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Alsace Lorraine France Alsace Lorraine

Alsace Lorraine France

Alsace Lorraine

Officially, Alsace and Lorraine are two separate regions joined only by a common border in the Vosges mountains, but they are often referred to in the same breath because they share a lot of history and were much fought over by France and Germany before being returned to France after WWII.

Alsace is the easternmost region of France and contains the départements Bas Rhin (67) and Haut Rhin (68), Lower and Upper Rhine, although rather confusingly, Lower Rhine is at the top of the region. Alsace is only 50km wide and about 190km long, making it one of France's smallest regions. Strasbourg, the seat of the European Parliament, is the capital of Bas Rhin; picturesque Colmar is the regional capital and, along with industrial Mulhouse, is found in Haut Rhin. Alsace is an extremely attractive region with its combination of vineyards, mountains and villages, but it is also France's third industrial region, much of its industry being concentrated around Strasbourg and Mulhouse.

Lorraine borders Germany, Belgium and Luxembourg and consists of the départements of Meuse (55); Meurthe et Moselle (54); Moselle (57); and Vosges (88). The town of Metz is the regional capital and has an impressive Gothic cathedral. Nancy is renowned for its Art Nouveau architecture and is one of France's most refined cities. Verdun is other another large town of note in a region that contains many pretty medieval towns and villages as well as being proof of the lunacy of WWII.

Both the Alsace and Lorraine regions are known for their cuisine. In fact, Alsace has more Michelin restaurant stars than any other French region. Lorraine has famous Moselle wines and quiche, clafoutis, tarts and soufflés. Alsace produces celebrated white wines and half of France's beer, including some very well known brands. The Route du Vin will take you from Marlenheim, just west of Strasbourg, through pretty villages and past vineyards, to Thann, near Mulhouse.

Alsace and Lorraine can be reached by flying to Strasbourg or taking a train. Nancy and Metz are three hours from Paris by train, and it takes another hour to get to Strasbourg. Both regions are well linked by road too.

Popular activities in these regions include cross country skiing in winter, and hiking, horse riding and mountain biking in summer.