The Alsace region is found on the far East of France and is one of the smallest of the 27 French regions. Measuring less than 10,000km squared, the region shares a border with Germany, and the name is German for ‘foreign domain’. Despite being small in size, the region is well populated, and the capital of Alsace, Strasbourg is one of the nicest cities in the country.
The river Rhine runs down the east side of Alsace, separating the region from neighbouring Germany, and visitors to the region can make use of the many bridges for a day trip into Germany. It’s location once made it one of the most contested regions in the world, and the region changed hands four times in less than 75 years in the 18 and 1900s, with France and Germany fighting over ownership.
The region also has its own dialect, Alsatian, although less than half of the adult population now speak it, and only around one in ten children, showing the dialect is fading out.
Places to visit when hiring a car in the Alsace region
If you choose to hire a car in the Alsace region you will be truly spoilt for choice. With the whole region reachable for a day trip, you can explore the whole area, and there are places if interest for the whole family.
The capital of the region, and a busy hub of EU activity, Strasbourg is one of the most beautiful cities in France. The cathedral in the old town towers over the rest of the city and is a must see for everyone visiting the city. The medieval Ponts Couverts bridge is also simply stunning, and presents a great photo opportunity.
Château du Haut-Kœnigsbourg
The Château du Haut-Kœnigsbourg is a stunning castle located in the Vosges mountains at Orschwiller, and has nearly one thousand years of history. In that time the pink bricked castle has been knocked down, rebuilt, burnt down and rebuilt several times and has a fantastic visitor centre.
The Maginot Line was built after World War One to protect France along its borders with Italy and Germany, and runs through both the Alsace and Lorraine regions. You can now visit the underground areas of the line, and see the hitech living accommodation, as well as the turrets, fortifications and other parts of the line that are left. The Maginot Line was ineffective during the war, as the Germans invaded around the outside, and then took the line from behind.
The Ouvrage Schoenenbourg is a fortification along the Maginot Line, and was the most bombarded French position during the war. The fortification was destroyed inside by German troops retreating out of France near the end of the war, but has been restored and is now a tourist attraction. Its the largest publically open fortification in France.
If you are visiting the region in the build up to Christmas, you must visit the Christmas markets, which are some of the best in the world, Strasbourg, Mulhouse, Colmar and Kaysersberg all hold fantastic markets.