The region known as Alsace-Lorraine combines two separate provinces, both of which have been fought over by France and Germany on a number of occasions during the last two centuries. Alsace is noted as retaining a distinctly German ambience on account of it falling into German hands from 1870 until after WWI and again during WWII. Both provinces are indisputably French now, but they retain plenty of non-French characteristics too.
Alsace is noted as a popular wine region and is home to a variety of wine-making towns dotted around the foothills of the Vosges Mountains. Lower in these same hills, the landscape is punctuated by picturesque chateaux and provincial cities featuring splendid cathedrals. Lorraine meanwhile is what is colloquially referred to as Joan of Arc country and is home to towns that epitomise medieval and historical France.
A pleasant drive up the winding road of the Vosges Mountain takes you through lush green forestry, eventually bringing you to Mont Sainte Odile, an old convent at which you can stop and enjoy some truly magnificent views over the Alsace area.
Alsace’s third-biggest town and perhaps its most scenic is Colmar; another urban centre with a distinctly medieval flavour to it. Wine shops and old-fashioned little cafés sit amid half-timbered houses helping to generate a richly historic atmosphere.
Among the finest chateaux in the region is the magnificent Haut Koenigsbourg, an easily accessed structure set against a scenic countryside backdrop. Entry to the castle is free and unrestricted, and visitors are permitted to explore and take photographs at their leisure.
In the winter, skiing and other winter sports can be found at the Ballon d'Alsace ski resort. With five distinct areas dedicated to skiing, snowboarding, snowshoeing and sledding, there’s no shortage of opportunities for those of all skill levels to pursue their favourite winter activity.