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Although the Alsatian language is a German dialect, Alsace is thoroughly French in its orientation. The region was a major source of men and supplies to the armies of Napoleon and suffered greatly under Nazi occupation.

Alsace consists of two departments: Bas-Rhin in the North which includes Strasbourg, the region's capital and Haut-Rhin in the South with Colmar and Mulhouse, the other major cities.

Strasbourg is a very lively city and excels in many areas. It is the home of a multitude of organizaions of the the European Community including its parliament. Its historic city center is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Its Cathedral was once the tallest structure of Europe. Its port is one of the largest inland ports of Europe. Its Grand Mosque and its University are the largest in France. Finally, Strasbourg is an important center of engineering and manufacturing as well as a major communications hub.

Mulhouse, Alsaces's second city is known for its automobile and railway museums, the largest of their kind in Europe. One is the Cité de l'Automobile, the other the Cité du Train.

Colmar is Alsace's number three city. It is located along the Wine Route and calls itself "Alsace's Wine Capital."
The city is an attractive tourist Mecca. A section of its old town, crossed by canals, is called "Little Venice."

The Vosges mountains occupy much of Alsace. Their gentle slopes are ideal sites for vineyards and, indeed, the region has been a major wine producer going back to Roman times. A favorite tourist attraction is the Alsace Wine Route which extends from Marlenheim in Bas-Rhin, south to Thann in Haut-Rhin. Along the route are medieval chateaux and charming villages with timber-framed dwellings, some of which are considered the most beautiful in France. Particularly notable are Ribeauvillé, a very old medieval town, Barr, a center of wine and beer production, and the "beautiful" villages of Riquewihr and Eguisheim which belong to an association called Les Plus Beaux Villages de France ("The most beautiful villages of France").

Among the castles along the Wine Route, the best-known is the Château du Haut-Kœnigsbourg, located just west of Sélestat. The castle originated before the 12th century, was the hangout of the Habsburgs of the Holy Roman Empire, destroyed by the Swedes during the Thirty Years War and, eventually, restored by Wilhelm II, the German Kaiser.

Exceptional Hotels in the region, top-rated by guest reviewers, are listed at the bottom of the page.

Alsace Map Alsace Map


Tourist Information
Bas-Rhin (67) - Haut-Rhin (68)
MLH EuroAirport Basel-Mulhouse-Freiburg
Exceptional Hotels, rated 9.5 out of 10 or higher by guest reviewers.
La Bergerie Beblenheim
Cour du Corbeau

Published 01.20.2014
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