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Alsace: a borderland between vineyards, woods and small villages

This article is also available in: Italian

Alsace is the smallest region of metropolitan France, located along the border with Germany, to the south it also borders for a short distance with Switzerland. The capital of the region is Strasbourg which is the seat of the Council of Europe and the European Parliament, and is also the main tourist destination in Alsace, thanks to its wonderful historic centre.

Alsace was long disputed between France and Germany and until the end of the First World War it was part of German territory, in fact a German dialect, Alsatian, is also spoken there. The region is made up of two departments: Bas-Rhin (67) with Strasbourg as its capital; and Upper Rhine (Haut-Rhin) (68) with capital Colmar.

The territory of Alsace is characterized towards the east by the plain where the river Rhine flows, which for the most part marks the border with Germany and which is intensively cultivated with cereals, to the west rises the chain of the Vosges where the highest peak in the region is the Grand Ballon (1,424 metres), the two areas are connected by a beautiful hilly area planted with vineyards.


As for tourist attractions, Alsace is famous for its picturesque villages full of churches and castles, as well as obviously the artistic and architectural beauties of its most important cities such as Strasbourg and Colmar.

The region is also known for the small towns characterized by ancient half-timbered houses, for the presence of storks’ nests on the chimneys of the houses and for its fine wine, whose production area is crossed by a famous tourist itinerary, the Wine route of Alsace (La route des vins d’Alsace), this 170 km long panoramic road winds along beautiful landscapes made of vineyards and hills.

Another very scenic road is the Route des Crêtes which runs along the ridge of the Vosges mountains for over 80 km, between the col du Bonhomme, to the north, and the Vieil Armand (Hartmannswillerkopf), to the south, the Vosges mountains are interesting from the of naturalistic sight for the woods and the picturesque lakes.

The historic center of the regional capital, Strasbourg, full of monuments built between the 15th and 18th centuries, was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1988. Part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site is also the site of the fort of Neuf-Brisach, part of Vauban’s system of fortifications, a total of 12 fortifications scattered on the borders of France.

Finally, the Christmas Markets of Alsace are famous, thanks to the German influences, this is in fact the French region where the tradition of the Christmas Markets is the oldest and most heartfelt.

The climate of Alsace.

  • Area: 8,280 km²
  • Population: 1,815,000 (2006)
  • Capital: Strasbourg (Strasbourg)

This article is also available in: Italian

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