Alsace Lorraine - Abbey Travel, Ireland

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Welcome to Alsace Lorraine

Alsace Lorraine

Alsace-Lorraine is a small area between Germany and France that has a history of being passed back and forth between the two countries for more than a thousand years. Because of this, Alsace-Lorraine is possibly the least French part of France, with a strongly German heritage, especially in the Alsace region. The two regions, in the northeast corner of France, share borders not just with France and Germany, but Belgium and Luxembourg as well, making the area a true melting pot of European culture.

Louis XIV described the region as a beautiful garden, and with three large nature reserves the comment still holds true. There are various walking and cycling routes through the countryside, but one of the best ways to see Alsace-Lorraine is by boat, along one of the seven main canal routes.

Pretty towns and villages in Alsace produce distinctive white wines often overlooked by the hordes of tourists in Bordeaux and Champagne country, and the Alsatian Vineyard Route is a great way to sample the region's great wines along with delicious Alsatian cuisine. Cities like Strasbourg and Colmar provide a bit of urban contrast, but preserve the character of the region with UNESCO-listed town centres containing many beautiful historic buildings and lively arts and culture communities.

Lorraine has a more pronounced German influence, but the inhabitants are still proudly French. Its main cities are Nancy, a lively city with a large student population; and Metz, with a strong military history and beautiful city centre.

Because of its geographic location, a holiday in Alsace-Lorraine gives visitors a chance to glimpse the unique culture and history of the region, but also makes a perfect base for a multi-country holiday with easy access to the Rhine Valley and both the French and Swiss Alps, and major cities like Berne, Basel, Frankfurt and Geneva.

Information & Facts

French is the official language.

The Euro (EUR) is the official currency in France. Currency can be exchanged at banks, bureaux de change and some large hotels, though you will get a better exchange rate at the ATMs. Major credit cards are widely accepted, as are travellers cheques, particularly in major tourist destinations. Foreign currency is not accepted.

Local time is GMT +1 (GMT +2 between last Sunday in March and last Sunday in October).

An attractive town in northeast France, Colmar is one of the most popular tourist draws to the Alsace region. Founded in the 9th century, the city boasts many beautiful architectural landmarks, including churches, museums, theatres, mansions, monuments and fountains, many dating back to the 13th century. Colmar is surprisingly big for a medieval city, but visitors should still be able to walk around on foot without much trouble.

In addition to its beauty, Colmar is a lively city with music festivals and other events throughout the year. It is also a centre for the German and French-influenced Alsatian cuisine, and visitors can sample local specialties like quiche Lorraine, Black Forest cake, Sauerkraut, and the many varietals of Alsace wine.

Less than one hours' drive from Mulhouse and three from Paris, Strasbourg is a popular tourist destination in Alsace-Lorraine. The capital and largest city in Alsace, Strasbourg has a beautiful city centre that has been declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site, with many cathedrals, museums, and photogenic half-timber houses lining the narrow cobbled streets. One of the most famous sites in Strasbourg is the great sandstone Gothic cathedral with its astronomical clock. There are a few other beautiful churches as well, with architecture ranging from Romanesque to Gothic to Renaissance.

Strasbourg is also a modern city, however, with a lively atmosphere that belies its historic facade. Good restaurants abound, serving a blend of French, German, and local Alsatian cuisine. Late summer is the best time to visit Strasbourg, as the warm weather makes way for many theatre and music events. Christmastime is also a festive time of year, with holiday markets in place Broglie and place de la Cathédrale.

From its position on the Rhine River, Strasbourg also makes a great based from which to explore southern Germany (just across the river) and Switzerland (only an hour's drive south).

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