Alsace Region

General Info

Regional Map
Conseil Régional
Tourism: Tourisme Alsace
Capital: Strasbourg
Departments: Bas-Rhin and Haut-Rhin
Arrondissements-13, Cantons-75, Communes-903
Population: 1,896,030 (2013 est.)
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France Alsace Region Map

Overview

France Alsace Strasbourg Christmas market
Alsace borders Germany and has its own traditions and Germanic language called Alsatian or Allemanic. Today, nearly all Alsatians speak French and about 25% of the local population is still fluent in Alsatian. For centuries, the region was fought-over by Germany and France, but is now an area full of colorful villages, vineyards, and fortified towns. This region considers itself neither French nor German, but Alsatian and it was incorporated into France by Louis XIV (1681), then reclaimed by Germany during the Prussian war (1870), then back to France in 1918.
This region is best known for the Vosges mountains and nearly fifty percent of the area is forest. It forms a fertile watershed between the Vosges mountians and the Black Forest of Germany. The Alsace Route du Vin (wine route) accompanies pretty villages along the Vosges foothills. The mountainous terrain provides good skiing opportunities, hiking in the warmer months, as well as horseback riding and fishing.

Alsace Departmental Information

Conseil Général
Bas-Rhin (67)
Haut-Rhin (68)
Prefécture
Bas-Rhin
Haut-Rhin
Tourisme
Bas-Rhin
Haut-Rhin
Capital
Strasbourg
Colmar
Tourisme
Strasbourg
Colmar
Additional resources below

Notable Towns and Sights in the Alsace Region

Betschdorf (Bas-Rhin) is a lively village that lies next to the Forêt de Haguenau north of Strasbourg and has become famous for its distinctive cobalt-blue pottery with a blue-grey glaze. Generations of potters handed down the techniques and the local museum here has a workshop and displays rural ceramics. Other sights include the Lutheran Kuhlendorf church, which is the only timber-framed church in Alsace, and the Gothic Niederbetschdorf church. France Alsace Betschdorf pottery
Château du Haut-Koenigsbourg (Bas-Rhin) is located at Orschwiller, in the Vosges mountains just west of Sélestat. The castle is nestled at a strategic location on a high hill overlooking the Alsatian plain above Saint-Hippolyte. It was used by successive powers from the Middle Ages until the Thirty Years' War when it was abandoned and in 1900 it was restored under the direction of Emperor Wilhelm II. Today, it is probably the most popular tourist attraction in Alsace and is located along the Alsace wine route. (photo) France Alsace Château du Haut-Koenigsbourg
Colmar (Haut-Rhin) is the best preserved city in this region with German Gothic and early Renaissance style buildings, as well as a number of old churches, among which the 13th-16th century Église Saint-Martin is the most notable. The beautiful and very picturesque canal quarter is called "Petite Venise" or little Venice (photo) and there are boat trips available here. The Musée d'Unterlinden is housed in a Dominican monastery and has early 16th-century Rhenish paintings. Office de Tourisme France Alsace Colmar
Eguisheim (Haut-Rhin) is a town laid out in three concentric rings of 13th-century ramparts. The center of town has an octagonal fortified castle constructed in the 13th-century by the Count Eberhard who was the son of Adalbert, the Duke of Alsace. The Grand Rue has half-timbered houses accompanied with many winding streets which gives the town a fairy-tale quality. The town is surrounded by scenic vineyards and is located on the Alsace Wine Route. France Alsace Eguisheim Castle
Guebwiller (Haut-Rhin) has the nickname "gateway to the valley of flowers" due to being surrounded by fields of flowers and vineyards. It is also an industrial town that has beautiful churches and worthwhile caves (winemaking). Notable is the Baroque Église Notre-Dame, the highly-ornamented Romanesque Saint-Léger Church (photo), and the Église des Dominicains with its Gothic frescoes. Northwest of Guebwiller is the flower-rich Lauch Valley, known as Le Florival- Musée du Florival France Alsace Guebwiller
Haguenau (Bas-Rhin) is the second largest city in this region with a population of about 32,000 and lies just south of the Forêt de Haguenau which is the largest undivided forest in the country. The town has a rich historical and cultural heritage as result of the centuries of turmoil with Germany and has several interesting sights including the Tour des Chevaliers (Tower of the knights), Tour des Pêcheurs (Tower of the fishermen), the Musée historique, the Musée Alsacien, Église Saint-Georges, and Église Saint-Nicolas. France Alsace Haguenau Saint Nicolas
Molsheim (Bas-Rhin) is an old town that has well-preserved houses and buildings of typical Alsatian architecture. The most notable buildings are the medieval Tour des Forgerons, the Renaissance Metzig, the Baroque Église des Jésuites (photo), and the classical Hôtel de ville. The former monastery La Chartreuse, partly destroyed in the French Revolution, now houses a museum. France Alsace Molsheim Eglise de Jesuites
Mulhouse (Haut-Rhin) is an industrial town close to the Swiss border. Though badly damaged in World War II, the town has intersting museums, taverns, and Swiss wine bars. Notable here are the Musée de l'Impression sur Etoffes (wallpaper), the Musée Français du Chemin de Fer (Railway), and the Schlumpf Collection of the Musée National de l'Automobile has over 100 Bugattis as well as other premium car parts. Also here is the Ecomusée d'Alsace with zoological and botanical gardens and the Musée Historique. France Alsace Mulhouse
Neuf-Brisach (Haut-Rhin) is an octagonal citadel and is the masterpiece of military-strategist Vauban built in 1698. The star-shaped citadel, built for Louis XIV, has forty-eight city-style blocks inside, walls that are thirty feet (9m) high, and two moats on the peripherique. Inside, there is the Musée Vauban which includes a model of the fortified town. France Alsace Neuf-Brisach
Obernai (Bas-Rhin) is located at the north end of the Route du Vin where the Ehn river opens up. The town seems authentically Alsatian with the people speaking Alsatian and the women wearing traditional costume. Sights here include the large Cathédrale Saint-Pierre-et-Saint-Paul, the Place du Marché and its gabled Halle aux Blés, and the adjoining Place de la Chapelle with its Renaissance fountain and 16th-century Hôtel de Ville, and the Kapellturm which is a Gothic bell tower. France Alsace Obernai
Ribeauvillé (Haut-Rhin) is partly surrounded by ancient walls as well as three castle ruins and has picturesque medieval houses. There are two Gothic churches- Saint Grégoire-le-Grand and Saint Augustine and the town hall contains a valuable collection of antiquities. The Carolabad, a saline spring with a temperature of 64 degrees fahrenheit, had a great reputation in the Middle Ages and was then rediscovered in 1888 making Rappoltsweiler (the town's former name) a popular attraction. Near the town are the ruins of three famous castles, Ulrichsburg, Girsberg, and Hohrappoltstein, which formerly belonged to the lords of Rappoltstein. France Alsace Ribeauvillé
Riquewihr (Haut-Rhin) is 7 miles (11.6 km) from Colmar and is one of the most attractive and popular villages on the Route du Vin and is surrounded by vineyards. The town which once belonged to the Dukes of Württemberg is surrounded by medieval fortifications and is overlooked by two museums: the Dolder, a 13th-century bell tower (photo) and the Tour de Voleurs which has a medieval torture chamber. Also here is the Cour des Bergers which are gardens surrounding the 16th-century ramparts. France Alsace Riquewihr

Saverne (Bas-Rhin) is surrounded by hills and sits on the Zorn river. The principal sight here is the sandstone Musée du Château des Rohan which was a summer residence for the prince-bishops of Strasbourg. It has a collection that traces the town's past and was rebuilt by Cardinal de Rohan in 1779. There is also a 15th-century Roman Catholic church. It is also known for its famous Rose Garden, locally known as "La roseraie" with 350 varieties of roses and is the host of the annual International Contest of New Roses. In the vicinity are the castle ruins of Haut-Barr, Grand Geroldseck, Ochsenstein, and Greifenstein. France Alsace Château Rohan
Sélestat (Bas-Rhin) was considered the intellectual center of Alsace during the Renaissance and has the most varied architecture among small Alsatian cities. The Bibliothéque Humaniste here displays one of the oldest and most homogenous collection of medieval manuscripts and Renaissance books in Europe. Also notable here are the Romanesque Église Sainte-Foy, the Gothic Église Saint-Georges (photo), the Baroque clock tower (1618) and the neo-medieval water tower. France Alsace Selestat Saint Georges
Strasbourg (Bas-Rhin) is located halfway between Paris and Prague and is sometimes referred to as the crossroads of Europe. It is the capital city of the Alsace region and located close to the border with Germany. Notable here is the Cathédrale Notre-Dame with its masterful stone lace-work, made of sandstone, and which has catered to both Catholic and Protestant congregations. The Palais Rohan was designed by the king's architect, Robert Cotte, and was intended for the Prince-Bishops of Strasbourg. It houses three museums - the Musée des Beaux-Arts with works by Memling, de Goya, Tintoretto, Veronese, Giotto di Bondone, Botticelli, Rubens, van Dyck, El Greco, Correggio, Cima da Conegliano, and Piero di Cosimo. Also here is the Musée Archéologique and the Musée des Arts Décoratifs with one of the best exhibits of ceramics in France. Other museums in Strasbourg include the Musée Historique, the Musée de l'Oeuvre Notre-Dame (photo), the Musée d'Art Moderne et Contemporain, and the Musée Alsacien with exhibits on traditional-local arts and crafts. The Musée Zoologique is a natural history museum managed by the Université Louis-Pasteur here and contains roughly 18,000 birds, 1,500 mammals, 11,000 reptiles and fish, 9,000 skeletons, 60,000 marine invertebrates, and 10 million insects. Strasbourg also has many prominent parks which have historical and cultural interest and feature sculpture, gardens by Le Nôtre (Parc de l'Orangerie), and the Parc de la Citadelle built around impressive remains of the 17th-century fortress by military architect Vauban. Strasbourg Museums France Alsace Strasbourg Christmas market

France Alsace Strasbourg Notre Dame Cathedral
Thann (Haut-Rhin) La Collégiale Saint-Thiébaut was named after a college of monks who moved to Thann from the nearby town of Saint-Amarin in 1442. Situated in the centre of the old town, the church (photo) is a good example of the Gothic architecture that flourished in the Rhine valley in the late middle ages similar to the cathedrals of Strasbourg and Freiburg (Germany). La Tour des Sorcières or witches tower (photo) is within the old town walls, was built in 1411, and today houses a museum dedicated to winemaking. Le Château de l'Engelbourg (Engelbourg Castle) sits on a hill north of the old town and was constructed in the 13th-century by the Counts of Ferrette to control the entrance to the valley and ensure the paying of tolls by those wishing to cross the Vosges. The castle was destroyed on the orders of Louis XIV. During demolition, one of towers overturned and cracked into sections, one of which forms a large stone ring known locally today as The Witch's Eye (L'oeil de la sorcière). Office de Tourisme France Alsace Thann

Les Plus Beaux Villages in the Alsace Region

Natural Parks in the Alsace Region

Additional Resources for the Alsace Region

Average Monthly Temperatures in the Alsace Region

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