December 6th 2010

By Wendy Houle, The Wayfarers Travel Desk
Alsace is an area that really took me by surprise when I was there. It has an interesting mix of two cultures, German and French. Located at the foot of the Vosges mountains, the countryside consists of gently rolling hills covered in grape vines and dotted with some of the cutest small villages you have ever seen. The storybook-like villages are wonderfully ornate (and old!) and the woodframed buildings all have red and white geraniums cascading from their windowboxes. The wine that I tasted was delicious and crisp (more German than French) and the food had a definite German flair as well. I was last there during the fall, just in time for the "Choucroute Festival" (Sauerkraut) and ate more sausage and sauerkraut than I had ever had in my life, even with my German grandmother.
Alsace is also a cultural area and contains many very interesting museums. One of my favorites was the vintage car museum in Mulhouse. As a guest of the French tourist board, I was driven to dinner one night in an old Bugatti racing car, an experience of which my husband is very jealous. Also in Mulhouse is the national train museum, the largest in Europe, and well worth a look as the collection of engines and railcars is extremely interesting for its historical value. Colmar, where our walk ends, is one of the prettiest French towns I have ever visited. Called "Little Venice" it has a series of canals running through the center of the town. Colmar has a host of interesting sites and museums to visit and is the hometown of Frederic Bartholdi, the designer of our own Statue of Liberty. Be prepared to hear more than a little about Bartholdi during a visit there.
All in all, the Alsace region showed me a whole new and different side of French culture, one I had never experienced before. The walking is not awfully difficult and the cultural history of the area is very compelling.
The Wayfarers 2011 Alsace Walks depart on June 5 and September 4. Christopher Hague and Michael West, The Wayfarers Founders, host the June 5 Walk.
Contact Wendy Houle for expert advice on making the most of your travel plans - before and after your Wayfarers Walk. A seasoned traveler with a particular knowledge and love of all things French, Wendy delights coming up with creative ideas that her travel clients would not have known about otherwise. She'll surely have some good recommendations for foodies - as an accomplished amateur gourmet cook, Wendy loves nothing better than seeking out the best of each country's cuisine and bringing back new recipes to try at home.
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