Where would you go to find the essence of France? Paris perhaps? The depths of the Dourdogne? It’s a debate we’ve enjoyed many times here at SmoothRed (often over a few glasses of wine). But there’s surely a strong argument for picking Alsace-Lorraine as the most quintessentially Gallic region in all of France.
Fierce local pride
Of course, with only the Rhine separating it from the Vaterland, Alsace-Lorraine is often thought of as a Franco-German hybrid. And yes, admittedly it does look a bit German in parts. And ok, some of its place names do have a distinctly Teutonic ring to them.
BUT… Alsace-Lorraine also boasts an abundance of that most Gallic of characteristics: fierce local pride. Indeed, when you remember that the French national anthem was written in Strasbourg (the region’s capital), it’s easy to see why Alsace-Lorraine remains one of the most passionately Gallic of all French regions.
Today, the Alsatian people remain intensely proud and protective of their traditions. And we can’t wait to help you discover the memories and heritage they’ve passed down through the centuries.
Popular places to visit
As well as all the wonderful Alsatian wines you’ll taste on a SmoothRed trip, you’ll also get to see some of the region’s most fascinating sights.
The region’s rich, turbulent history is much in evidence in places like Verdun, which is dotted with memorials and monuments. Perhaps most impressive is the Citadelle Souterraine (Underground Citadel), 7km of underground shafts that housed 2000 soldiers during the First World War.
About town (and village)
Major towns across the regions include Nancy, Metz, Strasbourg and Colmar, each offering its own inimitable character. Nancy, with its elegant, classical feel, is the most typically French and is home to the beautiful, Unesco-endorsed Place Stanislas.
Metz, on the other hand, offers more varied architecture with Roman, medieval and German influences showing in attractions like St Etienne cathedral.
Further east, cosmopolitan Strasbourg retains a traditional feel thanks to its numerous half-timbered houses and winstubs (wine bars). And to the south, Colmar houses the famous Issenheim Altarpiece and its very own Little Venice.
For out-and-out beauty, the villages of Hunspach, Mittelbergheim, Eguisheim and Riquewihr have all received awards for their outstanding architectural splendour. And it’s no wonder Louis XIV described Alsace-Lorraine as a “beautiful garden”; the region’s three nature reserves – the Ballons des Vosges Nature Park, the Lorraine Regional Nature Park and the Vosges du Nord Nature Park – are each worth the visit alone.
Eating and drinking in Alsace-Lorraine
At around 37,000 acres, Alsace is one of the smallest wine-growing regions in France. But what it may lack in size it certainly makes up for in taste.
Vineyards stretching along the east of the Vosges mountains grow the region’s seven official grapes varieties: Riesling; Gewürztraminer, Sylvaner, Pinot Blanc, Tokay Pinot Gris, Muscat d’Alsace and Pinot Noir.
Fancy a beer?
It’s not all just about wine though. Alsatian beers account for 56% of French production, with 9 million hectolitres brewed every year in breweries including Kronenbourg, Heineken, Fischer, Karlsbrau, Météor and Schutzenberger.
Alternatives to Quiche Lorraine
Visitors come from far and wide to sample this region’s culinary delights. And it’s easy to see why when you taste choucroute, bäeckeoffe (three-meat stew) and kougelhopf (a round almond and raisin sweet bread). Not to mention the local speciality of fresh-water fish, especially carp and trout.
For small snacks pretzels and tarte flambée are an absolute must, while fresh Munster cheese can be picked up from many of the farms surrounding the town of the same name.
Call us to arrange your ideal Alsace-Lorraine wine tasting holiday.
We have a range of wine tours and self-drive tours available to Alsace-Lorraine. And we can always tailor trips to your tastes.
Call us on 020 8877 4940 or email email@example.com and we’ll be more than happy to help.