At the southern end of my recent Rhine cruise, I visited Alsace for the first time but it is also easy to fly straight to Strasbourg for a short weekend break or to hire a car and explore the region. As long as there are no European Government meetings, hotels are actually very reasonably priced.
Because of its history, Alsace has been both German and French and since the end of the war it is French but as it is on the German border the German influence is still very apparent and is what makes the region so unique. The Alsatian language is a German dialect but most speak both French and German. The food and wine from the Alsace region is also unique with French and German influences.
Strasbourg is the capital of the Alsace and the biggest city in the region. Strasbourg is very walkable but it is also blessed with canals so the best way to explore the city is a combination of canal boat and walking. Seeing Strasbourg by canal showcases the different facets of the city, new and old. There is a very efficient tram and bus network throughout the city as well.
Strasbourg is the perfect place for the ultra modern European Parliament building being situated on the German border and also not far from the Swiss border but further along the canal are the distinct colourful timbered buildings of the Alsace region and flowers cascading from balconies and bridges.
Strasbourg is also blessed with a beautiful cathedral surrounded by cafes, and souvenir shops. The surrounding streets are mostly pedestrianised and there are more opportunities for shopping for well known brands, market stalls as well as local delicacies so get some good walking shoes and wander round the pretty streets of Strasbourg and along the canal.
Strasbourg does, unfortunately have a problem with beggars and pickpockets so be vigilant especially round the cathedral.
We also stopped at Colmar which is, in many ways, similar to Strasbourg in appearance, with its colourful timbered buildings but it is much smaller and walking is the best way to get around. Colmar is generally more expensive than Strasbourg but with more of a local and smaller feel and better for local crafts and produce, but it does still cater for tourists, there are two Irish pubs both in keeping with the surroundings and there are many shops selling exactly the same tourist tat as Strasbourg. There is a covered food market, perfect for local Alsatian produce and also French and German delicacies. Many of the shops and restaurants are full of character with all sorts of things hanging from the balconies giving it a real fairy tale feel.
If you interested in a short break to Strasbourg, a river cruise or a self-drive holiday taking in the Alsace Region please feel free to give me a call on 020 3432 4740