Quaint Villages, Champagne Vines and Deep Forests.
The cathedral and Council of Europe in Strasbourg, wine taverns in quaint little timber-framed villages, vineyards and the Vosges Mountains – the Alsace (German Elsass) region is all that and more. With the unification of Europe, the border between Germany and France is becoming increasingly blurry, German families are living in the Alsace and many Alsatian families working in Germany. This is a little surprising; history has not always been favourable for the Alsatian. After France’s defeat in 1870/1871 the Alsace and Lorraine regions were annexed by Germany; 1918 it was French again, but annexed once more during the WWII. But now that is all in the past. The Alsace today belongs to France and is a haven for tourists. As favoured as the Alsace is, the Lorraine is (unjustly) less popular. The Lorraine has charming cities in Metz and Nancy, and there are dense forests just past the Vosges Mountains. They continue into the dark forests of the Ardennes, which cover the north of the Champagne region. The vineyards that deliver the grapes that make the best champagne in the world lie around Rheims and Épernay. Troyes with its beautiful cathedral is the former capital of the region, and a real treasure for tourists wandering around the beautifully restored medieval Old Town. The people of the border region Franche-Comté are known for being intractable. The region was only annexed in 1678, but there is little left of that stubborn feeling in today’s capital city Besançon, a centre for industry, trade and culture, and one should take the time to explore the wildly romantic forests, the grazing pastures and lakes that stretch east of the fertile Saône plain all the way to the Jura mountains.