Basel-Mulhouse-Freiburg) and Strasbourg Airport. The former is the largest air port in the region, which is connected to almost all of Europe. High-speed rail also connects the region to Charles de Gaulle airport in Paris.

Alsace has an extensive railway network. Most trains from France to Germany and France to Switzerland also stop here. You can reach Alsace by train from Paris, Bordeaux, Lyon, Marseille, Basel, Zurich, Brussels, Stuttgart, Munich, Frankfurt, Moscow, Warsaw, Berlin and Hannover. The region also has excellent road connections to other cities in France, Germany and Switzerland.

Strasbourg, the capital of Alsace

Strasbourg – the capital of Alsace

The cuisine of Alsace has a strong German influence. Its traditional dishes are sauerkraut (Choucroute), Flambée or in German Flammkuchen (“Alsatian pizza”), Fleischschnackas (boiled meat with egg and onion wrapped in dough), Baeckeoffe (baked potatoes with meat marinated in white wine), Cordon bleu (schnitzel with cheese), Spätzle (dumpling).

Interestingly, the small Alsace is home to a large number of famous chefs.

Alsace is famous for its white wines, which are considered some of the best in the world. Also here they brew beer Kronenbourg, Kanterbrau and Fischer.

Evening Colmar

Evening Colmar

Cities of Alsace

The major cities of Alsace:

    – The charming capital of Alsace and one of Europe’s most beautiful cities, combining the medieval past and the modern present in surprising ways. Strasbourg is an incredible Gothic cathedral, the narrow streets and half-timbered houses of the Grand Isle, canals and delicious cuisine. In addition, the city is the parliamentary capital of Europe (the European Parliament sits here) and one of the largest university centers in France. – It is the capital of the department of Upper Rhine and a true pearl of Alsace. It is one of the most picturesque and photogenic cities in France with a gorgeous old town full of quaint half-timbered houses and beautiful canals.
  • Mulhouse is the second largest city in Alsace and a major industrial center famous for its museums.

Beautiful Alsatian towns and villages:

    – A picturesque town in eastern France, located in the heart of Alsace near Colmar and Strasbourg. This small village is considered one of the most beautiful in the country. Egisheim is built in concentric circles surrounding the castle and offers the tourist walks through narrow paved streets full of beautiful old half-timbered houses with wooden windows and balconies.
  • Kaysersberg is a classic little Alsatian town with charming narrow streets and old half-timbered houses. – One of the most picturesque villages in France.
  • Bergheim is a small town on the wine trail, completely surrounded by 14th century walls.
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Attractions

Strasbourg Cathedral

Cathedral in Strasbourg

The Grand Isle in Strasbourg is a large island formed by the river Ile. It is an ideal place to explore the city and its historic atmosphere. The Grand Ile is actually the historical center of Strasbourg. Here are its main attractions: the Cathedral of Strasbourg (Notre Dame de Strasbourg), other medieval churches and historic buildings.

Strasbourg Cathedral (Notre Dame de Strasbourg) is one of the grandest Gothic churches in Europe and a beautiful monument of medieval architecture. The great Victor Hugo said of it, “a monstrosity gigantic and delicate. The cathedral was built between 1176 and 1439 and has a 142-meter tower (completed in 1439), the highest in France.

The cathedral in Mulhouse

Mulhouse Cathedral

Mulhouse Cathedral is a magnificent monument of medieval architecture and a Gothic masterpiece. Until the 19th century it was one of the tallest Christian buildings in Europe.

Old Town in Colmar

Old Town in Colmar

The old town of Colmar is its main attraction. Here you can find many old buildings from the Middle Ages and Renaissance, as well as several interesting sacral monuments. But the main highlight, of course, are the beautiful half-timbered houses.

In the old town you can find almost every architectural style from Gothic, Renaissance, Baroque, Rococo, Classicism, to Empire, Eclectic and Art Nouveau, which turns the historic center of Colmar into an open-air architectural museum.

Upper Cologne

Upper Koenigsburg

Upper Koenigsburg is a fascinating Romanesque castle which is an important symbol of Alsace heritage. Like many medieval fortresses, the majestic Château du Koenigsbourg sits at an imposing height. On a rocky promontory 700 meters high, the fortress has watched over its surroundings for eight centuries. The castle was reconstructed in the style of historical authenticity in the early 20th century.

Equièvre

Ricquirer

The wine trail is a scenic route that includes vineyards and charming medieval villages.

Interesting tours

Grand Tour of Montmartre

from €105 per tour

Grand tour of Montmartre

The Moulin Rouge, Dalida House, Villa Léandre, Chateau des Mists and other iconic spots of the bohemian quarter

The Louvre for Kids 6+

from €130 for a guided tour

The Louvre for children ages 6 and up

An educational but not boring adventure which will be remembered by young travellers

What to see in Alsace, France

Alsace (Alsace), Alsace travel guide, Colmar Alsace, what to see in Alsace, Alsace wine road, Alsace attractions

Alsace is an amazing combination of the advantages of two cultures at once: France and Germany. With its French love of detail, flowers and wines and its German half-timbered houses, hearty food and beer, the region is such a perfect concentrated, slightly fabulous Europe. With the exception of Mulhouse, there is an air of calm and safety. Colorful, “gingerbread” houses, lots of tourists, and more of the French themselves, a nice quiet atmosphere …

Alsace is one of the most beautiful regions in France (especially places around Colmar – everywhere you look it’s absolutely fabulous!) and filled with sights. If we try to formulate in a few words the quintessence of Alsace (for me), it is the colorful half-timbered houses, endless vineyards, picturesque castle ruins, white wines and fine Cremant d’Alsace, tarte flambée and tartiflette, smelly Munster cheese, characteristic black bonnets in traditional dresses of ladies, the character of local girl by Hansi and, of course, storks – the symbol of Alsace.

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Souvenirs from Alsace - what to bring with you from Alsace, Strasbourg, Colmar and Mulhouse: gift ideas from Alsace: wine glasses, storks, Hansi.

By the way, Alsace is also connected to Russian history: the small town of Soultz-Haut-Rhin is the birthplace of Dantes, the one who dueled with Pushkin and killed the great Russian poet with a shot. Such a dramatic relation of countries…

And the famous Statue of Liberty in New York also comes from Alsace: it was the Alsatian sculptor from Colmar, Auguste Bartholdi, who created it. And a smaller copy of the famous statue adorns the sculptor’s hometown.

Souvenirs from Alsace - what to bring with you from Alsace, Strasbourg, Colmar and Mulhouse: gift ideas from Alsace: wine glasses, storks, Hansi.

What to see in Alsace?

Strasbourg and Colmar have their own “fairy tales”: “little France” in one and “little Venice” in the other. Both cities are considered some of the most beautiful in Europe.

In addition, the number of “the most beautiful French villages” is just off the charts compared to many other regions. Wherever you step, you will find these old narrow streets, picturesque colorful half-timbered houses, delicious local wine and flowers, flowers, flowers!

Ribeauville, Alsace (Alsace), Alsace travel guide, Colmar Alsace, what to see in Alsace, Alsace wine road, Alsace attractions

But if you ask me where my favorite place in Alsace is, I would say Colmar and the surrounding area. For me, it’s where all the most beautiful and interesting places in Alsace are concentrated within literally 15 minutes by car.

And I would avoid Mulhouse – it makes a completely different impression compared to the other places: a lot of immigrants make you feel like you’re not in France at all. Whereas Colmar and the surrounding area, on the contrary, seems very French, and so, safe-retirement-French, very quiet and nice. Strasbourg would be more dynamic, thanks to the university and the European quarter. But the density of beauty around Strasbourg is still lower than in Colmar, although there are also many decent places.

La Route des Vins d’Alsace

The main attraction of Alsace are the beautiful vineyards. Some of the best white wines are made here: spicy Gewurztraminer and subtly sweet Muscat, refreshing Riesling and Pinot Blanc – each wine is perfect in its own way and goes well with the traditional hearty and tasty dishes. Cremant d’Alsace is also produced here – superb sparkling wines, second only to Champagne in popularity. The hills with vineyards are especially beautiful in autumn, when the leaves are golden and the grapes are poured with sweet juice. You can taste the finished product in the many wineries scattered along the “Wine Road.

Alsace is the smallest of all the regions of France (with the exception of the islands), but the third most densely populated, the fourth richest and with the lowest unemployment rate.

Alsace wines, Alsace wines, souvenirs from Alsace

Going to Alsace with children

Alsace appeals not only to adults with its tastings and wine route. Children will love the colorful old fairytale houses and the fascinating castle ruins. In addition, children can be entertained in the amusement parks (there is the largest theme park with many attractions in the world – Europa-park, but in Alsace itself there are all kinds of amusement parks, such as “Little Prince”), or introduce them to the animals. The symbol of Alsace, the stork, can be seen up close in several parks. In addition, there are zoological parks with rare animals, a butterfly park, a castle with a show with eagles, a park with monkeys where you can watch them at large…

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Alsace cigognes - Storks of Alsace

By the way, don’t miss out on visiting the Christmas markets in Alsace with children: they truly immerse you in an absolutely fabulous atmosphere that you won’t find anywhere else. The already gingerbread-looking houses are decorated in such a way that they will melt any tourist’s heart! My personal favorite is the Colmar Christmas market. I don’t know a more beautiful place at Christmas than this pretty little town in Alsace!

Colmar travel guide, points of interest, descriptions, photos, transportation, directions, schedules, tickets, places to visit, neighborhood information

When is the best time to visit Alsace?

Alsace is a rare region of France that is beautiful in almost any season. From late November to New Year’s Eve you’ll find Christmas markets and decorated little towns and villages. In February, there are carnivals in many places. From April it’s quite warm and sunny (though that depends on your luck), so it’s nice to explore the villages. From May the vineyards are green, so nature is beautiful in summer. Summers aren’t so hot here, so sitting outside a restaurant table enjoying a cold Cremant d’Alsace or a refreshing Riesling is a pleasure! In October, the hills of vineyards begin to turn golden, adding a certain charm to the local beauty. And even November has its nice warm days and golden fall, and Christmas markets start in late November!

Vineyards of Riboville

The main sights of Alsace:

The sights of Alsace are listed in descending order of sightseeing in my subjective opinion.

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Strasbourg (UNESCO) is the largest city in Alsace and a must for the Petite France

Colmar (Colmar) - Colmar travel guide, Colmar attractions, Colmar transport, what to see in Colmar, Colmar photos

Colmar is the second largest and very beautiful town. And you must see the fishermen’s district and the Petite Venise.

Riquewihr, Alsace - The 10 most beautiful villages in France and Alsace.

Riquewihr (Plus Beaux Villages de France) is one of the most beautiful and popular villages in Alsace.

Aegisheim sights

Eguisheim (Plus Beaux Villages de France) is one of the most beautiful villages, the birthplace of Pope Leo IX, with a castle in the center.

The Alsace Wine Road

Obernai is one of the most beautiful towns in Alsace.

Selestat Alsace

Sélestat is a beautiful and very architecturally diverse town.

Château du Haut-Koenigsbourg

Château du Haut-Koenigsbourg – a magnificent castle with a museum inside.

Bergheim Alsace

Bergheim is a picturesque flower village, part of the Alsace Wine Route.

Kaysersberg, Alsace

Kaysersberg is one of the prettiest villages in Alsace with a significant Romanesque cathedral and castle ruins.

Mulhouse

Mulhouse is the third largest city in Alsace, with a beautiful central square and a huge car museum.

Chateau de Saint-Ulrich, Ribeauville-1

Ribeauville is one of my favorite towns in Alsace with the ruins of three castles on a mountain nearby. Part of the Alsace wine road.

Eglise St. Leger (Guebwiller)

Guebwiller – one of the most important points of the Alsace Wine Route, winner of 4 Grand Cru (!). The church of Saint-Léger, a masterpiece of late-Romanesque architecture in Alsace, part of the Route Romane d’Alsace.

Hunawihr (Alsace) Unawihr, the Alsace Wine Route

Murbach

The Abbey of Murbach is one of the most powerful in the entire Holy Roman Empire in the 11th and 12th centuries. Part of the Route Romane d’Alsace.

Wissembourg (Wissembourg), Alsace, France - the best travel guide! How to get there: schedule. What to see: attractions, photos

Munster, Alsace_fountain_abbey ruins.

All the cities of Alsace by alphabetical order:

  • Barr is the wine capital of the Lower Rhine department
  • Bergheim is a pretty village with beautiful fountains
  • Cernay a stork park, some historic architecture, and vineyards entirely classified as Grand Cru
  • Chatenois – famous for its medieval festival
  • Colmar – probably the most beautiful town in Alsace Plus Beaux Villages de France)
  • Guebwiller – 4 Grand Cru, an important Romanesque church
  • Haguenau – the Maginot Line.
  • Hunawihr (Plus Beaux Villages de France)
  • Hunspach (Plus Beaux Villages de France)
  • Katzenthal – ruins of a castle and its Grand Cru
  • Kaysersberg is a picturesque little town with a very important Romanesque church.
  • Mittelbergheim (Plus Beaux Villages de France)
  • Mulhouse – a huge car museum, the largest in Europe
  • Munster – birthplace of Munster cheese, ruins of an abbey
  • Murbach (Romanesque abbey)
  • Neuf-Brisach (Vauban Citadel – UNESCO)
  • Obernai, one of the most beautiful towns in Alsace
  • Riquewihr (Plus Beaux Villages de France) is one of the 2 most popular and beautiful villages in Alsace
  • Ribeauville is one of the most beautiful villages in Alsace with the ruins of the three castles above
  • Rouffach – historic lodges and a medieval “Witches Festival
  • Soultz-Haut-Rhin – 4 Grand Cru, birthplace of Dantes
  • Sélestat – very rich in architecture.
  • Strasbourg – historic center – UNESCO
  • Thann – beautiful Gothic cathedral and its own Grand Cru
  • Turckheim – picturesque little town with its own Grand Cru
  • Wissembourg – (Plus Beaux Villages de France)
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Cities of Alsace on the map:

Itineraries in Alsace:

Alsace, Routes des Vins-1

List of the region’s most beautiful villages:

Hunawihr (Alsace) Unawihr, the Alsace Wine Route

Castles of Alsace:

Château d

Chateau d’Andlau

Alsace sights on the map:

Map of Alsace, the city of Alsace

Cuisine of Alsace:

Alsace cuisine, traditional dishes of Alsace

Map of Alsace:

Map of Alsace with points of interest

Transportation in Alsace:

Transportation in Alsace is divided by department: Upper Rhine (Colmar, Mulhouse and surroundings) and Lower Rhine (Strasbourg). Accordingly, these are two different transport networks. Since Alsace became part of the new Grand Est region, the region’s transport system has also changed, but the general idea remains the same.

Alsace tickets:

There are major cities with their own transport system (Strasbourg, Colmar, Mulhouse, Celeste), and there are buses by department (Upper Rhine or Lower Rhine). And there are also tickets throughout Alsace – “ALSA+ 24 heures” and “ALSA+ Groupe Journée” – a 24-hour ticket for Alsace (valid any day) and a group ticket for Alsace (from 2 to 5 people 1 ticket, ONLY on weekends and holidays) respectively. These tickets give you unlimited access to the many public transport networks (suburban trains, buses, streetcars, cars) running in the area selected at the time of purchase. You can choose the area of the corresponding ticket yourself.

A group ticket on weekends and holidays allows you to save a lot of money if you plan to travel actively.

Transportation in Alsace:

Alsace has a branch railroad line running from Basel through Mulhouse and Colmar to Strasbourg. Regional trains stop in some towns, but most of the places among the most beautiful villages have no stations. And even the buses that go here can only make 1 – 2 trips a day. So the most convenient way to get around Alsace is by car, especially since the main highway from Basel to Strasbourg is free (a rarity in France).

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