The Alsace is an area of France near the German-Swiss border which has changed hands (between France and Germany) many times over its history. It is also a major wine-producing area of France today, and its “Wine Road” (Route du Vin) is extremely popular with knowledgeable tourists. The incredibly attractive villages along the road vie for attention, with their walled medieval flavor, their obligatory castle on the hill, and with an unbelievable display of flowers hanging from window boxes, on street lights, etc. Strolling through several of the villages, sampling the wines, and having lunch in one of the many restaurants or cafes, makes a great day trip.
1. All the villages are attractive, but try to stop at Riquewihr, Ribeauville and Kaysersberg (the birthplace of Dr. Albert Schweitzer) in particular. Others include Obernai, and Turckheim. Colmar makes a great base of operations if staying in the area for several days.
2. In the vicinity is the city of Strasbourg, one of Europe’s most elegant cities. It was founded in 12 A.D. by the son of Augustus. The most famous sight in the city is its beautiful pink-limestone Cathedral, which dates from the 12th century. Its Gothic spire is one of Christianity’s highest. Inside the cathedral, watch at 12:30 PM for the elaborate Astronomical Clock, complete with moving Apostles and angels, to strike noon!! There are less elaborate displays at the quarter-hours. Pet the tiny carved dog on the pulpit for good luck.
Self-Walking tours of the city are available at the Tourist Information Office. Also take advantage of the excellent museums, if so inclined.
3. Another possible base of operations for an exploration of this region is the Swiss city of Basel, located at a bend in the Rhine River where France, Germany, and Switzerland meet. Basel has a cute, little Old Town with a bright, red Town Hall and several interesting fountains.