Alsace: France’s Smallest Region, not to be Overlooked

The French region of Alsace, yes it is French, may be smallest region in Metropolitan France (i.e. excluding overseas territories) – but it is rarely out of the news. In the last 20 centuries this region has changed hands seventeen times. And today even the gaff-prone French President showed he could not quite keep up with historical events. While addressing farmers Mr Sarkozy let slip that he was ‘in Germany’. Needless to say the farmers, who often feel a hard done by bunch at the best of times, were not amused – some going so far as booing their monsieur Le President.

Strasbourg, a very European city, by French Moments on Flickr

Poor man; Alsace has in fact been French since the Second World War. All this changing of hands has not been all bad – Alsace is a very attractive tourist destination with much to see and do. For a number of reasons the region is often thought of as the heart of Europe. Alsace lies on the French border with Germany and Switzerland, and not that far from Luxembourg. And Strasbourg, the capital and principal city of Alsace, is often thought of as the capital of Europe.

Choucroute, by Andrew Howe on Flickr

Despite this, Alsace still has a strong, local identity and culture – the area is staunchly French, but in many respects it is very German in its tastes and appetites. Traditional cuisine includes baeckeoffe, flammeküeche and choucroute. If it is fine dining you like while on holiday this is definitely the best region in France to visit, after Paris Alsace has more Michelin starred restaurants than any of the other regions of France.

Château St Ulrich, by a.laruelle on Flickr

Alsace’s chequered history may have caught Sarkozy out, but it has resulted in an amazing architectural heritage. Besides some very picturesque medieval villages – which often feature window boxes and red geraniums – there are numerous churches, chapels, châteaux and fortresses from every period of the regions past.

Château de Haut-Eguisheim by Philippe_28 on Flickr

This amazing architectural heritage, evidence of which goes back to Roman times, is made all the more picturesque by the Vosges mountains. Alsace is often said to have some of the most beautiful mountainous scenes in France; waterways meandering through rolling countryside and medieval villages provide the perfect holiday setting for all tastes and interests.

If you’re planning a  visit to this lovely region, you can find the some great deals on Strasbourg hotels using the LateRooms search box below.

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About Thomas Dowson

Hello, I am Thomas Dowson - a freelance writer and archaeologist living in Normandy, France. My field of expertise is prehistoric art - such as the cave paintings in the Dordogne and South Africa. But I am becoming passionately interested in France more generally, and Normandy in particular, and what this country and one of its very well known regions has to offer people with all sorts of tastes and desires. In 2005 I exchanged a university archaeology lecture room for a Bed & Breakfast in Normandy. More recently I started the Archaeology Travel website; sharing my expertise and love of archaeology and travel with others who also want to explore the many different pasts around the World.